HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  January 5, 2016

The Black Radical Tradition in Our Time

Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report explores the meaning of the gathering of black thinkers and activists in Philadelphia on January 8th for The Black Radical Tradition in Our Time Conference
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support TRNN because it is the closest expression of the ideal of a free press I have seen. - Daniel
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.


EDDIE CONWAY, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News. I'm Eddie Conway coming to you from Baltimore.

In light of the recent polarization that's been going on in the communities, the white community and the black community in reference to Black Lives Matter, in reference to the conditions that black people find themselves in, and the new interests, we are going to look at today a conference that's going to take place in Philadelphia in the next few days. And to help us get an understanding of that, we're having the founding, executive editor and founder of Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford. Glen Ford, thanks for joining me.

GLEN FORD, EXEC. EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: [Thank you for the invitation], as always.

CONWAY: Well, there's a conference up in Philadelphia, and basically it's the Black Radical Tradition, and it's occurring between the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th. Can you give us an insight on what this conference is about, and why it's happening now?

FORD: Yeah. I think the first thing that ought to be said is that there has not been this kind of conference on the black radical tradition in a long time. But more importantly, there has not been a mass black political movement in a long time. So this upcoming conference on the black radical tradition will be occurring about a year and a half after the first stirrings of what many of us hope will be a new black mass movement for the 21st century.

And we don't believe that we can have such a successful movement if there is not a vibrant and self-aware black radical component to this movement. And that's what the radical, the organizers were trying to do. They were concerned that this, this black radical tradition will have to be carried on not just by academics and not just by those of us like you and me, aging veterans of a previous movement, but by the activists who are stirring things up today, and especially by the youth.

And that's why they've assembled a list of keynote speakers that's very interesting, that go across those lines. We've got Angela Davis, Dr. Cornel West, Anthony Monteiro, Vijay Prashad, Steven Salaita, he's with the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions against Israel movement. And Charlene Carruthers, who's with the Black Youth 100 project in Chicago, and lots of other activists who are taking part in panels. I'm on a panel on war and peace and justice, and resistance to U.S. empire, and another one on post-Obama realities. Where do black radicals go from here?

The organizers felt that it was extremely important that we not just tag along with this movement and not just anticipate what the movement might do, and not just do analysis, as people like myself do, of what's going on, but find out and directly participate in the events that are actually shaping this incipient movement.

CONWAY: Well, this movement and this conference itself, what else is going to look at--I mean, there's a tremendous amount of problems on the ground in the community, from gender identity to lack of jobs to, of course, black lives matter and so on. What is the conference going to focus on, and is this conference tied into other struggles and other movements across the country and around the world?

FORD: Sure. And of course, the participants are as well. And the organizers think that it's extremely important that although this movement or this incipient awakening, as some people like to call it, was first centered on the lawlessness of U.S. police, but that our job is also to make the connection between what the police do and what they are actually protecting, and who they are protecting. And their role in, in the system, and how we must fight not just police in the streets but the system that employs them to deploy and abuse us in the streets.

So you can't have a socially transformative movement unless you're talking about the way the society works, who pulls the strings, in whose interests crimes are committed, and who is supposed to be resisting the commission of those crimes. And also what kind of vision of society do we have, the kind of society that would replace the one that we now live in?

CONWAY: Okay. So what, if you would have to speculate, what do you think will come out of this in terms of a way toward the future?

FORD: Well, certainly if all that comes out of conferences such as this is more clarity, that is a great deal. We're in the early stages of something that might turn into a great mass movement that could transform this society. And what's, what's needed in addition to energy and bravery and an understanding of how to gather resources that keep movements going, what's also necessary is clarity and analysis. And an understanding of why we are in the situation we are in today. Why the police behave the way they do today.

And the reason they behave the way they do today is rooted in events of two generations ago, events that you are quite familiar with. The repression of the late 1960s that sent many of our folk, including yourself, to long terms in prison, and led to the death of many others. But also the rise of a new black political class that did not have a vision of social transformation, and over the last two generations has participated in the creation of this black mass incarceration state that we now live in. A mass incarceration state that is quite different than its beginnings, back in the late '60s. So we need historical perspective as well as energy and resources, and bravery.

CONWAY: Okay. Well, now, back in the day, back during our time, as you would say, the black organizers and black activists played a key role in trying to set the direction and the course for the future of a new America. Is this conference and the people participating in this conference is their role as important as the leaders and a vanguard toward a new kind of society?

FORD: From what I can gather, everybody engaged in the organizing of this conference is absolutely certain that there can be no effective radical movement in this country unless it is not just participated in fully by black folks, but led by black folks. And that's been the history of this country. It's the history of the last movement and it's unfolding in that way today. So our social responsibility, as deep as it is to our own people, is also one that we have for the entire world.

The black radical tradition is an internationalist tradition. It's involved deeply in questions of self-determination. And not just black folks' self-determination, but all people's self-determination, all people's struggle. And what will set this conference apart, what distinguishes it, is that it is an anti-capitalist conference. It's about social transformation, and social transformation in our time means getting rid of this oppressive global capitalist system that sits like a dead weight on the right of self-determination of people all over the world.

CONWAY: Okay. Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share with us?

FORD: I think that we'll find out some things about the coherence of the black left, and this is a black left conference, from what goes on in those three days in Philadelphia. What we've learned in what, frankly, has been a kind of isolation for a very long time, what we have to contribute to these rising forces of young folks who have not had the experience of being in a movement. After all, it's been more than 40 years. And we'll see exactly what, what we can articulate in terms of what we have to offer, and that's a beginning. Remember, this movement is still not worthy of the name. We'll find out if the folks who claim to be heirs of the black radical tradition are also worthy of that.

CONWAY: Okay. Well, I'm looking forward to your report on this after it's over with. And thank you for joining us.

FORD: Thank you.

CONWAY: Okay. And thank you for joining the Real News.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Is Russia a Threat?
Why is a Russian Troll Farm Being Compared to 9/11?
Wilkerson: The Trump-Netanyahu Iran Plan Means War
President Ramaphosa: From Militant Revolutionary to Corporate Magnate
Were Baltimore's Corrupt Cops High When They Made Attempted Murder Arrest?
Baltimore's Metro Shutdown Underscores City's Transportation Problem (1/2)
Empire Files: In the Deadliest Country for Unions & Social Leaders
A New 'Cancer Alley' for Appalachia
Colombian Peace Agreement with FARC on the Brink of Collapse
Philippine War on Drugs a Cover for President Duterte's Fascism?
Mother of Woman Shot by Baltimore County Police Speaks Out
South Africa: Criminality and Deep Rot in the ANC Will Continue Under New President Ramaphosa (2/2)
Do Russiagate Skeptics Go Too Far?
The Return of Berlusconi: Can A Fractured Left Defeat Him?
Potomac Pipeline Would Be 'Another Contradiction' From Larry Hogan
Police Union Keeps Audit Secret Despite Allegations of Massive Overtime Fraud
Guns, Toxic Masculinity, and the Alt-Right
Zuma's Catastrophic Presidency Ends in Forced Resignation (1/2)
Brother of Crooked Cop Says He Knows Who Killed Detective Suiter
Israeli Strikes in Egypt Kept Secret for Years
As the Opioid Crisis Deepens, Will Maryland Democrats Vote to Save Lives?
The Free Market Threat to Democracy
Finding a SALT Tax Deduction Workaround
Florida Shooter Is MAGA Hat-Wearing White Supremacist Who Said Mexicans Should Be Killed and Black People Should Be in Chains
Charter School Principal: No Evidence Privatization Is Better For Students
Max Blumenthal in Gaza: Netanyahu Faces Scandal, Palestinians a Crisis
Trump's Infrastructure Fantasy a Gift to His Donors
Netanyahu Could Fall for Corruption, Not War Crimes
Climate Change Costs Insurance Companies Billions, And Price is Rising
Trump's Budget Declares War on Forgotten America,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting