By: Judson L. Jeffries, PhD
Last week when I was told that Brother Shabaka Ture had made the transition the news hit me like a punch in the gut. Brother Ture was by any measure a dedicated freedom fighter and an ardent supporter of the Community Extension Center. Whenever I or those affiliated with me needed his assistance he was there. I first met Brother Ture a year after arriving in Columbus in 2007. I reached out to him in hopes that he would serve on a panel on the History of Black Columbus conference. We had a haughty conversation, ranging from local politics to the prospect of electing the first Black president and what that would and wouldn’t mean for Black America. In the following weeks and months, Brother Ture introduced me to a leftist community that I didn’t know existed here in Columbus. In fact it was he who introduced me to Nommo X.
To say that Brother Ture was a friend of the CEC is an understatement. Over the years, he became a fixture at the CEC, so much so that he was put in charge of the African Affairs Symposium, before giving way to Professor Paul Cook in later years. I last saw him when Dr. Kevin L. Brooks and I visited with him in the hospital late last fall following his surgery. Our stay lasted more than an hour. His spirits were up, even though his body was weakened, understandably so. Our conversations in the ensuing months suggested things were coming along more slowly than he had hoped. Still myself and others were confident that his recovery would be full and without setback.
Every summer for the past several years, we at the CEC joined Brother Ture and the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party in offering the Marcus Garvey Celebration at the center, an extraordinarily uplifting affair that draws people from all walks of life. Brother Ture brought life to the CEC during the dog days of summer.
Brother Ture was a throwback, the type of guy who comes along every ten years or so. He did what he said he was going to do. Once he entered a fight there was no quit and he refused to compromise his values. Nobody that I know of ever wondered which side Brother Ture was on. It wasn’t on the side of the status quo—that’s for sure. Despite the fact that he attended The Ohio State University he did not hesitate to speak out against his alma mater if he believed the actions of its administrators adversely impacted local residents.
Brother Ture’s death creates a tremendous void in the struggle for Black liberation here locally. Filling it won’t be easy, if indeed it’s even possible. I firmly salute this OSU alum, indefatigable organizer, truth-telling street journalist, plain speaking orator, comrade, and friend.