Press Release: 1,000 Black activists, scholars and artists sign statement supporting freedom and equality for Palestinian people
Statement calls for Boycotts, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against
G4S and other companies profiting from Israeli occupation and apartheid
For Immediate Release - Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Press Contacts: Kristian Davis Bailey & Khury Petersen-Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org
Over 1,000 Black activists, artists, scholars, students, and organizations have released a statement reaffirming their “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people.” The list of signatories includes scholar-activists Angela Davis and Cornel West, political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sundiata Acoli, rappers Talib Kweli, Boots Riley and Jasiri X, and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors. 40 organizations signed, including the Florida-based Dream Defenders and St. Louis-based Hands Up United and Tribe X, which were founded after the killings of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown, respectively, as well as the 35-year-old Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis.
The statement debuted Tuesday afternoon on the website of Ebony, the largest Black publication in the US.
“We urge people of conscience to recognize the struggle for Palestinian liberation as a key matter of our time,” the statement asserts. It also calls on the US government to end diplomatic and economic aid to Israel, for Black and US institutions to support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law, and for supporters of Black and Palestinian liberation to target private security company G4S for boycotts and divestment.
Over the past 15 months, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, and Columbia University have all divested from G4S following pressure from Black and Palestinian human rights activists.
“G4S harms thousands of Palestinian political prisoners illegally held in Israel and hundreds of Black and brown youth held in its privatized juvenile prisons in the US,” the statement reads.“The corporation profits from incarceration and deportation from the US and Palestine, to the UK, South Africa, and Australia. We reject notions of ‘security’ that make any of our groups unsafe and insist no one is free until all of us are.”
The statement represents a bridge between the current generation of Black activists and those who participated in the movements of the 1960s and 70s. Other signatories include the Black Panther Party’s Minister of Culture Emory Douglas, former SNCC chairman Phil Hutchings, as well as Kwame Somburu and Emeritus Professor Charles E. Simmons. Hutchings, Somburu and Simmons were all signatories of a 1970 ad in The New York Times of Black activists and scholars in support of the Palestinian struggle against Zionism and the occupation.
Over 330 current students signed, including Black or Afrikan Student Unions at Columbia, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Yale, and the Stanford NAACP Executive Committee. 150 scholars and 220 artists signed the statement as well. People have signed onto the statement from 25 different countries, 37 U.S. states, and the District of Columbia. Ten current political prisoners signed the statement, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Ayyub Abdul-Alim, and Shaylanna Luvme.
The statement comes in the wake of a year of high-profile expressions of solidarity between Black and Palestinian people that began last summer with the simultaneous unfolding of Israel’s killing of 2,200 people in Gaza and the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri following the police killing of Mike Brown.
Since last August, a delegation of Palestinian students has visited Black organizers in St. Louis, Detroit, and Florida among other locations. The Florida-based group Dream Defenders voted to unanimously endorse the BDS movement at its December congress, just weeks before bringing a delegation of activists from Florida, Ferguson, and Black Lives Matter to Palestine.
“Each of our struggles plays a crucial role in the global fight against racism,” said statement co-organizer Kristian Davis Bailey. “We wish to send a loud and clear message to Palestinians, as well as the governments of the US and Israel that now is the time for Palestinian liberation, just as now is the time for our own in the United States.”
Statement co-organizer Khury Petersen-Smith said that justice for Palestinians is not simply limited to ending the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“The foundation of the Israeli state came through the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and every day since has involved oppression and violence toward the Palestinian population, both within and outside of Israel’s recognized borders,” Petersen-Smith said. “While there are differences between Israel and the US, we see parallels with a country that was founded on the enslavement of Black people and where anti-Black racism remains at the heart of US society centuries later.”
Bailey said he hopes the statement reaches widely within Palestinian society and encourages more constant interaction between the two movements: “Now is the time for us to re-educate our communities about the struggles the other group faces. Now is the time for us to unite across borders. Together we will achieve our liberation.”
Visit www.blackforpalestine.com for the full list of signatories and more information. You can also follow the statement on Facebook and Twitter.