Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Youth Leads the Struggle in Chicago

Youth Leads the Struggle in Chicago

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

If left to their own devices, the Black Misleaders will smother the movement in proceduralisms and other diversions.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet said she hadn’t seen Mayor Rahm Emanuel so shaken in 20 years, as when he was forced to fire his police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, this week. It seemed as if the protective shield of Black Misleadership Class collaboration that has for the last 30 years insulated white mayors from the wrath of Chicago’s outraged Black rank and file, had suddenly been stripped away. Black ministers joined militant youth in marching down the city’s “Magic Mile” Michigan Avenue shopping district, demanding that heads roll for hiding video evidence in the death of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald, shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke. For 400 days, Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez refused to indict the cop, or release the police dashboard video of the shooting, or to explain why another critical video had apparently been destroyed. Alvarez finally bowed to pressure – and a court orderindicting the cop for first degree murder and releasing the death video.

But the community’s rage could not be contained. The Black Caucus of Chicago’s Board of Aldermen demanded that Police Superintendent McCarthy resign. So did Rev. Jesse Jackson and even Bobby Rush, the sell-out Black Congressman who has been a dependable servant of the Emanuel administration. The strength of the movement in Chicago can be measured by the fact that so many elements of the Black collaborationist political class have been forced to take a stance in opposition to Mayor Emanuel and the white corporate forces that he represents, and ultimately to compel the mayor to fire his favorite cop. However, if left to their own devices – if allowed to seize control of what is essentially a Black youth political rebellion – the Black Misleaders will smother the movement in proceduralisms and long, drawn out studies and compliant advisory boards and all manner of other diversions, as they have always done. That’s their job, as the Black junior partners in the permanent white corporate state.

Righteous, Transformative Demands

The young people that the are soldiers of this struggle understand that movements are defined by their demands. In a joint statement by the Black Youth Project 100, We Charge Genocide, Assata’s Daughters, the #LetUsBreathe collective, and a Black Lives Matter chapter, they declared that “Indicting cops does not change the policies that promote the violence and trauma inherent in the Chicago Police Department.” They want Rahm Emanuel’s resignation, too. The Black Youth Project also demands defunding of the Chicago police, and investment of those dollars in the Black community. They call for reparations for slavery, Jim Crow and mass Black incarceration; an end to all profit in the criminal justice system; a guaranteed income for all; a federal jobs program, and freedom from discrimination for all workers; and an end to displacement of Black people through gentrification.

These are demands for social transformation – demands that will put the young activists on a collision course with the Black Misleadership Class who are the first line of defense for the white ruling class, and who will soon close ranks in Chicago and elsewhere to try to stop this movement.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
Direct download: 151202_gf_ChicagoYouth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:31am EDT