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African Liberation Day

By Cynthia Bellamy

"Better come here and study these feet..." from Alabama Poem by Nikki Giovanni

A whole lot of feet. Feet of over 12,000 Blacks. Better study their message.

They came together, May 27, 1972, African Liberation Day, in Washington D.C. The message--that American Blacks are not struggling alone, that the struggles in Africa, the West Indies, and America are inseparable. This march in Washington showed support for African Liberation struggles and condemned European and American involvement on the continent.

The folks started to gather at Malcolm X Park, 16th and Euclid Street, N.W. at 9:30 a.m. Liberation colors--red, black and green--were the standard of the day. Red, black and green jumpsuits, hats, dashikis. A bus load of little children from Baltimore entered the park carrying Liberation flags.

One sister, hair in corn-rolls, and wearing traditional African clothes, kneels to place a blanket on the ground. Her husband tenderly places their baby on the blanket.

"I've never seen so many really fine-looking Black people together in my life."

Yellow, tan, brown and ebony faces. An over-weight middle-aged sister. An old brother with a big silver Afro and long sideburns. Little children riding on their father's backs.

At 11:30 a.m. this mass of Black people began to move out the park and down the hill. On the sidewalk to the left, a Boy Scout troop--little white boys--marched up the hill. Standing over the whole scene, on the wall surrounding the park, a seven-year-old Black manchild raises his small bony fist as high...

As he was getting high, a brother once said to me. "I'm high, but not as high as I want to be. I want to be high, high on a Rocky Mountain plateau, planting the flag of a nation, our nation."

The march makes several stops along Embassy Row, at the Portuguese Embassy, the Rhodesian Information Center and the South African Embassy. At each stop statements of indictment are read, and support for liberation fighters is reaffirmed. There is to be one more stop, at the United States State Department, and a rally at the Washington Monument, which has been renamed Lumumba Square for African Liberation Day. But before the march comes to an end--

A deep bass voice calls out, "What time is it?" The people respond.

"Nation Time."

"What's gonna happen?"

"Land's gonna change hands."

When we get to one of the Defense Department buildings the same voice calls to the black guard. "What time is it?"

He looks at his watch.

"Nah, brother, it's Nation Time. It's Nation Time."

May 27, 1972.

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