Saturday, August 22, 2015
Huey P. Newton, the Canadian Connection
Huey P. Newton (1942-1989): The Canadian Connection
The Canadian Connection
By Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali
Huey P. Newton was murdered 26 years ago in Oakland, California during
the month of August. Because Black freedom fighters like George and
Jonathan Jackson, Khatari Gaulden and others lost their lives during
this month, revolutionaries inside the California prison system have
deemed it Black August.
It is August 22, 1989 at about 8:30 a.m. the late Gwen Johnston, the co-owner
of Third World Books and Crafts (Toronto’s first African Canadian
owned bookstore) phones me. The news is shocking, dreadful even. Mrs.
Johnston is in tears stating, “Otis they have killed Huey”.
Mrs. Johnston and her husband Lennie were huge supporters of Newton,
the Black Panther Party and the struggle for African and human
When Newton returned to the United States after his exile in
revolutionary Cuba in 1977 he first landed in Toronto. He was detained
in Brampton, Ontario and was represented by the progressive
Euro-Canadian lawyer, Paul Copeland. Toronto’s African community
supported Newton and the Panthers had several chapters in this county.
Toronto’s African community was represented by Owen Sankara Leach,
Lennox Farrell, the late Sharona Hall, Mitch Holder, Bryan Hyman,
Cikiah Thomas and others at the Brampton courthouse. It was covered by
the Toronto dailies and even was discussed by Walter Cronkite on the
CBS Evening News.
Spider Jones discusses his brief tenure with the Black Panther Party
in his autobiography “Out of the Darkness: The Spider Jones
Story”.Another African born in Canada Rocky Jone created a Black
Panther Party chapter in Halifax,Nova Scotia.
Whatever his shortcomings and there were many, Newton led many of us
ideologically. For a brief moment in the history of Africans in
America Newton was” the tallest tree in the forest”.
Malcolm X was the first national leader in the African community in
the United States to oppose the war in Vietnam. Dr. Martin Luther King
later followed Malcolm’s lead on this issue; Newton took it to the
next limit. He offered troops to fight on the side of the North
Vietnamese. In 1970, when was released from prison in California, his
first act was to offer troops to fight in Vietnam on the side of the
On August 29, 1970 Newton wrote "In the spirit of international
revolutionary solidarity the Black Panther Party hereby offers to the
National Liberation Front and Provisional revolutionary Government of
South Vietnam an undetermined number of troops to assist you in your
fight against American imperialism. It is appropriate for the Black
Panther Party to take this action at this time in recognition of the
fact that your struggle is also our struggle, for we recognize that
our common enemy is the American imperialist who is the leader of
international bourgeois domination."
Newton also raised the questions of the liberation of women and even
gays. At that time in our history this was not fashionable.
Nationalists, Pan-Africanist and even some socialist formations did
not wish to touch the hot potato of gay rights. Newton did. He was the
bold one. His speech given on August 15, 1970 created a firestorm in
the African liberation movement. At that time I did not support
Newton's thoughts on the issue of gays and lesbians.
Newton said: "We should be careful about using those terms that might
turn our friends off. The terms 'faggot' and 'punk' should be deleted
from our vocabulary and, especially, we should not attach names
normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the
people. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people. We should try to
form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women's
liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most
Newton was born in Oak Grove, Louisiana on February 17, 1942.
Louisiana has always been a problem for the ruling circle in the
United States. Queen Mother Moore, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, Raymond
“Maasi” Hewitt, Elmer
"Geronimo" Pratt, Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown), Paul
Mooney Richard Williams (father of Serena and Venus Willisms )and
Newton all hail from Louisiana.
Queen Mother Moore from New Iberia, Carter and Hewiitt from Shreveport, Geronimo
from Morgan City, Imam Al-Amin from Baton Rouge and Newton from Oak Grove.
There were 74 chapters of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement
Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) in Louisiana
alone. Tony Martin pointed this out in his volume, “Race First: The
Ideological and Organizational truggles of Marcus Garvey and the
Universal Negro Improvement Association”.
In the 1950s and 1960s the militant Deacons for Defense sprang up in
the pecan state. Jesse Jackson won the primaries for the Democratic
Party in 1984 and 1988. Barack Hussein Obama, rode a wave of black
support to victory in Louisiana.
The state has also produced its share of sell-outs, buffoons and idiots.
As we commemorate the 39th Anniversary of Black August and the 26th
anniversary of Newton joining the ancestors we should remember the
words of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Says Mumia: "Huey was, it must be said, no godling, no saint. He was,
however, intensely human, curious, acutely brilliant, a lover of the
world's children, an implacable foe of all the world's oppressors."
Norman (Otis) Richmond, aka Jalali, was born in Arcadia, Louisiana,
and grew up in Los Angeles. He left Los Angles after refusing to fight
in Viet Nam because he felt that, like the Vietnamese, Africans in the
United States were colonial subjects. Jalali is producer/host for the
Diasporic Music show on UhuruRadio.com every Sunday at 2pm ET. His
column Diasporic Music appears monthly in The Burning Spear newspaper.
He can be contacted Norman.firstname.lastname@example.org