Toward a Black Radical Independent Education: Black Radicalism, Independence and the Supplementary School Movement

By Andrews, Kehinde | The Journal of Negro Education, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

Toward a Black Radical Independent Education: Black Radicalism, Independence and the Supplementary School Movement


Andrews, Kehinde, The Journal of Negro Education


This word separation has been misused... a better word than separation is independence. Malcolm X (1970, p. 9)

Introduction

Black Radicalism takes the position that mainstream institutions in the West work to oppress people of African ancestry, across the globe. Examples such as Black Power (Carmichael, 1971), Pan-Africanism (Nkrumah, 1998) and Rastafarianism (Campbell, 1997) all view Western society as being structurally racist and promote the creation of independent Black organizations, institutions and nations as the only solution to overcoming racial inequality in society (Wilson, 2005). The first section of this article will briefly define Black Radicalism, distinguishing the tradition from Black Nationalism, Black Marxism, and critical race theory (CRT). This reclamation of Black Radicalism is necessary, as the tradition has been in decline and has a distinctive perspective on how to overcome racial oppression, rooted in the Pan-African Diasporic project (Carmichael, 1971). A Black radical critique of schooling will also be outlined, which sees the system as inherently racist necessitating Black independent spaces of education.

Black Radicalism has been mischaracterized as encouraging both segregation and separateness and therefore criticized for increasing social conflict. The second section will address these liberal critiques and outline the call for a Black independent education, which is central to a Black radical analysis. There is a history in both the United States and Britain of Black groups setting up extra schooling to serve the needs of the community. In the United States, the Black Panther Party implemented 'liberation schools' to engage children in revolutionary education that was not possible in the mainstream (Seale, 1970). In Britain the radical nature of the Panthers has not been as overtly present but there is a history of "organised resistance to racism" (Grosvenor, 1997, p.152), which has involved supplementary schooling dating back to the "Black education movement", given prominence by John LaRose in the 1960s (Chevannes & Reeves, 1989). It is the contention of this treatise that the long history of spaces of Black-led education provides fragments of what a truly Black radical independent education would involve; with the treatment of the supplementary school movement presented being indicative.

For Black Radicalism it is essential to build an education in the West that can allow for success of the Black population in mainstream society, while radically connecting Black communities into Diasporic politics, which can liberate the African continent. This article lays the foundation for a comprehensive vision of Black radical independent education, which is vital for future work. The history of the Black supplementary school movement in Britain offers potentially "radical and subversive space[s]" (Mirza & Reay, 2000, p.523) from which to build such an education.

Black Radicalism

Black radical thought is often linked and reduced to the Black Power Movement that occurred in United States (Joseph, 2008). However, the specific Black Power Movement in the United States was one of a number of Black political movements across the African Diaspora that called for and attempted to bring down the system of White imperialism from the end of the 19th century (Campbell, 1997). Perhaps the first example of Black radical politics linking across the Diaspora is Ethiopianism, which arose in 1895 with the battle for Ethiopian independence from European powers. Across the world Black people identified with the struggle and saw Ethiopia's victory as their own (Campbell, 1997).

The politics of Black Radicalism can be seen in the work of such activists and politicians as Marcus Garvey (1967), Kwame Nkrumah (1998), Malcolm X (1970), and others across the Diaspora. These varied movements are connected by their radical take on society that highlights Western imperialism as the central feature to be overturned and a commitment to the African Diaspora that would unite and work as a driving force for liberation. …

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