In Memoriam: Black Solidarity Day Founder Carlos E. Russell.


Carlos Enrique Russell, Brooklyn NY resident, visionary, ambassador, historian, literary artist, and professor emeritus via Brooklyn College transitioned in his sleep on July 10, 2018. He was born in the Republic of Panama on August 6, 1934. In 1955, after graduating from the National Institute in Panama he immigrated to the United States on a student visa to attend De Paul University in Chicago, Illinois. In attempting to leave behind what he described as Panama's "rampant racism," he was forced to confront the reality of a deeply segregated and discriminatory U.S. society. After graduating, Russell worked for the Mary McDowell Settlement House in Chicago, and in 1961 he moved to New York and worked at the Albany Community Center in Albany Projects as a youth worker and directly working with gang members, and then eventually with the Fort Greene Community Progress Center.

Russell held a Ph.D. from the Union for Experimenting Colleges (now in the formation of the Union Institute & University), he served as Panama's Ambassador the Organization of American States, Panama's ambassador to the United Nations, and is the recipient of the Order of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, an award awarded for distinguished diplomatic services and contributions to international relations between Panama and other states.

And while serving as the Panamanian Ambassador for the United Nations, he was inspired by Douglas Turner Ward's fictional play "Day of Absence" in which a small town in the South is suddenly devoid of its Black population and is crippled by their absence, established Black Solidarity Day in 1969, held annually on the Monday before Election Day in November, designed to demonstrate the spirit of self-determination and collective responsibility for economic empowerment.

Many present-day activists and luminaries benefit from the legacy Dr. Russell leaves behind. During the 1960's and 1970's, Dr. Russell was a primary organizer for the first national conference of Panamanians which was solidifying the movement of the unification of Black and Caribbean pushback on systematic oppression. He was also one of the creators of "El Bahiano" which is the first Black newspaper and Panamanian newspaper here in the USA written (a member of the Harlem Writers Guild) in both English and Spanish. [Other co-founders noted are Walter Livingston, George Priestly, Aguilla Jimenez and a few others.] Also, he worked Minister Louis Farrakhan, Sr. of the Nation of Islam, the...

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