Insurrectionary Uprisings: A Reader in Revolutionary Nonviolence and Decolonization

Insurrectionary Uprisings is a compendium of essays that explore what it will take to win a world based on love and justice. From historical writing, including Thoreau, Gandhi and Arendt, to essays that address the multiple crises we face in the 21st century, the volume brings together authors and thinkers from around the globe. With an emphasis on the quotidian violence of racial monopoly capitalism and Western imperialism, Insurrectionary Uprisings insists that the possibility of revolutionary nonviolence rests, in part, on decolonization and decoloniality and a thorough analysis of the deep and violent roots of racial capitalism, settler colonialism and heteropatriarchy. Fannie Lou Hamer’s testimony at the 1964 Democratic Convention underscores the inherent violence that saturates life in the U.S., while Cabral’s “Message to the People of Portugal” challenges the working class of imperial Portugal to recognize their kinship and to form alliances with the people of Guinea-Bissau. The very different strands of activist thinkers who comprise the book centre it on the experience of the global majority.

Editor Wende Marshall reading Insurrectionary Uprisings
Editor Wende Marshall reading Insurrectionary Uprisings!
ISBN Print: 978-1-988832-99-9
ISBN eBook: 978-1-990263-00-2
Publication Date: March 2022
Page Count: 461
Binding Type: Soft Cover
Trim Size: 6in x 9in
Language: English
Colour: B&W


Wende Marshall has been an activist in southern African liberation support work and anti-apartheid organizing, was a tenant organizer in Harlem NYC, a volunteer and board member of the first needle exchange program in Philadelphia, an ethnographer of the decolonization…

    These essays analyze structures of power and violence in the context of half a millennium of bloody Euro-American expansion and imperial rule. While history and empirical evidence have often shown that violence can have short-term efficacy in struggles for liberation, it is not a viable route to a society of solidarity, reciprocity, and cooperation. Violence is the preeminent tool of the master class. The ‘master’s tools,’ Audre Lorde warned, would ‘never dismantle the master’s house.’ Although they might, she argued, ‘temporarily allow us to beat him at his own game,’ they would not lead us to the deep global transformation we must achieve to honor the sanctity of all life on earth.

    These prophetic words define the theme of Insurrectionary Uprisings. In choosing the contents of this volume, we asked ourselves how to best embody the concept of Sankofa, an Akan, Twi, and Fante concept that to move forward one must retrieve wisdom and lessons from the past. We feel that we cannot create a world based on solidarity, collectivity, justice, and liberation without remembering the ethical and material basis of the social worlds that were destroyed by the expansion of Euro/America and the white supremacist, capitalist heteropatriarchy whose inevitable implosion threatens the entire globe.

    Historical and new writings

    This is a collection of both historical and new writings on the nexus of strategic unarmed resistance, radical ideologies, and the long struggles to build movements for justice and liberation. Beginning with the work of Gandhi, Arendt and Thoreau, the volume grounds the theories which undergird nonviolent resistance to capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy and heteropatriarchy.

    The volume includes two sections exploring nonviolence in the long Black freedom struggle in the United States. From Ella Baker to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer, from Vincent Harding and Grace Lee Boggs to Colin Kaepernick, the two sections on the Black liberation movement highlight the theory of nonviolence in direct and indirect ways and foreground the relevance of these historic texts for the present moment of political uprisings.

    Black strategies for survival and power are analyzed in terms of the ongoing US economic and epidemiological crises as well as the global climate crisis and ecological collapse. A section on revolutionary nonviolence in Africa presents a previously unpublished piece on the role of armed struggle by Frantz Fanon, as well as essays by Amilcar Cabral, Barbara Deming, Graca Machel, Kenneth Kaunda, and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge. This section contextualizes the continent’s anti-colonial struggles with practical thinking about military and unarmed tactics which those movements faced over the course of a half century.

    Nonviolence and feminist struggle

    The section on nonviolence and feminist struggle highlights the work of Grace Paley, Audre Lorde, and Arundhati Roy, along with a little-read piece by Johnnie Tilmon, a leader of the 1960s welfare rights movement. The section on resistance against empire tilts toward Latin American scholars/activists with essays by Maria Lugones, Anibla Quijano and Berta Caceres. This section includes pieces that draw from current debates about the role of state power in building towards radical change and the push to build holistic perspectives on what liberation means for all peoples. The final section on social change in the 21st Century reflects on specific aspects of organizing which are facing campaigns and movements of today and tomorrow. Our goal is to provide challenges and insights for building effectively against all forms of oppression.

    Though primarily compiling key texts not often seen or contextualized together, the book also provides new strategic commentaries from leaders including Ela Gandhi, Ruby Sales, ecofeminist Ynestra King, Africa World Press’ Kassahun Checole, and Palestinian Quaker Joyce Ajlouney, Hakim Williams, and Mireille Fanon Mèndes-France. With a mix of past and current commentaries, from both academic and activist points of view, we uncover fault lines that have prevented mass, global movements from solidifying over the last fifty years. Through this narrative, the book ends with visions of how best to use all that we know to bring about deeply rooted transformations in ways that will lift up and not traumatize people as they move toward liberation.


    Joyce Ajlouny

    Preface: Outrage is Not Enough!

    Matt Meyer and Wende Marshall

    Introduction: Insurrections, Uprisings, and a Sankofa Look at the Strategies We Need

    Wende Marshall and Matt Meyer

    Gandhi and Revolutionary Nonviolence

    Ela Gandhi

    On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

    Henry David Thoreau

    Reflections on Violence

    Hannah Arendt

    On Satyagraha

    Mohandas K. Gandhi

    Gandhiji’s Communism


    Taking Gandhi with a Pinch of Salt

    Milan Rai

    When the Saints Go Marching Out: The Strange Fate of Martin, Mohandas, and Mandela

    Arundhati Roy

    Reclaiming Nonviolence from Gandhian Puritanism


    And So it is Now

    Ruby Sales

    Beyond Vietnam

    Martin Luther King, Jr

    Martin and Malcolm on Nonviolence and Violence

    James Cone

    So Much History, So Much Future: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Second Coming of America

    Vincent Harding

    Bigger Than a Hamburger

    Ella Baker

    The Beloved Community of Martin Luther King

    Grace Lee Boggs

    Testimony Before the Credentials Committee, Democratic National Convention

    Fannie Lou Hamer

    The Need for Radical Mutations

    Mireille Fanon Mendès-France

    Refusing to Choose Between Martin and Malcolm: Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, and a New Nonviolent Revolution

    David Ragland; Matt Meyer; and Natalie Jeffers

    Position Paper: The Basis of Black Power

    Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

    Truly Human: Spiritual Paths in the Struggle Against Racism, Militarism, and Materialism

    Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons

    Are Pacifists Willing to Be Negroes? A Dialogue on Fighting Racism and Militarism, Using Nonviolence and Armed Struggle

    Dave Dellinger; Robert Franklin Williams; Martin Luther King, Jr; and Dorothy Day

    Bayard Rustin: A Unique, Clandestine and Enduring Queer Leader of the Civil Rights Movement

    Mel Paisley

    Violence, Nonviolence and the Civil Rights Movement

    Sally Bermanzohn

    We Will Create Our Freedom: The Importance of the Movement for Black Lives Platform

    Aislinn Pulley

    Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award Speech

    Colin Kaepernick

    Rage, Humiliation, Testosterone, Youth and the Politics of Liberation

    Russell Maroon Shoatz and Steve Bloom

    Revolutions and their Outcomes

    Kassahun Checole

    The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children

    Graça Machel

    Why We Use Violence

    Frantz Fanon

    On Revolution and Equilibrium

    Barbara Deming

    Message to the People of Portugal

    Amilcar Cabral

    The Future of Revolution, Nonviolence, and Armed Struggle in Africa

    Bill Sutherland and Matt Meyer

    Ubuntu and the World Today

    Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge

    The Riddle of Violence

    Kenneth Kaunda

    Ecofeminism and Nonviolence

    Ynestra King


    Leora Skolkin-Smith

    Unity Statement of Women’s Pentagon Action

    Women’s Pentagon Action

    Come September

    Arundhati Roy

    Uses of Anger

    Audre Lorde

    On Anger

    Barbara Deming

    Welfare is a Woman’s Issue

    Johnnie Tillmon

    How Anti-Violence Activism Taught Me to Be a Prison Abolitionist

    Beth E. Richie

    The Wounds of Afrin, the Promise of Rojava: An Interview with Nazan Üstündağ

    An Interview

    Trans Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come

    Leslie Feinberg

    We Are Out of Time

    Wende Marshall

    Goldman Prize Acceptance Speech

    Berta Cáceres

    Notes from a Native Daughter

    Haunani-Kay Trask

    Tasting Earth: Healing, Resistance Knowledge, and the Challenge to Dominion

    Wende Marshall

    Toward a Decolonial Feminism

    Maria Lugones

    Coloniality of Power

    Aníbal Quijano

    Queer Indigenous Manifesto

    Aimee Carillo Rowe

    Correspondence with Dorothy Day

    Lolita Lebron

    Possibilities of Insurrectionary Nonviolence

    Matt Meyer

    A Call to Action: Towards a General Strike to End the COVID-19 Crisis and Create a New World

    Cooperation Jackson

    A Deeper Understanding of What We’re Trying to Accomplish: A People’s Strike Dialogue

    Kali Akuno; Rose Brewer; Saki Hall; Wende Marshall; and Matt Meyer

    A Cascade of Angers… Along the Road to Hope

    John Holloway

    A Mountain in a High Sea

    Subcommander Moisés

    The Empire of All Maladies: Colonial Contagions and Indigenous Resistance

    Nick Estes

    Building from the Rubble: Palestinian Resistance and the Road to Liberation

    Mark Muhannad Ayyash

    To be Black, to Simply Live: The Burden of Revolutionary Nonviolence

    Wende Marshall


    Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams

    Contributor Biographies

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