We are engaged in America today in a momentous struggle for the freedom of 22 million of our people. A struggle which has, with much pain and courage, been a part of our life for three hundred years. A struggle which like a wave, containing all these years of oppression, has finally broken upon our shores, meeting thereon violent forces collecting themselves to hold back this wave of freedom — violent forces which are creating a clear and present danger to the nation as a whole and indeed, to the entire world. This wave of 22 million Americans who have so long suffered such violence certainly seeks no more, but it must, and will prevail.
We have appealed to the conscience of America, but her conscience slumbers. Her conscience, conceived and nourished in a soulless womb of material greed, slumbers in a darkness of hate and fear, permitting the violence to continue.
We gainsay nothing by turning our back on the fact that the wanton murder of thousands of black men and women, including little children, Birmingham, the murder of a young President, the murder of three young men in Mississippi and the recovery of two decapitated Black bodies from a river in the same state, the bombings of churches and homes in the Southern part of the United States in retaliation against efforts by Black Americans to exercise the constitutionally guaranteed right to vote, the gerrymandering of electoral districts in the Northern part of the United States in order to prevent effective political representation, the use of the electric cattle prods on human beings engaged in peaceful demonstrations, the presence of islands of culturally, educationally and economically disenfranchised black communities in most every city and state of the nation, have not penetrated the darkness nor aroused America’s conscience. instead, the majority population flits and skirts around these colonial islands as if they did not exist, carrying out the illusory functions of their lives, never really seeing the horror that marks our existence, never really hearing the painful groans nor the justifiable cries of anger that emit from eleven percent of this nation.
Since the wrongs committed against our person, our humanity and this nation of our birth are of long standing, and since the majority population has had in excess of three centuries to right these wrongs, we must conclude that America’s conscience is not able to concede or affirm the rights of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” to human beings whose skin is not white, seeing them only as instruments of profit, be they Black Americans, Black Africans, or colored Asians and Indians.
After three hundred years of slavery and caste oppression, unmitigated terror and torture, physical and otherwise — which continues today though opposed by every means possible of human conception — while all the time remaining faithful to this Government in time of war and peace, we feel the United Nations must give a hearing to the plight of 22 million Black Americans.
After years and years of supplication, petitioning, pleading and agitation for affirmation of basic human rights, all to no avail, we see no recourse but to put our case to you the representatives and delegates to the United Nations. We come to you because we see in your deliberations and debates and the accords which often issue forth, where and how the conscience of mankind can be utilized as an invaluable aid in righting wrongs and securing peace, and understanding and well-being. We see the United Nations as the institution wherein world opinion and the conscience of mankind can be appealed to.
Our experiences in the United States have taught us beyond hope of doubt that nothing short of a massive assault of conscience will have any but the slightest effect upon the psyche of the majority population, so conditioned have they become to luxuriating in their ill-begotten gains at the expense of 22 million caste-locked citizens of color.
We address ourselves now to you, whose task it is to establish a universal climate wherein those rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Resolution of the General Assembly, December 10, 1948, will finally and definitely be regarded as rights belonging to all men, legally, under International Law.*
We charge that the Government of the United States has violated, in the most gross manner, all of the aforementioned wise and just declarations which should and must fashion and mold the conduct and relations of governments to their citizenry, no less so than nations to each other.
We further charge that the nature and character of our Government’s desecration of these declarations is genocidal, as defined by the 1948 Draft Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
We shall document our assertion that a vast and systematic form of oppression does exist in this country based on color and race: that it is the nub of, that it is central to, and that it is the fulcrum of most all important social and political issues in this nation.
We shall prove, conclusively, that the charges contained in the above and all that shall follow are the result of governmental activity from the Federal level to the local, inclusive.
We shall point out those areas where the charge of genocide is most critical in the daily life of our people, and where the United Nations has competence to give consideration and to act.
There is widespread evidence of economic genocide which is illustrative of “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” These conditions exist in contradiction to Article 2, Section 3 of the Genocide Convention.2
Murder and brutalization is a source of terror, as it is intended to be, to the whole population of America’s Black nationals. As a result, our people exist in a constant fear that cannot fail to cause serious bodily and mental harm.
Another source of serious bodily and mental harm is the segregation which imprisons American Black people in most every case, from birth to death, marking their status as inferior on the basis of race, cutting them off from adequate education, hospital facilities, medical treatment, and housing, forcing them to live in ghettos and depriving them of rights and privileges that other Americans are accorded as a matter of course.
Psychological and physical terror carried out by the KKK, White Citizens Councils and other organizations and groups against Americans of color deters millions of them from voting or otherwise exercising their rights under the Constitution of the United States and the Charter of the United Nations. Thus many of our people, particularly in the South, live their lives in fear of violence for allegedly overstepping one of the many prohibitions in the extra-legal white supremacy code. If these people sometimes avoid physical violence, they never escape from “serious mental harm directed against the group.” Such conditions violate Article 2 of the Genocide Convention.**
Emasculated role of the Black male, with slave antecedents.† Triple oppression of Black women, with slave antecedents.*** Adolescent traumas, all of which are destructive of the family unit, and as such are violative of Article 16, Section 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.*** Jim Crow laws defining and limiting the choice of marital partner, also in violation of Article 16, Section 3 of Declaration.***
Psychological tensions arising from ghetto existence.***
Numbers of black people in mental institutions as opposed to the rest of the population.***
Distortion, if not complete deletion — as a weapon of oppression — of our proud history and its unique and central relatedness to all of American history. This applies to African history as well. Particular emphasis on how this is carried out in the educational system.***
Public media used as a weapon to distort existing conditions and to twist out of focus all efforts on the part of Black people toward correction of these conditions.***
Mythology of “race” utilized as weapon of oppression.***
Killing Members of the Group
We cite killings by police, killings by incited gangs, killings by the Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens Councils, on the basis of “race.” These atrocities, more often than not, occur as a result of attempts to vote or otherwise demand the legal and inalienable rights and priviliges of United States citizenship formally guaranteed all Americans by the Constitution of the United States but denied to those whose color is not white, in violation of the Constitution of the United States, the United Nations Charter, Articles 3 and 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 2, Section 1 of the Genocide Convention, which declares that “killing members of the group” is a crime under International Law.
Killings and/or serious injuries which result from attempts to vote or otherwise affirm legal and constitutionally guaranteed rights.***
Killings and/or serious injuries which may seem at first to be isolated and useless, but are indeed part of a broad design, particularly in the South, wherein Americans of color must be killed for being too “uppity,” must be killed or hurt for being too “sassy,” must be killed for any activity which might change or lead to changes aimed at destroying the inferior status of Black Americans.***
Conspiracies, Attempts, Incitements and Complicity to Commit Genocide
Public officials, particularly in the South, are frequently guilty of murder on the basis of “race,” of genocide, by direct and public incitement to genocide, by participating in actual violence on the basis of “race,” as in the case of sheriffs and law enforcement officers, by the use of courts to kill innocent Black Americans in order to sustain white supremacy, by approving and soliciting the murder or assault of Black Americans who attempt to vote, by passing and enforcing laws providing for segregation in violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Charter of the United Nations, and Article 3, Sections A, B, C and D of the Genocide Convention, which declare genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and complicity in genocide as punishable.
Federal and state police and judicial system — North.***
Federal and state police and judicial system — South.***
Genocide is possible because of negative or positive sanction of the Federal Government and its three departments.***
Division of three branches of government an aid to conspiracy against Black Americans.
Monopoly capital prime mover in conspiracy.***
Government as a creature of monopoly capital.***
Key government posts in defense, war preparation, utilities, and transport held by representatives of Wall Street, who control the economic life of the nation.***
Incitements by judges, governors, senators, congressmen, police chiefs, etc., that are conspiratorial in nature.***
Role of the FBI, Statements by J. Edgar Hoover.***
How the Convention grew out of the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals.***
The Convention’s relevancy to the situation in the United States.***
The Convention and the United Nations Charter.***
The Charter and United States law.***
Statement to the effect that genocide indicated above justifies inclusion of Articles 5-10 of the Convention, dealing with punishment and persons liable.***
History of Oppression
Constitutional background of civil rights.***
A) What are civil rights in the United States?
B) What does it mean to be a citizen of the United States?
The 1787-1808 Constitutional Compromise on slavery, which confirms the Constitution as basically an economic document favoring the Southern planter class.***
The Dred Scott Decision.***
The Fugitive Slave Act.***
Requirements of the Constitution
The 13th Amendment***
The 14th Amendment***
The 15th Amendment***
The Civil War and Emancipation
Conservative and radical Republicans.***
Use of Civil War by Northern industrial capitalism to consolidate political power.***
Lincoln’s cautious policy in regard to the ex-slave following the Civil War.***
Andrew Johnson’s conception of democracy, which did not include the Black man.***
Republican passage of re-enslaving Black Codes as a means of cutting down potential Southern congressional representation and political power in order to further increase Northern industrial might.***
Establishment of the 14th Amendment through passage of 1866, 1870 and 1875 Civil Rights Bills.***
Southern planter’s use of crisis produced by the Civil War and Reconstruction — centered around competition between the industrial North and agrarian South and which put free black men into economic competition with poor whites — to bring into the open the conflict of class interests that had always existed in the South.***
Supreme Court decision of 1883, holding the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. Supreme Court decision of 1896, as progenitor of segregation laws as we have come to know them, declaring separate but equal to be constitutional.***
Agrarian discontent used by Southern planters to arouse race hatred which led to extensive violence and terror against Black people. The institution of legislation throughout the South that divested the Black citizen of all privileges and immunities of the 14th Amendment, including the right to vote.***
Growth of terror against Black citizens and its relatedness to growth of monopoly capital in the United States and abroad, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippine Islands.***
Genocide Leads to War and Silencing of Domestic Dissent
American slavery, the “killing of part of the group” led to two wars. The Mexican War in 1846, seeking to expand slave territory and the Civil War.***
Murder on the basis of race by police, courts, and bands of white supremacists has been widespread in the United States for a long time, and is currently on the upsurge.
Crimes of murder are increasing because genocide, by its very nature, becomes more aggressive as the militancy of oppressed people grows and develops.***
Terrorism following Hayes-Tilden Compromise.***
Terrorism following First and Second World Wars.***
McCarthyism during and after Korean War.***
Furthermore, genocide has a clear and definite relationship to foreign affairs. The genocide of which we speak cannot be seen apart from America’s engagement in an unpopular war in Vietnam, America’s unpopular intervention in the Congo, America’s unpopular accord with former Nazi militarists, or America’s unpopular war of subversion against Cuba. Unpopular wars and interventions require a silencing of the people, a breaking of their will for resistance.***
Violence against American Black citizens goes hand in hand with increased repression throughout American life: The McCarran Act, Subversive Activities Control Board, HUAC, Landrum-Griffin Labor Law.***
* We refer to Articles 2,5,6 and 7 of the Declaration. Also, Article 16, Sections 1 & 3; Article 17 and Article 23, Sections 1 & 2.
**Relatively short, non-statistical explanatory statements on the following: EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT, HOUSING, HOSPITAL FACILITIES, MEDICAL CARE, DISEASE AND INFANT AND ADULT LIFE EXPECTANCY AS COMPARED WITH THE REMAINDER OF THE POPULATION: INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL AND LENDING INSTITUTIONS.
† Relatively short, non-statistical explanatory statement.
*** Relatively short, non-statistical explanatory statement.