NAAM ADMITS THAT THE AAHM&CC EXISTS!
(BUT CONTINUES TELLING LIES ABOUT US)
IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND
THESE LIES ARE BEING TOLD.
Third week of August, 2020.
This week, the NAAM and Urban League websites launched a new and unprecedented shift in the line of their coordinated propaganda.
For the first time ever, NAAM has just publicly acknowledged the existence of the AAHM&CC! Their August 17 blog post which does so even contains links to our website!
This in itself is an achievement of the peoples uprising against police terror, and would never have happened during the times of business as usual. Unfortunately, this belated acknowledgement of our existence comes at us in the form a hit piece riddled with inaccuracies, some of which are clearly outright intentional lies.
We will address here only the most glaring of these untruths.
First and foremost, although the NAAM now seems to acknowledge the fact that it was the AAHM&CC founders (not NAAM) who carried out the longest civil occupation on behalf of an oppressed people in US history, they are still inaccurately claiming that the duration of this action was merely “eight years of sacrifice”. It was thirteen years. Our most active founder, along with his family and community, held the fort continuously from 1985 through 1998! The reason the NAAM-scam is trying to erase five years of this history is to avoid dealing with how the occupation ended–a violent police raid against the museum–of which NAAM’s landlord and original fiscal sponsor the Urban League was the chief beneficiary. Also, there were six “original occupiers” who established the AAHM&CC in November 1985. (This belated acknowledgement by the NAAM names four, but leaves out two.)
Secondly, NAAM claims there was “a split between factions in the early stages of planning for a museum”. This is not true. There simply were those who were planning for a museum, and a group of people assigned by the white power structure to prevent the emergence of a museum and develop apartments instead. This is not a “split”. It is just a contradiction between those who want a museum and those who don’t. This is proven by the fact that the AAHM&CC had already established an operational museum at the Coleman School property by the mid 1990s, which was physically destroyed by a violent police SWAT Team raid conducted on behalf of the Urban League in June 1998. Neither the NAAM nor the Urban League are willing to acknowledge this act of physical violence against AAHM&CC in their pseudo historical “timeline” narratives, because they are its most direct beneficiaries.
Thirdly, NAAM claims to have included “an Africatown representative” in an online program on June 30th, “in hopes of collaboration”. NAAM then claims that “a leader from Africatown commandeered the discussion by inappropriate and disparaging comments out of turn”. We are fairly certain NAAM would never refer in print to any leader of any of the many organizations which constitute the Chinatown International District so obtusely as “a Chinatown representative” or “a leader from Chinatown”. Only Black people are expected to take such belittlement for attempting to assert geographic place-name sovereignty within Seattle in 2020. More importantly, however, NAAM links this claim to a 94 minute video in the apparent hope that their readers will not have time to view it and will simply take their word about what they allege it to show. The AAHM&CC strongly encourages all observers to watch that video in full, because it does not support the NAAM’s false allegations about what happened in that online forum. In fact, it disproves them.
Fourthly, NAAM claims that, on that same day, their executive director and board chair approached our most active founder and other assembled AAHM&CC personnel in an attempt to collaborate, and that “it was made clear that there was no interest” (on our founder’s part) “to collaborate”. This is not true. On the contrary, our founder and the other AAHM&CC personnel present made it very clear that we desire actual tangible discussions/negotiations with NAAM leaders who are actually empowered to make policy decisions. To that end, we specifically requested that they bring their extremely prominent and powerful board member Mimi Gardner Gates (stepmom of Bill Gates) to their next meeting with us. NAAM made no response to this request from us until AFTER publishing their August 17th blog post. Furthermore, the NAAM officer’s June 30th conversation with our founder was clearly disingenuous on their part. Their executive director and board chair were primarily present on June 30th to speak to Seattle Fire Department personnel and lobby them to declare Omari mentally unfit for freedom. The NAAM had called these Fire Department personnel to the premises that day, alleging to them that our founder was “mentally diseased” and needed to be “removed to a mental facility for his own good”—another false pretext to avoid dealing with the fact that the AAHM&CC is the true and rightful property owner. They only begrudgingly and briefly engaged our senior founder in conversation immediately after failing to convince the Seattle Fire Department’s “wellness check team” to institutionalize him against his will. (Summoning the cops thrice since Juneteenth had already failed to bring about Urban League/NAAM’s desired outcome of our 74-year-old founder’s arrest and a repeat of AHM&CC’s forced removal.)
Fifthly, NAAM falsely claims that, on that same occasion, their director was “threatened” by our founder (by being “told that she would ‘end up like Edwin Pratt’”). The falseness of this sensational accusation is revealed by their own admission that our founder said “I’m warning you.” The truth, of course, is that none of us wish any bodily harm on any leader of the NAAM, and that is exactly what our founder explicitly communicated upon that occasion. Our elder is acutely aware of the volatile position that NAAM and Urban League officers are placing themselves in by choosing to continue to call the police and fire department in their attempts to have the AAHM&CC once again illegally ejected from our own property under false pretenses. This behavior by the NAAM inflames the situation, and puts everyone in danger, including the NAAM/Urban League officers; and such inflammatory situations have historically led to tragedies in Seattle before, as our elder accurately and compassionately pointed out. Our elder was not a threatening predator in this situation; he was the bird on the Rhino’s back, alerting the near-sighted herbivore of the potential danger.
Sixthly, NAAM is intentionally disingenuous in claiming “We have not called the police on the occupiers”. Three times between June 19th and June 30th, the SPD showed up (in increasing numbers on each occasion), and told us they had been “called by the owners of the property” who had alleged to them that we were “trespassing” on it. On each occasion, one of our senior founders was obliged to show them the AAHM&CC’s signed and valid purchase and sale agreement proving that WE ARE the owners of the property, and to ask the police what documentation of alleged ownership they had received from the people who had accused us of trespassing on our own land. On each occasion, it was revealed that the cops had simply assumed the callers to be the owners based on their verbal claim, without asking them for any documentation whatsoever, and attempted to act upon that faulty assumption until confronted with the truth by the people.
Whether the callers were officers of NAAM or Urban League is an irrelevant hair-splitting distinction, given the closeness with which those two organizations coordinate and the undisputed fact that the UL was the central actor in the NAAM’s creation.
Seventhly, NAAM’s blog post implies that we have accused them of being “silent about the death of George Floyd”. As you know if you’ve been reading our AAHM&CC site, we never made such an accusation. To the contrary, we specifically acknowledged the inherent value of the personal testimony posted on the NAAM’s website by individual members of its staff (which obviously include its director) about how Floyd’s death made them feel. At the same time, it remains necessary for us to criticize the NAAM’s institutional policy response to George Floyd’s lynching and the peoples’ uprising that arose in response to it. We have accurately contrasted the policy responses of other POC museums and cultural centers—who have called for less police funding—to NAAM’s decision to support an arm of Seattle City Government in calling for more police.
Eighthly, NAAM is now so brazen as to actually claim they did NOT host the July 13th press conference that called for at least 2000 more SPD officers! As anyone can clearly see here, that is a complete bald face lie!
The Urban League’s website, for its part, now spins a narrative with an even more vast and glaring gap in the timeline, jumping all the way from 1985 to 2002!
The Urban League not only repeats the corporate media line reducing the thirteen year occupation to “eight year”, but also still fails to even acknowledge the existence of the AAHM&CC, preferring instead to refer to our founders as merely “a group of local protestors”. This is to deny their productive agency as the builders of the real museum. It then skips ahead 17 years to allege that “By 2002, the building remained unused and unoccupied”, in effect claiming that the property had somehow magically become a land without a people for a bourgeoisie who wanted more land! Now how did that happen exactly?
The National Urban League’s second largest reported source of income is government grants and contracts, and its largest income source is large private donations, making it one of the oldest global political examples of what’s now called an “NGO”.
Founded in 1910 by the wealth of Boston Railroad tycoon William Henry Baldwin Jr., it has always consisted of white capital hiring mostly Black staff to carry out the political will of the capital. When UNIA founder Marcus Garvey, in 1917, joined Hubert Harrison in opposing African American participation in the white man’s war in Europe (aka WW1), the Woodrow Wilson administration’s counter-move against Garvey was to promote the Urban League’s first Black staff-person, George Edmund Haynes, to head a new federal agency (the Division of Negro Economics) to pressure Black workers into the war effort.
Today the National Urban League boasts of being “partnered” (aka endowed) by AT&T, Bank Of America, British Petroleum, Centene Corporation, Comcast/NBC, Fannie Mae, GEICO Insurance, JP Morgan Chase, Mastercard, Nationwide Insurance, Shell, State Farm Insurance, Toyota, UPS, Verizon, Walmart, Wells Fargo and—most importantly in the context of the Coleman School Building in Seattle—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
It has also received major recent donations from Kellog and Johnson&Johnson. A number of these companies are represented on its national board of directors by tokenized middle-managers of color, but all of these companies are owned and controlled by rich white people.
Locally, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle similarly boasts that its two primary “Presenting Sponsors” are Microsoft and T Mobile. If further boasts of being “partnered” by Amazon, AT&T, Google, JP Morgan, Vulcan and a diamond dealing jewelry company named Ben Bridge. It further boasts that its “Supporting Sponsors” include US Bank, Coca Cola, Costco Wholesale, Eli Lilly & Company, Kaiser Permanente and Uber; and that its “Gold Sponsors” include Starbucks, G3 & Associates, Port of Seattle, New Seasons Market, Goodwill Industries, Pepsico, Alaska Airlines, Fred Hutch, Perkins Coie, The Byers Group LLC and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Many of the above are similarly represented on its Board of Directors.
While the Urban League claims to be a Black organization, the middle managers who constitute its leadership are not—in any way, shape or form—a national bourgeoisie of any Black economy. Rather, they are a collection of comprador tokens who’ve been allowed into the lower ranks of the Amerikan bourgeoise (the one whose founding document divides Turtle Island’s population into “citizens”, “Indians” and “three fifths of all other persons”). For this reason, while the Urban League can dole out some philanthropic crumbs to the poor, it is only capable of advancing the political interest of that Amerikan (aka “white”) ruling class. Were it to cease doing so, that class would immediately set up a different channel through which to disburse those philanthropic crumbs. The Urban League’s need to serve as a political transmitter of white capital’s agenda into the Black community is also the reason why it is frequently at the center of corruption scandals, such as the infamous Seattle Public Schools’ Regional Small Business Development Program fiasco of 2011.
Whenever a small group of rich folks negotiates with a large uprising of poor folks, several dynamics are always the case:
- The poor folks are negotiating because we want to, while the rich folks are negotiating because they have to, and only after they’ve exhausted every ploy to try to avoid having to negotiate.
- The rich folks don’t want to directly negotiate in person. They would rather send hired emissaries who are themselves poor instead of rich, who preferably look like the people they’re being sent to interface with and who—most importantly—are not actually empowered to make any negotiating decision but only to report back information to their employers. The poor people want and need to negotiate directly with an actual decision maker of the rich folk’s side. Otherwise, the “negotiations” are a mere charade while the rich folks buy time to crush the uprising and escape having to negotiate at all.
- If the rich folks are finally forced to truly negotiate, they want to do it with the smallest possible group of decision makers among the poor folks whom they can possibly corner, and, if possible, decide whom exactly that small group of poor folks will be. The rich will open side channels to poor folks they think can be compromised, and will try to elevate those folks into the position to close the negotiations with them. It is in the poor folks interest for the negotiation to be conducted as publicly as possible, in front of as many poor witnesses as possible, and by as large and unified a negotiating team as the poor folks can possibly organize.
Whenever the Urban League’s actual shot callers finally decide to recognize the existence of the AAHM&CC, we are more than willing to engage them in relevant conversation. For the above stated reasons, we will of course insist that this be done publicly in front of a mass assembly of the people. We think that Jimi Hendrix Park would be an excellent location for such a function, and that one potential appropriate date would be the 191st anniversary of the 1829 completion of David Walker’s Appeal (September 28th).
Free The Land!
-The African American Heritage Museum & Cultural Center
NOTE: At approximately the same time as the NAAM published its August 17th Post, the Urban League delivered a letter to our registered agent by private courier. The Urban League’s letter was addressed as if to one individual privately, but was written as if to be shown to a broader audience. It contained similar lies and misinformation to that being published by the NAAM. We delivered our formal response to that letter (to both UL and NAAM) on August 26th. Because this correspondence is about matters that impact everybody, we are publicly posting both sides of the letter exchange right here.