By Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, May 23, 2017
On January 5, 1965, Malcom X appeared on the longstanding Canadian television program ‘Front Page Challenge’. Following the program format in which the four panelists try to guess the identity of the program guest, who sat out of sight (in this case, they failed to guess Malcolm’s identity), he was interviewed for eight minutes by the four panel members. Watch the interview by clicking the screen below, or go to this YouTube weblink.
Malcom X was assassinated in New York City on February 21, 1965. He was a militant advocate for political, social and economic self-determination for the Black population in the United States, and he was an outspoken opponent of imperialism and social injustice.
Since 1965, the social and economic status of the Black population of the United States has advanced on many levels and has regressed on others. Many voices in the country consider that the rapid rise in the Black prison population of the country during the past 45 years – driven by a racist and violent ‘war on drugs’ begun by President Richard Nixon – symbolizes a veritable counter-revolution that has taken place against the gains of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This issue is discussed in an essay in the May 4, 2017 issue of the London Review of Books. Writer Adam Shatz reviews a newly published book Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.
Shatz’ book review/essay discusses the debate in the United States as to whether the country is plunging deeper into a ‘New Jim Crow’ moment of history. The term ‘Jim Crow’ describes the deepgoing system of racism and violent, racial segregation that came into place in the U.S. as a result of the counter-revolution against ‘Radical Reconstruction’ following the end of the U.S. Civil War in 1865. The Civil Rights Movement dismantled many of the features of Jim Crow, for example, overt segregation in housing, education and employment. But how lasting are the movement’s achievements considering the sharp rise in the Black prison population in the U.S. since 1970 and the continuation of police, social and other forms of extreme violence against the Black population?
Shatz’ book review can be accesssed on the New Cold War.org website, here. Included there is reference to the excellent, 2016 documentary film 13th. The film makes a case that, indeed, the United States is effectively living the existence of a New Jim Crow, and not only due to the sharp rise in incarceration.
From various Wikipedia sources:
In 1973, after 50 years of stability, the rate of incarceration in the United States began a sustained period of growth. In 1972, 161 U.S. residents were incarcerated in prisons and jails per 100,000 population. By 2007, that rate had more than quintupled to a peak of 767 per 100,000. Approximately 12–13 per cent of the American population is African-American but they make up 37 per cent of prison inmates of the 2.2 million male inmates as of 2014 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2014).
The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate, behind Seychelles (which in 2014 had a total prison population of 735 out of a population of around 92,000). In 2013 in the U.S., there were 698 people incarcerated per 100,000 population. This is the U.S. incarceration rate for adults or people tried as adults. (Wikipedia)
From a Reuters article on 13th:
The U.S. prison population rose from 357,000 in 1970 to 2.3 million in 2014, the documentary film 13th notes. While black men account for some 6.6 per cent of the U.S. population, they currently make up 40.2 per cent of the prison population.