Remembering Elombe Brath

By Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali

10306229_10154138810475234_7001742393081089663_nAt the time of this writing, NOT A WORD ABOUT ELOMBE BRATH’S passing has appeared in the New York Times. I guess Comrade Elombe’s life wasn’t part of “All the news that’s fit to print”.

However, the New York Daily News ran a story, “Harlem mourns death of Elombe Brath, lifelong warrior in battle for pan-African empowerment”. The story pointed out that Brath was, ‘Tireless and genuine fighter,’ Brath, who was 77, fought apartheid as the founder of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition, fought to end the use of the term ‘negro’, advocated on behalf of the Central Park 5, and co-founded African Jazz-Arts Society & Studios.”

Brath visited Toronto and Montreal many times and had deep links with the Caribbean community. According to the New York Daily News he was a cousin of “Clennell Wickham who waged a political battle on behalf of working class blacks in colonial Barbados as an editor of The Herald, a Barbadian newspaper.” Wickham along with Marcus Mosiah Garvey and Carlos Cooks were his major influences. The Jamaican-born Garvey created the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities (Imperial) League (UNIA-ACL) Cooks, was born in the Dominican Republic, and he administered the Advance Division of the UNIA after Garvey was deported. He founded the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement which Brath joined as a youth.

He spoke at meetings organized by the Toronto based Biko-Rodney-Malcolm-Coalition (BRMC) and later came to this to speak at a session with the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party’s (A-ARPP) Toronto chapter. A coalition including Toronto’s BRMC, the Albany, New York’s Capital District Coalition against Apartheid and Racism and the New York City and Los Angeles Chapters’ of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition formed an alliance to promote the cultural boycott of South Africa.

The alliance of these three groups began in 1984 at the United Nation’s organized meeting, The North American Regional Conference against Apartheid, organized by the Special Committee against Apartheid. Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali, Vera Michelson, Elombe Brath and Ron Wilkins put this alliance together during this UN meeting.

Brath was a frequent guest on Saturday Morning Live, Diasporic Music and CIUT-FM 89.5′ The African Woman and Family. When Curtis Bailey who produced and hosted the radio program All That Jazz on CIUT-FM 89.5 and Milton Blake who produced and hosted the Musical Triangle on CKLN-FM 88.1 joined the ancestors the Toronto Star did feature stories on them.

The New York Times, however, also had nothing to say about Samori Marksman when he passed. Marksman, was a journalist, historian, political activist and professor. He was also the Program Director of radio station WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York City. Under his leadership WBAI became to be known as the University of the airwaves– a place for the “news behind the news. Dr. Gerald Horne plugged me into Marksman. His roots were in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

One of Horne’s most recent books is Black Revolutionary William Patterson and the Globalization of the African American Freedom Struggle. Patterson, along with the legendary Paul Robeson, charged the United States government with genocide in 1951. His father was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Brath helped me get invited to the United Nation to represent the BRMC at a conference that called for a cultural boycott of South Africa in 1983. He introduced me to Marksman and I introduced him to Blake and we all worked together for Africa, Africans and all oppressed people. I completely agree with Brath’s son Cinque Brath who pointed out: ““He lived his life doing what he loved. He wanted global fairness for people around the world.”

NB: this text is copyrighted, and only limited excerpting with full attribution is permitted. For licensing and reproduction permissions, please contact Norman Otis Richmond at




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