Organizing for Survival: From the Civil Rights Movement to Black Anarchism through the Life of Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin in ACME

A paper entitled  “Organizing for Survival: From the Civil Rights Movement to Black Anarchism through the Life of Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin” I wrote with Jason Rhodes was just published in ACME.  It resulted from a session at the Vegas AAG that was organized by Nathan Clough and Renata Blumberg and in a special issue on Anarchist and Autonomous Marxist Geographies the two of them have guest edited.   Beyond an introduction by Nathan and Renata, other authors include Nicholas Jon Crane, Farhang Rouhani, Pierpaolo Mudu, Counter Cartographies Collective, Craig Dalton, and Liz Mason-Deese, Brian Marks, Cathryn Jesefina Merla-Watson, Mark Purcell and Richard Day.  It is also the issue with Tom Slater’s moving tribute to Neil Smith entitled “Rose Street and Revolution”


This paper considers the influence of civil rights era community organizing
on the formation of Black Anarchism, and the combination of the two for helping
imagine a more open trajectory for anti-authoritarian politics. We will argue that
while Black Anarchism is still perhaps more of a notion, than a movement, it is still
an important lens through which to consider radical politics in the US, given its
racist and patriarchal history. We will explore this through the thought, radical
organizing, and life of Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin. Ervin’s seminal written
contributions to the development of Black Anarchism, coupled with his influential
organizing experiences with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the
Black Panther Party, Anarchist People of Color and Black Autonomy Network of
Community Organizers situates him as an organic black intellectual with powerful
insights to share. One of Ervin’s greatest contributions has been demonstrating the
potential of anarchist praxis to both transform and link revolutionary conceptions
of social transformation with people’s everyday struggles for survival.