All posts by tedglick

Basics of Grassroots Organization

People working together can stop bad things and make good things happen. That’s a lesson of history. Organized people don’t always win, but individuals trying to change things by themselves almost always lose.

What are some basic organizing tips to help people facing unjust or oppressive conditions, or planned imposition of destructive projects, to get themselves organized?

A group can be as few as two people, if both are committed to meet regularly, do work in between, and reach out to involve others. You need a core group that consistently meets to figure out what needs to be done, and which communicates that to a larger network of active supporters. The more the better, as long as people are committed, work collaboratively and do work in between meetings.

When the core group meets, discussion should be conducted in such a way that everyone is encouraged to speak up and participate, and everyone is expected to do things after the meeting is over. Although there are always individuals who are more motivated, or have more experience or skills or energy, they will be poor leaders if they don’t work in a collaborative way with others.

Meetings should be as often as people feel is necessary and do-able. Generally, if there’s a big issue that has urgency and immediacy, groups should meet once a week. They may sometimes need to meet on an emergency basis or even more often than a week. If conducting a big campaign, group leaders meeting daily by phone or via internet may be necessary at some point.

It is a good idea at the first meeting, and possibly at the next meeting or two, to come up with a group mission statement, a short, 2-3 sentence (usually) statement about why the group exists and its vision. For example, a group fighting a proposed new gas or oil pipeline in their community might agree on something like this:  “People Before Pipelines exists to stop the building of the (name) pipeline in our community. We will work with anyone who agrees with that objective. We want to prevent the pollution and safety risks that always come with fossil fuel pipelines.”

Every meeting should have an agenda agreed upon by everyone in the meeting as the first order of business. The most important issues should be put first to ensure adequate time is given to them. Sometimes the less important issues have to be postponed to a future meeting because there’s not enough time to cover everything on the agenda.

Time should be built in for personal sharing, checking in on how people are doing, building a sense of community and mutual support. And having leadership with a sense of humor is a definite plus.

It should be understood by all in the group that the purpose of discussing an agenda item is to come to a decision about what should be done about it and who will follow through after the meeting. Decisions can be made either by majority wins or by consensus. Seeking for consensus is the best way for the group to function, but if there’s strong feelings on an issue, it may be necessary to vote.

“Consensus-seeking upholds the value of trying to make decisions which are agreed upon by all, which is without question a worthy goal. But the reality of decision-making within an organization is that, sooner or later, an issue will arise on which there are strong differences. When that is the case, when total consensus is not possible, a group can take a vote. There is usually a super-majority percentage that needs to vote affirmatively, from 60% if the tolerance for prolonged discussion is low to as high as 90% if the opposite.” (p. 70 of 21st Century Revolution)

Groups need someone to facilitate, or chair, the meeting, someone to take notes, and someone to deal with money raised to help carry out the group’s activities. Usually there are also people who take responsibility for leading work in a particular, on-going major area, or areas, of focus. An outreach coordinator, someone to reach out to local press, and someone to do internet/social media work are also usual areas where leadership is needed. Some people can do more than one of these tasks.

Whether one person always does each of these tasks, or there is a rotation of some or all of these tasks, should be decisions made by the group.

With this group structure and an agreement to work in a collaborative, respectful way, your group is ready to go to work!


Ted Glick works with Beyond Extreme Energy and is president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

2021 Wilmington Chase Bank Trial, a Partial Victory

Judge Allows Testimony on Impacts of Climate Change and Role of Banks

But ultimately finds 11 Rocking Chair Rebels Guilty of Disorderly Conduct

In a trial that took place on November 12th, the last scheduled day of the COP 26 global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Judge Kerry Taylor allowed the 11 pro se defendants who last June sat in rocking chairs in the main thoroughfare in front of JP Morgan Chase Bank’s credit card headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, to submit testimony about the climate crisis and the role of banks in funding it.

Defendants pursued a “choice of evils” strategy, which under Delaware law allows someone to break the law to prevent a greater “imminent” harm.  The prosecutor, who was the arresting officer, kept asking defendants who took the witness stand how their blocking the road prevented “imminent” harm that would justify the inconvenience to motorists who were delayed for a short time. Defendants testified to the drastic “imminent” harms already occurring due to climate change, like the fact that on the day of the protest, temperatures reached 108 degrees in the Northwest, part of a several-day heat wave that killed 100 humans and a billion sea creatures.

Defendants submitted copies of the 50-page Summary of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, published in August, which confirms that it is indisputable that human influence has caused all the warming in the climate system that has occurred since pre-industrial times. They also submitted copies of the 2021 Banking on Climate Chaos, which shows that JP Morgan Chase is by far the biggest funder of fossil fuel projects around the world. Finally, they submitted a document in which the International Energy Agency declared that in order to avoid climate tipping points, funding for and construction of any new fossil fuel projects must cease this year.

Defendant Melinda Tuhus said, “Getting this documentation into the record was historic, as judges almost never allow a choice of evils defense – also known as a necessity defense. However, although the judge allowed defendants to testify on these matters, in the end she chose the narrow definition of ‘imminent harm’ and found us guilty of disorderly conduct and imposed fines and court costs of $97 on each of us.”

Defendant Steve Norris, a great-grandfather and one of the main organizers of the action, said, “Judge Kerry Taylor today at the last-minute stole defeat from the jaws of victory. She admitted into evidence the IPCC Report, Banking on Climate Chaos and the IEA Report. But then judge Taylor turned her back on us and seemed to claim that the drivers we inconvenienced in front of Chase Bank suffered greater harm than the millions of people who are suffering from climate change.”

Tony Ingraffea, professor emeritus of engineering at Cornell University and an expert on methane, the second most common greenhouse gas after CO2, testified in late September at a People’s Climate Tribunal outside the Wilmington courthouse. After the verdict on Friday he said, “Once again the judicial system, although capable in this case of expressing ‘sympathy’ for the defendants’ cause, is incapable of the righteousness needed in our collective climate emergency. The earth needs no sympathy. It deserves our apology and the righteous course of action that the defendants pursued in this case.”

Karen Igou, the youngest defendant at 51, wrote after the trial, “Today we could have made history. Today I watched 11 dear elders pour their hearts out after weeks of planning, researching, organizing. Today I listened to hours of testimony about the crimes against humanity committed by Chase Bank and the prognosis of our ailing planet and its most vulnerable inhabitants. Today I sang, held hands, wept, ate, prayed, and testified with elders who are wise beyond my years, have full and vibrant lives, yet still put them all on hold to try to protect our Earth. Today I witnessed police officers who in court seemed determined to undermine the efforts of those trying to save life on Earth, but who in the hallways whispered that we had their support. Today I watched a woman, a judge, meet eyes with comrades imploring that she get on board with those ready to cast aside convention and joyously protect and embrace life on Earth. I also watched that judge fall in line with the status quo and through a lack of creativity and courage, a desire to go by the book rather than write a new one, let herself disappear into nothingness rather than make history. But in the end the problem isn’t how the evidence was presented or if the wording was correct. It is the human condition of cognitive dissonance and the steadfast desire to continue on with life as we know it rather than life as it could be.” 

Marching to Biden’s House on New Year’s Day

At the rally preceding our “Occupy Biden,” New Year’s Day march in Wilmington to the house of the President, I read this poem, created the day before specifically for this event:

“We are here because our planet is burning–
flooding—wind-ravaged—droughted—sickened
by global overheating caused by burning coal, oil and gas.

“For 7 days, 7 nights, 168 hours,
we held this outdoor space for all of the life forms,
all of the ecosystems, all of the children
and grandchildren and the 7 generations to come.

“We experienced cold, snow and sleet, lots of rain,
wind, the sun, the elements which make this world,
this beautiful, anguished world, the miracle that it is.

“Throughout, saying, Biden Be Bold–
declare climate emergency–
no new fossil fuel projects–
do the right thing, and do it now!

“All the while, some of us connecting to
the Higher Powers, Higher Love, what some call God,
praying, as in the words of an Anishinabe prayer:

“’Grandfather, look at our brokenness.

“’We know that in all creation only the human family
has strayed from the Sacred Way.

“’And we know that we are the ones
who must come back together to walk the Sacred Way.

“’Grandfather, Sacred One, teach us
Love, Compassion and Honor,
So we may heal the earth
and heal each other.’”

We were very pleased the day following this march to see this story in Wilmington’s major daily newspaper/website: Dozens march to Biden’s home seeking climate emergency declaration (delawareonline.com). It’s an accurate portrayal of what happened.

The week-long encampment was the idea of local Wilmington climate justice activists, with Karen Igou of Extinction Rebellion playing a central role. A number of other groups got actively involved over the little more than a month that Occupy Biden went from an idea to an actuality, beginning on Christmas Day.

Our camp was literally right by the side of a six lane highway, Delaware Route 141. With the exception of the very late night and early morning hours, there was always significant traffic. I’d estimate 50,000 or more vehicles came by us, and we were very visible. There were honks in support, and a much lesser number of anti-Biden shout-outs.

Some of those driving by, or from the local area, stopped to talk to us. Each day there were people who came by with whom we had worthwhile discussions.

Some of those who stopped seemed to think we were anti-Biden, but we explained that we weren’t. We explained that we were there to press him to exert much stronger leadership on the climate emergency, as well as on a number of other justice and survival issues.

There’s no question that some Biden supporters were not pleased with what we were doing. Their view was that we should go after Manchin and Sinema. We said, yes, they need to be pressured, for sure, but the fact is that Biden is the President, he has powers neither of them do, and he should be using them now to lead on this rapidly deepening existential crisis.

We undertook this action thinking, hoping, that the Bidens would be in their home ¾ of a mile from our encampment at some point during this winter holiday week, and they were! Wednesday evening they came from their Rehobeth Beach, De. house to this one, apparently via a helicopter which went overhead about the 7 pm time we had been told by friendly press they were supposed to arrive. By the next morning we had set up people with signs at either end of the long road they lived on. And then on Friday, a 15 car, black-SUV’s-prominent Biden motorcade, came right past us at our checkpoint on Route 141 and then right by our camp. We all chanted, “Biden Be Bold,” as loud as we could. It was a definite highpoint.

It is a good thing that the idea of Biden using his powers to issue Executive Orders on climate and other issues is a growing thing. It was first put forward at the People Vs. Fossil Fuels, Indigenous-led actions at the White House on October 11-15 where 655 people were arrested. Pramilla Jayapal, chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, is now publicly calling for its use given the Manchin/Sinema problem. The Guardian newspaper has called for its use.

It is outrageous that the heavily compromised, $1.75 trillion Build Back Better act was not passed last year. But even if it had been, more is needed. And that more is only going to happen because of a massive political mobilization this year, in the streets and to the polls. Biden and Congressional Democrats need to keep feeling the heat from our people’s movement to use every means at their disposal to deliver results for our struggling peoples. If they do, then we will be strengthened in our efforts to generate a massive turnout of youth, people of color, women and working class people on November 8th to defeat the neo-fascist Republicans in their voter suppression efforts.

People and the planet need action now, and working class people of all colors and cultures need to be given reasons to come out and vote!

Ted Glick works with Beyond Extreme Energy and is president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick

Jesus the Carpenter

“Jesus Christ was a man that traveled through the land,
A Carpenter true and brave;
He said to the rich, ‘Give your goods to the poor,’
So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

“Yes, Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand,
A carpenter true and brave,
And a dirty little coward called Judas Iscariot
He laid Jesus Christ in His grave.

“He went to the sick and He went to the poor,
He went to the hungry and the lame;
He said that the poor would win this world,
So they laid Jesus Christ in His grave.”

     -Woody Guthrie, “Jesus Christ Was a Man,” 1940

As someone raised in a Protestant church, and who goes to one now, I’ve been getting progressively into the Christmas season, in a good way. I haven’t been running around getting presents; without kids or grandkids nearby, that’s not a priority. But I have been thinking more than usual about Jesus of Nazareth, who Jackson Browne called “the rebel Jesus.”

Several days ago I heard for the first time a song which got me thinking I should write one of these columns. The name of it is, “A Strange Way to Save the World,” by David Allen Clark, Donald A. Koch and Mark R. Harris. Here’s the words which got me thinking:

I’m sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him
Cause never in a million lives
Would he have dreamed of Bethlehem

And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel come to life
And Joseph said

Why me, I’m just a simple man of trade
Why Him with all the rulers in the world
Why here inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she’s just an ordinary girl
Now I’m not one to second guess
What angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world.

These words made me remember one of the first times I heard this kind of analysis of the specialness of the birth and life of Jesus of Nazareth, born to a prematurely pregnant mother, in the eyes of society, born in a barn, born with a carpenter father, living with his people under Roman occupation. I heard it about 40 years ago in the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn, NY from the church minister, Rev. Herbert Daughtry. Rev. Daughtry was a leader of the National Black United Front and a dedicated social justice activist.

Daughtry eloquently and passionately roused the congregation, me included, as he pointed out in different ways the significance of who this person was, this man who became a “son of God” and birthed a religion which, for 200 or so years after his death, was all about world-changing and person-changing, both together, through acts of charity and acts of resistance to evil.

As I think about Jesus in this Jesus birthday season, this is who I will remember. In that way, if not in other ways, he, and so many others like him down through history who acted and suffered for the common good, will continue to live on in my and others’ hearts and minds.

Ted Glick works with Beyond Extreme Energy and is president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick

It’s Time to Occupy Biden

A tough year is ending on a bad note. Not only are Covid cases rising fast but, because of Manchin and Sinema, the Build Back Better act is in serious trouble. On top of that, Joe Biden hasn’t exactly been the leader on the climate emergency, and on numerous other issues, that is needed. Joe is not Bernie. But, sigh, at least he’s not Trump.

Politics ain’t beanbag, I’ve heard it said. In the game of beanbag you either throw it in the hole or you don’t. In politics, the way it’s played in Washington, DC, big money, fossil fuel money, billionaire money corrupts and makes clear-cut victories for the people and Mother Earth rare. What victories are won are almost always partial or limited.

This reality makes it essential, absolutely essential, that we keep up the street heat, the mass demonstrations, the nonviolent direct action, the grassroots organizing. It is true, as the slogan goes, that “there ain’t no power like the power of the people,” but that power can only be realized when it is manifested publicly, out in the open, visible.

And that is why I am so glad that community organizers in Wilmington, Delaware, over a month ago, came up with the idea and began to organize for what has become Occupy Biden, a 24/7 nonviolent occupation less than a mile from President Biden’s house. It will begin at 12 noon on Christmas Day, December 25, and continue until noon on January 1, 2022. Those of us taking part in this action will be ending 2021 and beginning 2022 on the absolutely right note of resolute action for what is right and needed. Here is how the organizers of this action describe the event:

“Occupy Biden calls upon President Biden to give a gift to the world this holiday season by pledging to:

  • Issue an Executive Order declaring a climate emergency; and, accordingly,
  • Mandate that all federal government agencies oppose any new fossil fuel projects

“People can join with us for part of a day, for a full day, for several days or for the full week by signing up here. https://forms.gle/Y9wVYVjNCM6GCKnF9 

“It is because we are in a climate emergency that we are taking this action during the most important holiday season of the year, and braving the elements in doing so. Repeated, persistent and strong nonviolent action by organized people is an absolutely essential component of bringing about the changes urgently needed.

“While taking action on climate, we will stand in solidarity with the many other justice fights being waged on related issues. We stand in opposition to voter suppression and to all forms of racism/white supremacy. We work to build a truly just and democratic society grounded in respect and care for every culture, being and ecosystem. We support the rights of women to control their own bodies and health care decisions and affordable health care for all. We support immigrant rights and the right to organize and unionize on the job. We support peace and shifting money out of the military budget to human and environmental needs. We support the right to nonviolent protest and protections for whistleblowers. 

“Our plan is to maintain the Climate Justice Occupation all throughout the year-ending holiday week, at all hours of the day and night. We are organizing to have the supports needed for those participating as far as food, water, warming spaces and toilet facilities.

“We will take action together during this week on the basis of these four principles:

  • We will create a vision and culture with the next seven generations as priority
  • We will use all nonviolent means to make this happen
  • We welcome everyone, including our own selves, for learning, listening and challenging ingrained attitudes that limit our collective strength
  • We realize we are part of a system that must change; therefore no individual or community is to be blamed or shamed 

“While this event is about demanding climate action in the face of woeful inaction by our government, we also call on our community to take this opportunity to work with others from all aspects of our social, environmental and political scene and in this way strengthen and enrich our movement for the people.

“We urge you to sign up to take part with us in this important and energizing action as we call upon President Biden to give the world in this holiday season the gift of action on the climate emergency at the scale the world needs.”

Labor organizer Joe Hill is famous for his “don’t mourn, organize” exhortation in a 1915 letter to Industrial Workers of the World leader Bill Haywood as he was about to be executed by the state of Utah. Those words are always appropriate, given the continued, unnecessary suffering in the world because of the outrageous power of the greedy 1%, but they’re especially relevant right now as the very big 2022 year approaches. Let’s turn our sadness, anger and frustration into the organized power of the people which, alone, can win victories and bring into being a new world.

Ted Glick works with Beyond Extreme Energy and is president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

Hunger Striking in a Time of Climate Emergency

Two weeks ago five young Sunrise Movement activists, Kidus Girma, Ema Govea, Julie Paramo, Abby Leedy and Paul Campion, ended a two week, water-only hunger strike in front of the White House. They and the Sunrise Movement supporting them were, and still are, demanding that Joe Biden and the Democratic Party deliver on their elected mandate and pass climate policy that matches the urgency and the scale of the climate emergency.

This was a serious action that got national press coverage. It was not a fast on fruit and vegetable juices with protein powder mixed in. These hunger strikers consumed only water and electrolytes.

For some people hunger strikes, especially by young people, cross the line between acceptable and non-acceptable tactics. One climate activist, for example, wrote on an email list about this White House fast, saying: “Shame on any adult supporting youth hunger strikes as a means of forcing climate action. Young brains are still developing. There is nothing ok or acceptable about youth hunger striking. Would you support young people cutting themselves for climate action?”                  

For others, and their numbers are probably growing, the tactic may be questionable, even discomforting, but they appreciate the seriousness of our situation, on climate and a number of other issues, which motivates such an urgent, risky response.

I’ve taken part in about 18 long fasts of at least 12 days since 1971. My first, for 34 days, was undertaken while in prison for draft resistance and was led by fellow inmate Fr. Phil Berrigan. My most recent, a 32 day Fast to Defeat Trump, took place in the month leading up to the 2020 election last November. At the age of 71 it was a hard one, but the urgent need to defeat Trump kept me going until election day.

Tactically, hunger strikes and actions with the risk of arrest are the nonviolent equivalent of armed attacks where people can get injured or killed. The nonviolent actions, however, cannot be used so easily by our enemies or antagonistic media outlets to isolate or undercut support. Such actions ensure that the only people who suffer or are hurt, or even risk suffering and injury, are on the justice-seeking side.

The willingness of an organized group of hunger strikers to risk their health for a just cause can definitely have a positive political impact. Because of the nonviolence of the action, and if effective work is done to clearly explain the “why” of it and to publicize it, a hunger strike can educate and sometimes galvanize into action many more people than would be the case with different tactics.

One prime example is the hunger strike of Chinese students in the spring of 1989 at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In the words of a June 5, 2019 PBS Frontline story, Timeline: What Led to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, “The hunger strike drew broad public support; many important intellectuals pledged their help. ‘There’s such a feeling in China about food because of the thousands of years of famines they’ve had,’ explains Jan Wong. ‘So when the students went on their hunger strike, it really moved people to tears.’”

Hunger strikes, long fasts, are often undertaken by people who have a spiritual orientation. Mohandus Gandhi, the most famous nonviolent revolutionary of the twentieth century and the person from whom I learned about the tactic while in college in the late 1960s, called it “the sincerest form of prayer.”

Cesar Chavez, another famous justice leader who fasted, explained why he did so in this way: “This fast is first and foremost personal. It is something that I feel compelled to do. It is directed at myself. It is a fast for the purification of my own body, mind and soul. The fast is also the heartfelt prayer for purification and strengthening for all of us, for myself, and for all those who work beside me in the farmworkers’ movement. It is a fervent prayer that together we will confront and resist, with all our strength, the scourge of poisons that that threatens our people, our land and our food.”

Fasting is a way of connecting, of remembering, of feeling the pain of those who “fast” involuntarily, those whose numbers are growing and will grow astronomically in coming years if strong action is not taken to end the fossil fuel era. Pax Christi leader Marie Dennis, who fasted for 42 days in 1992, wrote in a statement during that fast of those who: “cannot choose to stop when it gets overwhelming; rather, theirs is the daily, grinding hunger of simply being too poor to find enough food; it is a hunger that is ever-present and gnawing, that consumes their children slowly or quickly; it is a hunger for a more than minimal existence—for education and health care and housing.”

Racist police brutality is another issue where this tactic has been used. Last year four young people in Louisville, Ky., Ari Maybe, Tabin Ibershoff, Vincent Gonzalez and Amira Bryant, fasted for 15 days, for two of them, and 25 days for the two others. This was in connection with the murder of Breonna Taylor.

As is true for any tactic used by organized people fighting for survival, their rights or justice, there is no guarantee that undertaking a hunger strike will yield the result sought. But any efforts to declare them off limits or too extreme is seriously misguided. In a country and a world facing all of the huge challenges that we are, long hunger strikes are clearly action at the scale of the problem. It will take a wide range of actions and tactics to get us to where we need to go, and this is one of them.


Ted Glick is a longtime community organizer, justice activist and writer. His most recent book, published in September, is 21st Century Revolution: Through Higher Love, Racial Justice and Democratic Cooperation.

Manufacturing Hate: A Book Review

It is important that progressive people of all colors and cultures, including people of European ancestry, learn about the violent, pernicious history of European colonization of Africa and its peoples. Milton Allimadi’s recently-published book, Manufacturing Hate: How Africa Was Demonized in Western Media, is an excellent, well-written, concise and accessible source to learn about some of that history.

Allimadi combines a broad historical sweep with specific stories of European/African interactions, from major military battles to recorded, individual African-to-European conversations. He is extremely critical of Western mass media reporting of the realities of African societies. He explains how all of the systematic white supremacy for power and profit has impacted African people all over the world negatively in both personal and societal ways.

His account begins by going back over 2,000 years to the writings of Greek author and historian Herodotus, who lived between 484 and 425 BC: “From the earliest period predating the seventeenth-century type of racism, Europeans were intrigued by what was considered as an aberration, black skin color. Herodotus claimed in Histories that the strangest creatures inhabited the African continent; this notion became a well-established theme in Western writings about Africa. He wrote: ‘This is where the huge serpents are found, and the lions, elephants, bears, asps, and horned asses. Here too, as the Libyans tell us, are the dog-headed creatures and the headless creatures with eyes in their breasts; also the wild men, and wild women, and a great many other creatures by no means imaginary.’” (pps. 5-6)

Allimadi makes clear that, over 2,000 years later, the leaders of the United States had similar racist views, not a surprise given the 150 years of chattel slavery prior to the founding of the USA. He quotes President Thomas Jefferson, writing about enslaved Africans: “Comparing them by the faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.” (p. 6)

Most of the book deals with Europe’s and the US’s destructive role throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. It is divided into four sections; I have included a quotation from each one to give an idea of what is in them:

How the “primitive” image of Africa was created and universally disseminated: “Between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, European travelers sought fame, celebrity, fortune and immortality by journeying to Africa and writing about their experiences and adventures. Their primary purpose was to popularize the notion that Africans were still trapped at a level of intellectual, socioeconomic and political development that Europeans had transcended centuries earlier. [Their writings] were intended to justify the need, indeed, the alleged obligation, for Europeans to conquer and colonize Africa.” (p. 9)

Africa’s military victories trivialized: Europeans were not always successful in major military battles for control of African resources and labor. When Africans won, political shock waves were sometimes felt in the colonizing country. For example, in 1896, in the Ethiopian area of Adwa, their army crushed an invading army of 17,000 Italians and some colonized Eritreans. “Italian citizens, indeed, most Europeans, were simply incapable of conceptualizing what had occurred in what they had been taught was ‘darkest’ Africa. All the racist literature and myths about white supremacy they had consumed had never hinted at the possibility of such a catastrophe.” (p. 48)

-Reporters travel to cover Africa:  The New York Times, according to Allimadi, played a major role in this negative and racist reporting. One example is its support of: “South Africa’s twentieth-century system of institutionalized racism. [Times reporters] adopted the nineteenth-century narrative that Africa was backward and needed European rule and civilization; Africans had still not evolved sufficiently enough to be treated as equals with Europeans; and that Africans, if left to govern themselves, would regress to their previous state of barbarism and thereby nullify the good work that Europeans had already accomplished on the continent.” (pps. 57-58)

-Africa is relegated to the backwaters
: After the successful political, not economic, overthrow of European colonialism by the end of the 20th century, “several Western writers took stock of the conditions on the continent and proclaimed that the best solution was to recolonize Africa. The continent had been betrayed by the many African dictators and autocrats, but the Western powers, and to some extent the Soviet Union, also played critical roles in the continent’s sociopolitical and economic decay in the post-colonial era, often in partnership with African tyrants. By only reporting on the incompetence, repression and kleptocracy of the individual African rulers without showing how they worked hand in hand with their foreign sponsors, the international media exonerated the outsiders for their role in Africa’s many calamities.”  (pps. 89-90)

There’s a well-known saying: “If you don’t know where you’ve been you don’t know where you’re going.” For African, European, African American, European American and all people who are serious about the absolutely essential work of world-changing in this critical third decade of the 21st century, learning about this sordid history of brutal European and US American colonization and neo-colonization of Africa, still continuing, is one of our necessary tasks. Thanks to Milton Allimadi for this important contribution.


Ted Glick works with Beyond Extreme Energy and is president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

Stop Line 3! No New Fossil Fuel Projects! Climate Emergency!

The People Vs. Fossil Fuels actions this past week in Washington, DC—655 arrests!—brought back a lot of memories. In November of 1972 I was living in DC when the continent-wide Trail of Broken Treaties arrived there and took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I spent time outside the BIA building in the evenings in support. Then, several months later, after local activists and the American Indian Movement occupied buildings in Wounded Knee, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and after a call went out for non-Indigenous people to come there in support, I did so. I stayed for two-plus weeks, helping to set up a support and communications office in Rapid City.

The leadership and visibility and inspiration and music and drumming and actions of Indigenous people from around what is now called the United States were such a very big deal this past week! To feel and experience this beating heart of resistance from peoples who have been under a terrible and wicked, life-draining siege for so long; to be moved by and dance to the sound of the drums; to be inspired by the deep, deep earth wisdom of Casey Camp Horinek; to be there able to respond and actively support the flag pole actions at the Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday afternoon; to be able to support the sit-in led by elders inside the Bureau of Indian Affairs/DOI building Thursday afternoon—these are experiences I will not forget.

Each day of the week began with well-organized actions at the White House. There were very big puppets and colorful banners and flags made by people who knew what they were doing, visuals to go along with the theatre of negotiated arrests by the police of the scores of people daily clogging the sidewalk right next to the White House fence. Throughout all this time each day of marching to and arriving at the White House, setting things up, being given three warnings by the police, and then the arrests, there were short, amplified presentations by frontline leaders of fights against new fossil fuel infrastructure all over the country–Alaska, New Mexico, Texas, Minnesota, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nebraska, California, Alabama, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and more. There were passionate chants and singing.

Other dramatic actions took place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

Tuesday’s was at the Army Corps of Engineers. The focus was on Line 3 in Minnesota. A million signatures on petitions was presented, calling for the Army Corps to step in, stop Line 3 and do a serious Environmental Impact Study. Indigenous speakers reported on the piercing of the water aquifers under the pipeline and numerous other violations by Enbridge, their overt attempts to cover it all up, their lies, and the spinelessness of the Army Corps in response. Then, after the stirring rally concluded and a giant round dance was taking place by the hundreds of people gathered there on the street, strong, nonviolent direct action was undertaken: two Indigenous activists, supported by others, began working their way up the two 35 foot or so flag poles flanking the front of the building. For close to two hours they were up there. An American flag was turned upside down, a distress signal, and pro-Indigenous sovereignty banners were held up by the activists clinging to the poles.

Recognizing the determination of and number of people willing to defend our climate warriors, the police never moved in to try to bring them down. Ultimately, they came down on their own, slipped away and the action ended.

The next day we went to the home of Jaime Pinckam, head of the Army Corps, an upper-income condominium complex across the river in Arlington, Va. Hundreds of us were loud and boisterous with chants and speeches calling him out for his dereliction of duty for all his neighbors to hear.

Then on Thursday Indigenous activists surprised the Bureau of Indian Affairs/Department of the Interior security with a lobby sit-in by 55 people, most of whom were arrested, some roughly.  They brought with them a list of demands, which included: Abolition of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Restoration of 110 million acres of land taken away from Native Nations, and Bring home our children buried at your residential schools.

Friday morning was the last day of action, a youth-led march from the White House to Congress. To the sound of the drums and Native songs, 90 people were arrested sitting in at an intersection a few blocks from the Capitol.

There was a great deal of press coverage of this week of action. White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Biden’s response to our demands at a nationally-televised, Thursday press conference. Her response, in effect, was that he is focused on getting Congress to pass Build Back Better legislation that includes action on climate. Perhaps, hopefully, and only because of continuing, unrelenting pressure, he and his administration and obstructionists in Congress like Manchin and Sinema will realize that, as was said throughout the week, that if you don’t respect us, expect us. There ain’t no power like the power of the people when organized peoples, joining together, don’t stop.


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

This Is What a Strengthening Left Looks Like

It is a very, very big deal that last week the House Progressive Caucus, in alliance with almost all other House Democrats, defeated the effort by “moderates”—really, corporatists—to pass a problematic, Senate Democrats-and-some-Republicans infrastructure bill. Doing so would have made it very unlikely that the much more significant Build Back Better/reconciliation bill would have been passed. This is the one that addresses climate, child care, housing, education, health care and more.

For months there has been an open, public agreement among the White House and House and Senate leadership that both of these bills needed to pass together. It is that agreement that Manchin, Sinema and about 4% of the House Democrats have been trying to derail.

There is one reason, and one reason only, that they failed: the willingness of the Progressive Caucus to stand firm. Congresswoman Pramilla Jayapal, chair of that 100-person caucus, and others in PC leadership and The Squad didn’t waver in their position that if a vote was taken on that infrastructure bill, they would vote it down. And because they did, Biden ultimately got behind their position and reaffirmed that both of those bills must go forward together.

Hopefully, both of them will be passed this month. If it takes longer than that, so be it.

It is a very big deal that there is now a strong, organized, progressive force within the Democratic Party on Capitol Hill. How did all of this happen?

Here’s how I wrote about it my just-published book, 21st Century Revolution:*

“Over the last several years, a number of concrete developments have convinced me that, right now, our main focus should be to run strong progressives within the Democratic Party. What are those developments?

-the tactical decision of Independent Senator and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in 2015 to run for President as a Democrat;

-the massive positive response to his campaign;

-the emergence of an on-going organization, Our Revolution, out of that campaign with organized groups in hundreds of localities;

-the Congressional victories via the Democratic Party route of very progressive people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib; and, last but not least,

-the very strong campaign of Bernie Sanders for President in 2019/2020, as well as Elizabeth Warren.”

It was all of these electoral developments that laid the basis for the victory the US American people won against the corporatists last week on Capitol Hill.

Without question, the grassroots progressive movement needs to keep focusing on Sinema, Manchin and the 10 House corporatists. They need to feel unrelenting, consistent, day after day pressure until we win this important federal legislative victory.

In addition, we need visible street heat! Fortunately, there’s a well-organized week of action in DC coming up next week focused on climate and environmental justice, the People Vs. Fossil Fuels week of action. Each day, Monday through Friday, hundreds of people will be risking arrest, at the White House Monday through Thursday and then at the Capitol on Friday in a youth-led action. It is a realistic possibility, depending upon how the police play it, that 1,000 or more people could be arrested next week. We will be calling for two things: that President Biden issue an executive order declaring a climate emergency, and that he move to stop approving fossil fuel projects and speed the end of the fossil fuel era.

There’s still time to sign up and make plans to take part in one or more of these days of action. Through determined action in the streets and relentless pressure on the suites, this fall can be a time of important, badly-needed victories. Let’s do it!

*21st Century Revolution: Through Higher Love, Racial Justice and Democratic Cooperation (pmpress.org)


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

October 11-15 in DC: It’s History Making Time

We are now in a hugely consequential season when it comes to ending the dominance of the polluting fossil fuel industry and shifting urgently to clean and renewable energy sources like wind and solar. And by this season, I mean this autumn, the months of September, October and November.

What ends up happening with the US Congress as far as the climate and other provisions in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill is huge. Strong legislative action must be taken now!

What happens in November at the 26th annual United Nations Climate Conference is also huge. We don’t have another year to waste with lip service and minimal action—minimal when compared to what the world is already experiencing as far as extreme weather events—from the world’s most powerful governments. The US absolutely needs to be exemplary when it comes to climate action ambition and concrete steps.

What could send a strong and clear signal to the world that the US is serious about this emergency? One would be for President Biden to actually sign an executive order declaring a climate emergency. And using that declaration as the basis, he should then announce that this year, following the call for such action by the International Energy Agency, he is instructing his agencies to stop approving any new fossil fuel infrastructure.

No new oil and gas pipelines. No new gas compressor stations to push gas through the pipelines. No new Liquified Natural Gas export terminals. No new gas or oil storage terminals. No more saying one thing and then letting just the opposite happen.

Are these realistic demands? From the standpoint of the climate emergency, absolutely. From the standpoint of the IEA (!), already done. From the standpoint of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose August report declared a “code red for humanity,” yes.

They are realistic if there’s enough political pressure from below right now.

That is why thousands of people are planning to descend on Washington, DC three weeks from now to take part in organized, nonviolent direct action at the White House the 11th-14th and Congress on the 15th. In the words of a letter to Biden from frontline activists around the country, “President Biden, in light of the upcoming COP26 United Nations climate summit, you cannot claim to be a climate leader when you are supporting fossil fuels. Stand with frontline communities, stand with future generations, stop approving fossil fuel projects, declare a climate emergency now.”

Their statement concludes with these wise words:

“If you have ever marched, rallied, called your representatives, lobbied, signed petitions to urge governmental leaders to act—we call on you to take the next step. Nonviolent civil disobedience is a time-tested tactic for change. Every movement for change, from suffragists to the Civil Rights movement, has proven that the defining moments are those where people are willing to risk arrest.

“If we all come together, put our bodies on the line in the name of climate justice, we may be able to change the course of history. Please consider joining us on October 11-15 for one day, for the entire week, or for whatever time you can offer.

“In solidarity for the protection of Mother Earth and the next seven generations of life.”

https://peoplevsfossilfuels.org – that’s where you can find out more, find answers to your questions, and sign up.

It’s time, right now, for us to rise to the call of history.

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.