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Glen Ford Report: Black Lives Matter and the new young black activism must shed the Democratic Party from its veins in order to become the heart of rebellious leadership in America

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SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: This is The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. Welcome to this edition of the Glen Ford report. As you know, Glen Ford is executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, and he does a weekly report for us. Thanks so much for joining us, Glen. GLEN FORD, EXEC. EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Thanks for having me. PERIES: So, Glen, off-camera we spoke about the momentum that Podemos in Spain and SYRIZA in Greece has gained, and we have noticed that there’s very little coverage of both of these movements in the Western press, at least the mainstream press. So I was posing a question to you, which is: why should African Americans care about what’s happening in Spain with Podemos and SYRIZA in Greece? So what have you in your notebook for me? FORD: Well, you’re right. I mean, with the left forum coming up at the end of May–and that’s a gathering of–the largest, I think, gathering in the United States of people who purport to be leftists, a comparison between the rise of these left movements in Europe and what may be happening in the United States is an appropriate conversation. I think that we have to start off by saying that this nascent movement in the United States that we can call the Black Lives Matter movement and which grew out of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, only, oh, six months ago, back in August or so, this is just one necessary step towards a situation which we could really describe the United States as being in the throes of a movement if we’re going to compare it to Europe. First of all, there is no possibility of a left movement in the United States, unless black people are actively engaged and in the leadership of that movement. And I think that’s been shown pretty certainly historically. And when Barack Obama was elected as the first black President of the United States and he had near-universal black support, it appeared that black politics had effectively been neutralized and that black people would not confront or even embarrass this black Democratic president. And, in fact, that was the case for about five and a half years. And it was only with the Ferguson rebellion that a new generation of young like activists set themselves on a path of confrontation with the Democratic president and with Democratic mayors across the country. That is what was required before we could even speak of any similarities between the United States and what’s going on in Europe. The Spanish and Greek movements are largely a break with the socialist parties of their countries, though socialist parties that capitulated to the capitalist bankers’ austerity programs and plunged those countries into misery and huge unemployment and chaos. And the great test for Podemos and for SYRIZA is whether they can root themselves in the fiber of the country, not only as a party, but as the governing party of that country, without capitulating to the bankers, to the finance capitalists, as the socialist parties have done in Europe. The great test for the nascent black movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, as we call it today, is if it can avoid being co-opted by the Democratic Party, which is the place that movements go to die in the United States. And if this movement can avoid co-optation by the Democrats and create the beginnings of a revived black independent politics in this country, then there is a possibility for a larger left-wing movement in the country, involving not just blacks but folks of all colors. And then we can talk about making comparisons between Europe and United States. But it’s not at that stage, not by a longshot. PERIES: Glen, so as SYRIZA begins to lead and take control of the government and put into action anti-austerity measures, and as Podemos positions itself to run in the next election and take power in Spain, we’ll be following these movements. And I hope you and your readers follow us as well. FORD: Yes, we will. We won’t be talking about victories measured by elections in the United States anytime soon. What the movement has to do is to establish itself, its credibility in the streets and in the minds of an aspiring and want-to-be active new generation of people. PERIES: Thanks for joining me, Glen. FORD: Thank you. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


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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.