Cazembe Jackson

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Cazembe Jackson


Cazembe Murphy Jackson is a black trans man formerly organizing for queer and trans liberation and living wages in Atlanta, Georgia.

He was for a time an organizer at SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.

In a relationship with Christina Novaton.

Freedom Road

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Since at least July 2016 Cazembe Jackson has been National Organizer at Freedom Road Socialist Organization.[1]

My name is Cazembe Murphy Jackson. I am a commitment to loving myself so deeply that others are inspired to love themselves just as deep. I am a commitment to authentic and compassionate leadership that meets people where they are and helps them find their own interest in liberation. I am a Black, southern, queer, non-binary, socialist, trans man.

Austin, TX made me. Chattanooga, TN re-birthed me. And Atlanta, GA is where I found home. I went to a rally in Chattanooga, TN after Trayvon Martin had been killed by George Zimmerman. There were about 700 hundred people who came to rally and march. One of the organizers of that march, who was also a FRSO membr, told us that Tennessee also had a “Stand Your Ground Law”. She said that if we wanted to do more than march, if we believed in having a plurality of tactics, to stick around after the march. I stayed after and my whole life changed for the better. I almost immediately agreed to help reactivate Concerned Citizens for Justice, Chattanooga’s oldest Black led organization addressing police violence.
With CCJ I helped to mobilize communities across race, class, religion, gender, ability, immigration status and sexual orientation. I grew up missionary Baptist. I read about all kinds of revolutionaries who loved God and who explained Jesus as a revolutionary who was executed by the state. Through my work with CCJ I discovered Freedom Road Socialist Organization and started doing political education with some local members. Since becoming a member I have participated in building and implementing curriculum for political education for all types of learners, writing organization documents, and serving on our National Executive Committee. Strategy and tactics are the most alluring parts of organizing to me. They are the two components that made me want to join a revolutionary organization. While I have seen and felt the power of prayer many times in my life, I do not think that prayer alone will cure oppression. These systems of oppression like white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, ableism, capitalism, have been expertly designed to kill us. I believe in FRSO’s strategy to defeat who we have identified as the main political enemy to marginalized people in this country.

As the new National Organizer for Freedom Road Socialist Organization I will be responsible for the administrative duties of the organization. I will be building stronger relationships with districts and commissions nationally to help implement a national project. I am overjoyed to be chosen to do this job. I am committed to this organization and I really do believe that when we win, all of my people will win. In “Uses of the Erotic” Audre Lorde asks the question “How often do we truly love our work even at its most difficult?” She suggests that the way to truly loving your work is questioning how acutely and fully we can feel while doing it.
When I am having organizing conversations, canvassing, phone banking, performing revolutionary spoken word, singing freedom songs, even just hanging out having conversations about how we can change the world, it is when my body feels the most alive. I was born to do this work. Every experience that I have survived or celebrated has played a role in making me the leader and organizer I am today. I am commitment to disciplined study, integrated action, consistent communication, giving and receiving constructive assessments (both to celebrate something I have done well, as well as challenges to do better), and to loving myself as unconditionally as I love Black people.

Appalachian Transition Fellowship

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Highlander Research and Education Center, and Rural Support Partners, organized an Appalachian Transition Fellowship event in Chattanooga, November 12, 2013.

Ash-Lee Henderson November 11, 2013 ·

TOMORROW! Be there! #spreadtheword — with Dominique Pennington, Miles Dougherty, Napoleon Williams, Karl Epperson, Patrick Kellogg, Baris Gursakal, Patricia Bazemore, Michael L. Feely, Shelley L. King, Jr., Michael Kelly, Dennis Milton Clark, Tenesha M. Irvin, Madeleine Dougherty, Angela Sweet, Brett Pike, Jason Hurd, Dwight Harrison, Rachel Rudi, Laurie Perry Vaughen, Willie McClendon, Rushelle Frazier, Terry Davis, Ann Law, Marcus Patrick Ellsworth, Beth Foster, Fr. Michael Cummins, Mark Gilliland, Jared Story, Cazembe Jackson, Valerie Radu, Landon Willaim Howard, Patricia Combs, Rebekah Mawuko, Taurus Hinton and Annika Hampton.

FRSO/Chokwe Lumumba

FRSO delegation members Cazembe Jackson, Mark Gilliland, Josh Smyser, Jared Story, Ash-Lee Henderson

Ash-Lee Henderson, Cazembe Jackson, Mark Gilliland, Josh Smyser, Jared Story participated in a Freedom Road Socialist Organization delegation to Jackson, Mississippi to support the Chokwe Lumumba campaign during the Democratic Primary in May 2013. Both members and friends of Freedom Road participated in canvassing, poll-watching, sign holding and other activities to support Chokwe Lumumba and Joyce Hardwick, the two candidates recruited to run on the People’s Assemblies platform.[2]

Jackson Peoples’ Movement Assembly

July 2015, hundreds gathered for the Southern Peoples’ Movement Assembly for a Just Transition at the Chokwe Lumumba Center in Jackson, Mississippi, resolved to fight against climate change and fight for social justice. Bringing to the fore the intersections of race, class, gender, and queerness with the devastating effects of climate change—and the work to transition the region away from destruction and toward an ecologically and socially just place—the Assembly worked to help build “a mass movement” for a just transition.

Collette Carter, who attended from Atlanta, said it was a “meaningful and decisive gathering of leadership from across the South to have intentional conversations on how to bring Black, indigenous, women, and LGBTQ communities within the movement for climate justice.”

Indeed, the Assembly emphasized that it will take the mobilization of these communities on the frontlines of the fight—the people most affected by the ravages of climate change—to ensure mutual survival and flourishing in a just transition.

The Peoples’ Movement Assembly is one model for winning and building that kind of power. Fittingly, the Assembly took place in the Chokwe Lumumba Center. Chokwe Lumumba, was the Mayor of Jackson until his sudden death less than a year after his election. It was Lumumba’s connection to and leadership of a People’s Assembly in Jackson, which grounded him in the problems and opportunities, needs and dreams of the people there that ushered in his victory: no easy feat for a self-declared revolutionary, socialist, Black nationalist in one of the country’s most racist states.

It will also mean a real challenge to environmental racism particularly, and white supremacy more generally, because it’s racism that has enabled the South to become a dumping ground for toxic waste, and has kept a political regime in power that allows extraction, pollution, and deregulation. As the Movement for Black Lives continues to grow, the Assembly brings forward new issues of concern for Black communities and the movement for racial justice. We need communities without police violence and poverty, but we also need communities where we can drink the water and breathe the air—indeed, communities where we can live on the land at all.

“The Jackson Peoples’ Movement Assembly was a place for movement leaders to come up with a regional action plan for how we actually get to a Just Transition that centers pro-Blackness, LGBTQ issues, and indigenous folks. We discussed the problems we face, developed a vision and created action steps to bring that vision into fruition,” said Cazembe Jackson, an Atlanta-based home care worker organizer.

We’ve got to stop climate change—and the consequences it creates and exacerbates, like poverty and racist, sexist violence; our health and lives depend on it.[3]

The Movement for Black Lives

The Black Lives Matter "Movement for Black Lives" conference was held in Cleveland Ohio, July 24-26, 2015.

Free From Fear: Dangerous Homosexuals Building Power in Da' South to address profiling and the municipal court, Bri Carter, Brinn Frazier, Southerners On New Ground: Mary Hooks, Cazembe Jackson, Mickey Jordan, Serena Sebring, Eshe Shakur, Tiffany Smith, Dean Stead, Kiesha Webb, Rebecca Wooten.[4]

"Organize the South"

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In February 2016, Jeffrey Lichtenstein with Mary Jo Connelly and Cazembe Jackson Jasmine Wallace, Thomas Wayne Walker, Karly Safar, Dennis O'Neil, Anjie Martian-Princess were selling an "Organize the South" poster on the Freedom Road Socialist Organization Facebook page.

"Comrade" Cazembe

The Freedom Road Socialist Organization website described Cazembe Jackson as a "comrade";[5]

We will continue to fight the New Confederacy and to unite with the forces of love and liberation. We are building a revolutionary movement that can reach the gay club standard that comrade Cazembe described in his article, Pulse: Lessons from the Gay Club toward Collective Liberation: “We saw each other for who we really were, we loved each other and validated each other.” And we are turning that love into collective action, as revolutionaries always have.

Maoist

July 26, 2016

Cazembe Jackson is a self-identified Maoist.

UK trip

When Black Lives Matter's Director of Communications, Shanelle Matthews, asked Cazembe Jackson if he could go to the UK for a week to speak about how BLM is organizing in the States, "I felt extremely honored and apprehensive. My passport said male for the gender, but I hadn’t had top surgery. I didn’t think I would “pass” and cis gender (non trans). I was scared of being the recipient of transphobia without my community there to protect me."

I also got to pick a person to come with me, and I chose Prentis Hemphill, #BLM’s Director of Healing Justice. They were the BEST travel companion.

National Union of Students (NUS), the group that brought Jackson to London, invited him to represent Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives on a panel titled, “Trump, Brexit and Beyond.”. Jackson focused on how Trump came to power in the US, "and spoke about the strategy the New Confederacy implemented in building a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist, and capitalist electoral college that elected Trump, even when he failed to win the popular vote. I also spoke about the dangers of having a movement that focuses solely on resisting Trump’s administration".

Now is the time to be building a united front that is based on an intersectional, disciplined political line that can truly lead the development of an alliance on the left. Our work must have a foundation that is a combination of the multi-national working people’s movements and oppressed nationality movements. We have to start seeing issues that seem to belong to other marginalized groups as our own issues. An attack on Muslims is an attack on all oppressed groups, and we must defend all oppressed people.

The NUS panel included Gary Younge, Yasser Louati and Malia Bouattia, who all spoke of the need for international solidarity to combat a rise of right-wing populism happening globally and almost identically in our respective countries. Yasser spoke about the fact that France had been the laboratory for anti-Semitism and now was the lab for Islamophobia.

We found out shortly after arriving in London that Parliament was about to vote on whether or not to let EU immigrants stay, since the UK already voted to leave the EU. Folks on the left in London called an emergency rally in front of Parliament the day of the vote, my second full day in London. The organizers of the rally wanted BLM to speak. I of course said yes. I spoke about the need for us to all be in solidarity with each other, that we are stronger together. That means a Muslim ban must be a queer and Black issue, and a Black and queer issue must be a Muslim one. This is why when Trump signed the executive order banning Muslims, BLM activists were at the airport demonstrations with everyone else. This rally was for EU immigrants, but I said I support the right for all people to be able to move freely. I led them in one of my favorite chants: “Our communities are under attack! What do we do? Stand up! Fight back!” It was a really powerful experience to actually practice being in international solidarity with folks fighting the same fight as us.

Yasser, Prentis and I also went on somewhat of a speaking tour to a few colleges (high schools) and universities. I mostly talked about organizing strategies that BLM members are trying out here in the States, including the following highlights of how we are loving on each other and healing ourselves as we fight:

In these talks, I was tasked with explaining how and why I organize the way that I do. I identify as a “Southern Black Queer Nonbinary Trans Man” in my bio. People didn’t understand why it was important to include “Southern.” I explained that being a Black Southern organizer meant something. We have been fighting the New Confederacy for decades in the South. It’s deeper than that though. The history of slavery and Jim Crow is still very present in the South — and still visible in Confederate flags and lingering whites only signs. The South was and is the heart of every movement for The Black American freedom struggle. When the south wins, we all do.
But what stands out to me is the way we build relationships in the South. We know the folks we organize with. We go to church with them. We send our kids to the same schools. So if we need to boycott a bus system or Uber, for example, we will have relationships with folks and will know who needs a ride and how to get them set up. The history of the Black American freedom struggle is also a history of Black spirituality. I was born and raised in a Missionary Baptist tradition that used spirituality as a way to sustain, a way to keep a moral compass, and a way to endure the evils of white supremacy and capitalism and fight them and win. I organize at the intersection of faith, race, gender, class and sexuality. All of those parts have been equally influential in shaping my unique style of organizing.

At the University of Leeds, a student asked Jackson what he meant when he said organizing with Black Lives Matter has "informed my politic and how I treat myself. My answer surprised even me. I said that learning to talk to Black people about why their lives matter forced me to recognize that my own Black life matters. Knowing that my life matters means I have to speak up and be a part of building strategies to get us free. I can no longer sit back and let other folks figure it out because I feel like am still new to this. None of us are new to being Black, or poor, or otherwise marginalized. Experience plus theory is the breeding ground for true leadership. When you believe that you matter, you look and act differently. The resulting behavior is part of why people want to be a part of this movement."

They also took a trip to Brixton, a historically Black part of London.

David Rosenberg gave the delegates a private tour of historic Cable Street in the East End of London, a street made famous by the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 between the Police, members of the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Mosley, and basically a united front of anti-fascist demonstrators. The alliance of anti-fascists included local Jewish, Irish, socialist, anarchist and communist groups. Mosely planned a march to go through their neighborhoods to basically trash talk them. The Jewish and Irish folks lived in the same neighborhood, but on different parts of the street. They had to be taught to hate each other and not work together. (Sound familiar?) But the anti-fascists fought back and they won! Not only did they win, but there is a huge mural that was painted as a celebration of the victory right in between the two neighborhoods on Cable Street.

This trip was full of so many highlights, but meeting the Black Lives Matter UK chapter was AMAZING! It was my first time outside of the continental US. I was nervous about how everyone would get along and if our differences would make it hard for us to bond in the short time we had to share with each other. But as soon as the first hugs and smiles were exchanged we knew we were kindred. It was just like I was in Atlanta at one of the homies’ houses sharing a meal with other chapter members. We ate a beautiful vegetarian meal mainly with our fingers. We talked about so many different topics, including our work and the complications we were facing, the contradictions, the successes and the things we have learned. We fell in love with each other in a few hours. We shared rituals and practices and traditions with each other. It was in this conversation that I remembered how much my own spirituality and upbringing influenced my own rituals.[6]

Supporting Chokwe Antar Lumumba

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Cazembe Jackson with Samantha Master and Jessica Pierce

Chokwe Antar Lumumba for Mayor of Jackson! Posted on Tuesday May 2nd, 2017 by Freedom Road Socialist Organization national organizer Cazembe Jackson.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad (FRSO/OSCL) fully supports the campaign to elect Chokwe Antar Lumumba. This campaign’s foundation is based on a participatory style of governance. The people of Jackson have helped design the platform that Lumumba is running on. There are strong, brilliant Black women running his campaign. He has real solutions to problems that Jackson residents have named as their top issues. This is a campaign that has been fueled by grassroots fundraising, volunteering and resource sharing.

It is important that we pay attention to this campaign across the country. One of the campaign’s slogans has been “when I become mayor, you become mayor”. This is because Chokwe is the face of a movement here in Jackson. The people have been and are continuously being trained and developed in ways to not only help determine what the platform will be, but also how to hold Chokwe accountable to his commitments made during the campaign.
In 2013, the late Chokwe Lumumba, father of Chokwe Antar Lumumba, wowed the entire country when he became mayor of Jackson. We know that a second people’s victory is challenging because those in power have already seen a glimpse of what a people’s platform looks like in practice. Today, the vision will be restored.
FRSO/OSCL stands with the oppressed and working people of Jackson and the candidate that they have chosen, Chokwe Antar Lumumba. We’re here today driving folks to the polls, phone banking and poll watching! Dare to struggle! Dare to win!

"Introduction to Black feminism"

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Intro to Black Feminism Hosted by Sendolo Diaminah Cazembe Jackson, and Adrienne Maree Brown.

Tuesday, August 15 at 8:30 PM

Created for Black August Practice Group

Sendolo Diaminah August 15, 2017;

Black people! Tonight my beloved sister Adrienne Maree Brown is leading a web discussion about Black Feminism as part of a series of Black August political education sessions hosted by Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and BOLD.[7]

Black Ideological Struggle Webinar

Black Ideological Struggle: Radical, Liberal, Conservative Public · Hosted by Sendolo Diaminah and Cazembe Jackson

Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 8:30 PM

Created for Black August Practice Group

Join Sendolo Diaminah for a conversation about why Black radicals can and must learn how to effectively engage liberal and conservative ideologies among our people.
September 2, 2017. Hey family! Here is the final recording from the Black August webinars! Sendolo Diaminah took lots of patience and creativity breaking down Black Ideological Struggle for us.[8]

Those saying they would attend, on Facebook included Cazembe Jackson.

Brazillian delegation

During the month of November 2018, Juntos, a Brazilian youth led political organization will be celebrating Dia da Consciência Negra — Day of Black Consciousness by hosting conferences and actions across the country. As part of a growing relationship between the Black Lives Matter Network, M4BL organizers, and Juntos, Afro-Brazilian youth organizers have invited organizers from our movement to come connect, build, and strategize. This is a critical opportunity to expand our ability to build a powerful global Black liberation movement in our lifetime!

Cazembe Jackson November 9, 2017

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We added some to the crew! We taking off! We will update when we land! #Black2Brazil — with Cherizar Crippen, Amika Tree Tendaji and Kandace Montgomery.

Cazembe Jackson November 11, 2017 ·

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With Amika Tree Tendaji, Cherizar Crippen and Brianna Gibson.

Chinyere Tutashinda was also part of the delegation.[9]

Amandla Training

Sendolo Diaminah February 1 2018

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Hey Black organizers & those who love us: BOLD has re-opened our application period for Amandla, our organizer training program. We have just a few more slots we wanted to make available, so now is your chance if you missed the deadline!

Alicia Garza, Ajamu Dillahunt, Aaron Gamal, Whitney Maxey, Hashim Benford, Ociele Hawkins, Bryan Proffitt, Bennett D. Carpenter, Courtney Sebring, Cazembe Murphy Jackson, Reece Chenault, Charlene Carruthers, Chanelle Croxton, D’atra Jackson, Dove Kent, Fresco Steez DeLaflyy, Maria C. Fernandez, Aiden Riley Graham, Kaji Reyes, Laila Nur, Theo Luebke, Maria Poblet, N’Tanya Lee, Taliba O Njeri, Orisanmi Burton, Quinton Harper, Roberto Tijerina, Mary Hooks, Serena Sebring, Adaku Utah, Vanessa Moses, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Thomas Wayne Walker, Jayanni Elizabeth, Jayda Rasberry, Amber Evans, Dara Cooper, Yotam Marom.

Memphis Solidarity Brigade

The Memphis district of Freedom Road brought together cadre from around the nation to support a local organizing effort, Memphis For All, to apply our line and strategy to local elections. The Path to Power Memphis for all Solidarity Brigade took place in mid-July 2018 to culminate with an early voting canvassing effort.

Thomas Wayne Walker May 29 2018:

yo!!! i'm excited to invite y'all to sign up for a program focused on learning, on-the-ground, about building political power as leftists, revolutionaries and radicals in working class communities of color that are left out & shut out of politics. the path to power memphis solidarity brigade will combine training & actual field work in support of justice organizations engaging in electoral work to build power, like memphis for all, labor unions, and more. you can sign up at this link https://goo.gl/forms/wemUNfG4SxbusyHo1

it's listed as wednesday 7/18-sunday 7/22, but the real programming is focused on thursday 7/19-saturday 7/21. housing and food are supported, and other support is available. i'm hoping especially to get folks from tennessee to do it, so we can start really thinking about building a #tennesseeforall. hit me up if you're interested, apply now to get in on this.

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Thomas Wayne Walker, Jyoti Gupta, Lindsey Glenn Krinks, Whitney Washington, Briana Perry, Anna Carella, Ramon J. Ryan, David Alex Hayes, Elizabeth Stanfield, Dana Smith, Anne Barnett Josh Adams, Ashley Caldwell, Erica Renee, Deja Foster Justin A. Davis Justin Jones, Sj Payne, Salma Mirza, Jasmine Wallace, Nancy Dung Nguyen, Chris Brooks, Haley Greenwell, Odessa Kelly. Aaron Gamal, Cazembe Jackson, Eliott Geary. Frank W. Johnson, John Emery, Allie Cohn, Calvin Cheung-Miaw.

Inside/Outside Project

From an article on Organizing Upgrade October 5, 2018 on the :Left Inside/Outside Project.

Fighting Trump and Building the Left, from the Left Inside/Outside Project

But it’s also an exciting time to be part of the U.S. left. We have momentum on all the levels we have to work on, and more energy for these efforts than we have seen in decades. We take the inspiration from the examples listed above, and recognize that our main challenge is bringing our work to scales that will be able to shift the balance of forces in the U.S. The Left Inside/Outside Project formed out of a common feeling that U.S. politics after Trump required both serious engagement with electoral politics and a left that could work collaboratively to build on our existing strengths. Twenty months later, we still believe this: our commitment is to work ever more closely together with this vision, to learn from one another, build on our most advanced experiences, and build a more unified and effective socialist movement that is in this fight for the long haul.

Signatories included Cazembe Jackson, Freedom Road Socialist Organization National Executive Committee.

References