The materials in this collection--which center mainly, but not solely, on the political activities and literature of the Revolutionary Action Movement from the early 1960's through the early 1970's--were compiled from the personal archives of Akbar Muhammed Ahmed (Max Stanford), John H. Bracey, Jr., and Ernest Alien, Jr. Founded in 1962, RAM was a "low-profile" organization which sought to transcend what it perceived as the "narrow orientations" of existing Civil Rights organizations (which tended to concentrate on "middle-class" cultural assimilation and patchwork social reform) as well as bourgeois-nationalist organizations (which tended to stress capita] accumulation and withdrawal from mass struggle). In contrast, RAM sought to popularize a program of self-determination for Afro-Americans by means of armed struggle, with the ultimate form of American society conceived in terms of social cooperation rather than capitalist individualism. Included here are internal RAM documents, publicly disseminated RAM literature, as well as media accounts of the organization and its members. An incomplete file of Robert F. Williams' Crusader newsletter, published in exile from Cuba and China, is also Included, as is a full catalog of Soulbook magazine, a west coast-based journal of revolutionary nationalist persuasion.
Much of the history of black political movements of the 1960's is incomplete--if not inaccurate--in part because records of small but extremely influential organizations such as RAM have not been publicly available until now. For example, RAM influence was felt at one time or another in organizations as diverse as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. This is not a complete collection of RAM documents, however: an unknown (but apparently small) number of items were lost as people moved from one locale to another during the "tumultuous Sixties"; on several occasions, documents seized during the course of arrest of RAM leaders were never returned to them following their trials. No doubt such lapses will be lamented by future political activists and scholars, as they are by us today. But the main body of materials remains intact.
Today we are quite conscious of, and perhaps occasionally embarrassed by, the shortcomings of these materials at the level of political analysis; given the historical discontinuities induced within post-World War II American society by the crushing of radical movements, such analytical weaknesses now seem to have been Inevitable. But no matter. For their presentation today in microform, it is hoped, will aid in the accurate reconstruction of the history of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. May they also aid in a coherent program for genuine Afro-American liberation.
Ernest Allen, Jr.
Amherst, MA / August 1979