The Black Liberation Army was more than an organization. It was more than even a movement. It was a cataclysmic development resulting in the galvanization of collectives of the masses for one common goal. The Black Liberation Army was a response to centuries of oppression, racism, classism and dehumanization for Black people in the United States of America.
The living conditions for Black people inhabiting the urban slums of the United States during the early to mid- 20th century was repressive, subhuman and blatantly institutionalized, prompting the inevitable rise of the repressed massed filled with discontent, anger and urgency. Racially subordinated realities for Black people varied depending on where they lived in the country. African Americans living in the southern United States were forced to endure repressive political, social and economic inequities, such as terrorism from the Ku Klux Klan and local police, segregation and voter suppression.
Black people living in the north and west of the United States, many of whom had recently migrated from the south on quest for more opportunities, were faced with a much more subliminal yet farce form of racism. The drug plagued neighborhoods, substandard schools with culturally deficient teachers, and severe police violence against Black men instilled deep resentment, indignation, and retaliatory restlessness among urban masses.
The Civil Rights Movement, centered and conditioned primarily in response to the racial hostility of the south, didn’t gain vast popularity among the majority of urban Blacks, who denounced the movement’s technique of nonviolent organizing.
Nonetheless, rising leaders and followers of thesoon to become Black Power Movement held and displayed great respect and recognition of the courage, resilience, and perseverance exhibited by the leaders and followers of the Civil Rights Movement.
As such, the impact of the steady but slow progress of the Civil Rights Movement in conjunction with the traumatizing and hopeless impact of the 1968 assassinations of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Medgar Evers drove the engines of the Black Power Movement into full gear.Strugglers in the Civil Rights Movement and budding Black Power Movement formed severe indignation and resentment for the movement’s meek response to the stark retaliation and violent suppression from the U.S. government, police, and justice system.
StockleyCharmichael cites the major differences between what came to be known as the Black Power Movement in “Black Power Mixtape” when he states that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s major assumption was that he expected compassion from his oppressors, in that by suffering in nonviolent acts, the oppressor will feel remorse.
Stockley notes, he is not as “merciful” or “patient” as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Such rhetoric is very characteristics of the attitudes and goals of the young men and women within and interested in joining the Civil Rights Movement.
In essence the Black Power Movement and what was to be born out of it called the Black Liberation Army and Movement were the trees that gave life to the seeds of America’s oppressive racial, classist, criminalizing social, political and economic systems. Many of the youth struggling in organizations like SNCC and CORE were drawn to the principles and ethics of voices like Malcolm X that argued for more urgent response to attacks on Black freedom, life and struggle for liberation.
Those youth and other followers were tired of waiting for the day when freedom would reign and were ready to seize the freedom bell themselves. The Black Liberation Army was the inevitable rise ofthe silenced, broken, debilitated Black masses of the U.S. that had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Assata put it well when she states, “Black revolutionaries do not drop from the moon. We are created by our conditions. Shaped by our oppression. We are being manufactured in droves in the ghetto streets, places like attica, san Quentin, Bedford hills, Leavenworth and sing sing.
They are turning out thousands of us. Many jobless Black veterans and welfare mothers are joining our ranks. Brothers and sisters from all walks of life, who are tired of suffering passively, make up the BLA” (Assata, 52).
In a lot of ways, what many strugglers and liberators in the Black Liberation Army appear to want to translate is the fact that the distinctive fuel and life of the Black Liberation Movement lies in the very institutionalized and perpetuating foundations of the capitalistic society. As such, the very grounds for which racist, sexist, and classist structures operate with intention to build societal capital that can further reinforce such structures, is inherently the source of power for all people opposed to such oppression.
Therefore, as long as the oppressive forces and powers that be continue to exist, putting efforts in place to further subjugate the subjugated, there will be in some form, representation or spiritual existence, a Black Liberation Army.
“There is, and always will be, until every Black man, woman and child is free, a Black Liberation Army. The main function of the Black Liberation Movement at this time is to create good examples, to struggle for Black freedom, and to prepare for the future. We must defend ourselves and let no one disrespect us. We must gain our liberation by any means necessary” (Assata, 52).