The All African People's Revolutionary Party marched from Meridian Hill Park down to the White House yesterday, denouncing cultural genocide.
The African Liberation Support Committee marched from the White House up toward Meridian Hill Park yesterday, denouncing the imperialist superpowers and the All African People's Revolutionary Party.
The African Liberation Day Coalition marched from Kalorama Park to Lafayette Park, denouncing the All African People's Revolutionary Party and the African Liberation Support Committee, barely missing the fur hats and snare drums of the United House of Prayer Daddy Grace Memorial Parade, passing the Carl McIntire Honor America marchers, and trialing the Sons of the Desert Mecca Temple No. 10.
It was a good day, all in all, to march.
Besides being a fine, hot May afternoon, yesterday was African Liberation Day, an annual observance establised in 1972 to support black majority rule in Africa. It was also the day the Mecca Temple No. 10 Shriners donned their silver swords and satin bloomers and stepped down 16th Street. It was also the annual memorial for Bishop Charles Emmanuel Grace, founder of the United House of Prayer, who died in 1960 and whose hulking black Fleetwood Cadillac graced that particular parade route with license plates that still read, "Daddy."
A police helicopter puttered around overhead. "Our problem," muttered a special operations officer watching the rally at Kalorama Park "is going to be logistics. These damn groups are crisscrossing each other."
As it turned out, nobody tangled up anyone else's parade. However, six members of the National Socialist White People's Party were bloodied when they walked into the African Liberation Day Coalition's parade, shouting, "We hate niggers." City police reported to further incidents early yesterday evening and said the day appeared to have marched itself out with no serious problems.
By 10 a.m. yesterday the quiver of activity had begun: posters up, speaker wires out, tentative drum rolls and off-key practice scales. At Meridian Hill Park, site of the first African Liberation Day rally five years ago, the D.C. Unit of the All African People's Revolutionary Party had pasted their flyers to the restroom walls: "Better opportunities for Afrikans Born in Amerikkka! Better Housing! End cultural genocide against our race!"
Civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael spoke. The party is promoting black control of Africa, he said; Africa is the core of the black revolution.The marchers moved on out.
At the other end of the park, the Revolutionary Youth League in alliance with the African Liberation Support Committee passed out literature and said to passerby: "Don't go to that march. Go to our march."
"That's Stokely's group up there," said a young man in a khaki shirt, with a trace of contempt in his voice. "Stokely just says to go back to Africa and forget the struggle here."
Still, "Stokely's group" had commanded enough people to fill the lower half of Meridian Hill Park, and most of them seemed to be enjoying themslves. They played bongos, smokes marijuana, ate hugely, and swam in the park's pool. "I'm into politics, you know," said Lydia Green, of Southeast Washington, "but I heard this was where it was a today, not about any rally for politics." She waved at a familiar face, and said, "I'm here for fun."
Not far away, in Kalorama Park, the African Liberation Day Coalition explained to the interested that both the other groups held politically incorrect positions. The coalition, said Los Angeles organizer Abdul Al Kalimat, broke away from the original Carmichael organization because "some people have the narrow view that the struggles against the oppression of black people should only be waged by black people. We think people of all nationalities should unite to fight off oppression."
A conga rumbled out and a few female demonstrators in short shorts led a political cheer in Spanish. "We think our position is correct, Al Kalimat said. The buses rolled in from North Carolina, Atlanta, Boston. Al Kalimat was seeing a lot of old friends.
All three of the groups celebrating African Liberation Day yesterday said they were outgrowths of the 1960s civil rights movement.
Rick Taggs, spokesman for th African Liberation Day Support Committee, said: "All these struggles came out of the black liberation movement and the Vietnam war protest. At that time people realized we needed a much more analytical view of what was going on. We needed a structure and that structure for us is socialism - serving the interest of the working class.
Vicki Garber, of the African Liberation Day Support Coalition, a splinter group from the support committee said her group is linked to the black left-wing struggles of the 1960s through an escalated concern for people all over the world, not just in the United States.
Carmichael, former head of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, (SNCC), a 1960s activist group, said in an interview that he has been traveling around the world since 1972, when he publicly declared that he would work to achieve Pan-Africanism. He said his All-African People's Revolutionary Party included former Black Panthers and SNCC members.
"The part is black nationalism taken to its logical conclusion," Carmichael said. "It is black nationalism taken to its highest possible political experience - Pan-Africanism, and the Pan-Africanism is the total liberation of Africa."
Carmichael said reports earlier this week that his march would be limited to black persons only were erroneous, although only one white person was seen marching with his group.
"Black people must lead the black revolution," Carmichael said. "But white people marched with us. I've got nothing against white people perse. If I saw a white man trying to shoot Jan Smith, I wouldn't stop him because he was white; I would give him a bullet."
Carmichael said his group favors black Americans returning to Africa after the continent is in the control of black leaders.
Carmichael called the two other rallies held yesterday "the work of kids." He said he would have preferred to present a solid political front but could not join with "political novices."
Spokesmen for all three of the African Liberation Day groups viewed the black left-wing organization of the 1960s, the Black panthers, SNCC and the NAACP as anachronisms that are better forgotten in the late '70s.
At the Washington Monument yesterday, a small crowd sat on folding wooden chairs for a very different sort of rally. From a playform that read. "In the Name of God We Will Set Up Our Banners," the Rev. Carl McIntire presided over an afternoon of speeches and sermons denoucing the President's amnesty program, U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, abortion, U.S. retreat from the Panama Canal, and what was referred to as the "million people murdered by Communists in Rhodesia."
A small, bearded man in a red-and-white striped Uncle Sam hat passed out his song, "I Want a Policeman on My Street." "I'm a conservative," he said cheerfully. "This is a topical song." He said his name was Joseph Erdelyi Jr., which is Transylvanian. "Where Dracula comes from."
Down at 6th and M Streets NW, the United House of Prayer parade swayed, marchers clapping down the street, with brasses and tassels and electric pink choir robes.
Bishop W. McCollough stood out on the pavement and waved them on, squinting in the sun, his silver cross hanging low around his neck. Around him and into church stepped the McCollough State Band of West Virginia, the McCollough Notes of Charlotte, N.C., and the McCollough Classics of New York State.