Ajamu Baraka

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Ajamu Baraka
Ajamu Baraka at Oct 2016 Berkeley rally for Jill Stein - 4 (cropped).jpg
Personal details
Born (1953-10-25) October 25, 1953 (age 65)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Green
Education City College of New York
University of South Florida (BA)
Clark Atlanta University (MA, PhD)
Website Official website
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Army (official specifications).svg  United States Army
Battles/wars Vietnam War [1]

Ajamu Sibeko Baraka ( /əˈʒɑːmbəˈrɑːkə/ ə-ZHAH-moo bə-RAH-kə; born October 25, 1953) [2] is an American political activist and former Green Party nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 2016 election.

Green Party of the United States Political party in the United States

The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) is a green federation of political parties in the United States. The party promotes green politics, specifically environmentalism; nonviolence; social justice; participatory, grassroots democracy; gender equality; LGBT rights; anti-war and anti-racism. On the political spectrum, the party is generally seen as left-wing.

Vice President of the United States Second highest executive office in United States

The vice president of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as President of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president presides over Senate deliberations, but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote. The vice president also presides over joint sessions of Congress.

Contents

Early life

Baraka was born in 1953 and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. [3] He served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War. Upon discharge, he moved to the southern United States, where he became involved in anti-segregation activism. [4]

South Side, Chicago Area of City of Chicago, Illinois, USA

The South Side is an area of the city of Chicago. It is the largest of the three Sides of the city that radiate from downtown—the others being the North Side and the West Side. The South Side is sometimes referred to as South Chicago, although that name can also refer to a specific community area on the South Side.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States.

Vietnam War 1955–1975 conflict in Vietnam

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.

Baraka received his BA in international studies and political science from the University of South Florida, Tampa in 1982 and his MA and PhD in political science from Clark Atlanta University in 1987. [5] Baraka has said the work of W. E. B. Du Bois was important in the formation of his black internationalist worldview, and he attended Clark Atlanta, where Du Bois had taught. Baraka became involved in the Central America solidarity movement, organizing delegations to Nicaragua in support of the Nicaraguan Revolution. He then became an Amnesty International volunteer, eventually moving up to the board of the organization. [4]

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

University of South Florida public university in Tampa, Florida, United States

The University of South Florida (USF) is a public research university in Tampa, Florida. It is a member institution of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1956, USF is the fourth-largest public university in the state of Florida, with an enrollment of 50,755 as of the 2018–2019 academic year. The USF system has three institutions: USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Each institution is separately accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The university is home to 14 colleges, offering more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 130 graduate, specialist, and doctoral-level degree programs.

A Master of Arts is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.

Career

From 2004 to 2011, Baraka served as the founding executive director of the US Human Rights Network, a national network that grew to over 300 U.S.-based organizations and 1500 individual members. He is currently an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. [6]

US Human Rights Network other organization in Atlanta, United States

The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) is a national network composed of over 200 self-identified grassroots human rights organizations and over 700 individuals working to strengthen what they regard as the protection of human rights in the United States. The organization seeks "to challenge the pernicious belief that the United States is inherently superior to other countries of the world, and that neither the U.S. government nor the U.S. rights movements have anything to gain from the domestic application of human rights." Members include organizers, lawyers, policy groups, educators, researchers, and scholars. The US Human Rights Network is currently headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Institute for Policy Studies organization

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) is an American progressive think tank that was started in 1963 and is presently based in Washington, D.C. It has been directed by John Cavanagh since 1998. The organization focuses on U.S. foreign policy, domestic policy, human rights, international economics, and national security.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Baraka has served on the boards of several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Africa Action. [7]

Amnesty International London-based international human rights organization

Amnesty International is a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights. The organization says it has more than seven million members and supporters around the world.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a progressive non-profit legal advocacy organization based in New York City, New York, in the United States. It was founded in 1966 by Arthur Kinoy, William Kunstler and others particularly to support activists in implementation of civil rights legislation and achieve social justice.

Africa Action is a nonprofit organization that is based in Washington, D.C., working to change U.S.–Africa relations to promote political, economic and social justice in nations of Africa. They provide accessible information and analysis, and mobilize popular support for campaigns to achieve this mission.

Activism

Baraka (left) with other recipients of the Vicki Sexual Freedom Award, 2011 2011 Vicki Sexual Freedom Award recipients.jpg
Baraka (left) with other recipients of the Vicki Sexual Freedom Award, 2011

In 2008, Baraka worked with the US Human Rights Network and over 400 organizations to develop a CERD Shadow Report, which concerned US compliance with the terms of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. They felt the US government's reports did not adequately address racial profiling, displacement from Hurricane Katrina, and land rights for the Western Shoshone, among other issues. A large delegation presented their findings. [8]

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention. A third-generation human rights instrument, the Convention commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. The Convention also requires its parties to outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations.

Racial profiling is the act of suspecting or targeting a person of a certain race on the basis of observed or assumed characteristics or behavior of a racial or ethnic group, rather than on individual suspicion. Racial profiling, however, isn't limited only to an individual's race, but can also be based on the individual's ethnicity, religion, or national origin. More commonly in the United States, racial profiling is referred to regarding its use by law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels, and its use leading to discrimination against people in the African American, Native American, Asian, Latino, Arab, and Muslim communities of the U.S. In European countries, the term "ethnic profiling" is also used instead of racial profiling.

The Western Shoshone comprise several Shoshone tribes that are indigenous to the Great Basin and have lands identified in the Treaty of Ruby Valley 1863. They resided in Idaho, Nevada, California, and Utah. The tribes are very closely related culturally to the Paiute, Goshute, Bannock, Ute, and Timbisha tribes.

In September 2016, a Morton County, North Dakota judge issued an arrest warrant against Baraka and Jill Stein, after the two were charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing and criminal mischief in connection with their protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. [9] [10] [11] Baraka had spray-painted the word "decolonization" on a bulldozer during the protest. [9] In an interview shortly afterward, Baraka said that he and Stein were "in discussions with our legal team about how we're going to deal with this" and described his action as an act of resistance against "corporate America and the colonial state." [12]

Views and writings

Writings by Baraka have appeared in Black Agenda Report, Common Dreams , Dissident Voice, Pambazuka News , CounterPunch , and other media outlets. [13] Christopher Hooks wrote in Politico Magazine that Baraka "has a long history of fringe statements and beliefs." [14]

Foreign policy

Ajamu Baraka Ajamu-Baraka.jpg
Ajamu Baraka

Israel

Baraka has been a vehement critic of Israel. In October 2014, Baraka traveled to the Palestinian territories as part of an 18-member "African Heritage delegation" organized by the Interfaith Peace-Builders group. The delegation issued six "findings and demands" and urged the Congressional Black Caucus to place pressure on Israel. [15] The group specifically called the expansion of Israeli settlements "ethnic cleansing and 21st century colonialism"; called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel; accused Israel of apartheid; and praised the "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" movement as "an essential tool in the struggle for Palestinian liberation." [16]

After making the visit, Baraka wrote that "a negotiated, relatively 'peaceful' resolution of the conflict is impossible" because "the Israeli state has no interest in a negotiated settlement with Palestinians." [17] He accused Israel of carrying out what he termed a "brutal occupation and illegal theft of Palestinian land," adding:

During my activist life I have traveled to many of the countries that Western colonial/capitalist leaders characterized as despotic totalitarian states – the old Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba before 1989 – but in none of those states did I witness the systematic mechanism of population control and scientific repression that I witness in "democratic" Israel. The security walls, towers, checkpoints, and armed settlers created an aura of insecurity and impending assault on one's dignity at any time. I left that space wondering how anyone with a modicum of humanity and any sense of morality could reconcile living in that environment from the spoils of Palestinian dispossession and degradation and how any nation could support the Israeli political project. [17]

Baraka also questioned news stories about the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, which Israel blamed on Hamas members and which led to Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip against Hamas. One month after the kidnappings, which he called a "false flag operation," Baraka indicated in an interview his belief that "the kids were supposed to be kidnapped but they weren't supposed to be murdered. That was an accident. But nevertheless it gave Israel the pretext that they were setting up for, and that was the opportunity to basically attack Hamas in order to destroy the unity government." [18] Two suspects, both members of Hamas, were killed in a shootout with Israeli forces in September 2014, while a third Hamas member was convicted of the murders in January 2015. [19] [20]

In March 2015, Baraka condemned Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments on the day of the 2015 Israeli elections. Netanyahu had warned supporters in a video posted to his Facebook page that his government was in danger because "Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls." [21] Baraka called Netanyahu's words a "racist rant" that exposed "the brutal and immoral reality of the Israeli colonial project" and the "illusion" of a two-state solution. [22]

Syria and Iraq

Speaking in 2014 on U.S. involvement in Iraq, Baraka characterized U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East over the previous 20 years as "disastrous" and said that "what has occurred in Iraq was predictable." [23]

In a 2014 interview, Baraka stated his belief that the U.S. had a part in creating the "boogeyman" of ISIS "to basically garner significant public support for an argument that says that this monster, these evil forces—that, by the way, we helped to create—we are the only ones that can go in and slay this monster." [24] Baraka has also asserted that the atrocities of the Syrian Civil War are being "fomented by a demented and dying U.S. empire, with the assistance of the royalist monarchies of the Middle East and the gangster states of NATO." [25] In an interview, he has suggested that control of natural resources, such as the proposed Qatar-Turkey and Iran-Iraq-Syria natural gas pipelines, is one of the underlying reasons for U.S. and Turkish interests in the region:

These are not just geopolitical fights based on principle, but these fights are based on real material realities, real material advantages. So you look at the routes of these various pipelines that are being proposed and actually built to bring natural gas from Central Asia to the European markets. Turkey felt that it was in their interest to make sure that they can influence the best deal possible that will allow them to be positioned to take full advantage of these pipelines. That's one of the reasons many people argue that Syria had to go: that when there were proposals to run these natural gas pipelines from Iran through Iraq and through Syria, that it was a direct threat to some of the ambitions that Erdogan has for Turkey. [26]

Baraka has rejected the U.S. position that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the 2014 Syrian presidential election are illegitimate. In an article, he wrote that the idea of Assad's illegitimacy had been "carefully cultivated by Western state propagandists and dutifully disseminated by their auxiliaries in the corporate media." [25] He further argued that the election was proof that Syrians have "not surrendered their national sovereignty to the geostrategic interests of the U.S. and its colonial allies in Europe and Israel," and accused the U.S. of hypocrisy for supporting elections in Ukraine but not Syria. [25] United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Syria's holding of an election during an ongoing civil war for undermining a political solution to the conflict, [27] and the lack of independent election monitoring was widely reported. [28]

Ukraine

Baraka characterized the 2014 overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych as a "U.S.-supported coup" that contained "racist neo-Nazi elements." [29] After the 2014 Odessa clashes, which resulted in the deaths of 42 pro-Russian and six pro-Ukrainian protestors, Baraka wrote that he was "outraged by the murder of people defending their rights to self-determination at the hands of U.S.-supported thugs in Odessa." [30] He has also suggested that the victory of Petro Poroshenko in the 2014 Ukrainian presidential election was illegitimate, questioning "what makes the election in Ukraine legitimate when half of the country boycotts the vote and the national army violently attacks its own citizens in Eastern Ukraine who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the coup-makers in Kiev". [25]

Two days after the event, Baraka expressed his suspicions that the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine was a "false flag" operation, saying: "Someone wrote about three weeks ago that we should expect a major false flag operation in eastern Ukraine that's going to be then blamed on the Russians. And that's exactly what has happened. They're trying to say in the Western press that the Ukrainian government does not have access to that kind of weaponry, when it's clear that they do." [31] [32] He criticized Western media coverage of the event for "undermining anything coming from Russia Today. That's where you see the story being advanced that there is a possibility that this story is a little more complicated than people realize." [33] Baraka also claimed that observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe were "sent in basically as spies who showed up on the scene to quote-unquote 'monitor'." [34]

Nigeria

Baraka has criticized calls for Western military action against the jihadist rebel group Boko Haram, arguing that "a purely military response will only exacerbate an insurgency whose roots lie in the complex socio-historical conditions and internal contradictions of Northeast Nigeria." [35] In May 2014, a month after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from the northern Nigerian town of Chibok, he expressed skepticism about the official version of events and the number of victims, saying that "even if there was a kidnapping, there's some people who are suggesting that the numbers are in fact inflated." [36] Baraka also stated that while he was "outraged" by the kidnapping, he was also suspicious of U.S. humanitarian concerns in the region: "U.S. policymakers don't give a damn about the schoolgirls in Nigeria because their real objective is to use the threat of Boko Haram in the northern part of the country to justify the real goal of occupying the oil fields in the south and to block the Chinese in Nigeria." [30]

Terrorism

Views on Je suis Charlie movement

In a January 2015 essay, Baraka described the Republican march in Paris in reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shooting as a "white power march," and the Je suis Charlie movement in general as an "arrogant rallying cry for white supremacy". [37] Baraka condemned what he perceived as the disproportionate interest in the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and the relative lack of interest in the Baga massacre in Nigeria by Boko Haram, which took place days before the Charlie Hebdo shooting and resulted in many more deaths. Baraka also criticized the "degrading ritual" of assimilation that Arabs and Muslims undergo in France, the "arrogant lack of respect for the ideas and culture of non-European peoples" that led to the French ban on face covering in public spaces, and the "racist" and "Islamophobic" character of Charlie Hebdo's recent publications. [37]

Baraka's "Je suis Charlie" article was republished in January 2016 in an anthology about the November 2015 Paris attacks. The book, titled ANOTHER French False Flag? Bloody Tracks from Paris to San Bernardino, was edited by Kevin Barrett, who called himself a Holocaust denier on 1 April 2011 [38] and who is called a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. [24] Yair Rosenberg of Tablet described the work as a "veritable who's who of bigots and conspiracy theorists." [39] O'Connor reported Baraka's reply to the accusations of associating with holocaust deniers: "There has never been any question in [my] mind about the genocidal madness of the Nazi Holocaust throughout Europe during the second world war. I abhor and reject any individual or group that fails to understand the tremendous suffering of Jewish people during that dark period." [24]

Charleston massacre

In an article titled "No 'Je Suis Charleston'?" Baraka contended that a collective response similar to "Je suis Charlie" was absent after the Charleston church shooting at the Emanuel AME Church, and criticized Obama for not calling suspect Dylann Roof a terrorist. [40] As a longtime opponent of the death penalty, Baraka has also criticized the Department of Justice's decision to seek the death penalty for Roof, saying that it "should be seen as no more than another tactical move by the state as part of the last phase of the counterinsurgency launched against the black liberation movement. ... By appealing to African Americans, the group in the country most consistently opposed to the death penalty, state propagandists saw this as a perfect opportunity to undermine opposition to capital punishment and facilitate the process of psychological incorporation." [41]

Politicians and activists

Barack Obama

Baraka referred to President Barack Obama as an "Uncle Tom president" because Obama condemned the 2014 riots and violence in Ferguson, Missouri that occurred after the death of Michael Brown. [32] [42] Defending his use of the term, Baraka later said that he was speaking to a "specialized audience" and was attempting to "shock people into a more critical look at this individual." [43] Baraka has also argued that Obama has shown "obsequious deference to white power," [44] and that Obama and Loretta Lynch are members of the "black petit-bourgeoisie who have become the living embodiments of the partial success of the state's attempt to colonize the consciousness of Africans/black people." [45]

Baraka was critical of the Obama administration's decision to not attend the 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism in Geneva. [46] In 2013, Baraka stated that inviting Obama to the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington "should be taken as an insult by everyone who has struggled and continues to struggle for human rights, peace and social justice." [44] More recently, he has argued that "the Obama Administration collaborated with suppressing the 2009 report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which identified violent white supremacist groups as a threat to national security more lethal than the threat from Islamic 'fundamentalists'." [40]

In an October 2016 interview with The Detroit News , Baraka described Obama as a "moral disaster" and one of "the worst things that has happened to African-American people". [47]

Bernie Sanders

Baraka referred to the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders as "media-driven pseudo-opposition" [48] and "an ideological prop of the logic and interests of the capitalist-imperialist settler state." [49] In a September 2015 article, Baraka condemned Sanders' foreign policy and his support for continuing Obama's program of drone strikes in Yemen, claiming that "the world that a President Sanders promises" would be one with "continued war crimes from the sky with drone strikes and Saudi-led terror in support of the Western imperial project." [49] Baraka argued that support for Sanders represents "a tacit commitment to Eurocentrism and the assumptions of normalized white supremacy" due to what he perceived as "indifference" to the lives lost during the drone campaign in Yemen. [49]

Bill Clinton

In June 2016, Baraka criticized the family of Muhammad Ali for inviting Bill Clinton to deliver the boxer's eulogy. [45] [50] Baraka described Clinton as a "rapist" and "petty opportunist politician." [45] [50]

Cornel West

In September 2015, Baraka criticized Cornel West for supporting Bernie Sanders, saying that West was "sheep-dogging for the Democrats" by "drawing voters into the corrupt Democratic party". [51] West later endorsed Jill Stein after Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton. [52] [53]

Beyoncé

In February 2016, Baraka criticized Beyoncé's performance of her song "Formation" at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, which featured backup dancers dressed as Black Panthers, claiming that it was a "commodified caricature of black opposition." [48] Baraka derided the performance as "mindless entertainment" and "a depoliticized spectacle by gyrating, light-skinned booty-short-clad sisters." [48] Baraka claimed that the "white male capitalist patriarchy" was responsible for selecting Beyoncé to perform and would not have allowed "anything subversive or even remotely oppositional to the interests of the capitalist oligarchy" on stage. [48]

Awards and recognition

In 1998, Baraka was one of 300 human rights workers honored by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. [3] In 2001, Baraka was named "abolitionist of the year" by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for his efforts to end the death penalty in the United States. [3] [7]

2016 U.S. vice presidential campaign

Baraka and Stein, August 2016 Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka at 2016 GPNC.jpg
Baraka and Stein, August 2016

On August 1, 2016, Green Party presumptive presidential nominee Jill Stein announced that Baraka would be her running mate. [54] Stein and Baraka were formally nominated by delegates at the 2016 Green National Convention on August 6, 2016. [55] In his acceptance speech, Baraka said that he joined the Green Party effort to "build a multinational movement here in this country based on the needs and the aspirations of working people". [56]

Publications

Related Research Articles

Baraka or Barakah may refer to:

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Boko Haram A branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The Islamic State in West Africa or the Islamic State's West Africa Province, formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād and commonly known as Boko Haram until March 2015, is a jihadist terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria, also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon.

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Abubakar Shekau Nigerian terrorist leader

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Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping kidnapping of female students in Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria

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References

  1. "Who are the Green Party candidates?". CNN . October 17, 2001. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  2. "Ajamu S Baraka". Quanki. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 "Amnesty International Death Penalty Opponent to Receive Abolitionist of the Year Award". Common Dreams . October 19, 2001. Archived from the original on November 22, 2006. Retrieved August 1, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. 1 2 "Meet Ajamu Baraka: Green VP Candidate Aims to Continue the Legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois & Malcolm X". Democracy Now! . August 18, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  5. Alaska Division of Elections – Green Primary Candidates
  6. "Ajamu Baraka". Institute for Policy Studies. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  7. 1 2 "Ajamu Baraka (VA)". Woodhull Freedom Foundation . Archived from the original on August 6, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
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Party political offices
Preceded by
Cheri Honkala
Green nominee for Vice President of the United States
2016
Most recent