March 13, 2014
The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) honors Baba Chokwe Lumumba and all that he brought to our movements for justice and self-determination.
Chokwe Lumumba was a lawyer, community organizer, activist, and leader. As a lawyer, he recognized law as a repressive tool and mastered the ability to use it to defend political targets and those political prisoners who have sacrificed their life for the struggle. As an organizer, he built relationships from the ground up knowing that a movement must start with love for the people and value the protection of one’s community. As an activist, he spoke out against the various manifestations of US imperialism and white supremacy from Zionism to gentrification and the genocide of young African Americans, and from the struggle for Black self-determination to the struggle for reparations. As a leader, he provided lessons, examples, and organizations to guide us in our work for liberation.
He taught us all, as we struggle to shift power in a society designed to disempower that honest leadership and political accountability are not only necessary but possible. He reminded us that the commitment to liberation, standing against oppression in all its forms, is a transformative commitment. It is a commitment that moves people, inspires people and creates change—one community at a time. It is not only telling that this man with a revolutionary character, deep rooted principles, and commitment to his people was able to win an election and become Mayor. But it is even more noteworthy that he became an elected official and was able to remain true to his character, vision and commitment.
Most AROC members did not have the privilege of knowing Chokwe Lumumba personally. But we have had the privilege of working with his comrades from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an organization he co-founded. We have been able to struggle, build and organize with some of the most principled and committed individuals in our community. If MXGM is but one reflection of the breadth of contribution that Chokwe Lumumba has made to our times, then he has surely left a lasting legacy built on leadership with solid political ground, and a vision for economic and social justice that starts with the love for one’s people and ends with love for all. AROC is humbled by his life’s work. And we stand in community together, in honor of him and his legacy, and for the sake of love, land, life and community by any means necessary.