This is a report from the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism
The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) casts itself as a spontaneous uprising born of inner city frustration, but is, in fact, the latest and most dangerous face of a web of well-funded communist/socialist organizations that have been agitating against America for decades. Its agitation has provoked police killings and other violence, lawlessness and unrest in minority communities throughout the U.S. If allowed to continue, that agitation could devolve into anarchy and civil war. The BLM crowd appears to be spoiling for just such an outcome.
Nevertheless, BLM appears to be exercising considerable leverage over the Democratic Party, in part by pressuring and intimidating Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (VT) into embracing their cause. The movement could also assist President Obama’s exploitation of racial divisions in society beyond his final term in office.
This report examines in detail, for the first time, how communist groups have manipulated the cause of Black Lives Matter, and how money from liberal foundations has made it all possible.
Exploiting blacks to promote Marxist revolution is an old tactic. The late Larry Grathwohl, former FBI informant in the Weather Underground, understood from personal experience how white communists exploited blacks and other minority groups. He said that Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn regarded Barack Obama, whose political career they sponsored, as a tool—a puppet—to use against white America. Obama’s legacy at home will certainly include more racial division.
BLM launched in 2013 with a Twitter hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, after neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was acquitted in the Trayvon Martin killing. Radical Left activists Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi claim credit for the slogan and hashtag. Following the Michael Brown shooting in August 2014, Dream Defenders, an organization led by Working Families Party (ACORN) activist and Occupy Wall Street anarchist Nelini Stamp, popularized the phrase “Hands Up–Don’t Shoot!” which has since become BLM’s widely recognized slogan.
Garza, Cullors and Tometi all work for front groups of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), one of the four largest radical Left organizations in the country. The others are the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS). Nelini Stamp’s ACORN—now rebranded under a variety of different names—works with all four organizations, and Dream Defenders is backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others.
FRSO is a hereditary descendant of the New Communist Movement, which was inspired by Mao and the many communist revolutions throughout the world in the 1960s and 1970s. FRSO split into two separate groups in 1999, FRSO/Fight Back and FRSO/OSCL (Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organizaci?n Socialista del Camino para la Libertad). Black Lives Matter and its founders are allied with the latter group. Future references to FRSO in this article refer to FRSO/OSCL.
FRSO is comprised of dozens of groups. The radical Left model is based on alliances of many organizations that are working on separate issues but dedicated ultimately to the same thing: overthrowing our society in order to replace it with a hardcore socialist (read communist) one.
The goal is to present the appearance of a formidable mass of organizations. Some are large, but many are little more than a website or Facebook page. When necessary, they can all come together to promote the cause du jour. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and others were mere pretexts for socialist agitation. The real enemy is “the system.” This is why the BLM crowd denies the facts of those cases. As Stamp has said, “we are actually trying to change the capitalist system we have today because it’s not working for any of us.”
BLM is one of many projects undertaken by the FRSO. Except for the website, blacklivesmatter.com, there is no actual organization. The website implicitly acknowledges this, describing #BlackLivesMatter as “an online forum intended to build connections between Black people and our allies to fight anti-Black racism, to spark dialogue among Black people, and to facilitate the types of connections necessary to encourage social action and engagement.”
FRSO membership is disproportionately represented by blacks, gays and women, and self-consciously emphasizes those issues. Garza, who penned a “Herstory” of BLM, is a “queer,” black veteran activist involved in numerous FRSO organizations. Her resumé includes:
- Special projects director, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)
- Executive Director, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER)
- Board member, School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL)
- 2011 Board Chair, Right to the City Alliance (RTTC)
Cullors describes herself as a “working class, queer, black woman.” She claims the country killed her father, a drug addict. At a 2015 Netroots Nation conference, Cullors led chants shouting, “If I die in police custody, burn everything down… rise the fuck up! That is the only way motherfuckers like you will listen!” Cullors founded and directs Dignity and Power Now (DPN), which claims to seek “dignity and power of incarcerated people, their families, and communities.”
Cullors was trained by Eric Mann, a former Weather Underground leader who exhorts followers to become “anti-racist, anti-imperialist” activists. Mann runs another FRSO front, the Labor/Community Strategy Center. Like most professional leftists, he makes good money—over $225,000 annually—living in “the system” he advocates destroying.
Tometi is the daughter of illegal aliens from Nigeria. While in college, she worked for the ACLU defending illegal aliens against “vigilantes” opposed to illegal immigration. She is currently the executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI).
FRSO/BLM organizations are generously supported by a universe of wealthy foundations. Some, like those employing BLM founders Garza and Tometi, receive money directly. Others, like Cullors’ DPN, are financed by organizations designed specifically to underwrite the activities of others. Amounts reflect donations received over approximately the past decade.
NDWA (Garza)—2013 revenues were $5.5 million. The NDWA board includes two members of CASA de Maryland, the Illegals’ version of ACORN. CASA also received a grant from NDWA in 2013, as did the radical Left Institute for Policy Studies. NDWA receives funding from the following foundations:
POWER (Garza)—2013 revenues were $456,676, including $92,173 in government grants. POWER evolved from the now defunct communist group STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement). Obama’s former “Green Jobs Czar” the self-described communist, Van Jones, served on STORM’s board.
RTTC (Garza)—2013 revenues were $248,190. RTTC is a nationwide network of activist organizations that resists the gentrification of inner cities because it displaces “low-income people, people of color, marginalized LGBTQ communities, and youths of color…”
SOUL (Garza)—Despite its small size (2013 revenues at $110,304), SOUL claims to have trained 679 organizers in 2013.
BAJI (Tometi)—2013 revenues were $321,570. This modest organization only lists two full-time staff, yet receives support from many recognizable foundations.
Cullors’ DPN is underwritten by Community Partners, a Los Angeles based non-profit with a $24 million budget (including $4 million in government grants) that fiscally sponsors non-profits. It is not an FRSO organization.
Advancement Project (AP)—an FRSO group that funds a variety of radical causes. AP sees America as a racist, oppressive nation and, according to Discover the Networks, “works to organize ‘communities of color’ into politically cohesive units while disseminating its leftist worldviews and values as broadly as possible by way of a sophisticated communications department.” Its 2013 revenues were $11.3 million.
The Return of Van Jones
Mainstream funders have helped fund BLM as well. For example, United Way has partnered with A&E and iHeartMedia to create Shining the Light Advisors, a committee of “nationally known experts and leaders in racial and social justice,” to oversee grant disbursements. These “advisors” include such radicals as Van Jones, Advancement Project co-director Judith Browne Dianis, and Rinku Sen, president of the Applied Research Center (ARC).
BLM’s mission includes a kitchen sink of favored radical Left causes, including support of poverty elimination programs, prison deinstitutionalization, illegal immigration and gay rights. Highlighting FRSO’s orientation toward gay blacks, it describes how “Black, queer and trans folks bear a unique burden from a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us, and that is state violence.”
Its wide network of affiliates and partner organizations like CPUSA and ACORN allows BLM to turn out large crowds. Many participate simply to protest, commit violence, loot or all three.
FRSO was prominent at the Ferguson protests and videoed the event. It has even created a Black Lives Matter button. Following are more FRSO organizations involved with BLM. (Funding estimates provided when known).
- Black Left Unity—A Marxist/Leninist organization that supports favored causes of the communist Left, including unity with Cuba, war against capitalism and Occupy Wall Street.
- Black Workers for Justice—A North Carolina-based group which claims to struggle on behalf of “oppressed nationalities,” etc.
- Causa Justa/Just Cause—A Black/Latino solidarity organization allied with the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, RTTC and others. Its 2013 revenues were $1.6 million, including $689,484 in government grants.
- Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ)—“a national alliance of US-based grassroots organizing (GRO) groups organizing to build an agenda for power for working and poor people and communities of color.”
- Hands Up United—Works for “liberation of oppressed Black, Brown, and poor people through education, art, civil disobedience, advocacy, and agriculture.”
- Intelligent Mischief—Their Black Body Survival Guide is in the works and has raised over $8,000 through IndieGoGo.
- Organization for Black Struggle (OBS)—This organization is affiliated with the CPUSA. Its website claims its allies as Black Workers for Justice and the Advancement Project. Chaired by FRSO member Montague Simmons.
- Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC) a militant group founded in 2012 by CUNY students. It is networked at different U.S. colleges. This group organized the infamous pro-abortion “Hail Satan” chant at Texas capital. Its extremism is captured in the following video:
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a “national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice.” SURJ quotes Garza saying that “We need you defecting from White supremacy and changing the narrative of White supremacy by breaking White silence.”
- Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE)—Its 2013 revenues were $2.8 million. Led by Anthony Thigpenn, a former Black Panther and board member of the Apollo Alliance. Apollo is the secretive alliance of labor, environment and other Left activists that formulated Obama’s trillion dollar “stimulus” plan. Board member Van Jones described Apollo “as sort of a grand unified field theory for progressive Left causes.” It is now a project of the Blue Green Alliance.
BLM groups have also joined with CPUSA, CCDS, DSA, SEIU, Color of Change and many others. Anarchist and top OWS organizer Lisa Fithian, who orchestrated the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization riots, trained Ferguson protesters. Fithian says “Create crisis, because crisis is that edge where change is possible.”
Fithian echoes Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven—creators of the infamous Cloward/Piven Crisis Strategy—who spent decades attempting to provoke ghetto blacks to riot, because “Poor people can advance only when ‘the rest of society is afraid of them.’” Rasheen Aldridge, seen above meeting President Obama, was a leader of the Ferguson protests. He has participated in numerous CPUSA events in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Another prominent CPUSA member active in BLM protests is Michael McPhearson, who leads the Don’t Shoot Coalition.
Carl Davidson and Pat Fry, co-chairs of CCDS, exploited the revolutionary atmosphere of the Ferguson riots to create an eight-point plan for “Left Unity” demanding “a common aspiration for socialism.”
Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) is Missouri’s rebranded ACORN group. It created an illustrative chart offering a snapshot of the Left’s grievance agenda. Capitalism is always the problem. Socialism is always the solution.
Interestingly, MORE doesn’t believe in socialism when it is footing the bill. MORE promised to pay Ferguson protesters $5,000/month to hang out and cause trouble. But just as ACORN stiffed its employees while preaching socialist generosity, MORE stiffed the protesters.
Islamist organizations have also jumped on the BLM bandwagon, reminding us of the unholy alliance that exists between them and the radical Left. In September 2015, the Muslim Brotherhood front-group Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) joined BLM activists in storming California Governor Jerry Brown’s office. CAIR also participated in the Ferguson protests. Meanwhile ISIS is recruiting American blacks for its cause.
Intellectual Genealogy of Black Lives Matter
“We must be ready to employ trickery, deceit, law-breaking, withholding and concealing truth… We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion, and scorn toward those who disagree with us.”—Vladimir Lenin
That quote from the Soviet Union’s first leader captures the entire essence of the Left’s strategy. No matter what the issue, no matter what the facts, the Left advances a relentless, hate-filled narrative that America is irredeemably evil and must be destroyed as soon as possible. The BLM movement is only the latest but perhaps most dangerous variant on this divisive theme.
Communists use language and psychology as weapons. Their constant vilification is a form of psychological terror. It puts America and Americans on trial. The verdict is always guilty. Facts don’t matter because the Left does not want to resolve the problems they complain about. They use those problems to agitate and provoke, hoping conflict becomes unavoidable—thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their hatred is tactical.
“Critical race theory contends that America is permanently racist to its core, and that consequently the nation’s legal structures are, by definition, racist and invalid … members of “oppressed” racial groups are entitled—in fact obligated—to determine for themselves which laws and traditions have merit and are worth observing…”
Bell’s theory is in turn an innovation of Critical Theory—developed by philosophers of the communist Frankfurt School. The school was founded in Frankfurt, Germany in 1923. Its Jewish communist scholars fled Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s, relocating to Columbia Teachers College in New York. Critical Theory—which discredits all aspects of Western society—rapidly infected the minds of newly-minted college professors, who then spread its poison throughout the university system. We know it today as political correctness.
The “racist” narrative was turbocharged with the concept of “White Privilege,” the notion that whites—the dominant group in capitalist America—are irretrievably racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, fill-in-the-blank-ophobic, imperialistic oppressors who exploit everyone. Whites are the only true evil in the world and should be exterminated.
The “White Skin Privilege” idea was created in 1967 by Noel Ignatiev, an acolyte of Bell and professor at Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute (Du Bois was a Communist black leader who helped found the NAACP). Ignatiev was a member of CPUSA’s most radical wing, the Maoist/Stalinist Provisional Organizing Committee to Reconstitute the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (POC). POC was the intellectual forerunner to FRSO.
Writing under the alias Noel Ignatin, Ignatiev co-authored an SDS pamphlet with fellow radical Ted Allen, titled White Blindspot. In 1992 he co-founded Race Traitor: Journal of the New Abolitionism. Its first issue coined the slogan, “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” Its stated objective was to “abolish the white race.” More specifically, the New Abolitionist newsletter stated:
“The way to abolish the white race is to challenge, disrupt and eventually overturn the institutions and behavior patterns that reproduce the privileges of whiteness, including the schools, job and housing markets, and the criminal justice system. The abolitionists do not limit themselves to socially acceptable means of protest, but reject in advance no means of attaining their goal (emphasis added).”
But do not be confused; “White” does not mean white. “White” in radical construction means anyone of any race, creed, nationality, color, sex, or sexual preference who embraces capitalism, free markets, limited government and American traditional culture and values. By definition, these beliefs are irredeemably evil and anyone who aligns with them is “white” in spirit and thus equally guilty of “white crimes.” Ignatiev still teaches, now at the Massachusetts College of Art.
The Black Lives Matter movement carries this narrative to unprecedented heights, claiming that only whites can be racists. And while justifying violence to achieve “social justice,” the movement’s goal is to overthrow our society to replace it with a Marxist one. Many members of the black community would be shocked to learn that the intellectual godfathers of this movement are mostly white Communists, “queers” and leftist Democrats, intent on making blacks into cannon fodder for the revolution.
James Simpson is an economist, former White House budget analyst, businessman and investigative journalist. Follow Jim on Twitter & Facebook. Veteran researcher Trevor Loudon and Matthew Vadum (Senior Editor, Capital Research Center) contributed materially to this report.