Sunday, August 15, 2010

40 years ago today: Huey P. Newton on women's & gay liberation

On August 15, 1970, Huey P. Newton, one of the founders and leaders of the Black Panther Party, gave a speech urging solidarity with the movements for women's and gay liberation. I think it's important to remember this speech because the Black liberation movement and even the Black community as a whole are so often slandered as though they're somehow more sexist and/or homophobic than other movements or other sectors of society, and here we have a great revolutionary leader speaking out just one year after the Stonewall Rebellion, far earlier than almost anyone else.
When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women's liberation movement. ... The women's liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies ... . We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women's liberation groups.

You can read the full speech, and many other talks and writings, in The Huey P. Newton Reader.  It is available free and in full here, online, or here.

You can also read the full speech here, on Assata Shakur's website.
Interestingly, it seems to have been posted in the forums section by someone with the screen name Marsha P. Johnson. For those who don't know, Marsha was one of the original Stonewall warriors--she participated in the June 1969 Stonewall Rebellion--and a beloved activist in the LGBT movement here in New York. She cofounded STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with Sylvia Rivera, another Stonewall rebel. Marsha was found dead in the Hudson River in 1992, and the NYPD refused to ever investigate what most in the community believe to have been a racist anti-trans murder.

I don't know whether Huey P. Newton and Marsha P. Johnson ever met but both lived lives of struggle and solidarity. I'm glad for the occasion to think about that.