el-hajj malik el shabazz (formerly malcolm x) founded the organization of afro american unity in 1964, a political and social movement dedicated to the philosophy of black nationalism, “which means that the black man should control the politics of his own community… and control the politicians who are in his own community. this is also therefore an economic philosophy, which means that the black man should have a hand in controlling the economy of the so-called negro community, he should be developing the type of knowlege that will enable him to own and operate the businesses and thereby be able to create employment for his own people, for his own kind.”
after being evicted from the nation of islam, malcolm x went on a pilgrimage to mecca and returned to the united states with a new vision and awareness of an international struggle for human rights and liberation of oppressed peoples. he changed his name and his philosophy, and spoke (preached?) about the need for black people to unite under a broader cause than the spiritually oriented nation of islam was preaching. the way el-shabazz spoke of politics and economics after founding the oaau has been labeled as black nationalism, the title implying the unity of people of color around the world. what made the philosophy revolutionary was that it argued for oppressed people to take control of the politics and therefore economic policies of their own communities.
a question for the ism oriented people out there: is black nationalism a step toward communism? socialism? democracy? it certainly was a step away from corporate capitalism, away from imperial capitalism. instead of being enslaved to the economic policies of politicians who appear to us as soundbytes on television shows and radio interviews, people in impoverished areas benefit more from the development of community-wide service programs that cater to the direct needs of the neighborhood: nurturing the environment and its conscious citizens.
in 1966, robert c. henry of springfield, ohio became the first black mayor elected to serve a city in the united states.
in january of 1969, the oakland chapter of the black panthers initiated the first Free breakfast for school children program at st. augustine’s church in oakland. by the end of the year, the panthers set up kitchens in cities across the nation, feeding over 10,000 children every day before they went to school.