More than a decade ago, I was at a grassroots meeting in Cleveland. One of the last speakers, a former member of the Black Panther Party of Self Defense, came to the mic and said, "Ok, we're closing, but I just have one more thing to say." Now, I had been to enough of these gatherings to know that "one more thing" usually meant several more things. I was correct; we were there for an extended closing statement.
But what I heard, at least some of it, really stuck with me. "Get organized," the speaker kept repeating to the audience of activists and intellectuals, most of whom were their early 20s. "You gotta get organized, cause a people unorganized are subject to slavery every time." He offered a long list of instances throughout black diaspora and history where people were organized and successful at attaining their goals and unorganized and then treated to harsh conditions.
Moving forward, it's my goal to assist in getting folks in our circle organized. Perhaps organization is one way that we deal with the whole issue of benign neglect and other challenges facing vulnerable populations at the university. We've had some important organization accomplishments in the past, but I still would like to see us do more along these lines in the future.
The words of that veteran organizer still haunt me. "Organization. Organization. Organization," he said raising his voice toward the end. "A people unorganized are subject to slavery every time."
• Future Histories project