“Days of Grace” Sets Unified Pace for Southern Resistance
by Lamont Lilly
Over 800 gathered in the city of Charleston, S.C., Sept. 5-6 for the Days of Grace Mass March and Strategy Conference against racism and for economic justice. Activists, organizers and attendees traveled from all over the United States. Guest speaker, Clarence Thomas, of the International Longshore Workers Union Local 10, came in from Oakland, Calif. Several of their Bay Area leading organizers all journeyed together from West to East, including dock workers all the way from Seattle.
National activist, DeRay McKesson came in from St. Louis, MO. Organizers with the Fight for $15 pressed their way from as far as Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. The Boston-based Mass Action Against Police Brutality came down from Massachusetts. Workers World Party sent a delegation representing Durham, N.C., Virginia, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York; while the Southern Workers Assembly proved to be one of the most energetic contingents in the march. Such solidarity was an affirmation of our collective sense of urgency.
As old and young, Black and white, women and men stood together, we remembered the fallen nine of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in strength and solidarity, innocent victims of the racist shooting spree on June 17. We lifted the name of Walter Scottfatally shot in the back by a cop in North Charleston, in the name of justice, truth and liberation. We honored the countless victims of police terror and continued state violence, nationwide. As nearly a thousand marched through downtown Charleston, our display of unity, resistance and sheer determination could not be ignored. Our will to fight could not help but be heard as tourists and onlookers took note. National media sources kept pace and stayed close.
As you looked over the crowd, there were placards and banners commemorating the work and sacrifices of Denmark Vesey, Robert Smallsand Harriet Tubman — all anti-slavery fighters. Slogans such “Finish the revolution,” “Stop the war on Black America,” and “Black Women Matter” were all fan favorites. Along the march, local ministers sang “We Shall Overcome,” while more militant-minded youth chanted “Black Power!” and “No justice, no peace!” As the morning sun began to rise, we concluded with an enthusiastic and thunderous rally on Marion Square.
Key issues included police terror and discriminatory enforcement; the minimum wage and the exploitation of low-wage workers; health care, public education, collective bargaining and new strategies toward achieving Black liberation. It was quite refreshing to see such a wide range of local and national organizations actually working together, very intentionally setting their differences aside for the sake of poor, working-class and oppressed communities.
Keynote speaker, the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, took attendees to the mountaintop of truth and grace. “We’re in the embryonic stages of the third reconstruction,” Barber said, noting that many of the same issues from 100 years ago are still with us today. “The first consciousness we have to change is the consciousness of the people,” he said, noting that it will take a mass movement to move state legislatures to win progressive concessions for the oppressed. Immediately following, Clarence Thomas gave a stirring speech calling for workers to shut down the economy, mentioning the recent May Day shutdown of the docks on the West Coast.
Though supporters of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were in attendance, guest speakers and conference organizers reminded the people that neither Republicans nor Democrats will grant the poor and working class genuine people power — a valid point that was carefully articulated later in the day.
In a beautiful show of internationalism, a solidarity message from the National Network on Cuba was read from the stage.
Working-class unity not usually seen in the U.S. South
Following the march was a mass convening at the International Longshoremen Association Hall on Morrison Drive that hosted workshops, vendors and teach-ins. Angaza Laughinghouse, Vice-President of the United Electrical Workers Local 150 and Black Workers for Justice, led a session discussing the economic plight of Southern workers who are mostly un-unionized and without collective bargaining.
Local Black Lives Matter organizer Muhiyyidin d’Baha conducted a teach-in on “Strategizing Against Police Terror.” T-shirts bearing the images of Denmark Vesey and the 1739 Stono Rebellion, the largest rebellion in the colonies led by slaves outside Charleston, were quite inspiring.
During the Sept. 6 final plenary, Ajamu Dillahunt, long-time organizer with Black Workers for Justice reminded us, “This march was very unique. We had the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, Black Lives Matter and the Fight for $15.” Dillahunt was absolutely correct. This brand of working-class unity is something the U.S. South hasn’t seen for decades.
Though the number of attendees was a little lighter than expected (held on Labor Day Weekend), it is very important to note that most of the organizers and participants were actually based in the Southeast (historically referred to as the Southern Black Belt). Such developments will only aid in the process of organizing the same region where Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker once fought. Connections were made and meaningful relationships were able to be established. The “Days of Grace” was only the start. Revolution is our next step forward. Indeed, fromFerguson to Charleston, a new surge of resistance is running full speed ahead.
“46TH Annual-“National Conference of Black Lawyers, Annual Gathering /Awards Banquet”
The “National Conference of Black Lawyers” (“NCBL”) continues its forty-six year tradition as the” Legal Arm of the Movement for Black Liberation” . This organization of militant activist lawyers and grassroots advocates held its annual three day conference of training /sharing/ recruiting new fighters on the legal front of struggle at the North Carolina Central University Law School in Durham,NC because of the many leading struggles in N.C. centered around labor,civil, voting,women, health care and human rights. Both Hip Hop For Justice youth organizer Angaza Samora Laughinghouse and UE150/NC Public Service Workers Union /Black Workers for Justice organizer
( former NCBL Executive Board Director) Angaza Sababu Laughinghouse lead and/or participated in most of the working plenary sessions on Police/Government Repression, Labor & Social Justice Struggles,International Struggles in Africa/Palestine, Self-Determination/Our Struggle for our Land,and more.
One of the highlights of this political gathering was its Awards Dinner Banquet on October 10, 2015 at the Teamsters Union Hall in Raleigh/Durham , NC. There were very esteemed guests and activist lawyer honorees at this lively gala. The Banquet started with a lovely dinner with vegetarian, and meat options. There was White and Red Wine served with dinner. The ceremony’s program opened with the Master of Ceremonies, the legendary human rights attorney Lennox Hinds, Esq., welcoming esteemed guest , all present and then sharing the outstanding forty-six year history of NCBL’s service to the Black Liberation Struggle. NCBL provided legal representation for the Fight for Affirmative Action ( against Bakke & Weber Cases), the Harlem Black Panther 21, Angela Davis Jim Grant / the Charlotte Three,Ben Chavis/Wilmington 10, Nelson Mandela/Anti-Apartheid Movement/ U.N. Human Rights Petition Charges against the U.S. Governments Counter Intelligence attacks on the 1960’s-70’s Freedom/Civil Rights/Black Liberation Movements..
The NCCU Law School Dean Phyllis Craig-Taylor shared why it was important to bring this esteemed organizations of lawyers to the State and North Carolina Central University School of Law. Phyllis Craig-Taylor shared the historical tradition of the School’s fight for civil rights and the fight to protect the rights of the poor and disenfranchised. The night lead into the awards ceremony presentations. The lawyer of the year; Atty. Standish (“Stan Kwame”) Willis of Chicago, ILL., Service Awardee; Mrs. Annette Ensley of New York, NY and Durham, NC, Rising Star; Ms. Brandy Robinson, Esq. of Detroit, MI
Proceeding the awards ceremony the nationally renowned and National Labor Heritage Foundation “Life Time Achievement Award Honorees” the Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble performed two classic songs;” Endangered Species” and “Peace Funk”. The Fruit of Labor had the crowd standing on their feet waving the “two fingered peace sign” during their performance. The Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble members Mrs. Nathanette Mayo-Laughinghouse, Mr. Rick Scott, Mr. Darrion Smith, and Mr. Angaza Laughinghouse enjoyed
meeting and speaking with this extraordinary group of banquet participants who serve many of our social justice struggles.
Proceeding the cultural musical performance was the Keynote Speaker; Judge William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr. of Baltimore, MD. The keynote address was informative, educational, and inspirational. He reminded us of the many powerful lessons of the 1960’s-1970’s that involved taking big and sometimes fatal risks.
The Banquet ended with an auction fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars. The auction was fun and it raised funds for The National Conference Of Black Lawyers to continue to do their great work throughout the world.
After the Banquet, all joined in a great mixer and Dance Party lead by our FOL Diva Nathanette Mayo ! . The DJ for the night was no other than BWFJ’s “Mr. Entertainment “Rick Scott.” And our master organizers, Angaza Samora and Angaza Sababu continued building southern and NC contacts for their vision of a NCBL “Southern/NC region chapter” flank to provide legal support our tremendous and challenging work here in this region.
The Saturday night banquet and weekend 46th Annual NCBL Conference was not only a gala fun filled event with wonderful activist people, old and new friends,….but a great start to revitalizing this needed legal arm of the “Black Liberation Struggle”.
Book a Concert with Fruit of Labor
The Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble, their songs and music was born out of the struggle of organizing African American workers in the “Black Belt” region of North Carolina and the South. They have created more than 60 songs, some catalogued in their four CD’s: “Workers Want Fairness”, “Weapons of Mass Construction”, “Your Silence Won’t Save You” and their 25th anniversary CD “Workers Stimulus Package”. The Fruit of Labor’s music has been performed before countless rallies, picket lines and marches. It has also been heard in concert halls, schools, colleges, workplaces, churches, communities, Junteenth and Kwanzaa celebrations and on radio stations nationally and internationally. They have performed before audiences throughout North Carolina, in Maine, Conneticut, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee and Washington, DC.
Contact Fruit of Labor to book their concert by emailing us at email@example.com.
Listen to our 32 sample tracks:
Calendar of Events:
8-11th, Thursday- Sunday; 46th Annual National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL); NCCU School of Law, 604 Nelson St., Durham, NC. www.ncbl.org for more info.
10th, Saturday; Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble performs at the NCBL Banquet; 6pm at the Teamsters Union Hall 6317 Angus Drive Raleigh, North Carolina 27613; for ticket price information go to www.ncbl.org
16th -17th ; Friday-Saturday; North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN)’s 17th Annual EJ Summit in Whitakers, NC!; go to www.ncejn.org for registration and program information
18th, Sunday; Hip Hop 4 Justice Dinner Meeting – Discussion topic: the history of Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ), Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble & the FOL World Cultural Center; 5:00-6:00pm.
24th; Saturday; Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble Meeting/Rehearsal & Jam – 2:00pm
30th –Nov.1st;Friday – Sunday; Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble Retreat; Carolina Beach, NC
3rd , Tuesday, 7- 9p.m.; Election Night return watch party at the FOLWCC
6th, Friday, FINANCIAL HEALTH WORK SHOP SERIES kick-off; 6:00pm
6th, Friday, Wine & Cheese Networking Social; Free but, donations are welcome; 7:00pm
7th, Saturday; Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble Meeting/Rehearsal & Jam – 2:00pm
14th, Saturday; HH4J Retreat; 11am-2pm
14th, Saturday; Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble Meeting/Rehearsal & Jam – 2:00pm
21st, Saturday; Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble Meeting/Rehearsal & Jam – 2:00pm
28th, Saturday; Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble Meeting/Rehearsal & Jam – 2:00pm
4th, Friday, FINANCIAL HEALTH WORK SHOP SERIES kick-off; 6:00pm
4th, Friday, Wine & Cheese Networking Social; Free but, donations are welcome; 7:00pm
5th, Saturday; 6pm -9:00pm; Hip-Hop 4 Justice, poetry and music with a positive message. Do you have something to say? Well then, step up to the open mic and spit fire! $5 donation. Food available for purchase Sponsored by Black Workers for Justice Youth.
27th, Sunday; Annual Community Kwanzaa Celebration; 3pm-6pm!