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H. Rap Brown: Someone You Should Know About

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

By AbdudDharr Abdullah 

Presented by Omni-U Virtual University

Excerpted from the original article

For decades, Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin – also widely known as H. Rap Brown – has been among those at the forefront of the struggle for justice in this country. Over a period of time that spans sixty (60) years, he’s been consistent in his active involvement in the struggle in a manner that has few comparisons.

Long before ‘The Last Poets’ and Gil Scott Heron came on the scene, H. ‘Rap’ Brown was ‘laying-it-down’; ‘running-lines’ with ‘rapid-fire-words’, and ‘spitting-the truth’ while educating the youth. Known to be unmatched in the art of "signifying", his sharp wit and quick tongue earned him the name ‘Rap’, at an early age. As he grew older and began developing his own perspective on the world around him, he started using his skills to articulate the problems in America in a manner that appealed to people across the entire strata of society: from the average person ‘on-the-streets’ to the most educated. He could ‘break-it-down’ like very few others could. 

After withdrawing from Southern University, Brown moved to Washington, D.C., to join his brother in the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG). NAG was a campus affiliate of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC]. Most of its members, including future SNCC chairman Stokely Carmichael, attended Howard University. Due to his natural ability to organize both college students and community members, he rose through the ranks to become NAG chairman in 1965.*

In March of that year, he joined a delegation of civil rights leaders for a White House summit with President Lyndon B. Johnson. During the course of the meeting, Johnson complained about hours-long demonstrations that had prevented his daughters from getting any sleep the previous night. Rap Brown responded by acknowledging the one night his daughters were disturbed: but that “Black people in the south had been unable to sleep in peace and security for a hundred years!” He asked what Johnson planned to do about that? 

Besides Andrew Young, he is, perhaps, the eldest survivor of all the major figures who were at the helm of the ‘Civil Rights’ and ‘Revolutionary’ struggles of the 1960’s era. He,  along with Kwame Ture [Stokely Carmichael], were advisors to Dr. Martin Luther King and key organizers amongst the youth and college students who made-up large segments of the rank-and-file forces behind the ‘direct-action’ initiatives that were the core of the non-violent demonstrations that proved indispensable to the success of the ‘Civil-Rights Movement’.

In 1967, he became a target of the illegal FBI counterintelligence program dubbed COINTELPRO started by J. Edgar Hoover. In July of the same year, he gave an address at a Cambridge, Maryland rally organized by civil-rights icon, Gloria Richardson. Shortly after his speech, shots rang out and he was hit with buckshot. Later that night, a building was set on fire causing 2 city blocks and 20 buildings to burn down. Not surprisingly, the blame was put on him. Consequently, the U. S. congress passed the ‘Civil Obedience Act of 1968’ referred to as the ‘H. Rap Brown Law’. In 1968, he was given an honorary post as Minister of Justice of the Black Panther Party. In 1970, he was placed on the FBI’s ‘10 Most Wanted List’ for not appearing in court for the charges related to the arson and [rebellion] in the Cambridge incident. In 1971, he was arrested at the scene of a New York City bar and drug-den where he was involved in a ‘drug-eradication’ operation to shut it down. After going to trial and being found guilty on attempted robbery charges, he was sentenced to five years. While in prison he embraced Islam.

Throughout the 1980’s ,Imam Jamil worked to forge close ties with the leadership of various U. S. based Muslim organizations. In 1993, the process resulted in the formation of the ‘Islamic Shura Council of North America’. This brought together, for the first time, the major Islamic organizations in the country. After a few years, he was elected Amir [leader] of the council. So, after three decades of commitment, dedication and service to the cause of truth and justice,2 his selfless contribution and work towards the upliftment of the poor and oppressed culminated in his being placed in a position to spearhead the Islamic Movement in North America. During this same period, he was a key proponent in the treaties and truces established amongst the major street organizations in urban areas all across the country.

October 4th, was the 80th birthday of Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown. He is currently serving a life sentence for murder following the shooting of two Fulton County, GA. sheriff's deputies in 2000.

*excerpted from the Original article.

Recommended Reading

Die N****r Die! by Jamil Abdullah al-Amin/ H. Rap Brown

Revolution by the  Book: The Rap is Live. by H. Rap Brown

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