The Republic of New Afrika (RNA) was founded in 1968 as an American social movement based in Black Nationalism; it had three goals:
- Creation of an independent African-American-majority country situated in the southeastern United States, in the heart of black-majority population. A similar claim is made for all the black-majority counties and cities throughout the United States.
- Payment of several billion dollars in reparations to African-American descendants of slaves by the US government for the damages inflicted on Africans and their descendants by chattel enslavement, Jim Crow segregation, and modern-day forms of racism.
- A referendum of all African Americans to determine their desires for citizenship; movement leaders say they were not offered a choice in this matter after emancipation in 1865 following the American Civil War.
The vision for this country was first promulgated on March 31, 1968, at a Black Government Conference held in Detroit, Michigan. Its proponents lay claim to five Southern states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina; and to the black-majority counties adjacent to this area in Arkansas, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida.
The Black Government Conference was convened by the Malcolm X Society and the Group on Advanced Leadership (GOAL), two influential Detroit-based black organizations with broad followings. The attendees produced a Declaration of Independence (signed by 100 conferees out of approximately 500), a constitution, and the framework for a provisional government. Robert F. Williams, a controversial human rights advocate then living in exile in China, was chosen as the first president of the provisional government; attorney Milton Henry (a student of Malcolm X‘s teachings) was named first vice president; and Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X, served as second vice president.
The Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PG-RNA) advocated/advocates a form of cooperative economics through the building of New Communities—named after the Ujamaa concept promoted by Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere; militant self-defense through the building of local people’s militias and an aboveground standing army called the Black Legion; and respect for international law through the building of organizations that champion the right of self-determination for people of African descent.
The organization was involved in numerous controversial issues. For example, it attempted to assist Oceanhill-Brownsville in seceding from the United States during the 1968 conflict that took place there over control of public schools. Additionally, it was involved with shootouts at New Bethel Baptist Church in 1969 (during the one-year anniversary of the founding) and another in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1971. (It had established the capital of the Republic in Hinds County on a farm). Law-enforcement officials were killed and others were injured during the 1969 and 1971 violent confrontations. Organization members were prosecuted.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believed the Republic of New Afrika to be a seditious group and conducted raids on its meetings, which led to violent confrontations. It repeatedly arrested and prosecuted certain RNA leaders noted above. The group was a target of the COINTELPRO operation by the FBI, as well as Red Squad activities of Michigan State Police and the Detroit Police Department, among other cities.
- Milton Henry
- Chokwe Lumumba, formerly Edwin Finley Taliaferro of Detroit, was elected as second vice president in 1971. He later became an attorney, working in Michigan and Mississippi in public defense. He was elected to the city council of Jackson, Mississippi and as mayor in 2013, dying in office in February 2014 of natural causes.
- Betty Shabazz
- Robert F. Williams, President in Exile (1968-1971)
- Imari Obadele, President (1971 – 1991)
- Dara Abubakari, Acting President (1975-1980)
- Kwame Afoh (1994-2000)
- Demetri Marshall (2000-2002)
- Ukali Mwendo (2002-2005)
- Alvin H. Brown
In popular culture
The 1988 novel Fire on the Mountain by Terry Bisson depicts an alternate history in which John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 succeeded. It led to a widespread slave revolt throughout the South, which culminated with secession and the creation of a nation of Nova Africa, similar to that envisioned by the above movement.
New Africa House, an academic building and former dormitory on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was established following a black student takeover of the dorm in the spring of 1970.
- The Article Three Brief. 1973. (New Afrikans fought U.S. Marshals in an effort to retain control of the independent New Afrikan communities shortly after the U.S. Civil War.)
- Obadele, Imari Abubakari. Foundations of the Black Nation. 154p. Detroit. House of Songay, 1975.
- Brother Imari [Obadele, Imari]. War In America: The Malcolm X Doctrine. 45p. Chicago. Ujamaa Distributors, 1977.
- Kehinde, Muata. RNA President Imari Obadele is Free After Years of Illegal U.S. Imprisonment. In Burning SpearFebruary 1980. Louisville. African Peoples Socialist Party. 4 p to 28 p.
- Obadele, Imari Abubakari. The Malcolm Generation & Other Stories. 56p. Philiadelphia. House of Songhay, 1982.
- Taifa, Nkechi, and Lumumba, Chokwe. Reparations Yes! 3rd ed. Baton Rouge. House of Songhay, 1983, 1987, 1993.
- Obadele, Imari Abubakari. Free The Land!: The True Story of the Trials of the RNA-11 Washington, D.C. House of Songhay, 1984.
- New Afrikan State-Building in North America. Ann Arbor. Univ. of Michigan Microfilm, 1985, pp. 345–357.
- “The First New Afrikan States”. In The Black Collegian, Jan./Feb. 1986.
- A Beginner’s Outline of the History of Afrikan People, 1st ed. Washington, D.C. House of Songhay, Commission for Positive Education, 1987.
- America The Nation-State. Washington, D.C. and Baton Rouge. House of Songhay, Commission for Positive Education, 1989, 1988.
- Walker, Kwaku, and Walker, Abena. Black Genius. Baton Rouge. House of Songhay, Commission for Positive Education, 1991.
- Afoh, Kwame, Lumumba, Chokwe, and Obafemi, Ahmed. A Brief History of the Black Struggle in America, With Obadele’s Macro-Level Theory of Human Organization. Baton Rouge. House of Songhay, Commission for Positive Education, 1991.
- RNA. A People’s Struggle. RNA, Box 90604, Washington, D.C. 20090-0604.
- The Republic of New Africa New Afrikan Ujamaa: The Economics of the Republic of New Africa. 21p. San Francisco. 1970.
- Obadele, Imari Abubakari. The Struggle for Independence and Reparations from the United States 142p. Baton Rouge. House of Songhay, 2004.
- Obadele, Imari A., editor De-Colonization U.S.A.: The Independence Struggle of the Black Nation in the United States Centering on the 1996 United Nations Petition 228p. Baton Rouge. The Malcolm Generation, 1997.
- Provisional Government – Republic of New Afrika (Official Web Site)
- The Republic of New Afrika
- New Afrika (Online Blog)
- RNA documents in the Freedom Now! archival project at Brown University – Tougaloo College archives.
- The Republic of New Africa vs. the United States, 1967-1974, documents on police surveillance and repression of the RNA as well as protest by the organization at the The Radical Information Project.
Articles and reports
- Firing Line: The Republic of New Africa] William F. Buckley interviews Milton Henry, President of the Republic of New Afrika. Program number 126. Taped on Nov 18, 1968 (New York City, NY). 50 minutes. Available from the Hoover Institution. The first 5 minutes are accessible in streaming RealAudio.
- Understanding Covert Repressive Action: The Case of the US Government Against the Republic of New Africa by Christian Davenport, Professor of Peace Studies and Political Science at the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame.
- The Real Republic of New Africa By Dennis Smith, News Director. February 3, 2005. Accessed April 1, 2005