On the 3rd day of the Durban Review Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, I had the opportunity to sit down with the international ambassador of the New Black Panther Party, Hughie Rose. Based in the UK, he shared his thoughts about the conference, U.S. President Barack H. Obama and the struggle for liberation in the UK.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: We want to start with something that is on many people’s minds, the world witnessing Barack Obama moving into the presidency of the United States of America. I am told this had a significant impact in the United Kingdom among Black people as well. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Hughie Rose: Recently President Obama travelled to England for the G20 Summit they call it. Many in Europe have been impressed with his way to reach out to people both in Europe and the Diaspora. It was very welcomed when he came into the UK and the message that he left with the leaders within Europe. Unfortunately, the masses of the Black people who were supporting him throughout his president elect time were unfortunately unable to hear or see of him.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: So it was just the elite, highly placed and politicians that were able to see and talk to him?
Hughie Rose: Well I think he just saw the Prime Minister and The Queen and the rest of the G20 participants. But we were not in attendance there unfortunately this being the second time he has come to the UK and hasn’t spoken to Black people at all within the UK. But in any event we are still proud that he has been able to ascend descend to the highest office in the land.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: And your impression so far of the conference? What are your thoughts on the tendency of some to believe that conferences like this are just exercises in futility talking and talking and talking but really doing little?
Hughie Rose: This has been the track record for many organizations from the Diaspora when we happen to be dealing with our former slave masters. It becomes a talking shop and there is no substance at the outcome of the conference. The main crux of our plight was the call for reparations. They have decided to omit that from the final draft that was made yesterday. So I feel right now, those who have the blood on their hands and those who have been beneficiaries of the slave trade now see that if reparations is put within that draft it might mean that they have to now go in their coffers to compensate for those acts of evil done to Africans over the last 300-500 years.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: What are some of the issues that Black people are dealing with in the UK?
Hughie Rose: Our struggle in the UK is in no way different than your struggle in the USA. We still suffer from police brutality, police harassment, driving while Black.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: What has been your relationship with the Nation of Islam in the UK?
Hughie Rose: We have a good relationship with the Nation of Islam in the UK and we have done some joint things together in the past. We have cordial relationships and we will continue to do so as the struggle is going on and we have a struggle amongst our people against our common enemy.
Ashahed M. Muhammad: How did you get involved with the Black liberation struggle?
Hughie Rose: I had listened to a tape of Minister Farrakhan in the 80’s. It was a tape titled “Power” and I never knew who he was. The job I was working with, I was doing insurance. The insurance manager made it required listening for all the sales staff, this was in London! He told us that we needed to listen to this tape by Minister Farrakhan and we shared the tape around. I always said to myself, it would be nice for me to see this man one time. Then he was telling us that there was a ban on him and he was not permitted to enter the country. So I said if he can’t come here, I am going to try and get to him. So in 1989 I travelled to America and in 1990 I was able to go and listen in person to Minister Farrakhan and then I heard one of his fiery students, Dr. Khallid Abdul Muhammad and the rest is history. In 2003, I became the UK Chairman of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.