Remembering Lucius Walker

Pastors for Peace Founder Lucius Walker Dies at 80

And the Reverend Lucius Walker has died at the age of eighty. Walker was the executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization and the founder of Pastors for Peace. A longtime advocate for ending the US embargo of Cuba, Reverend Walker took part in a number of annual US-Cuba Friendship Caravans to Cuba. Speaking to caravan participants in 2009, Walker called for a radical shift in US policy.

Rev. Lucius Walker: "We don’t consider Cuba our enemy, but rather our neighbor. And as people who are motivated by the great teachers of faith, we believe that we are to love our neighbors. That means we have to act contrary to US policy, which is an imposition of a blockade against Cuba to try to force it to do the will of the US rather than to pursue its own path towards a better world."

from Democracy NOW


IFCO Executive Director Reverend Lucius Walker Passed Away.

Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs

CUBA, September 8, 2010.- Reverend Lucius Walker, Executive Director of the Inter-Religious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), and Pastors for Peace´s founder passed away on Tuesday in New York.

Lucius Walker, beloved friend and comrade of the Cuban people, was the founder of Pastors for Peace which led 21 US-Cuba Friendship Caravans to Cuba. The recent caravan was carried out last July which brought humanitarian aid to the people on the island.

Lucius had celebrated his 80th birthday with his friends in Cuba which he characterized as his second home.

Pastors for Peace traveled to the island in defiance to Washington´s economic blockade against Cuba.

Pastors for Peace is an ecumenical agency whose mission is to help forward the struggles of oppressed peoples for justice and self-determination.

from Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dear Friends in South Carolina,

We have lost a valiantly courageous, outspoken, warrior for literacy, justice, peace and universal human rights with the death of Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr.

Through his efforts as Director of Pastors for Peace and the wise
generosity of the Cuban Ministry of Health, there are, currently, two young men from South Carolina enrolled in the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba, on full, six year scholarships. One is a second year Medical Student and the other is in his first year. Our goal is to increase this scholarship enrollment from South Carolina, both, in number and diversity.

In the near future, we will convene a memorial tribute for Rev. Walker in Charleston, SC, part honoring the annual Cuban Caravan visit, part as redoubling and rededicating of our outreach to young people in South Carolina to apply for the Medical School Scholarship Program, all with the central, underlying purpose of honoring the courageous life and continuing the purposeful work of Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr.

Jim Campbell
Charleston, South Carolina

from the New Liberator


Free Troy Davis! Stop the Prison Industrial Complex!

by Billy Wharton, co-chair Socialist Party USA & Erik Toren, convener, People of Color Commission Socialist Party USA

Saving the life of Troy Davis has become a rallying point for anti-death penalty activists. Rallies, teach-ins and petitions have been organized throughout the US to stop the state of Georgia from carrying out the death penalty. Despite this grassroots campaign, a Federal judge recently rejected Davis’ petition for a new trial dealing a severe blow to efforts to secure his freedom.

Davis has been on Georgia’s death row since being convicted of murder in 1991. There was no physical evidence in his case. His conviction rested entirely on the testimony of nine witnesses. In the time since the trial, seven of the nine have reversed or contradicted their court testimony, claiming that the police coerced them or used poor investigative techniques. The petition rejection will prevent these witnesses from speaking the truth in court and will put Davis back on road to execution.

A broad movement has developed around Davis’ case. It has brought together big-name politicians, religious figures and human rights organizations. More importantly, thousands of young African-Americans have organized and participated in demonstrations. Many have put on t-shirts with the poignant message, “I am Troy Davis.”

Davis’ case is about more than the death penalty. It’s about a criminal justice system designed to criminalize and warehouse poor and working class people. African-Americans face heavy discrimination in all parts of this system – from street level policing to the prison cells of death row. While African Americans comprise 13% of the US population and 14% of monthly drug users, they are 37% of the people arrested for drug offenses. On average, African-Americans face sentences that are 10% longer than whites. And, most gruesome of all, the chance of a black male born in 2001 of going to jail is 32% or 1 in three.

Capitalism needs this racial oppression to maintain a system based on the exploitation of the labor of millions and to protect the wealth and privileges of the elite. As a result, every day, people in our communities are denied the right to necessary things such as a good job that would allow them to be productive members of society. Some are forced into the low-wage service sector while others face a prison cell where they will likely work a sub-minimum-wage prison job.

As socialists, we support abolishing the death penalty. We also believe that the unjust persecution of Troy Davis calls for more than this. We join with other groups in the prison abolition movement such as Critical Resistance, in calling for an immediate end to the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Criminalizing and caging human beings will not make our communities safer or improve our quality of life. We believe that a democratic socialist society that guarantees people the right to work, to housing, to healthcare and to full civil rights is a viable alternative to the incarceration methods of late capitalism.

Troy Davis has languished for nearly two decades in Georgia jails. Now is the time to join with others to demand his freedom. And, in doing so, we call for the freedom of all the unjustly imprisoned and for a society that recognizes the humanity of all in order to improve the lives of all. We call this idea socialism.

Free Troy Davis!
Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex!
End the Racist Death Penalty!

Read more about the Socialist Party USA’s position on the criminal justice system: & Twitter

If you are member of the Socialist Party USA and interested on issues that affect people of color communities, now you can join us and via Twitter. See you there!

Chuck D on the Fight in Arizona

by Dave Zirin -

Chuck D.
The Hard Rhymer. The man on the mic for the most politically explosive hip-hop group in history, Public Enemy. With albums like “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” “Fear of a Black Planet,” and anthems like “Fight the Power” and “Bring the Noise” along with the breathtaking production of the Bomb Squad, PE created a standard of politics and art. Perhaps their most controversial track was “By the Time I Get to Arizona” (1991) about seeking revenge against Arizona political officials for refusing to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday [Lyrics include: 'Cause my money's spent on The goddamn rent/Neither party is mine not the Jackass or the elephant.] Today, in the wake of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration Senate Bill 1070, “By the Time I Get to Arizona” has been remixed and revived by DJ Spooky. Chuck D also recorded his own track several months before the bill was passed called “Tear Down That Wall.” I spoke to Chuck about the music and the nexus between immigration politics and sports.

Why did you choose to record “Tear Down this Wall?”

Chuck D:
I had done "Tear Down this Wall" four or five months ago because I heard a professor who works with my wife here on the West Coast speak in a speech about the multi-billion dollar dividing wall between the U.S. and Mexico, so, therefore, I based "Tear Down that Wall" on the policy of the United States border patrol in the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. I just wanted to put a twist of irony on it saying if Ronald Reagan back in 1988 had told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down that wall separating the world from countries of capitalism and communism, we have a billion dollar wall right here in our hemisphere that exists that needs to have a bunch of questions raised. Questions like: “What the Hell?” I wrote the song about five months ago and I did it coincidently, with all that’s brewing in the state of Arizona. Immigration laws and racial profiling is happening right here and I think the border situation, not only with the U.S. and Mexico but the U.S. and Canada, on both sides is just out of control. It's crazy.

DZ: You did "Tear Down This Wall," we have the DJ Spooky remix of "By the Time I Get to Arizona," and with your wife, Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, you wrote a syndicated column on SB 1070. What’s the response been to you being so out front on this issue?

Chuck D: Well the response is the usual, but I make it a habit not to look at any blogs, because I think the font of a computer gives as much credence to ignorance as it does to somebody who makes sense. So I try not to read those responses, because anybody can respond quickly. Back when people had to write letters it took an effort, especially if someone didn't have decent penmanship and handwriting. I try not to look at the responses. I try to do the right thing. I tell you this much, there is a rap contingent, a hip-hop contingent from Phoenix, who did a remake of "By the Time I Get to Arizona." I think that needs to be recognized because these are young people. The song is about eight minutes long. There's about 12 MCs on it, and they are putting it down. They are talking about how ridiculous this law is. They are speaking out against it and they are putting all the facts on the table, and they need to be acknowledged and highlighted. There is a stereotype about young people and young MCs [being apolitical]. They break it.

It’s remarkable how the original “By the Time I Get to Arizona” has been resurrected from the early 90's now that the struggle has picked up. Did you hear former NBA player Chris Webber before the Suns/Spurs game say, "Its like PE said ‘By the Time I get to Arizona.’”?

Chuck D:
[laughs] My Dad told me about that, You know Chris Webber is the man. I wasn't tuned into TNT at that particular time.

He said more than that. He said, “Public Enemy said it a long time ago. ‘By the Time I Get to Arizona.’ I’m not surprised. They didn’t even want there to be a Martin Luther King Day when John McCain was in [office.]. So if you follow history you know that this is part of Arizona politics.’” So he brought it all together with Public Enemy at the center of it.

Chuck D:
Unfortunately when it comes to culture, the speed of technology and news today makes things out of sight, out of mind. While these situations [the MLK fight and the immigration fights] are different, the politics of both things stay around like a stain.... Once again Arizona has put themselves into this mix. I don't know what the hell was on Gov. Jan Brewer’s mind or what contingent is behind her, but, you know, to make a decision like this and to be told to ignore the people who have been in this area on this earth the longest period of time. It just kind of resonates with me as being crazy.

DZ: Do you support an athletic or artistic boycott of Arizona until this gets settled?

Chuck D: Dave, you know I do. Artists and musicians can say we’re going to play Texas, El Paso, New Mexico, Albuquerque, and we gotta play L.A. But we’ll skip Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tucson and the like. But you know what this is really a challenge for: that’s Major League Baseball. You’ve got nearly a third of the players that are Latino. If they don’t stand up to this bill, they will actually be validating the divide amongst Latinos [between documented and undocumented immigrants]. At the same time they’ll also be lining themselves right into the stereotype of what an athlete is if they don’t speak out: a high priced slave that doesn’t say anything. And to me it’s beyond just boycotting the All-Star game. What are those Latino players on the Diamondbacks going to do? What are the players going to say who go into Arizona to play against the Diamondbacks? What are they going to say and what are they going to do? Major League Baseball has to step up. The NBA has very few players of Latino descent and [the Suns] are saying something. But Major League Baseball, if they don’t say anything, it’s crazy. The owners, the team, the league, and especially the players, whether they come from the Dominican Republic, whether they come from Venezuela, whether they come from Puerto Rico, they better step up. If they don’t step up, the music industry, at least from my area, we’re going to clown them. For us to speak out against this law, and basketball stepping up, and Major League Baseball not stepping up at all?! Come on now, give me a break. And I know a lot of the cats they live in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico or whatever, there’s like a trillion years difference between them and their high salaries and the average people living in the streets. They might build themselves a castle with a militia to protect them, but this is the time to unite yourself with the people and at least live in the legacy that [Major League Hall of Famer] Roberto Clemente set of uniting people just to protect against the nonsense that the other side can come up with. They need to know that it’s going to spread if they don’t come up and say something about it.

DZ: Any final thoughts? Perhaps about Major League Baseball pulling the All Star Game out of Phoenix?

Chuck D: At the end of the day man, sports is really not that important compared to people living their everyday lives. Say you have a Major League player, and he happens to play for another team, or he happens to play for the Diamondbacks and he gets pulled over because people think he’s an illegal immigrant. Then all of a sudden that’s when the “ish” finally hits the fan? Come on. This is beyond sports. We want athletes to speak up because they have advantages. They have everyday coverage. They’re covered by a person that has a mic and a camera in their face, and this is the time to step up. Major League Baseball pulling the All-Star game out of Arizona should be the least of it.

Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) Receive his column every week by emailing Contact him at

from the Edge of Sports


Repeal Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Law

Passed by the Socialist Party USA People of Color Commission April 29, 2010

Socialist Party USA calls for the immediate repeal of the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (SB 1070) in Arizona. This law sanctions racial profiling and gives cover to the repressive actions of officials such as the racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Further, we call for an immediate moratorium on all police raids of immigrant communities; we demand the closure of the immigrant detention camps and an end to the militarization of the US-Mexico border.

Arizona has become the epicenter of struggle for the rights of immigrants. The state offers the clearest example of the abject failure of the current immigration policies in the United States. These policies rely on the use of force – ICE raids and the border police – backed up by an equally brutal labor discipline that traps the undocumented in low-wage dead-end jobs. The results are well known – the splitting up of families, the death and criminalization of migrants and a race-to-the-bottom for work conditions and wages. A 2009 mass march in Phoenix, Arizona led by young people who had been separated from their undocumented parents and families highlighted the terrible human costs of these systematic attacks on immigrants. SB 1070 seeks to take this process a step further by transforming Arizona into the equivalent of a police state where anyone with brown skin becomes a suspect. In response, immigrant communities and their allies, all across the country, are mobilizing to demand an end to the repression.

Such fervor has not, however, made it to Washington, where Democrats are preparing reform legislation that amounts to more of the same. Much like the recent healthcare reform, immigration reform has been watered down to suit the needs of Republicans and employers. This is no surprise since, as a candidate, now President Barack Obama never fully distanced himself from the Republican's positions on immigration: the border wall, more military presence on the border, and building more detention camps. Despite this, he still gained the support of mainstream immigration reform groups who slowed down a vibrant May 1st Immigrant Rights movement. The now disarmed movement was left without any commitments from Democratic candidates and with no plans to mobilize after the elections.

The current legislation under consideration will do little to address the problem. Bills such as “the Dream Act” of 2009, which would provide conditional permanent residency to a few immigrants who entered the country as minors or have “good moral character,” will not break the crisis in Arizona. Instead, such reforms attempt to paper-over the demands from immigrant communities in order to continue the cycle of militarization, repression and wage slavery.Socialists have something significant to offer to the immigration reform discussion. We call for an unconditional amnesty program for all undocumented people. This demand is based on our desire to create a world in which everyone will be able to move freely across borders, to visit, to work and to live wherever they choose. Amnesty will also allow workers, documented and undocumented, to begin to advance serious demands for wages and benefits. Amnesty will move us out of the current immigration crisis and towards a society based on freedom. Defeating SB 1070 is an urgent first step in this direction and the Socialist Party USA encourages our members and allies to join in this struggle.

¡No somos criminales, somos trabajadores internacionales!

¡Que viva la justicia y la dignidad de los migrantes unidos sin fronteras!"
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