Black Radical Congress
The Black Radical Congress was founded in Chicago in 1998.
The call to Congress
In 1996, five veteran activists and scholars - Abdul Alkalimat, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Manning Marable, Leith Mullings, and Barbara Ransby - initiated a round of discussions among themselves regarding the political and social state of affairs facing African Americans and other oppressed communities in the United States. Though the five brought different experiences and political frameworks to these talks, they all located themselves within the broad school of black radicalism. Those discussions would soon port to a larger pool of activists who agreed that not only did a crisis exist, but black radicals also had a responsibility to do something about it.
During the early 1990s, Freedom Road Socialist Organization made the strategic decision to build organized left poles within the various social movements. Examples included New Raza Left, Asian Left Forum, the Labor Left, and especially the Black Radical Congress.
In the course of doing this kind of work, FRSO adopted in the late '90s ambitious goals for transforming the internal culture and demographics of Freedom Road, to make the organization majority people of color, upping the figures for women, young folks, LGBTQ, and working class people, and "developing these folks as our leadership".
According to leading member Marta Segura New Raza Left is already in communication with the Black Radical Congress and the Asian Left Forum. The three groups have already met to explore a common agenda.
Communist Party connection
From the Communist Party USA website:
It is the founder of the American Negro Labor Congress, International Labor Defense, the National Negro Congress, the Civil Rights Congress, the Southern Negro Youth Congress, the The Council on African Affairs, the W. E. B. Du Bois clubs, and the Southern Conference for Human Welfare. We joined others in helping initiate the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the National Anti-Imperialist Movement in Solidarity with African Liberation, and the Black Radical Congress.
In June 1998, radical black activists including many key leaders of the New Party came together in Chicago to form a new organisation-the Black Radical Congress;
It seemed to us the idea of bringing together the varied sections of the Black radical tradition - Socialists and Communists, revolutionary nationalists, and radical Black feminists and womanists - was long overdue. We began talking with others about the idea and possibilities for such a gathering.
In March of 1997, some 70 activists from more than twenty cities across the country came together in Chicago to begin planning for a Black Radical Congress. Participants came as individuals but represented connections to groups ranging from New Afrikan Peoples Organization, Black Workers for Justice, The Labor Party, The Communist Party USA, The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, African American Agenda 2000, The Chicago Ida B. Wells Forum and the Committees of Correspondence.
This group agreed to host a Black Radical Congress and constituted itself as the continuations committee...Three subsequent national meetings of the continuations committee were held in Washington, D. C., in May of 1997, in Atlanta in September, 1997, and in New York City in January of 1998. A "Call for the Congress" was drafted and issued with the names of over 100 conveners.
Some of those who endorsed the call and participated in the process include: Abdul Alkalimat, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Manning Marable, Leith Mullings, Barbara Ransby, Barbara Smith, Cornel West, Salim Muwakkil, Charlene Mitchell, Angela Davis, Amiri Baraka and Amina Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Sam Anderson, Evelynn Hammonds, Julianne Malveaux, Jarvis Tyner, General Baker, Ahmed Obafemi, Cathy Cohen and Robin D. G. Kelley.
The BRC organisers issued a call to support their project;
- Sisters and Brothers, we stand at the edge of a new century. The moment for a new militancy and a new commitment to the liberation of all Black people, at home and abroad, has arrived. Let us build a national campaign toward the Black Radical Congress, setting in motion a renewed struggle to reclaim our historic role as the real voice of democracy in this country. Spread the word: Without struggle, there is no progress! Now’s the time!
- The Struggle Continues: Setting A Black Liberation Agenda for the 21st Century
Endorsers of the call
Black Radical Congress Endorsers of the Call
- Larry Adams President, Mailhandlers Local 300
- Royce Adams Local 1291, International Longshoremen’s Association, New Jersey
- Akbar Muhammad Ahmad, Instructor of African-American History & Political Science, Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland
- Abdul Alkalimat, League of Revolutionaries for a New America
- Makungu Akinyela, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Atlanta
- Lisa Anderson, Ph.D. Lafayette, IN
- Sam Anderson, Network of Black Organizers, New York City
- Marlene Archer, National Co-chair, National Conference of Black Lawyers
- Taisha Ash, Southern International Education Committee
- Ogundara Ayoka, Tampa, FL
- General Baker, Auto Worker, Detroit
- Amina Baraka, Communist Party USA
- Amiri Baraka, Unity & Struggle Newspaper
- Debbie Bell, Communist Party USA
- Jean Carey Bond, Writer/Editor, New York City
- Herb Boyd, Journalist/Author, New York City
- Rose Brewer, Minneapolis, MN
- Lisa Brock, Chicago
- Humberto Brown, Afro Latino Network; Ida B. Wells-W.E.B. Du Bois Network
- Linda Burnham, Women of Color Resource Center, Berkeley, CA
- A C Byrd, Political Analyst, Washington, DC
- Horace Campbell, Global Pan African Movement; Syracuse University
- James Campbell, Retired Educator
- Dr. Trevor Campbell, Pomona, CA
- Mandy Carter, Durham, NC
- Michelle Tingling-Clemmons, National Welfare Rights Union, Washington, DC
- Rick Tingling-Clemmons, People’s Tribune, Washington, DC
- Cathy Cohen, New York City
- Lisa Crooms, Washington, DC
- Angela Davis, Professor, University of California at Santa Cruz; Committees of Correspondence
- Michael Dawson, Chicago
- Rukiya Dillahunt, Black Workers for Justice, North Carolina
- Ajamu Dillahunt, Southern Labor Activist, North Carolina
- James Early, Cultural Worker and Political Activist, Washington, DC
- Robert Ellis, Attorney, New York City
- Johanna Fernandez, International Socialist Organization
- Bill Fletcher Jr, Labor Activist and Writer, Washington, DC
- Gene Ford, News & Letters, Los Angeles
- Tyrone Freeman, Executive Director, Local 1985, SEIU, Atlanta
- Victoria Garvin, Veteran Labor and Community Activist
- Angela Gilliam, Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office
- Doug Gills, Chicago
- Lewis Gordon, Brown University, Providence, RI
- Jim Grant, Black Workers for Justice
- Venus Green, New York City
- Arturo Griffiths, African-American Human Rights Foundation, Washington, DC
- Evelynn Hammonds, Cambridge, MA
- Peter Hardie, Roxbury Youth Works, Roxbury, MA
- Cheryl Harris, ITT Kent Law School
- Karega Hart, Labor Activist & Instructor, Oakland, CA
- Judy Hatcher, New York City
- Lennox Hines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, North American Chair
- Askhari Johnson Hodari, Washington, DC
- Dan Holliman, Syracuse, NY
- Dwight Hopkins, Black Theologian, Chicago
- Gerald Horne, Professor of African-American Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
- Gerry Hudson, Executive Vice President, Local 1199—National Health & Human Services Union, New York City
- Lynette Jackson, African-American Agenda 2000
- Geoffrey Jacques, Poet; Managing Editor, New Labor Forum
- Joy James, Boulder, CO
- Ajagbe Adewole-Jimenez, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, New York City
- J J Jobnson, DC 1707, AFSCME, New York City
- Robin D G Kelley, Historian, Africana Studies, New York University; Ida B. Wells-W.E.B Du Bois Network
- Marian Kramer, National Welfare Rights Union
- N’Tanya Lee, Ann Arbor, MI
- Clarence Lusane, Professor of Political Science, American University, Washington, DC
- Shafeah M'Balia, Black Workers for Justice; Health Care Activist
- Julianne Malveaux, Economist & Syndicated Columnist, Washington, DC
- Manning Marable, Co-chair, Committees of Correspondence; Ida B. Wells-W.E B. Du Bois Network
- Togi Marshall, Washington, DC
- Tracye Matthews, Chicago
- David Maurasse, New York City
- Sania Metzger, New York City
- Dee Myles, Chicago
- Charlene Mitchell, Co-chair, Committees of Correspondence; staff, Local 371, AFSCME
- Anthony Monteiro, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Science
- Robert Moore, President, Local 1199 EDC, SEIU, Baltimore, MD
- Saladin Muhammad, Southern Union Organizer, Black Workers for Justice
- Leith Mullings, Professor of Anthropology, City University of New York Graduate School; Ida B. Wells-W.E.B Du Bois Network
- Salim Muwakkil, Chicago
- Cheryl Mwaria, Ida B. Wells-W.E.B. Du Bois Network
- Prexy Nesbitt, Chicago
- Efia Nwangaza, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
- Ahmed Obafemi, New Afrikan Peoples Organization
- Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Evanston, IL
- Kenny Page, National Conference of Black Lawyers, Washington, DC
- Jonathan Peck, Chicago
- Roz Pelles, Washington, DC
- Nelson Peery, League of Revolutionaries for a New America
- Brenda Randolph, Africa Access, Maryland
- Maria Ramos, New York City
- Barbara Ransby, Chicago
- Aisha Ray, Chicago
- Adolph Reed, Labor Party, Chicago
- Palmira Rios, Professor, University of Puerto Rico
- Cedric Robinson, Professor of Black Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, CA
- Jamala Rogers, Organization for Black Struggle, St. Louis, MO
- Don Rojas, Publisher, Black World Today, New Jersey
- Kathleen Saadat, Portland Rainbow Coalition, Portland, OR
- Bill Sales, Professor, Seton Hall University
- Sonia Sanchez, Poet
- Jerome Scott, Project South, Atlanta
- Joe Sims, Communist Party USA; Editor, Political Affairs
- Barbara Smith, Albany, NY
- Kim Smith, Chicago
- Lasker Smith, Ecorse, MI
- Leona Smith, National Union of the Homeless
- Yicki Smith, Feminist Action Network, Albany, NY
- Keeanga Taylor, International Socialist Organization; City College Coalition Against Cuts, New York City
- Anthony Thigpenn, Chairman of the Board, Action for Grassroots Empowerment & Neighborhood Alternatives, Los Angeles
- James Tim Thomas, Executive Director, Emergency Services Network, Alameda County, CA
- David Thurston, International Socialist Organization, New York City
- Lou Turner, News & Letters, Chicago
- Jarvis Tyner, Communist Party USA
- William Watkins, Chicago
- Cornel West, Cambridge, MA
Summary of Workshop Sessions
In 1998, The Black Scholar journal published a "special edition" which "focused upon the Black Radical Congress, held June 19-21, 1998, in Chicago. Its introduction to this issue said the following:
- "Like the Negro Convention Movement of the 1830s and the Black Power Conferences of the 1960s, the BRC represents a major effort at systematically developing an agenda and path of action for Black America today."
- "The BRC meetings this June were characterized by a climate of openness and a new and welcome spirit of dialogue among the over 2,000 participants. Of special importance was the BRC's commitment to bridging the gap between the 1960s generation of activists and the young activists of the 1990s. The result has been a new infusion of ideas, theoretical perspectives, as well as the open discussion of gender issues, which had previously been subtexts in the national black gatherings."
- "Much of this success has been due to the continuing commitment of the BRC to the ideal of maintaining a principled unity among its constituents. Readers who are interested in learning more or in participating in the BRC may visit the following website: www.blackradicalcongress.com." - The Editors
A complete list of workshops and participants for the conference is as follows (with Keywiki noting of Communist Party USA CPUSAformer or present members, as well as some who joined the CP-split-off, Committee of Correspondence for Socialism and Democracy COC:
"Beat'em Down and Lock'em Up":State Terrorism, Police Brutality and the Prison Industrial Complex"
- Lennox Hinds - Chair
- Josephine Wyatt - Coordinator
- Michelle Bonner
- Akua Njera
- Pat Hill
- Keeanga Taylor
- Joan Gibbs
"Welfare Reform: The Assault on Black Women and Children"
- Mildred Williamson - Coordinator (and Committees of Correspondence)and CPUSA
- Della Mitchell
- Maureen Taylor
- Marian Kramer
- Deborah Housey
- Fannie Rushing - Coordinator
- Charlene Mitchell - Committees of Correspondence and CPUSA
- Phil Hutchings
- James Early (Smithsonian Institution; "Frontline" - the marxist newspaper)
- Prexy Nesbitt
"The Rich Prosper While the Poor Perish: Economic Justice, Employment and Unemployment"
- Rose Brewer - Coordinator
- Lou Turner
- Rukiya Dillahunt
- Sabrina Coleman
- August Nimtz - (at one time in the Socialist Workers Party)
"Environmental Racism, Housing and Neighborhoods"
- Rick Tingling-Clemmons - Coordinator
- Connie Tucker
- Angela Brown
- Damu Smith - unconfirmed (strongly connected to the Communist Party USA
- Cheryl Johnson
- Klancy Miller
"We Demand Reparations: The Growing Movements for Self-Determination, Redress and Freedom"
"Feminism and the Black Liberation Agenda"
- Lynette Jackson - Coordinator
- Linda Burnham
- Diane Harriford
- E. Frances White
- Leith Mullings - (one time Communist Party USA); Committee of Correspondence
- Asinamata Umoja
"Our Children Are Not Expendable: The Struggle for Quality Accessible Education"
- Debbie Bell - Coordinator (CPUSA]
- Brenda Randolph
- Maria Ramos
- Doug Gills
- Rose Saunders
- Monique Washington
"Racist Ballot Measures in California: Lessons for the National Black Liberation Struggle"
'"Global Issues Are Black Issues: Framing Our Struggle as International and Anti-Imperialist"
- Horace Campbell - Co-coordinator
- Gerald Horne - Co-coordinator (Communist Party USA) affiliate
- Angela Gilliam - (long affiliated with the CPUSA)
- Elombe Brath - unconfirmed
"Organizing the South"
"Socialism and Black Liberation"
- John Woodford - Chair, (CPUSA-affiliated)
- Joe Sims - Coordinator (and CPUSA)
- Ahmed Shawki
- Cameron Barron
- Denice Myles - (Communist Party USA)
"Sustaining Community Groups and Institutions"
- Jerome Scott - Chair
- Judy Hatcher - Coordinator
- Sharon Powell
- Van Jones
- Jennifer Henderson
"Media Workshop Screening and Discussion"
- CommFilm Workshop "Flame" (Ingrid Sinclair, 85 minutes)
"Faith as a Weapon: Spirituality and the Role of the Church in the Radical Movement"
- Kevin Tyson - Coordinator, one time (CPUSA)
- Michael Eric Dyson
- Cornel West
- Rev. Jeremiah Wright
- Linda Thomas
"Black Radicalism, Black Workers and Today's Labor Movement"
- Jarvis Tyner - (CPUSA)
- Saladin Muhammad
- Lew Moye
- Frank Lumpkin - (CPUSA) Illinois CPUSA
- Jim Wilkerson - CPUSA
- Theresa Polk-Henderson
"Youth and Student Organizing: Supporting Those "...Who Have the Courage to Run Against the Storm": The Next Generation"
"Fighting Homophobia - Lesbian and Gay Rights"
"From Mandela to Mumia: Political Prisoners Past and Present"
"Health Care and AIDS"
- Lynette Jackson - Coordinator
- Amadee Braxton
- Bob Moore - (NB: There is a Rob Moore who shows up in the "Anti-Defense Lobby" groups. Unknown if this is the same person)
- Nadia Marsh
- Assata Zerai
- Blanca Velez
- Kim Smith
"Africa American Empowerment and Alternative Electoral Strategies"
- Jamala Rogers - Coordinator
- Mike Dawson
- Clarence Lusane
- Arturo Griffiths - (for some period was a supporter of the Communist Party USA in D.C.)
- Sahfeah M'Balia
- Larry Adams
- Kenneth Jones
"Media Fighting Back"
"International Human Rights and Radical Lawyering"
"Culture and History"
"Chicago's Black Radical Tradition: Living Legends and Future Leaders" Chicago
- Bill Watkins - Coordinator
- Timuel Black
- Bob Lucas - unconfirmed
- Ishmael Flory - Illinois CPUSA
- Julie Davis
- Linda Ollins
- Randy Evans
"Black Studies in the 21st Century: A Computer Lab Internet Workshop"
"Black Radical Media"
- Barbara Allen - Executive Director, Middle Passage Productions; editor/engineer, WTTW
- Portia Cobb - Professor of Film, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
- Marcia Davis - Senior Editor, "Emerge"
- Laura Harris - Professor of History, Pitzer College
- Elspeth Kydd - Video Artist, Professor of Film and Video, University of Toledo
- Cornelius Moore - Executive Director, California Newsreel
- Louis Massai - Scribe, producer of video on W.E.B. DuBois
"Workshop: Video Screenings and Discussion"
“Forging a Black Liberation Agenda for the 21st Century”
10th Anniversary Meeting of the Black Radical Congress, “Forging a Black Liberation Agenda for the 21st Century” Black Radical Congress, June 20-22, 2008, St. Louis, Missouri.
With the "launch of the Black Radical Congress (BRC) in 1998, a current of optimism rippled through the social justice movement. In the tradition of other black political gatherings such as the National Negro Congress, the National Black Political Convention and other more recent ones, the BRC set out on a mammoth challenge to build unity within the Black Liberation Movement (BLM) and consensus around the Freedom Agenda.
Of the 2000 participants who converged upon Chicago, longtime activist, Larry Holmes noted that they “shared a strong desire that the BRC make a difference in the liberation struggle of African American people. A student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was one of hundreds of young people who attended the BRC founding conference. Carol Ben Davies admitted that it “was unlike any learning experience” she ever had at college. These views reflected the level of enthusiasm and optimism shared not only by those who came to the Chicago gathering but those who were unable to attend.
In 2001, three years after the historic gathering in Chicago, a delegation of BRC members traveled to South Africa for the World Conference Against Racism and Xenophobia"
- We returned in early September to face the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and a predictable imperialist response from the Bush-Cheney administration. We participated in anti-war demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and to call for an end to war-mongering and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The BRC recognized local organizing committees in over a dozen cities. We continued a high level of political discourse and regularly generated political statements that were widely distributed.
- There are some fundamental questions that need our principled dialogue and debate: What is the current state of the Black Liberation Movement? What should the BRC look like as an organization to respond to the current crises of our people? What are the concrete conditions facing our people? How do we fund an effective organization with independence and sustainability as guiding principles? How do we hold one another accountable for actions that are undermining or destructive to our movement? How do we organize in the context of neo-liberalism? Are there some lessons we can learn from the advance of the Obama Movement?
- We invite you to join the pre-Congress discussion to help re-shape the BRC’s character, direction and strategy for the next ten years. We aim to solidify our collective efforts at the Juneteenth conference (June 20-22, 2008). See you at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. 
Below is the list of endorsers for the Congress;
- Makungu Akinyele, Assoc. Prof., African American Studies-Georgia State University
- Kali Akuno, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
- Zaki Baruti, Universal African Peoples Organization
- Deborah Benford, Affinity
- Rose Brewer, Scholar/activist-University of Minnesota
- Roderick D. Bush, Assoc. Prof. of Sociology and Anthropology-St. John’s University
- Sundiata Cha-Jua,Vice President of the National Council for Black Studies
- Rukiya Dillahunt, Black Workers for Justice
- Ajamu Dillahunt, Black Workers for Justice
- Felicia Eaves, Black Voices for Peace
- Theresa El-Amin, Southern Anti-Racism Network
- J. Soffiyah Elijah, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights
- Bill Fletcher, Jr., Black Commentator
- David Gaiter, Black Radical Congress-Pittsburgh, PA
- Thomas Gibson Associates
- Percy Green, ACTION ReUnion 2008
- Lester Muata Greene, Labor activist/writer
- Rev. Graylan Hagler, National President- Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice
- Karega Hart, Education & Training Coordinator-SEIU Local 1021
- Ash-Lee Henderson, ETSU Black Affairs Association
- Christi Ketchum, Project South
- Diane Lackey, Black Radical Congress-Philly, PA
- Alice Lovelace, The Arts Exchange
- Chokwe Lumumba, New African Peoples Organization
- Manning Marable, Director, Center for Contemporary Black History-Columbia University
- Shafeah M'Balia, Black Workers for Justice
- Michael McPhearson, Executive Director-Veterans for Peace
- Saladin Muhammad, Black Left Unity Meeting Planning Committee.
- Leith Mullings, Distinguished Professor in Anthropology Department-City University of NY COBRA Executive Committee
- Matt Nelson, Freedom Now! Collaborative and the Milwaukee Police Accountability Coalition
- Troy Nkrumah, National Hip Hop Political Convention
- Cappy Pinderhughes, Conversations on the Vineyard
- Kenneth Riley, President-International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1422
- Jamala Rogers, National Organizer-Black Radical Congress
- Jerome Scott, League of Revolutionaries for a New America
- Kelcy Siddell, President, Black Leadership Organizing Council-University of MO St. Louis
- Montague Simmons, Organization for Black Struggle
- Erica Smiley, Young Communist League
- James ‘Tim’ Thomas, Freedom Road Socialist Organization /OSCL
- Jarvis Tyner, Communist Party USA
- Akinyele Umoja, New Afrikan Peoples Organization/Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
- Jessica Watson-Crosby, Black Radical Congress-New York
- Steve Williams, POWER
- Will Williams, Truth and Alternatives to Militarism in Education
- Komozi Woodard, Solidarity Club & Sarah Lawrence Professors for Obama-Sarah Lawrence College
- Jay Woodson, Black Radical Congress, National Hip Hop Political Convention
- Emery Wright, Project South
- Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus
- Wautella ibn Yusuf, National Coalition of Blacks for Reparation in America
- Mahdi Ibn Ziyah for Congress The Black Radical Congress
- Jamala Rogers, National Organizer National Office - P.O. Box 24795, St. Louis, MO
- From Crisis to Congress: Assessing the Black Radical Congress, Clarence Lusane; Social Justice, Vol. 25, 1998
- A Very Short History of Our Organization by Dennis O'Neil 31 August 2010 , FRSO/OSCL website
- Chicanos Organize the‘New Raza Left’ February 4, 1999
- Hartford Web Publishing: What Is The Black Radical Congress (BRC)?, June 15, 1998 (accessed on Oct. 7, 2010)
- Info Exchange, 10th Anniversary Meeting of the Black Radical Congress, June 20-22, 2008
- Info Exchange, 10th Anniversary Meeting of the Black Radical Congress, June 20-22, 2008