Green VP pick powerhouse of human rights and racial justice
By Dr. Jill Stein
In looking for a vice-presidential running mate, I sought a candidate who embodies the principles of equity and social justice underpinning our campaign, and who could inspire the millions of disaffected voters hungering for an alternative. In Ajamu Baraka, I found that candidate. Ajamu brings to the table an unwavering commitment to human rights and the interests of the dispossessed and disenfranchised that has been the hallmark of a career spanning more than 40 years of advocacy and activism.
From his roots with the Voter Education Project and the Black Liberation movement in the 1960s and ‘70s and continuing with his groundbreaking work against the death penalty with Amnesty International and as founding director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, Ajamu has fought for social justice while challenging the stranglehold on power that economic and political elites have enjoyed for decades at the expense of the majority. That belief has been honed to a fine edge by experience, and the breadth of Ajamu’s experience at both the executive and grassroots levels. This makes him uniquely qualified to represent those who feel unrepresented in the political process. Among his qualifications: He has served on the boards of national and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (USA), the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Center for Human Rights Education, and the National Coalition for the Abolishment of the Death Penalty.
No stranger to public policy issues, he is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C, and a regular contributor to media outlets such as CNN, the BBC, the Tavis Smiley Show, ABC’s World News Tonight, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Telemundo. In all of this, he eloquently challenges the triple threat to justice identified by Martin Luther King — racism, militarism and extreme materialism – in its many forms, domestic and international.
His candid, unflinching perspectives on American exceptionalism, warmongering, and sanctioned violence against communities in the U.S. have engaged and furthered the debate worldwide. His dedication, core values and vision for a better world have never been compromised by political expediency or a perceived need to soft pedal his frontline perspective for professional or personal gain. Those values include the baseline truth, made painfully obvious in recent years, that change cannot and will not come from the top and trickle down to the masses, but must instead originate with the people and in the communities most affected by the institutional and de facto barriers that obstruct their constitutionally guaranteed rights. As Ajamu says, “I have always worked to build autonomous political power among those most in need of change, because history clearly shows that it is only through their own agency that they can ensure their interests will be protected and advanced.”
Ajamu’s big-picture understanding will expand our effort to support and unify the many perspectives that have traditionally divided dissidents into separate camps despite their common foe – with an agenda that includes economic, social, environmental, racial, gender, indigenous and immigrant justice. “Injustice in any one arena bleeds into every other, ” he says. “You can’t fix the environment without addressing racial inequities or economic oppression. We must join forces and see that our particular interests dovetail with those of our neighbors even if the specifics may seem superficially unrelated.” Ajamu’s life’s work has embodied the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I can think of no better choice to join me in this hour of unprecedented crisis, and I am therefore honored and excited that my running mate in the 2016 presidential election will be Ajamu Baraka: activist, writer, intellectual and organizer with a powerful voice, vision, and lifelong commitment to building the political revolution whose time has come.
Dr. Jill Stein is expected to be formally nominated as the Presidential candidate of the Green Party at their national convention in Houston on Saturday, August 6th.
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