Revolution and Transformation in Africa: Toward Freedom and Emancipation – A Chicago Lecture


The 60th anniversary lecture of Toward Freedom, a progressive perspective on world events since 1952

Revolution and Transformation in Africa: Toward Freedom and Emancipation

May 2, 2012, 6 pm
The William Bross Lloyd Jr. Lecture

Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Toward Freedom

Northwestern University, Program of African Studies, 620 Library Place, Evanston, Illinois

Prof. Horace Campbell, Syracuse University

with introductory remarks by

Greg Guma, former Toward Freedom Editor

Robin and Bill Lloyd in Africa, 1958
Robin and Bill Lloyd in Africa, 1958

It was 60 years ago at the height of the Cold War when William Bross Lloyd Jr stepped up the peace activism work which culminated in the publication of the newssheet, Toward Freedom. Turning his back on the privilege and protection of his own background, William Lloyd gravitated towards those fighting against colonial rule and became a force in the peace and social justice movements in the United States.

For 60 years Toward Freedom has been one node in a network of international activists  that carried the  vision of  a world ethic that honors the human spirit and the right of individuals to freedom of thought and creativity. In these years a small group supported movements for decolonization, peace, justice, and a clean environment.

The first issue of Toward Freedom was released on December 6, 1952, and included reports of Britain’s response to the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, a defiance campaign against apartheid in South Africa, and an attempt by Asian and Arab nations to get the UN engaged in mediation between France and its African territories. As editor Bill Lloyd took note of recent UN actions on colonial issues and pointed out that the world body often voted with the colonial powers on questions like conflict resolution and independence.

In this 60th anniversary lecture, there will be a focus on the seismic changes in International politics since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in January 2011.  Drawing from the inspiration of the youths of Tahrir Square Horace Campbell will interrogate the call from Samir Amin for us to be audacious in   conceptualizing alternatives to the political and economic dominance of the ruling one per cent. Prof. Horace Campbell will reflect on the rapid economic growth in Africa and the implications for the Union of the Peoples of Africa in the changed world economy.  In order to heal the planet from rapacious forms of economic relations and exorbitant consumption it is necessary to embark on a new system that enables equality and mutual understanding. Hence, there must be a quantum leap from the current neo-liberal system to a new social system that is not based on discrimination and hierarchies. Drawing from the present thrust for Reparations and Reconstruction towards a multi-polar world, the lecture will examine the multifaceted transformations necessary to rise beyond the linearity and concepts of ‘modernization.’

This Lecture will challenge intellectuals in the academy to transcend old images and ideas of Africa with the call for boldness in formulating political alternatives to the existing system. A “humanist consensus” rather than a Washington, Beijing, or any other kind of consensus, is now necessary to work for world peace in a moment of crisis when the triggers’ of war are poised to engulf humanity into greater conflagrations. In this quest centers of learning will be encouraged to join the new process of re-education to break the dominance of the exploiters.

Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. He is the author of Rasta and Resistance From Marcus Garvey to Walter RodneyReclaiming Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation; and Pan Africanism, Pan Africanists and African Liberation in the 21st century. His most recent book is Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA.

Greg Guma, a writer, editor and historian from Vermont, met William B. Lloyd in the 1970s, succeeded him as editor of Toward Freedom in 1986, and helped to bring the organization to Vermont. He served as editor for more than a decade, expanding the publication’s scope from the end of the Cold War to the start of the digital age. In Burlington, the state’s largest city, Toward Freedom found a second home that nurtured the publication and its educational work for the next 26 years. He is the author of The People’s RepublicVermont and the Sanders RevolutionUneasy Empire, and the play, Inquisitions (and Other Un-American Activities).

Greg’s introductory remarks will examine the events surrounding the launch of Toward Freedom as a Chicago-based international newsletter, the legacy of the Lloyd family dating back to Henry Demarest Lloyd, early coverage of colonial struggles and the non-aligned movement, writing by Lloyd and others on independence movements during the publication’s first decade, and the relevance of those insights for our time.

Also see: Moving Toward Freedom: The Lloyd Legacy – A Video History