The Black Agenda


Foreword by Margaret Kimberley

“A talented and brilliant writer, gifted with an acerbic sense of humor and uncompromising in his integrity and courage, he will be very hard to replace.” —Chris Hedges

“Glen Ford was the most brilliant, courageous and consistent writer and journalist in the Black radical and independent tradition, of his generation—from the Sixties until now.” —Cornel West

“Glen Ford was the consummate journalist, a man who demanded rigorous analysis of himself and others, and who lived by the dictum of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.”
—Margaret Kimberley, co-founder, Black Agenda Report

“Scorching… Marked by Ford's visceral disdain for the powers that be, these provocations raise hard-to-dismiss questions about the lack of true racial progress in America.” —Publishers Weekly

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About the Book

Black politics are key to recognizing the most important social dynamics of the United States. Over the past forty years, no commentator has been as deeply insightful about the paradoxes and personalities of Black American public life as the journalist and radio host Glen Ford.

In this stunning overview, Ford draws from his work for Black Agenda Report, one of the most incisive and perceptive publications of the progressive left, to examine competing struggles for class power and identity in the Black movement. In a survey stretching from the violent gentrification of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, through the engineered bankruptcy of Detroit, to the “more effective evil” of the Obama presidency, Ford casts a caustic eye on the empty posturing and corruption of the Democratic Party. This, he insists, depends on a Black constituency for electoral success, while using a co-opted “Black misleadership class” to sell out working people’s interests.

Profiling along the way storied Black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Brown (for whom Ford once worked), The Black Agenda looks, too, beyond American shores, at US intervention in Libya, the Congo and the Middle East, showing how these are imbricated with racism at home. Ford concludes with a discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement, setting out both its pitfalls and potentialities.

344 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-68219-317-4 • E-book ISBN 978-1-68219-318-1

About the Author

glen ford author photo

Glen Ford, who died in July 2021, was executive director of Black Agenda Report and was previously co-founder of He had extensive experience in radio and television, where he launched influential programming such as America’s Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television, and Rap It Up. Ford was national political columnist for Encore American & Worldwide News magazine and the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.

Read an Excerpt

The Black Radical Tradition is real and enduring, but it is not expressed through participation in the Democratic Party. Rather, entrapment in the Democratic Party enclosure (within the larger Rich Man’s duopoly) grotesquely warps Black political behavior. This distortion profoundly diminishes the prospects for progressive electoral activity in the United States. More directly, the Black electoral imperative to seek protection from the Republican/White Man’s Party reduces African Americans to an appendage of the Democratic Party apparatus and, thus, of the capitalists that fund and control the Party. It subverts the essentially progressive nature of the Black polity, objectively enfeebling Black America, even as rich white Democrats pander to Black voters as the ‘soul’ of the party.

It is true that the Democrats would collapse were it not for the Black core of the party. It is also probable that that would be a good thing. What is certain is that the Democratic Party oozes out of every orifice of Black civic society like a stinking pus, sapping the self-determinist vitality of the people and transforming every Black social structure and project into a Democratic Party asset.

Black people—massed, organized, and fearless—shook this nation to its bones in the 1960s, before the Democratic Party achieved political hegemony in Black America, when there were less than two handfuls of Black congressional representatives and only some hundreds of Black Democratic officeholders to hold us back. Today, Democratic operatives attempt to smother the incipient Black grassroots movement in their lethal embrace—and some elements of that movement have eagerly hugged them back. The task of Black activists and their allies is to ensure that our first and last hope—movement politics—once again becomes central to the struggle, so that we can, as Dr. Cornel West puts it, “break the back of fear.” This will require the most intense internal struggle among Black Americans to break the chains that bind us to that vector of fear, the Democratic Party.

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