Jacqueline “Jacquie” Luqman likes to joke that she “accidentally fell into activism,” but in the days since she was in high school protesting South Africa’s white minority government and its odious apartheid policies, activism has become an essential part of her life.
The longtime social and racial justice advocate said her interest in government process and policy began in high school in the 1980s while she was in the Close-Up program. While working as a receptionist for a D.C. lobbying firm after graduation, she said, her exposure to the real inner-workings of influencing legislation for special interest groups further piqued her interest in politics.
“I was a receptionist at the Wexler Group. I met a lot of people and politicians and saw the influence and money involved,” she said. “I met [former Secretary of Commerce and head of the Democratic National Committee] Ron Brown. We talked while he sat waiting to meet with Anne Wexler. I learned a great deal.”
Luqman said what she learned about politics and lobbying convinced her that those paths were not her calling. Although she didn’t have college degrees, she always loved to read and write and was always able to get good jobs. In her personal time, she said her interest turned from pursuing work in politics to grassroots political and community activism. She immersed herself in protests in support of ACT UP, AIDS research, and gay rights; with Trans-Africa in the effort to end Apartheid in South Africa; for peace for Central America & Southern Africa; against the Gulf War; for Immigrants’ Rights; for D.C. Statehood; against the Iraq War and all global U.S. military intervention since.
“Right out of high school, I met a handsome musician in a punk rock band,” she recalled with a chuckle. “I spent a revolutionary winter in front of the White House. I grew up knowing about the Black Panthers and got involved on the ground.”
For more than 15 years, Luqman has also been involved in community and local activities, supporting community cleanups, neighborhood watches, clothing, food and school supply distributions, community policing/liaison, and local government community advocacy for more.
On Dec. 1, she began a new job — co-host of “By Any Means Necessary” on Sputnik Radio — that allows her to bring her potpourri of activism and lived experiences to the table. She replaces Eugene Puryear, who hosted the radio program with co-host Sean Blackmon. The popular program connects political, social and economic movements shaping the world with a sensibility informed by movements from Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter and a dash of Occupy. The show elevates the people and narratives, which while often ignored, are driving some of the most important changes in the world.
Luqman credits her husband, Abdusshahid, for where she is.
“I was a business analyst and he encouraged me to do this. I wouldn’t be here without him,” she said.
Luqman’s work, her positions, the organizations and agencies she supports and the choices she makes, speak to a deep passion for racial justice, which is fueled by her own family’s experiences, as well as her love for the history of Black people in the context of social struggle in America. She said she’s committed and curious to learn and help others study and learn the history of the struggle for racial justice in America, and she’s grateful to be able to give voice to Black political and social thought in the expanding Progressive political space.
Going forward, African Americans, progressives and social and racial justice advocates have a daunting challenge, said Luqman, who with her husband currently hosts two shows on Facebook and YouTube: “Coffee, Current Events & Politics,” which focuses on politics and current events from a Black perspective; and “Brick by Brick” in Luqman Nation, which concentrates on the history that led to many of the issues we face today.
“We are on the precipice of a future-defining moment for this country,” she said. “This country has never had a soul. We’re fighting for what’s gonna be left. Change is coming. I think they’ll be pretty drastic change in the social fabric.”
America, Luqman said, continues to enrich itself from the benefits of white supremacy. Both political parties espoused the status quo. The Republican Party is a racist, white supremacist party and Democrats are collaborators.
“In essence, we have two clearly imperialist, capitalist parties. We’re in a perpetual state of oppression and revolution,” she said. “Collective wealth is siphoned off and given to the wealthy and super-wealthy. There is a shortage of public and affordable housing and public education is privatized and Black people are sold the charter school bullshit.”
“We need to do what I’m seeing politically aware Black people do: building community organizations, working on the sustainability of communities, and increasing grassroots efforts to cultivate state and local access and power at these levels.”
Activist-ministers like the Rev. Dr. William J Barber II and the Revs. Willie Wilson and Graylan Hagler have spoken at length about the renewed efforts in this generation by European Americans to blunt any progress made by African Americans, women and progressives in this country. America, they declare is in the midst of a Third Reconstruction, and Donald J. Trump is not the illness but a symptom of America’s moral rot and its unwillingness to confront and acknowledge its culpability in centuries of racism, discrimination, land theft and murder of Africans in America.
The white backlash is rooted in reaction to Barack Obama’s presidency and more so to the “browning of America,” which will see them become a minority between 2030 and 2050.
“We’re witnessing a fundamental changing of our demographics around the world, said Barber, former president of the North Carolina NAACP and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach in 2018. “We see extremist policies in America today and it’s driven by the growing blackening and browning of America and a fusion of every creed, color and class.”
“Those who embrace Make America Great Again slogan are willing to work hard and cheat to undermine what is evolving in America. This is white hegemony and white nationalism strengthened by enormous wealth.”
In the face of this retrenchment, social and racial justice warriors have to fight hard and smart.
“The GOP has been plotting a way to win the White House and take over the government with the religious right,” Luqman said. “The Tea Party came at the right time and showed what grassroots activism looks like. We tend to dismiss how smart racists are. You don’t sustain this system by being stupid and they’ve been playing the long game.”
The 2016 presidential elections showed how whites and white liberals really feel. Despite Sanders’ tone-deafness on racial issues, if he wins the Democratic nomination, Trump loses.
“He’s been wishy-washy on Palestine and Reparations but if you give him a platform, a big enough platform, Trump supporters will be convinced,” she said. “Sanders has given them something they can grasp. Trump can’t beat that, because people want better in their lives.”
In 2020 and beyond, Luqman made clear, activists need to network more, take information and advance a social and political agenda that will influence the U.S. and fight back relentlessly against those forces seeking to take the U.S. backward.