Friday, March 09, 2007

Former Panther Leader Elaine Brown Seeks Green Party Presidential Nomination For 2008

Elaine Brown announces for Green Party President

Elaine Brown Website:

Former Black Panther Party leader, noted author, community and prison justice activist Elaine Brown announced this week that she intends to seek the Green Party’s nomination for a presidential bid in 2008. “The 2006 elections signified a mass rejection of Bush’s policies–not a shift to the Democrats. We have arrived at a powerful moment when the majority of the country is seeking a political alternative, toward embracing progressive values and realizing a progressive agenda. I haven’t seen this potential since the 1960s.”

Brown, who ran as a Green in the 2005 Brunswick, Georgia, mayoral election where Republicans succeeded in illegally removing her name from both the ballot and the voter roll, intends to run on a platform that addresses the interests of poor and working families, in terms of living wages, free healthcare, decent housing and increased funding for public education and higher education; ending the war in Iraq; restoring the environment and bringing about economic parity.

Strategically, she intends to target non-voters, specifically women under 30 and African Americans, constituencies she believes are not represented by the nearly identical agendas of the Democrat and Republican parties, stating these crucial constituencies “have the power to build up an alternative party to truly challenge the status quo.”

“I believe I have the ability to raise consciousness among disaffected and disenfranchised poor and working people, women and blacks, to galvanize them to vote for a real second party. Such a broadening of the Green Party base will allow us to start winning big time, at the state level and nationally, so that we can overturn some of the most egregious policies and laws (like the three strikes crime bill which has so devastated black communities) and introduce progressive legislation.

There are a lot of great community organizations working for change, performing Sisyphean tasks that cannot address the fundamental problems. I believe the time is right to use the ballot to make the kinds of changes we know must be made to serve the people we represent.”

Brown stated she is running as a Green because: “Not only does the Green Party support reparations for slavery, but the party’s ten key values represent the values and interests of poor and working people. Only the Green Party offers clear positions on the needs of the people, in terms of a living wage, decent housing, food, education, and medical care. The Democrats and Republicans offer black and poor people nothing.”

When asked what she hopes to achieve with her run, Brown said: “I know the party can earn a significant increase in votes and membership, which will increase our viability to take congressional seats, state house seats, and local offices; so that we can really start changing the way government operates.”

The Green Party will nominate its Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates at its 2008 Convention.

For information and updates on the Green Party Presidential process, you may contact Ian Wilder, Region 1 rep to the GP-US Presidential Campaign Support Committee. Ian Wilder (631) 422-4702.

Elaine Brown's first album Seize the Time reissued and now available on CD, includes the Black Panther Party National Anthem*

After the assassinations of my beloved comrades John Huggins and Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter in January of 1969 at UCLA, I met the Black Panther Party Chief of Staff, David Hilliard. He had come to Los Angeles for Bunchy's funeral, where I sang Precious Lord, at the request of Bunchy's mother.

It had rained that entire week after the assassinations, a downpour as overwhelming as our grief. After the funeral, we gathered together, speechless. Then David spoke to me. He asked about the songs he had heard I wrote. In my jail cell that last week, I had written a song for Bunchy and John.

Nearly all the members of our Southern California Chapter of the Party had been, criminally, arrested hours after the assassinations on the bizarre charge of conspiracy to commit murder, or, to retaliate against the assassins of John and Bunchy, members of the counterrevolutionary US Organization of Ron Karenga, who we believed an operative of the FBI.

My song for Bunchy and John was called, simply,
Assassination. I played it for David in the silence of that terrible moment. I played others, at his request that was a command.

At some point then, or maybe later, I played him a song called The Meeting. While it was a recollection of the night I encountered Eldridge Cleaver, then the Party's Minister of Information, it seemed more to David, as, to me, particularly in the aftermath of that night weeks later when Eldridge was wounded and 17-year-old Bobby Hutton was killed in a police assault on Panthers in Oakland, California, on April 6, 1968-two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The heaviness of it all seemed to resound in the song, which David ultimately ordained, and which remains, "The Black Panther Party National Anthem."

These and the other songs here were written for and, in many ways, by the heroes I came to know, the freedom fighters, the soldiers of the Black Panther Party. This album is an homage to them, to the blood they shed in our struggle to find freedom for our people, for all oppressed people.

The distance between the time when this album was recorded, under the baton of the great jazz pianist Horace Tapscott, in 1969, is barely perceptible to me. It's not so much that aging allows me to recognize, reckon with, the brevity of life and time but that the oppressive conditions that gave rise to the Black Panther Party remain. The relevance of our work is contemporary. The heroes and ideas celebrated and expressed in song here are presently significant. The United States is still engaged in wars of aggression, for profit.

Poverty overwhelms the country, millions, especially the blacks, living at the edge of life, without food or decent housing or medical care or education. Over two million people, 50% of whom are black, are imprisoned in the U.S., in both public and private, for-profit prisons, rendering the U.S. distinct as having the highest incarceration rate in the world. The black infant mortality rate is twice that of whites, the same tragic disparity as when Dr. King reflected on it in 1968; and the black cancer death rates are double and triple that for whites. And now there are the scourges of AIDS and "crack" cocaine.

A new generation of freedom fighters must rise up from this pyre. May these songs serve as inspiration.

Elaine Brown
Brunswick, Georgia

A Brief Biography

Elaine Brown is a former leading member of the Black Panther Party and author of A Taste of Power and The Condemnation of Little B.—A Taste of Power, Brown’s memoir, is being developed for film production by Suzanne de Passe, Emmy-award winning president of de Passe Entertainment.

In 1996, after living seven years in France, Brown moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she established the nonprofit education corporation Fields of Flowers to build a comprehensive model education center for black and other poor children.

Brown, who twice ran for public office as a member of the Black Panther Party, recently moved to Brunswick, Georgia, to run for mayor (in the November 2005 election), toward creating a base of economic power for the city’s majority black and poor population through redistribution of the massive revenues of the city’s powerful port.

Brown is presently writing For Reasons of Race and Belief, the biography of Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown) with Karima Al-Amin (for publication by Carroll & Graf).

Brown is Executive Director of the Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee, supporting the legal appeal of Lewis (“Little B”), who, arrested at the age of 13 for a murder he did not commit, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison (1997).

In 1997, Brown co-founded Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice, and, in 2002, co-founded and became a Board member of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform. In addition, Brown is Vice President of The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, a partner in Seize the Time, Inc., and a member of the Geechee Council of Georgia.

Brown lectures at colleges and universities throughout the country on “New Age Racism” and realization of the vision of eliminating racism, gender oppression and class disparity toward an inclusive and egalitarian world society.

Brown, a fluent French speaker, has traveled extensively throughout the world, both on behalf of the Black Panther Party and independently, from China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Algeria to France, Italy, Russia, Argentina, Uruguay, and elsewhere.

Brown, who studied classical piano for years and recorded two albums of her original songs, one for Motown records, has attended Temple University, UCLA, Mills College and Southwestern University School of Law.

The mother of one adult daughter, Ericka Abram, Brown grew up in the ghettos of North Philadelphia. Brown’s papers have been acquired by Emory University.

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