In 1990 Raddle Publications printed an important book titled Visions of Bena Balunda: A Documentary History of the Black Power Movement in Leicester 1970-72. This book is available to borrow from the public libraries in Leicester, but various segments of the book are now reproduced online for the first time below:
BLACK PEOPLE’S LIBERATION PARTY: AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
- To re-educate black people on politics so that they can see clearly just what politics is doing to them.
- The Organisation will whenever possible give practical and ideological aid to other black people in other parts of the world, fighting for the freedom of black people.
- To fight for the rights of black people in England for economic and social justice, and to defend these rights by the most effective means at its disposal.
- To raise funds by all legitimate means; to advance the aims and objective of the Party.
- To demand that African history and culture be added to the educational programmes, to all black children so they too can be proud of their ancestry, and also see the reason for migrations.
- To establish Community Advice Centres.
- To form Community Self-help Organisations.
- To co-operate with Organisations, Group or Parties whose aims and objectives are similar to ours.
- The Organisation will insist upon discipline of all members. The disciplinary measures for activities against the Organisation will be enforced after discussion.
- The Organisation will have an official party journal to be published to propagate its views and to win other members for the Organisation.
- All major decisions will be made by a simple majority of the members providing at least two thirds are present, and all members are required to carry out these decisions.
Recently there has been a lot of publicity regarding the term Black Power. Mainly the type of publicity which is intended to dissuade you the ordinary man from really thinking about Black Power, and to try and understand what its all about.
The reason why it has been like that and will continue to be so is understandable. It is understandable in as much as the newspapers you read and the television that you watch, the two medias that keep you informed, are owned and controlled by whitey, Whitey doesn’t dig Black Power, he sees it as a threat to him and his racist system therefore it follows that the information he presents to you, in it he will do his best to camouflage the real reason for Black Power, He will not tell you that Black Power came about because of the suffering of black people at the hands of the white man, It is very rare that it is at all possible for a Black Power group to be given the opportunity to say in the white man’s newspaper what is, and why Black Power. It was on one of these rare occasions that the B.P.L.P. in Leicester were given the opportunity to explain to the people of Leicester through the Leicester Chronicle their case for Black Power. The interview with the B.P.L.P. for the Leicester Chronicle was done in the form of a question and answer context.
Some of you may or may not have read that particular article in any case would hope that after reading the following article, you will at least think about the term Black Power and even try and understand why Black Power is necessary for black people.
Q: I believe that there are groups in most of the major cities with high immigrant population. Do you hold regional and national conferences, and are you in fact a coordinated, highly organised movement?
A: We recently had a conference in Sheffield which took the form of a black power exposition with discussion and films on the political leaders we look up to.
We keep in touch with the Nottingham group, and from time to time we have speakers from various parts of the country. As the movements gets bigger, then of course, it will be more and more of a combined, coordinated effort.
Q: How long has the black Power movement been in existence in this country, and to what extent is it influenced by the Panthers in America?
A: The blacks have always felt the urge to fight, but they haven’t realised the advantage of collectiveness until the last few years, I don’t think that we are influenced by the Panthers to any extent. The movement here arose simply because the blacks were being pressurised by society. We take certain lessons off the Panthers of course because they have been at it longer than we have, and are highIy organised. But it must be remembered that Black-Power is just part of a world revolution, a feeling of brotherhood between oppressed peoples.
Q: In America open warfare exists between the blacks and the police. Can you see such a situation developing here with black militants engaged in street fighting and urban guerrilla activities?
A: The time must come when there will be fighting in the streets. If the whites allow the situation to build up, then something is bound to happen. What you must remember is that it is up to the whites to avoid this situation. We don’t have the power.
Q: In the last few years you’ve had the support of the New Left Students. Do you consider the white radicals are a genuine help in your struggle, or are disenchanted with white liberalism?
A: Of course they can help the struggle. In the final analysis we’re both fighting against the same system. And we’ll co-operate with the white radicals if we feel that it will benefit us.
Q: I attended the recent Paisley meeting at which the police were accused of brutality. One of the constables on duty was a coloured man who was provoked, insulted and called a traitor and ‘Uncle Tom’ by the young blacks present. Obviously it’s hard for a black to be a policeman, but wouldn’t you like to see more of your race in the force?
A: We believe that the image of the police has got to change before we want to see blacks joining the force. We’re quite aware that blacks can be bad too, and then it’s even more pathetic. No, the police must change. At the moment they act like Hitler’s storm-troopers.
Q: Many American Black-Power leaders seriously advocate a racialist policy and talk of segregating the world into ethnic groups with the black man having his own culture and identity. How far do the militants go in supporting this attitude?
A: You use the word segregation, but that’s an enforced splitting-up. We are not in favour of this, but we can see the advantage of separation which would be voluntary. Integration has now become a dirty word for deep-thinking blacks. After all, it’s been tried, but the whites have fought against it. The trouble is that to integrate, blacks are expected to take on the white man’s way. It’s nothing more than cultural genocide. We’d have to become white people, and we’re not prepared to do that. However we do feel that our two races could live peacefully in co-existence.
Q: The Africans and West Indians in Britain are openly critical of the Pakistanis and Indians for being apathetic. Have you much support in the movement from other immigrant groups, and do you encourage recruitment of these people?
A: They have their own thing, of course. They are organising themselves and we can get together when it’s needed, because we are ‘all fighting the same fight against the same enemy. Of course there has been the language difficulty for one thing, but we all consider ourselves part of the Third World.
Q: Black-Power is obviously organised by the young black community. Do you find hostility to the movement from your parents or are they gradually lending their support?
A: They seem to be more against it than for it at the moment, but they have been brainwashed. Most of them have turned to Christianity halfway through their lives, and as our movement doesn’t fit into Christian ways they turn against it. But some day they’ll join us.
Q: If you’re not Christians, then are you Black Muslims?
A: The party has no reliigion.
Q: The history taught to immigrant children here is anathema to black power supporters because of its accent on colonialism. Are you considering a programme of re-education?
A: Part of our party policy is to create a far greater degree of black consciousness among black people. And we hope to make people aware of their own Afro-culture, and the activities of great black men. They are not mentioned in white history books for obvious reasons. The whites tried to make us feel that we had no cultural heritage, but we hope to counteract this, to eradicate what the whites have been telling us all this time.
Q: In the States the black power groups have been successful in implementing the ‘breadbasket’ policy – a system of forcing factories to employ more blacks in executive positions by threatening to withdraw coloured labour. Could you see this working in Leicester?
A: Certainly we can. And we have several factories already in mind. But we prefer not to be too explicit about just where we shall be trying first.
Q: Have you any plans for entering black power candidates into local elections. And generally speaking do you consider that you could change the system by constitutional means?
A: By constitutional you must mean by having a majority, which would be almost impossible. We prefer to change the system by pressure, lobby groups. I can’t see us putting up candidates in the near future, but one day, if the situation changes, we could well do that.
Q: Do you agree that every person has some degree of prejudice and that many whites are hypocritical in their attitude to blacks?
A: I think that whites tend to be tolerant here in Britain, which isn’t good enough, We don’t just want to become tolerate, paternally-treated. What we want is equality and respect.
Q: What are your views on immigration restriction?
A: We are against any control because it is aimed at black people. It’s just an institutionalised form of prejudice.
Q: In the last few years there’s been a general swing to the right in this country with the emergence of organisations like the National Front and the N.D.P. Do you think that this is the result of the white backlash against black power?
A: No. I think that over the years this mood goes up and down, and it isn’t really any different now than it ever has been. Perhaps they are more organised, but I don’t think it has anything to do with Black Power.
Q: What are the militants’ views of moderate groups like the community relations committees. Do you think they have helped black people at all?
A: Of course not, because they are not really interested in black people. Only privileged blacks ever got on the committee which should reflect the temperature of the community, but it never does. It’s just a white elephant.
Q: Does your movement have any particular slogans?
A: Only – “death to pigs.”
Q: At one time black power followed a Communist line. Does this still apply?
A: That used to be the case certainly, but it was just a stage we went through. None of us is a Communist. We’re just Black Liberation freedom fighters. When we eventually have our own nation it won’t be run on socialist principles, just on humane lines.
Q: Have you ever suffered from being political extremists, either from the police or ultra right-wing elements?
A: We are not political extremists. We are just fighting for our rights. The Liberation of black people has to be carried out with whatever means are necessary. It all depends on what is effective at the time. We have been suffering from the day we came into white society – from political exploitation. It’s always there, inherent in the society in which we live.
Q: Do you hate the white man, or can you see a time when men will live together as brothers?
A: We certainly don’t subscribe to this loving your enemy philosophy – that’s an invention of the whites. The English didn’t love the Germans did they?
We hate the whites collectively for the atrocities they have committed against the black race. But that certainly doesn’t mean there are no good white people, because there are. We are not racist.
Q: What then is your idea of Utopia?
A: Simply the human race living as a whole, a homogeneous mixture with races having a mutual respect for each other.
THE POLICE FORCE
What is the police force for? This is a question black people want to know the answer to – because so far all these pigs represent and protect is fascism. The constant harassment of black people can be seen to be a major role of the pigs. Not so long ago a fascist by the name of lan Paisely came to Leicester’s Melbourne Road ‘Free’ Church Hall, and a lot of people were there who weren’t exactly his fans. When the time came for this pig to come out of course there was a thin blue line of racist flat foots formed. And when we’d been there some time this same blue line began their role by singing out black people, arresting them and proceeding to beat them up. A member of the B.P.L.P. was one of the targets of this cowardly attack. After these arrests were made a few party members went to the police station, and were again subjected to more harassing by the pigs. Read this statement by Mr. R, Duberry and see what fascist acts happens when a black person goes to the police station to see about the welfare of his black brothers:
“We went down to Charles Street Police Station to find out what he was arrested for. We were told it had nothing to do with us, and the officer at the desk walked off. Another officer walked by. I asked him if I could see the night inspector. He came and said that Miller had been arrested. We asked ‘on what charge?’ He said ‘I don’t know – but we will find one for all of you if you don’t leave.’ He then left. We then sat on the benches next to a Mr. A. Acherson, who said that they just arrested two of his friends… The Inspector came out again with two officers and said ‘Throw them out.’ A police constable grabbed me and started pushing me towards the door. I said, ‘I am here to try and bail my friend.’ The Inspector said ‘We will let him out when we feel like it’. I said to the Inspector ‘Haven’t we got the right to wait?’ As soon as I said this I received several kicks in the leg. I said ‘Did you see that?’ He replied ‘Throw these Blacks out’ – which they did. The police came outside and the Inspector said, ‘I would like to put all you black wogs where your friend is – behind bars, but he will take what you can’t get.’ He told two of the policemen to follow the black wogs. A police car came from the station following us. They drove very slowly saying, ‘Get on you black bastards. Go back to where you came from and other things of this nature…”
INVITATION TO SOUL SISTERS
Welcome Soul Sisters to the Black People’s Liberation Party …..
The B.P.L.P. is not only for men but for all blacks, which include women, if you read the inside cover of this magazine you will see that our objects and aims apply to everyone.
Look around you sisters can you see any nation without women? The answer for this is simple, you are just as important as men, because after every war or revolution we need people and only you can produce them,
When we talk about liberation we are thinking liberation for all black especially for women because we find if you have a black mother whose aware of the present situation at least 70% of the children become politically concerned about his or her surroundings because this is a political fight.
Firstly before we can fight we have to unite and unity begins at home, we know who our enemies are, but some of our men are just like an enemy because if we are to have unity we must have equality which some of our women don’t have. We can’t afford to oppress our women, we can’t think that a woman’s place is in the home, we the men have to help inside just as much as outside. We have to look after our children while the mothers go out and fight for freedom, it’s just a part of their life as it is ours.
Our women should be able to make decisions which affect their lives like how many children they are going to have and when.
Some of our older black women think that the B.P.L.P. is only for young blacks and this is quite wrong. You play just as important a part in this struggle for freedom.
The way you can help is to try and understand what we are fighting for before you criticize. It is very easy to be critical if you are on the outside. Firstly we must get it straight about what we are fighting for and this is made quite clear in our issues of Black Chat… Sisters, read Black Chat, understand it and come forward as the Black People’s Liberation Party needs you.
WEST INDIAN IMMIGRANTS
A series of articles about immigrants in Leicester was published recently in the “Leicester Mercury.” One of these dealt specifically with West Indians in a way which we found offensive. Our reply to it is printed here. This article was sent to the “Leicester Mercury” but they refused to print it. We think it is important that the people, should have a chance to see our side of the argument, despite the “Mercury’s” rejection of our reply.
The article in Monday 8th June’s issue is typical of the sort of rubbish published by the “Leicester Mercury” and written by people who know nothing about West Indians aided by so-called coloured middle-class liberals.
The West Indian father wielding the big stick is a myth created by the writer. Where is the evidence? The fact that working class English fathers wield big sticks is completely ignored by the writer, although a little investigation would show that a proportion of working class English kids leave home because they cannot tolerate their parents’ heavy handedness. The West Indian child has no need to be jealous of such a situation, but become rebellious because of the pressure applied to him in a racialist society. It is the pressure they rebel against, not their parents. Not unnaturally the parents, seeking a more acceptable life but also feeling this pressure, tend to come into conflict with their more militant children.
True, West Indians are brought up with the mental attitude that they are British, but this situation was created by British colonialism, which taught all West Indians for a period of three hundred years that they are British. It would be difficult to erase this in less than a decade of political independence. However, what a few years of independence had failed to do, has been achieved for the majority of black people in a matter of months once they are in England. They find that the propaganda of the ideal, tolerant society that Britain preaches abroad, which enables her to colonise and enslave other people, is a lie when they see the racialist attitudes encouraged in Britain itself.
These kinds of contradictions are what confront the immigrant as soon as he sets foot in Britain, makes him suspicious and forces him to fall back on his own community for security. The black man is a human being and expects to find other human beings, but unfortunately this is very difficult in England.
Integration is already a dirty word for most informed black people, since the only type of integration that the black man will accept is that on equal terms. We cannot and will not lose our identity. We will accept your recognition of our way of life, our patter of social behaviour etc. and are willing to recognise yours. We have now learned that not all things “white” are best. After all, the British did not “integrate” in India or Africa. They dominated. We do not wish to dominate anyone because that is not our way. We demand equality and respect, and in turn will give as good as we receive. Only time will tell whether Britain is prepared to learn and accept that the days of direct colonialism are over and that she cannot continue to tell black people what is good for them, because we have rejected this concept long ago.
Black people know what is good for black people and when white people are willing to talk on a basis of equality, then we will talk. We will not be mucked about by anyone, neither white liberals nor the black petty bourgeoisie who have nominated themselves spokesmen for black people.
The article’s reference to moral standards is quite futile since the only meaning attached to it is a sexual one. Only an immoral society can have and preach the kind of philosophy that enables it to colonise and enslave other human beings and call these activities a civilising mission. Yes, it brought the profits home to England and provided in England a high standard of living that is denied to others. This is the kind of morality we live with and face in England.
The evidence of police brutality in England and non-protection of black people is overwhelming and need not be reiterated here. Even the police themselves know that they have been consistently harassing black people. It is very sad that Neil Everton and the “Mercury” are so ill-informed.
It may be true that we came to England clinging to a naïve attitude, but this was an attitude created by the white man, for how else could we have developed it? However, we learn fast and, as the article says, TIME WILL TELL.
Black brothers and sisters, I would like to try and get it over to you exactly what we mean by the Black People’s Liberation Party as it seems that a lot of you think this party is preaching white hatred. THIS IS NOT SO. What we are saying is that black people in this country must get organised and unite so that we can fight racism on all fronts. If we do not unite and fight for our rights NOW we wiII find ourselves in the same position as the Jews did in Germany during the 30’s. The B.P.L.P. do not speak against the sincere, weII-meaning white people but we do speak and we will fight against the white racists. We firmly believe that the black people in this country and all-over the world have the right to fight against these racists by any means that are necessary.
We, the black people of Leicester, must realise that Leicester is the stronghold of fascism in Britain today, and must try and understand what this means as far as black people are concerned. The fascist says that black people are inferior to the white man and so they are pleased to see us in our present position which is at the bottom of the ladder, in more ways than one, as it gives strength to their argument that we are not capable as black people to organise, maintain and control the economy, social and cultural possibilities of our community. As a united black community we can prove this theory wrong, because by being united we can be in a position to create and promote black business, black cultural centres, black recreational centres and thereby elevating us and putting us on an equal footing with other members of the community in which we live, and also we shall be in a position to command respect which at the present time is sadly lacking.
…. Brother Teddy (Bena Balunda)
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
In the city of Leicester and indeed all over England we get reports of black people being harassed daily by Her Majesty’s Police. For example when white people make their private parties, the police recognise them as such, but when black people make their private parties, the police raid them and bring charges. Again when white people walk on the street, they do so in the understanding that the police will protect them, but black people walk in fear of these same officers who are supposed to give protection; in fear of ‘being beaten up and brought to court on trumped up charges, in fear of being planted, and the like.
Now we are told that we live in a democracy where everyone is free, but that ‘democracy’ does not seem to extend its ‘freedom’ to black people. Therefore it is up to this oppressed minority to organise itself in such a say to guarantee this elementary freedom, which should be the right of anyone; the freedom to walk on the streets by day or night without fear, and the freedom to enjoy one’s leisure time with one’s friends without fear of police raid.
To organise ourselves is of course the first step, but in order to organise ourselves effectively, we must understand the nature of the beast we are dealing with, because only in this way can we combat brutalities and injustices in a positive way, The beast that we have to fight is Capitalism. This is the system which colonised our country’s, took our wealth and built Britain and which discriminates against us, and keeps us divided so that it can continue its rules of tyranny which is embodied in its police, for dealing with internal dissent, and its armies, for terrorising people abroad.
This is the system which insists on selling arms to the racialist regime of South Africa, for massacring black people. This is the kind of system which breeds lynch mobs in the U.S.A. This is the system which condemns more than half of humanity, to poverty, disease, ignorance and death. This is the size of our problem, and we have to fight it for the sake of our freedom and that of our offspring.
We can take many examples from our oppressed brothers in America and Africa and Asia, and we have to learn from them and from their mistakes. When the American Blacks, tired of white lynch mobs, bad housing conditions and high unemployment, began to take action to remedy these conditions, the white power structure cried out that these men are vicious and want to destroy America, and they unleashed armed pigs to shoot up black people, deliberately forgetting that for centuries acts of violence and genocide have been committed against black people, in the name of the profits. Now that the black man is fighting back, we hear about law and order, which is the new licence for murder and rape of black people, by capitalism.
British politicians, lap dogs of American Imperialism keep shouting empty words, about giving a fair deal to the blacks before an American situation develops, and at the same time instruct their secret police to gather all possible information on Black people who are fighting for justice and equality. Well what kind of hypocrisy is this? People do not go to the trouble to collect information that they don’t intend to use. So we can safely say they are planning to lock us up in one cast concentration if this should prove necessary for them to continue their crime against humanity, the world of a local police inspector to a black man sums this up.
“What we would like to do is to get all you people behind bars.”
This remark without anyone having committed a crime, shows the thinking that is rampant in the establishments in Britain, so we don’t have to pretend any more that we are free, we know what they think.
It is necessary to re-emphasise the need to learn from the experiences of others. In Central Africa the white minority imposed a federation on the Black people, and only after the Africans resorted to violent action did they manage to break up this federation; although we must say that in Zimbabwe when the struggle did not assume the same proportions, a white minority has entrenched itself and is constantly making conditions worse for the minority of the people there. The final solution will of course come from the Africans resort to armed/struggle, to liberate themselves.
We cannot always transplant other situations into local ones; but we should at least in our locality think in terms of control. Why should the black people in Highfields, or St. Annes or in any other city where the large majority of the people are black or poor, allow the police to come in and smash up our parties, and haul us off on trumped up charges? If and when le are in control of our own environments, we can put an end to prejudice, insults and indignity without fear or prejudice, for make no mistakes we shall’ fight relentlessly, for these basic rights and we shall win through, because we shall not allow anything to stand in our way in the process.
FROM: A BLACK WOMEN
TO: ALL BLACK WOMEN
“We have all been thrown down so low that nobody thought we’d ever get up again; but we have lone enough trodden now: We will come up again…” — Sojourner Truth 1853
Yes we have all been thrown down so low that nobody ever thought we’d ever get up again. I salute and embrace all sisters who have escaped from their stereotyped role of being women in this capitalist society and who have begun to start thinking for themselves and are dealing death blows to this murderous and oppressive capitalist system. I feel that it is necessary for black women to cast off the old inferior attitudes and begin to take an active part in changing the conditions that oppresses us all as black people both men and women.
Being women, black and part of the working class, we are subjected to four evils; racism, exploitation, oppression and male superiority. The birth of racism has multiplied and we have become its victims. The wealths of our country have been seized by the white western Imperialist who have been exploited us mercilessly and we have been kept oppressed ever since by being labelled “second class citizens”.
Sisters, we must aggregate and activate within this society to achieve our total liberation. We cannot sit on our asses and expect release from our burdensome role. No. It is vital that black people in Britain and all over the world, accept the question of women’s status as a very real political issue and that it be acted upon with the same seriousness as any other aspect of the struggle.
The combination of working and running a home brings home to many married women the full extent of their exploitation. The inequalities in employment such as, opportunity, training, and wages are burdens that rest equally heavily on the single woman not to mention the single mother.
We must organise to remove the intellectual dominance of the male. To enter into the world of political man without an identity results in an atmosphere of tolerance and patronage, which does not advance our individuality and swamps our particular problems and demands.
We must develop programmes aimed at raising the consciousness of women and activating them to make concrete demands forcing the issues for the establishment of a just society based on the full utilization of the abilities, talents and intelligence of both sexes.
Women must also become revolutionaries; working for the over-throw of the class system. We must not see our total liberation purely with reference to male supremacy. This is meaningless and would only lead us to a blind alley, ie must not want a reversal of roles but an ultimate total liberation of both men and women.
We must destroy the image of marriage as a career, petty domestic routine and constant pre-occupation with small chiIdren are not fulfilling activities for any adult human being.
We must be in a position to act independently; free from all absorbing family commitments to act politically. Progress will be uneven, but unless women are involved, half the combative force would not be operating.
We must demand complete rights over our own biological function; when to have and when not to have children. I.e. free access to birth control, information and devices. Also, we must take a completely new attitude towards marriage, ending enforced co-habitation and make our MEN realise that the family is only meaningful if based on mutual consent, love and respect.
Children must be the responsibility of the community, providing free nurseries. Equal pay for work of equal value must also be another demand.
We must reject the bourgeois propaganda of the feminine ideal; sex symbols, beauty contests etc. Instead, we must examine and redefine the role of women in history.
We must recognise that although we represent one third of the labour force, only 1 in 10 receive equal pay. Wages for women are low because the men’s wage is the main family income. Single women are not taken into account, let alone single women with children. It is difficult for women to play an economic or social role outside the family once they have children, especially since it is widely assumed that married women, working or not take responsibility for running the home.
Opportunities for female apprenticeships are extremely low, there is a lack of educational opportunities for women. In management only 5% of the total are women and in science and technology only 2.5%. We should demand full maternity leave. Nurseries attached to the place of work and organise women workers to reject the concept of “two jobs.”
We must organise ourselves as women and as a part of the black struggle garrisoned and attacking capitalism on all fronts. We must also go through a period of self education to combat the bourgeois ideology of a women’s role. We must organise ourselves in some form of intensive self defence activities, enabling us to have the self confidence and psychological independence to play a full and positive part in the revolutionary struggle. Organise should be our keyword.
WHICH WAY FORWARD
…. In our struggles against capitalism and our need to bring about a new order of things. I firmly believe that it is to socialism that we must look for an answer. This is the only social system that regards men as brothers regardless of their culture or racial origin. This is the only social system that believes that cultural and racial differences can be used for the enrichment of mankind on a global scale, and is pledged to ending the exploitation of man by a few parasites who form a class.
It is therefore incumbent on all black groups to work out their priorities, and to actively try to forge working links with those sections of the left in Britain who actively support our existence, in their publications and in practice.
Black capitalism is as evil as white capitalism, because they are based on exploitation and both must be swept away in our struggles and be replaced by socialism. This is no easy task, but it is the only way forward, because only when we have defeated our enemies will we be able to construct a society where we can live in peace and comradeship.
NOTE: Raddle Publications was based at Raddle Book Shop, 70 Berners Street, Highfields, Leicester.