“We have a common oppressor, a common exploiter, and a common discriminator…Once we all realize that we have a common enemy,
then we unite, on the basis of what we have in common…” – Malcolm X, Message to the Grassroots
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!
THE DRUM HAS SOUNDED! BABA HERMAN FERGUSON, OUR FOUNDING CHAIRMAN, HAS PASSED!
The Malcolm X Commemoration Committee sadly announces that our founding chairman and longtime leader, Baba Herman Ferguson passed away on Thursday, September 25th.
He was 93.
He died quietly and comfortably in the company of his wife and first comrade, Mama Iyaluua Ferguson, his successor Dequi Sadiki, freedom fighter Pam Afrika and other family members.
“We have lost an enormous freedom fighter and a great man in Herman Ferguson, a pioneer of the New Afrikan nation, a man whose entire life has been devoted to the liberation of our people,” said Dequi Sadiki, his succeeding chair emphatically. “A man of commitment, great courage and principle, a man who had no price and no fear, who we could all emulate just like so many have emulated Malcolm himself and not go wrong.”
In 1992, when the late judge Bruce Wright ordered his release from prison, Baba Herman brought together surviving members of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) to do something about the efforts at that time to commercialize Malcolm’s legacy through academic distortion, a Hollywood film and the commercializing of his image.
What emerged from that was the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, who included at that time OAAU members, Yuri Kochiyama, Jean Reynolds, Butch Gladstone, each of whom has since passed, Earl Grant and Selma Sparks. In addition, other Malcolm devotees, such as author-educator-activist Sam Anderson, who went onto to start the Malcolm X Museum, attorney Joan Gibbs, Bruce Ellis, retired educator Rosa Ellis and Zayid Muhammad, rounded out the group.
Under Baba Herman’s stewardship, they expanded the annual pilgrimage to Malcolm’s gravesite. They hosted what has now become an institutionalized event, the annual dinner tribute to the families of Black political prisoners. They launched an in-class oral history project called Malcolm X In The Classroom, where members would go into New York City classrooms and talk about this incredible legacy. They helped forge the New Afrikan Liberation Front, which established the closing down of businesses along 125th Street on May 19th, as an act of community self-determination in honor of Malcolm’s birthday.
They produced a short video bio-montage on Malcolm called ‘Taking It On.’ During that period, Baba Herman and Mama Iyaluua would also institute Nation Time newspaper! Initially, Nation Time was to be the voice of the New Afrikan Liberation Front. It would become the most consistently running news vehicle that the New Afrikan Independence Movement has ever had, having run for ten years! Later, they would also develop a Malcolm X Essay Contest for the schools as well.
In 1997, along with the late Safiya Bukhari-Alston, he helped launch the Jericho Movement to free political prisoners.
“His was the only draft in my life that I ever answered,” recalled Zayid Muhammad, the organization’s press officer.
“Make no mistake about it, Baba Herman was our rock, our glue who held us together and shaped our direction, identity and character,” he finished.
Mani Gilyard, who also served as his succeeding co-chair, echoed those sentiments.
“Herman unquestionably cut out the mold of our work and how it was to be done,” he said. “Once he retired, all we had to do was to follow the mold.”
Herman Ferguson was born on December 31, 1920. After years in the military, he went into education and was a principal in the NYC school system when he would meet and later join Malcolm X.
He was on the OAAU’s Education Committee and was there on that fateful day in 1965 when Malcolm was assassinated.
Unlike many OAAU members who chose to tactically retreat after the assassination, Herman boldly moved forward. He launched the Big Brothers Improvement Association in Queens. He ran for the NY state senate as an independent. He dared to establish the Jamaica Rifle and Pistol Association, which would become a training ground for a number of young activists who would later go into the Black Panther Party and the New Afrikan independence movement. Of course, he was one of the original signatories to the Declaration of Independence of the Provisional Government of the Republic New Afrika, one of modern Black nationalism’s boldest and yet unsung historical moments!
It was during this robust period of organizing that Baba Herman, as did so many others, became a serious COINTELPRO target. He was ultimately framed for conspiring to murder civil rights figures Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins. He would exile himself to Guyana rather than serve a wrongful imprisonment.
In Guyana, his nation-building orientation would serve him well. He would distinguish himself by serving in their armed forces, helping them develop their civil defense and retiring a full colonel in the Guyanese military. He was also a key official in their ministry of education.
In 1989, he sought to return to the states in an effort to clear his name. He would ultimately be taken right into custody upon landing in New York and made to serve his sentence from the earlier COINTELPRO-orchestrated conviction. When his case came before Judge Bruce Wright, he was released.
Upon his retirement from public life, Baba Herman, penned his long awaited memoirs, An Unlikely Warrior, http://anunlikelywarrior.com/, with the assistance of his wife, Iyaluua, which is considered a must read for serious students of Black Nationalism and of the legendary Black Radical Tradition.
Baba Herman will be memorialized in North Carolina on Saturday, October 4th. He will also be memorialized in New York at a later date.
Long Live Herman Ferguson!
Carry On The Tradition!
By Any Means Necessary!
Free The Land!