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Chicago: Black History Month celebration on Black liberation and Palestinian liberation

By Jae Franklin

Nesreen Hasan and Olan Mijana. | Fight Back! News/Jae Franklin

Chicago, IL – On February 18, the Chicago Freedom Road Socialist Organization hosted over 50 members of the community at the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) office to celebrate Black History Month.

The event featured a panel on the historic solidarity between Black and Palestinian organizers in Chicago as well as how that solidarity shows up in practice today, and it was followed by a poetic cultural performance from FRSO and CAARPR member Brian Young, Jr.

The panel consisted of FRSO member and National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression Executive Director Frank Chapman; Nesreen Hasan of the US Palestinian Community Network; Tulsi McDaniels of the Chicago Alliance; Kennedy Bartley, executive director of the United Working Families; and was moderated by FRSO member Olan Mijana.

During the panel, speakers touched on the ways Black and Palestinian activists have supported each other in years past, including citizens of Gaza giving tips to those who were marching in Ferguson on how to fight mace and teargas tactics from the police. Also, before NAARPR was formed in 1973, Palestinians stood with Angela Davis while she was facing life in prison. Black organizers have similarly supported Palestinian rights as far back as 1976, when NAARPR held an emergency conference in support of Palestine.

“There will be no Black liberation until there is Palestinian liberation. There will be no Palestinian liberation until there is Black liberation,” said Tulsi McDaniels, “Because of the interconnectedness of our communities, we reject the idea that justice will be achieved in isolation.”

In addition to the historical perspective, organizers also delved into what their solidarity has looked like in practice since the uprisings began around the Al-Aqsa Flood. For instance, the Chicago Alliance always brings a strong contingent to rallies and actions held by the Coalition for Justice in Palestine and USPCN. In addition, members of the Chicago Alliance and USPCN frequently coordinate media and press efforts.

Most notably, the Chicago Alliance and USPCN paired their demands on the Chicago city council to win a ceasefire in Gaza resolution, and to oppose allowing arbitration for police officers in severe misconduct cases. In the end, both demands were met, which was a testament to the formidability of Black and Palestinian solidarity. And in the ceasefire resolution’s case, the movement-backed Mayor Brandon Johnson cast the tiebreaking vote.

“Brandon Johnson is a Black mayor, and he took a bold and courageous vote, but beyond it just being bold and courageous, it was reflective of the movement that he comes from, a movement grounded in the liberation of all oppressed people,” said Kennedy Bartley.

Immediately after the panel, Brian Young Jr. a creative who explores the intersections of Black and queer resistance, performed two original poems, both centering the raw and red-hot emotions that come with being a part of an oppressed community, reminding us that “hope is a verb. This I know because I saw you today.”

#ChicagoIL #OppressedNationalities #AfricanAmerican #BlackHistoryMonth #International #MiddleEast #Palestine #USCPN #NAARPR #CAARPR #FRSO