- Black nationalist Democratic councilman from New York
- Onetime Black Panther who frequently inveighs against “white” influence
- Apologist for Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro
Charles Barron is a black nationalist activist and Democratic
councilman from the predominantly black 42nd District in Brooklyn, New York. A onetime member of the Black Panther Party
and "Chairperson" of the radical black Unity Party, he views the United States as an irredeemably racist nation. He has characterized Black Panthers who were imprisoned for violent acts as "political prisoners
In 1982, when Barron was head of the Black United Front's Harlem Chapter, he and Preston Wilcox from the Institute of African Research led more than a dozen fellow protesters in attempting to "forcibly remove" a white employee, historian Robert Morris, from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where Morris worked as chief archivist. Barron and his cohorts were charged with harassment and criminal trespassing.
On December 21, 1987, Barron participated in a "day of unrest" to protest racism in New York City. For several hours the demonstrators stalled subway service and created chaos for commuters. More than 70 people were arrested for criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct, including Barron and Al Sharpton
. Barron spent 45 days in jail for his conviction.
After winning his City Council seat in 2001, Barron quickly advanced a sectarian political agenda based largely on the perceived grievances of his black supporters. As one of his first official acts, Barron urged the removal of George Washington's portrait from Borough Hall in Brooklyn on the grounds that Washington was a slave-owner. Barron next denounced Thomas Jefferson, whose statue was housed in the chamber of the City Council, as a "slaveholding pedophile." On another occasion he called Jefferson “a slaveholder, a hypocrite, and a rapist.” That Barron delighted in his race-conscious demagoguery was evident from the start: "We're bringing the 'hood to the Hall!" he proclaimed
In June 2002 Barron introduced a resolution to the City Council, intended ultimately for the Governor of New York, calling for clemency for all prisoners "who have been persecuted unjustly for their political beliefs and activities." Among those who earned Barron's sympathies was Anthony Bottom, (aka Jalil Muntaqim), a former Black Panther convicted in the 1970s for the murder of two New York policemen. The resolution was rejected.
When the City University of New York
in 2002 increased its admissions standards (through the use of entrance exams) and announced that it would no longer offer remedial courses for borderline students, Barron interpreted the new measures as efforts to minimize the number of nonwhite students on campus. "I think racism comes behind standards,” he said.
In August 2002, while speaking before a crowd at the Millions for Reparations March in Washington, DC, Barron made the case for a Democrat-sponsored bill mandating reparations for black slavery in the following terms: "I want to go up to the closest white person and say: 'You can't understand this, it's a black thing' and then slap him, just for my mental health."
The following month, Barron again caused a public stir when -- in what he now calls one the "highlights
" of his political career -- he invited Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe
to deliver a speech at New York's City Hall. Mugabe is not the only dictator embraced by Barron, who has called
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro
“a true champion of human rights worldwide.”
Less charitable is Barron's assessment of his own country. "If you're looking for the Axis of Evil, look inside the belly of the beast," Barron has said of the United States. Similarly, at a 2003 anti-war rally organized by International ANSWER
in Washington, DC, Barron denounced U.S. capitalist interests as the real
"axis of evil."
In 2005 Barron briefly campaigned for the mayoralty of New York City. "White men have too much power in this city," he said, adding
that one of his priorities was "to bust up the unbalanced white power structure." In 2006 Barron was a Democrat primary candidate for a seat in the U.S. Congress, a race he lost by 8 percentage points to rival Edolphus Towns.
On several occasions Barron has expressed dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party generally, painting it as too conservative and out of touch “with the once loyal black masses.” But because he believes the Republican Party “is not an option" for black voters, he advocates the formation of a new third party to represent black interests.
In April 2006 Barron told a television audience that America’s current "immigration problem" is at root an issue of race. He stated that Germans, Jews, Poles, Greeks, and Italians who immigrated to the United States during the late 1800s were welcomed because they were white, but now, "All of a sudden when the complexion of immigration changes, now it's 'these people.'"
In the aftermath of a November 25, 2006 police shooting
of a 23-year-old black man in New York City, Barron made the following statements: (a) "There's no consequences for killing a black person. I am fed up. I'm not asking my people to do anything passive anymore. We're going to sit here and we're going to go in there, and we're going to pray, we're going to march, we're going to do all of that stuff and then we're going to sit down, and if they don't respond to none of that, don't ask us to ask our people to be peaceful while they are being murdered. We're not the only ones that can bleed"; (b) "
… [O]ur people [African Americans] are sick and tired of this, and don't blame me if there's an explosion in our community"; and (c) "It's still Giuliani time. The mayor [Bloomberg] will say he's sorry. He'll show up to funerals. But he doesn't change policy. Don't ask me to be peaceful when they are the ones being murderers."
In June 2009, Barron spoke at the commencement ceremony at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, a mostly black institution. He encouraged
the African American graduates in attendance to identify themselves first and foremost as black:
"This is a great day for you, but as you rise up, remember, remember your people. Never forget who you are, and don't be afraid to be black. … I don't want you to be a lawyer who happens to be black. Be a black lawyer. I don't want you to be an elected official who happens to be black. Be a black elected official. We got a black President. We got a black governor. Say black, black, black, black, black. They don't even want us to say we're black anymore."
Also during his commencement address, Barron made a call for slavery reparations
for blacks in the United States:
"And don't forget that America owes you reparations. They paid everybody else back. It's time for [the U.S. government] to pay you back. Give us [blacks] our reparations for 246 years of slavery. You [America] can keep your welfare. You can keep your college loans. We will have reparations. It is time for us to get paid. The Jews got paid [by Germany after the Holocaust]. The Japanese [who were interned in the U.S. during WWII] got paid."