"Palestinian liberation as we work towards our own" - 2013 Eyewitness Palestine Delegate Kristian Davis Bailey Co-Authors Black Solidarity Statement with Palestine
Organizer and freelance writer Kristian Davis Bailey was outraged by Israel’s invasion of Gaza in July 2014 that resulted in 2,139 Palestinians deaths, including 490 children. Six thousand miles away that same summer, riots raged in Ferguson, MO, over the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.
Kristian saw a strong connection between the two struggles against armed oppressors and gathered support from Black activists and leaders for a public statement. Separately, Khury Petersen-Smith, long-time Boston activist, was taking similar action. Neither statement was published at that time. But neither man forgot his vision of publicly declaring the commonality of struggles faced by Blacks and Palestinians.
A year later, the time was right. The two activists combined their statements in June 2015 and drafted what has become an international cry of solidarity between Blacks and Palestinians. “Black for Palestine” has been signed by more than 1,100 Black scholars, activists, students, artists, and organizations, including Angela Davis, Cornel West, political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sundiata Acoli, and, notably, several of the activists and scholars who bought a New York Times ad in 1970 supporting Palestinian liberation from Zionism.
The “Black for Palestine” statement reaffirms solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. “It is to Palestinians, as well as the Israeli and US governments, that we declare our commitment to working through cultural, economic, and political means to ensure Palestinian liberation at the same time as we work towards our own,” the statement reads.
“I traveled to Palestine with Interfaith Peace-Builders in 2013 and stayed for a few weeks after the delegation ended. Almost none of the organizing or writing I’ve done over the past two years would have been possible without making connections and building relationships with Palestinians directly on the ground” – Kristian
The widespread response is gratifying, Kristian said. “The statement apparently reached wide across Palestinian media and society, including into some of the local newsletters of Southern Lebanon refugee camps. This is exactly who we wanted the statement to reach and I hope we can continue to build with Palestinians who are traditionally left out of US conversations and delegations.”
People were most touched by the statement’s declaration that refugees’ right to return is the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians, Kristian said.
“Nearly sixty percent of Palestinians are refugees living outside of Israel/Palestine or internally displaced within the West Bank and Gaza. Any just outcome has to include the right of return – not as a negotiating point, but as a given,” he said.
Among the next steps is chronicling “the history of Black solidarity with Palestine over time since so many of our signatories have been active on Palestine since the 1960s and 70s,” Kristian said.
Kristian first traveled to Palestine/Israel in 2013 with Eyewitness Palestine (then called Interfaith Peace-Builders). “Almost none of the organizing or writing I’ve done over the past two years would have been possible without making connections and building relationships with Palestinians directly on the ground,” Kristian observed.
Read the entire statement and learn more: http://www.blackforpalestine.com.