Working towards a Universal Pan African Federation i.e., United African States In much less than a Generation
“My soul has grown deep like the rivers I bathed in the Euphrates when the dawns were young I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. I looked up the Nile and raised the pyramids above it. I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset. I’ve known rivers: ancient, dusty rivers. My soul has grown deep like rivers.”
Mwalimu K-Q Amsata (Edward H. Brown, Jr.)
I was born in Harlem and raised on the Park Avenue side of the Abraham Lincoln Housing Project (near 135th Street) located on the western bank of the Harlem River. My parents told me that we were the fifth family to move into this new low-income city housing project. We arrived in the great winter blizzard of 1947. I was seven months old. Twenty-eight years earlier in November 1919, the greatest Pan Africanist of the 20th century, Marcus Garvey, had launched the first ship of his Black Star Line, rechristened the “Frederick Douglass”, from the 135th Street Pier in Harlem.
I grew up looking out of my 14th story bedroom window at the tug boats and other commercial vessels that blew their horns loudly so that the men on duty would raise the train bridge to make room for them go by. The private yachts, motor boats and occasional sailboats passed easily under the bridge without disturbing its attendants. There was also the Circle Line, which took tourists around the island of Manhattan. My mom once booked us for a ride on the Circle Line, not just to circumvent the island of our births but, primarily to give my younger brother and I a view of our side of the Lincoln Project from the Harlem River.
The Harlem River train bridge was directly in front of my window giving me a clear view of the trains coming and going. I often wondered where these trains were going and coming from, not realizing that I was witnessing part of my destiny. Many years later I would look back up at my childhood 14th floor window, from my seat on one these trains as it crossed the Harlem River, during my commute to New York City, from Albany, on job related state business. Mine eyes have seen, and “my soul has grown deep like, rivers”. But I know, "change go ‘on come''.
I attended P.S. 133 and J.H.S. 139 (Frederick Douglass Junior High School) in Harlem.
In 1959, I was part of the school boycott of the “Harlem 24” whose parents sued the New York City Board of Education for the desegregation of public schools. I graduated, a semester early, from De Witt Clinton High School. On Sunday, February 21, 1965, one month after I graduated from High School, I remember visiting my Aunt Dorothy in Queens and learning that Malcolm X had just been assassinated as we viewed the related black and white images on her television set.
As a teenager, I had a wide variety of friends, some of whom I’ve known long before I entered kindergarten and still remain in close contact with today. In the case of one of these dear lifelong friends I have been blessed to have seen five generations of his family. I was also involved in a number of school clubs and community activities such as the Harlem YMCA, the youth fellowship of Metropolitan Community Methodist Church and scouting In fact, I was the only one in my neighborhood to earn the Boy Scout’s highest honor of “Eagle Scout” and to rise to the level of “Brotherhood” member in the Order of the Arrow. I loved math and physics, and excelled as a member of the math team in junior high, but my interest soon gravitated towards politics.
In 1963, I was elected President of the Harlem Hi-Y Council. In 1964 I was selected to attend the National Hi-Y Conference at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. In 1965, I was awarded the “Jackie Robinson Achievement” Trophy for my academic achievements and exemplary involvement in the YMCA’s high school program.
My first political activity, outside of my immediate neighborhood, was passing out campaign literature and making phone calls for Robert F. Kennedy, in his successful run for United States Senator from New York, in 1964. However, the overarching dominant figure in Harlem politics, while I was growing up, was the Rev. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Powell first set foot in Congress two years before I was born and continued to be re-elected as Harlem’s Representative in Congress until after I had graduated from college in 1969. My parents always spoke very highly of him. During my childhood years in Harlem, Congressman Powell attended the Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference in Indonesia in 1955 and the independence celebration of Ghana in 1957 where he met the great Pan Africanist 1st President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. When I was 9, I remember my mother coming into my bedroom and pointing to a spot in Africa, on the world map posted on the wall, that was labeled “Gold Coast” and explaining to my brother and I that it just become a newly independent nation named after and ancient African empire called “Ghana”.
But it was during my teenage years that Adam Powell reached his apex in political power when he became the dynamic transformative Chairman of the House’s powerful Health, Education and Labor Committee. From this powerful position Congressman Powell was a key leader in the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Right Act of 1965. And it was during this time period that I remember seeing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in December of 1964, at the 369th Armory in Harlem addressing a large audience on his return from Oslo Sweden where he had just received the Noble Peace Prize.
Let us continue in the third person. Mwalimu Amsata (Ed Brown) received his baccalaureate degree in political science, with a minor in history, from Syracuse University and a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from its prestigious Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
In his freshman year he was elected as a dormitory representative to the Student Senate and became active with the Young Democrats on campus. But his most significant legacies at Syracuse University came in his upperclassman years when he became a founding member of the Student African American Society (SAS) in 1967; the father of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in 1968; and the prime mover for the creation of the University’s African American Studies Department in 1969. The AAS Department, SAS and the King Memorial Library are still a vibrant part of Black student life at Syracuse today. It was during this period that Mwalimu met and befriended the young professors Ronald W. Walters Ph.D., who was teaching at Syracuse University at the time, and James Turner Ph.D., who was then a new Black Nationalist a professor at Cornell University.
After college Mwalimu Amsata returned to New York City to join the national staff of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) as Director of Political Affairs. In this capacity he established the organization as a “consultative” NGO (non-governmental organization) with the Economic and Social Council of United Nations in 1972. In 1970 and again in 1972 CORE filed amicus curiae briefs with the United States Supreme Court for the desegregation of public schools in a way that would minimize bussing and maximize the empowerment the Black community. His leadership and floor management at the National Black Political Convention, in Gary, Indiana in March 1972, resulted in the Convention unanimously adopting the South Carolina/Florida resolution to support this approach for Black control of schools in the Black community.
In 1972, Mwalimu Amsata also served on the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC) that organized African Liberation Day (ALD) in Washington D.C. On May 27, 1972, more than 50 thousand Black people came together in Washington to support of the liberation struggles in southern Africa. Under the leadership of the ALSC the group marched in protest front of the Embassies of Portugal, Apartheid South Africa and the State Department. In 1975, he traveled to East Africa to attend the 12th Annual Summit of African heads-of-states/governments at the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
At the same time he was heavily involved in many organizations in the Harlem community. These included, but were not limited to, the Board of Directors of the Harlem Commonwealth Council and a political appointment, by Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, to Community Planning Board 10. In 1976, Mwalimu Amsata (Ed Brown) ran for a Harlem seat in the New York State Assembly in Albany.
Mwalimu did move to Albany, New York in the early 1980s to work for the New York State Department of Health. He became a Management Fellow and worked in a number of positions over the years, most significantly as the State Coordinator for the National Health Service Corps with the Division of Planning, Policy & Resource Development. His community service included serving as a “Big Brother” and Board member with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Board member of One Hundred Black Men (OHBM) and as co-chair of the Black History Month Creative Expression Contest from 1997-2006. This contest was co-sponsored annually by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and OHBM.
In 2002, Mwalimu Amsata (Ed Brown) won a citywide election to the Board of Education of Albany. He was subsequently elected President of the Board by his colleagues. http://www.edbrownasblegacy.com/ When his term expired he was employed as an Adjunct Professor with the Africana Studies Department of the University at Albany to teach “Leadership in the Black Community” at the undergrad level. He was also invited to lecture on Pan Africanism at the graduate level.
In 2008, Ed Brown and his lovely wife, Wilhelmina KiJoti-Brown, relocated to their new home in Palm Coast, Florida. On October 4, 2010, he was blessed with a “new lease on life” via a kidney transplant operation performed by the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
On August 17, 2013 (the 126th Anniversary of the birth of the Hon. Marcus Garvey), Mwalimu Amsata launched his new multifaceted Pan African website: www.tnpa2020-upan.org. A few months later in October 2013, he was a participant in the International Symposium on Democracy and Development in Africa and the Caribbean that was sponsored by the Institute of the Black World (IBW) in Washington D.C. Mwalimu is currently working on a Pan African squeal to his first book.
Edward (Mwalimu Amsata) and Wilhelmina are active members of the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Palm Coast where he is a member of the Scholarship and Security Ministries and she is a member of the Health Ministry. Brother Amsata is also active in the African American Cultural Society (AACS) near Flagler Beach in Florida, where he was Program Chairman for the 25th Anniversary Celebration in 2016 and currently serves and Chair of the Pan African Study Group (PASG) and a member of the Education Committee. In the latter capacity, he is often called on to lecture on different aspects of African History in the local High School and community.
Brother Edward H Brown, Jr. (Mwalimu Kwasi-Quayaja Amsata) enjoys spending quality time with his beloved wife Wilhelmina and their darling 12 year old daughter Edwina (named after Ed) both of whom were born in Africa.
Mwalimu Amsata also enjoys an occasional game of bid whist, swimming, and traveling around the country to promote his book and Pan African ideas. He remains a strong advocate for the global unification of African people, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and looks forward to the re-emergence of Africa as a world power. In 2014, this mission took the Brown family to the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) that was founded by the Right Excellent Marcus Garvey in the summer of 1914. While there, Mwalimu delivered a key address to the national audience gathered at the opening ceremony of the UNIA-ACL Centennial Celebration at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York. https://web.archive.org/web/20161026091223/http://tnpa2020-upan.net/?q=node/17 Since the summer of 2015, Mwalimu Amsata has been serving as the coordinator of the Regional Initiating Committee (RIC) – North America, for the Pan African Federalist Movement (PAFM). In this capacity he recently led the North American delegation to the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the All African Peoples Conference AAPC@60 and the Pre- Congress of the PAFM.
Garvey set the stage a century ago when he said “Up you mighty Race, you can accomplish what you will” and “What other men have done, we can do!”
And to God goes the glory.
Ed Brown (AMSATA) with daughters of Malcolm X (Malaak Shabazz-left) and Kwame Nkrumah (Samia Nkrumah-right) in Accra , Ghana , December 2018