“In the spirit of those who led the way…it’s time to build people’s power!”
The work our coalition is engaged in to build the March on Wall Street South, as well as all the struggles we are building in our communities before and long after the demonstration, are building on a long and rich history of people’s struggle in the South and the U.S. We know that our work today would not be possible without the bold determination, sacrifice, and commitment to the fight to build people’s power of so many freedom fighters who have come before us.
There are far too many of these freedom fighters, but we’ve chosen to highlight a few of them on one of the main placards we’ll be using at the March on Wall Street South on Sunday September 2.
These portraits were all hand-painted by a member of our Coalition, and will be available for auction in our convergence space.
Here’s who they are (beginning at top left):
1) Pauli Murray (1910-1985)
Pauli Murray was a civil rights activist and organizer. She was barred from attending the University of North Carolina because she was an African-American. She helped to found the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE). She pioneered feminist theology and was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She was the first Black woman to become an ordained Episcopal priest. She was also outspoken for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
2) Ella Baker (1903-1986)
Ella Baker was a key civil rights organizer. She helped to build and strengthen the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She developed the strategies and tactics employed by the Civil Rights Movement. She was also highly influential in the Anti-War and Anti-Poverty struggles of her time.
3) Anna Mae Aquash (1945-1976)
Anna Mae Aquash was a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM). She took part in and lead numerous militant actions demanding justice for Native Americans. She and others activists seized the national office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C. She also participated in the 71 day occupation of Wounded Knee, in 1974. She was part of the “Red Schoolhouse Project” which created a space for Native American children to learn their heritage and culture. She was found dead from a gunshot wound in 1976, with the circumstances of her death still unclear.
4) Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919)
Emiliano Zapata was a leader of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. He organized the peasants of Mexico to fight against feudalism. He advocated common ownership of the land, and was the general of a “Liberation Army” that fought for “Land and freedom” before being brutally assassinated. He famously coined the phrase “It is better to die on your feet, than live on your knees.”
5) Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977)
Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights organizer in Mississippi. She fought for voting rights for African-Americans. She organized a “Freedom Summer” in which Jim Crow was challenged by activists from throughout the country. She was key in establishing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, a political alternative to the existing racist political parties. She was also part of the “Poor People’s Campaign.”
6) Henry Berry Lowery
7) Mumia Abu-Jamal (1954 – )
Mumia Abu Jamal is an award winning radio journalist and activist in Philadelphia. He frequently exposed police brutality and other injustices in the city. He has been falsely accused of killing a police officer and sentenced to death. From death row he has become a well known revolutionary writer. After two attempts to execute him were stopped by mass mobilizations of the people, he was sentenced to life in prison. He is one of the most well known political prisoners and revolutionary activists in the world.
8) Rachel Corrie (1979-2003)
Rachel Corrie was an activist with the International Solidarity Movement. She fought against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. She organized a pen-pal program between U.S. children and Palestinian children. She organized anti-war rallies during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 2003, she and several other activists tried to block the Israeli Defense Forces from bulldozing the home of a Palestinian family in Gaza. The IDF soldier driving the bulldozer ran her over, resulting in her death. The Israeli government has never apologized.
9) Robert Williams
10) Mother Jones (1837-1930)
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, was an organizer and orator who built the labor movement in the United States. She helped form the Knights of Labor and the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). She was most well known for her building of miners unions in Appalachia. She militantly fought against child labor, and traveled throughout the U.S. building working class organizations. As a well known female activist before women even had suffrage, she is quoted as saying “You don’t need the vote to raise hell!”
11) Malcolm X (1925-1965)
Malcolm X was one of the most influential Black Nationalists and Revolutionaries in U.S. history. He converted to Islam while in prison, and soon became a leading figure in the Nation of Islam. He fought for self-determination and was known for his militancy in the face of racism. He visited Africa and built international solidarity between African-Americans and other oppressed people fighting imperialism around the world. He was assassinated while giving a speech in New York City.
12) Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Park was an activist in Montgomery, Alabama. She began her activism campaigning for the freedom of the Scottsboro Nine, a group of African-American men falsely charged with rape. She was a well known activist in the NAACP. She went on to refuse to give up her seat on a public bus, symbolically getting arrested and sparking the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott. She later fought for women’s reproductive rights and other progressive causes.
13) Martin Luther King Jr.