In 1953, Claudia Jones delivered perhaps my favorite statement of all time in court. Along with 12 others facing charges under the Smith Act for being a Communist, being anti-fascist, and being anti-war, this black woman dared the judge's absurdity to sentence her.
some excerpts:

"For, even with all the power your Honor holds, how can you decide to mete out justice for the only act to which I proudly plead guilty, and one, moreover, which by your own prior rulings constitutes no crime- that of holding Community ideas?
A year for another vital Communist belief, that the bestial Korean War is an unjust war? Or my belief that peaceful co-existence of nations can be achieved and peace won if struggled for?
Another year for my belief that only under socialism will exploitation of man by man be finally abolished and the great human and industrial resources of the nation be harnessed for the well-being of the people?
Will you measure, for example, as worthy of one year’s sentence, my passionate adherence to the idea of fighting for full equivocal equality for my people, the Negro people, which as a Communist I believe can only be achieved allied to the cause of the working class?”
It is this, your Honor, that explains the not-so-strange reason that you yourself observed that we feel no guilt. …it is not we Communist defendants who tremble at this final stage of these trial court proceedings, but the very prosecution of our ideas.
Truly, the prosecution’s victory sits shakily. Four our ideas were confirmed in the course of this trial itself."
I know that lawyers and law students are encouraged to look up to people like Thurgood Marshall as heroes. But because of the Black radical tradition, I have found many of my heroes on the other side of the bar, as defendants. Claudia is one of them.
I am always excited to see people advocate for Black History to be taught in schools. But history is not neutral, and the stories we choose to tell are political decisions. When did you learn about Claudia Jones? Was she a character in a school play? On a poster?

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More from @dereckapurnell

18 Feb
hi, my baby turns 7 today, sharing a birthday with Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. He writes, too! Finished his second book this book. He's curious, loving, and made it a tradition to give his brother a gift whenever he gets one, including today. i feel lucky to be that kid's mom
don't tell robin kelley but Geuce is actually my favorite marxist feminist surrealist. he prays for workers at night and thinks organizers are superheroes and capitalists are villains. he gets angry when i dont have cash on hand to spare when someone asks, or when they dont ask
the lockdowns in DC happened last year right before his birthday and we moved and just lost my grandmother, and i had no idea that we would still be under lockdown a year later. But we will bake our cake, beat this minecraft pinata, and sing Stevie Wonder's happy birthday :)
Read 4 tweets
17 Feb
Student debt cancellation is not a Harvard, Yale, Penn rich kid problem. It is a racial justice problem.

Per Brookings, "Four years after graduation, black graduates have nearly $25,000 more student loan debt than white graduates: $52,726 on average, compared to $28,006."
"Black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation."…
The average school debt for black women with a bachelor’s degree is about $25,000, that level of education does not provide the same level of financial security for black women as it does other groups, including white people with less education.
Read 6 tweets
16 Feb
a year ago today, i lost my wonderful grandmother, Virginia Lee, a strong and fierce dancer, poet, tailor, and mother of six who laughed too long at her own jokes. She kept closets full of coats that was my own Narnia and a metal box full of writings that inspired me to write too
She thought my generation was wasteful for discarding clothes with rips and missing buttons, rather than repairing and loving them. I only wear pearl earrings because she loved pearls. She lived most of her life in poverty or at the brink, so her wardrobe was an investment
As she aged, she would say that sugar took from her. her legs. her sight. her health. It was worse than the cancer spreading in her bosom. Sugar wasn't just sugar. it was the cocktail of conditions that lead to premature death. it took a lot from other Black people. It takes.
Read 6 tweets
18 Jan
the united states has convinced do many people that MLK day is a day of service. MLK wasn't interested in "service," he was interested in the redistribution of wealth to render poverty obsolete. Less service, more redistribution
He was called “the most dangerous man in America” by the FBI, not because he was interested in community service, but because he was promoting anti-militarism and anti-capitalism
He was organizing a poor people's campaign to use direct action against the US government for maintaining economic inequality, not to "help out poor people," but to end the idea of poor people
Read 9 tweets
14 Jan
peep this terrible NYT piece on Shirley Chisholm from the 70s:

“... she is not beautiful. Her face is bony and angular, her nose wide and flat, her eyes small almost to beadiness, her neck and limbs scrawny. Her protruding teeth probably account in part for her notice able lisp” Image
i can’t stop thinking about it. Like wow she was running for president and you said yes to publishing this paragraph
part of the staunch defense of Black women politicians- regardless of their politics- probably comes from having to read nonsense like this about your sheroes all of your life
Read 4 tweets
6 Jan
Biden: "This is not America."

Narrator: "It was America."
The United States is a country built on genocide, theft, and slavery. the spectacular and violent maintenance of white supremacy is exactly what america does, and denying that does not make it not true
and emphasis on the spectacular display of violence today. Most of America's violence is mundane and happens on the floor that was taken over by rioters
Read 4 tweets

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