Amiri Baraka on Occupy Wall Street
Amiri Baraka, activist, writer, and a prominent figure of the Civil Right Movement, is renowned as the Father of the Black Arts Movement. Here he responds to five questions on Occupy Wall Street via email.
Is there something in these protests reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement?
Both are part of a struggle for democracy, in this case not just a bourgeois democracy but a Peoples Democracy, where the 99% rule!
In the Civil Rights Movement strong leaders were crucial. Do these protests have the chance to be successful without appointed leaders?
The best leadership will develop internally. It must if the spontaneous uprising is to be transformed into an ongoing revolutionary force.
How did you get involved in the protests and how do you participate in them?
I visited the Wall St. site at my wife, Amina’s insistence, to see just what was going down. We have communicated our reactions to other activists in the Black Liberation Movement and expressed the need to see more Black activists there. We also have witnessed the rush of a Wells Fargo bank in Minneapolis by people similar to the wall street occupiers
What do you predict for these protests? Are they going to change something in the United States?
These protests have already changed the US to the extent that there are such protests in hundreds of cities, making it clear that a broad sector of the US population are fed up with the day to day abuses of monopoly capitalism.
In an interview with Sampsonia Way you said that “Artists are supposed to do and help the struggle for the advancement of human knowledge.” Do you think that individual artists and art organizations are doing and helping enough in Occupy Wall Street?
I’m sure that some of the protesters are artists, but the need for a more organized response is evident. But then the need for organizational solidarity of the protests is evident as well.
Read a conversation between Amiri Baraka and Salan Udin here