Black History Month: 7 Black American activists who stood up for Palestine

Adama Juldeh Munu
7 min readMar 16, 2024


To commemorate Black History Month in the United States, The New Arab looked at seven African American activists who used their voices to support Palestine.

“Black folks have always been about Palestine”. That was the response of travel writer Imani Bashir on X, in response to a tweet by @KaufmanDavidNYC last week that suggested that Black and African American activists’ concerns over the genocide in Gaza are a “fad”.

“Barely four years after George Floyd’s murder, many young Black activists have landed upon Gaza as their next social justice journey. But this deepening alignment — this ‘movement-mooching’ — reveals something far more dangerous,” the journalist David Kaufman tweeted.

“Black Liberation struggles have always intertwined with others relating to anti-colonialism, anti-apartheid, Indigenous rights, pan-Africanism, labour rights and environmental justice”

This could not be more incorrect. First and foremost, Black activists are still fighting for and speaking against police brutality, discrimination, mass incarceration, and cost-of-living crises in the United States and beyond — yes, even after four years since George Floyd was brutally murdered, sparking off mass Black Lives Matter protests.

Secondly, there is a rich history of Black liberation struggles intertwining with others, a concept known as ‘intersectionality’. Just as this video by The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture states, it is a term first coined 35 years ago by Kimberly Williams Crenshaw, a prominent figure in US civil rights and Critical Race Theory studies.

As the video explains, intersectionality suggests that different categories of identity can interact on multiple levels within systems of oppression and discrimination, whether that’s race, religion, gender or class.

It’s for this reason that Black Liberation struggles have always intertwined with others relating to anti-colonialism, anti-apartheid, Indigenous rights, pan-Africanism, labour rights and environmental justice. So here are examples of African American notables, past and present, who’ve done just that.

Angela Davis and the Black Panther Party (1966–1982)

The Black Panther Party was an African-American revolutionary party that was founded in 1966 in Oakland, California.

While its initial aim was to patrol neighbourhoods and protect Black residents from police brutality, it later developed into a Marxist and internationalist group that aligned itself with movements such as the anti-colonial struggle across Africa and the Middle East and the anti-Zionist movement.

Angela Davis has said that Palestine is a “moral litmus test for the world” [Getty Images]

One of its leaders, Huey Newton, wrote in an article On the Middle East: “We support the Palestinians’ just struggle for liberation one hundred percent. We will go on doing this, and we would like for all of the progressive people of the world to join our ranks to make a world in which all people can live.”

To date, former Black Panther Party member and Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Angela Davis continues to spearhead objections to the treatment of Palestinians.

James Baldwin (1924–1987)

James Baldwin was one of the United States’ most illustrious playwrights, authors and intellectuals of the 20th century. He is best known for works such as If Beale Street Could Talk and The Fire Next Time.

Like other public intellectuals such as W.E.B Dubois, he initially supported the Zionist project and around the time the state of Israel was established was strongly thinking of emigrating there to escape America’s Jim Crow system.

Like those of other Black activists, his affiliations with Jewish intellectuals can be understood with the strong affiliations some Black groups had with leftist, socialist and Communist organisations.

But this changed by the early 1970s, where like other Black groups and thinkers, he became largely critical of Western and American interests in the Middle East, and more specifically the Zionist movement. This happened at the height of the Black Power Movement which also speaks to the ideological transformations of the larger Black liberation movement.

In an article for the 1979 issue of The Nation, James Baldwin wrote: “Jews and Palestinians know of broken promises,” but that, “The state of Israel was not created for the salvation of the Jews; it was created for the salvation of the Western interests. This is what is becoming clear (I must say that it was always clear to me). The Palestinians have been paying for the British colonial policy of ‘divide and rule’ and for Europe’s guilty Christian conscience for more than thirty years.”

Malcolm X (1925–1965)

While Malcolm X is infamous for his civil rights activism during the 1950s and 1960s, he later developed a more global perspective on mass movements for liberation beyond the country, especially after he departed from the Nation of Islam group and after his pilgrimage to Makkah.


What did Malcolm X say about Palestine, Gaza and Zionism?


The New Arab Staff

Towards the end of his life, he not only became a stauncher advocate for pan-Africanism, but he also called out Israeli military aggression against Palestinians. This extract is taken from an article entitled Zionism Logic which appeared in the Egyptian Gazette:

If the Israeli Zionists believe their present occupation of Arab Palestine is the fulfillment of predictions made by their Jewish prophets, then they also religiously believe that Israel must fulfill its “divine” mission to rule all other nations with a rod of irons, which only means a different form of iron-like rule, more firmly entrenched even, than that of the former European Colonial Powers. These Israeli Zionists religiously believe their Jewish God has chosen them to replace the outdated European colonialism with a new form of colonialism….”

Audre Lorde (1934–1992)

Audre Lorde was a gay Caribbean-American writer, feminist, and civil rights activist who on various occasions demonstrated support for the Palestinian cause and criticised Israeli actions in the occupied territories.

Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist Audre Lorde [Getty Images]

This was borne from her emphasis on the importance of intersectional solidarity in the fight against the oppression of minority groups. Perhaps one of her most poignant speeches, in her commencement address at Oberlin College in 1989, she said: “We are citizens of the most powerful country on Earth — we are also citizens of a country that stands upon the wrong side of every liberation struggle on Earth. Feel what that means.”

Lorde goes on to say: “Our federal taxes contribute $3 billion yearly in military and economic aid to Israel. Over $200 million of that money is spent fighting the uprising of Palestinian people who are trying to end the military occupation of their homeland. Israeli soldiers fire tear gas canisters made in America into Palestinian homes and hospitals, killing babies, the sick, and the elderly.”

Toni Morrison (1934–2018)

Lorde was not alone in this crossover. Black women writers have and are continuing to uphold that intersectionality.

This includes 1993 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, Toni Morrison, who along with over a dozen signed an open letter entitled A Letter from 18 Writers in August 2006 in The Nation to call against what they described as Israel’s aim in liquidating the Palestinian state.

Much of her work looked at portraying characters and narratives that descended what she called ‘the white gaze’ — which can be defined as the assumption that the typical reader or observer is coming from the perspective of someone who identifies as white. This means that people of colour may feel the need to take into account the white reader or observer’s potential reaction.

As Stan Grant writes for the Guardian, Du Bois explored this theme in The Souls of Black Folk: “Reflecting on his conversations with white people and the ensuing delicate dance around the ‘Negro Problem’. With the litany of criticisms meted out against Western media outlets, which have been accused of pushing or omitting narratives that are tantamount to overstating white supremacist norms. Therefore, western media has become a moniker or symbol of the ‘white gaze’.”

Marc Lamont Hill (1978-)

Marc Lamont Hill has been described by Ebony Magazine as one of America’s 100 most influential Black leaders and is one of the most important Black American voices.

He’s a cultural anthropologist and author, whose criticisms of Israel most popularly came to light after he was fired from his position as a pundit by CNN for making what the news outlet described as controversial comments during the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in 2018.

In his remarks, Hill said: “We must advocate and promote non-violence,” but added, “We cannot endorse a narrow politics of respectability that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in the face of state violence and ethnic cleansing.”

Marc Lamont Hill is currently a presenter on Al Jazeera’s discussion show UpFront and regularly posts discussions on his YouTube channel on race, class and conflicts in the Middle East.

Last month, Hill criticised leaders of South Carolina’s Great Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for allowing US President Joe Biden to make a campaign speech calling it a ‘shield for genocide.’

Amanda Seales (1981-)

Amanda Seales is an African American Grenadian comedian and actress known for her roles in HBO’s Insecure and Freedomland. She was also a host for the Emmy-award-winning women’s lifestyle show, The Real.

She has been an advocate for the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements and has used her Instagram platform to post videos and photos relating to the onslaught on Gaza.

In this interview with Al Jazeera, Amanda said that she uses art as activism and has, as a result, lost her agent and close connections. She criticises A-listers in Hollywood for not using their platforms and influence to speak out against the genocide.

In October, on Tiktok, she lamented how ‘widely opportunistic… someone has to be to access information and choose not to prevent themselves to feel the truth, to fight it and say it. And I am bothered because that’s what so many of you are doing… because it undermines the lie you’ve been telling yourself.”

Adama Juldeh Munu is an award-winning journalist who’s worked with TRT World, Al-Jazeera, the Huffington Post, Middle East Eye and Black Ballad. She writes about race, Black heritage and issues connecting Islam and the African diaspora

Follow her on Twitter: @adamajmunu



Adama Juldeh Munu

Journalist with an affinity for all things ‘African Diaspora’ and Islam. You can @ me via or twitter/@adamajmunu