Rev. James Bevel

Previous | TOC | Print | Next

The Rev. James Bevel is an African-American minister from Chicago with a long history of civil rights work but a recent reputation as an opportunist who has swung far to the right. Rev. Bevel now works closely with groups controlled by two neo-fascists, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. The Moon network supported the war effort, while the LaRouchians did not. Bevel focused his energy in opposing the Gulf War, primarily through an alliance with the LaRouchians. Bevel's ties to the LaRouchians go back several years. Bevel not only appeared as a panelist at the LaRouchian antiwar conference in Chicago, but he also has endorsed LaRouche's congressional candidacy, and speaks regularly at LaRouchian forums. Bevel has served on committees created by several LaRouchian front groups, and writes a column for the LaRouchian newspaper New Federalist. Bevel has been an effective organizer for the LaRouchians, and took a high profile in their antiwar organizing.

Dr. Manning Marable, in a 1986 column, listed Bevel among a small group of "prominent civil rights spokesmen [who] have gone so far as to form alliances with ultra-right groups, which might give lip service to blacks' traditional interests." The LaRouchians have sought coalitions with local African-American community activists for many years, often working through religious leaders. A recent example was the LaRouchian support for then Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. During Barry's trial on drug charges, the LaRouchians and the Nation of Islam helped organize protests on behalf of Barry. The LaRouchian representative during these protests was Bevel.

When Bevel endorsed Lyndon LaRouche's congressional candidacy (in Virginia's 10th Congressional District), he signed a statement which included the claim, "Lyndon LaRouche is known and respected in every nation of the Third World as the primary opponent of the genocide policies of the IMF and as the architect and principal spokesman for a new and more just world economic order that guarantees the inalienable rights of all people." The statement speaks glowingly of LaRouche's early theorizing about the AIDS virus and his recommendations for fighting the spread of the virus. In fact, as mentioned before, LaRouche has written that history would not judge harshly those persons who took to the streets and beat homosexuals to death with baseball bats to stop the spread of AIDS.

Bevel represented the LaRouchite Schiller Institute in Omaha, Nebraska. The Omaha World-Herald reported on January 6, 1991:

"Bevel was one of 10 people who came to Nebraska in October as members of a group calling itself the Citizens Fact-Finding Commission to Investigate Human rights Violations of Children in Nebraska. That group was organized by the Schiller Institute of Washington, D.C., and Wiesbaden, Germany. The institute was founded in 1984 by Helga Zepp-LaRouche. She is the wife of Lyndon LaRouche, who is serving a 15-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion....The Schiller group's printed statement disputed the findings of two grand juries in the Franklin case. A check by the World-Herald of some of the `facts' in the statement turned up several apparent errors.

While Rev. Bevel's historic role as a valued civil rights leader is unquestioned, he has in recent years lost his constituency and his political moorings. Dr. Manning Marable noted in 1986 that Bevel, had become "a Republican party leader in Chicago's Black community, and soon earned the reputation as an extremist of the right."

Some time after the LaRouche conviction in January 1989, Bevel began to appear as a featured speaker at LaRouchian conferences, and began to write a column in the LaRouchian New Federalist. As Marable noted in 1986:

The right-wing sect of Lyndon LaRouche has also initiated a campaign to recruit black supporters. As in the case of the Unification Church, the LaRouchians work primarily through several fronts, the Schiller Institute and the National Democratic Policy Committee. Again, the LaRouchians have been linked to a number of racist and extremist groups, including the Liberty Lobby, the Klan and neo-Nazis. Currently, the LaRouchians are vigorously opposing sanctions against South African apartheid.

While in Chicago, Bevel regularly broke ranks with the African-American-led coalition behind the late Mayor Harold Washington. At the same time, Bevel was working with Moon's front group CAUSA. In an interview with Bevel at an Illinois CAUSA meeting, I asked him why he would ally himself with a religious/political movement such as that run by Rev. Moon. Bevel replied that it was a tactical coalition based on agreement that the main danger in the world was communism. Bevel argued that communism was a godless philosophy, and that as a Christian, it was his obligation to fight godlessness.

Bevel's CAUSA ties garnered him some unflattering publicity. According to the December 12, 1987 Chicago Sun-Times, Bevel was one of four persons belonging to "groups created by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church" who erected a creche and nativity scene at Chicago's Daley Center Plaza. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that "William J. Grutzmacher, who obtained the permit and paid $2000 for the creche, gave a speech in October to a business group in Merrillville, Ind., apparently so anti-Semitic that a local newspaper ran an editorial denouncing him." The head of the Rotary Club that had co-sponsored Grutzmacher's speech told the reporter, "He made charges...that the Communist Party is headed by Jews, and that the Jews were responsible for every negative thing that has happened since World War II."

Bevel has also worked with other Moon fronts. In the October, 1990 issue of American Freedom Journal, Bevel is listed as serving on the National Policy Board of the American Freedom Coalition, chaired by the ultra-conservative Hon. Richard Ichord. The American Freedom Coalition (AFC) is a joint project of Rev. Moon and the Rev. Robert G. Grant of the ultra-right Christian fundamentalist group Christian Voice. AFC fundraised for Oliver North, and Bevel sits on the AFC National Policy Board with Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub, implicated in the Iran-Contragate scandal; Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham of High Frontier, the pro-Star Wars lobby; and rightist historian Dr. Cleon Skousen. The late Dr. Ralph David Abernathy was a long-time member of the AFC Board of Directors along with pro-interventionist Ambassador Phillip Sanchez. On the AFC National Advisory Board sit rightist fundraising guru Richard Viguerie, and Slava Stetsko, president of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN). ABN is notorious because it is the descendant and spiritual heir of the Committee of Subjugated Nations, formed in 1943 by Hitler's allies. According to author Russ Bellant, "The ABN brought together fascist forces from Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, the Ukraine, the Baltic States, Slovenia and other nations." Slava Stetsko is the widow of Yaroslav Stetsko, leader of the Nazi puppet government in the Ukraine during World War II. She once wrote a glowing introduction to a book that defined anti-Semitism as a "smear word used by Communists against those who effectively oppose and expose them."

These are the fascist forces with which Bevel has allied himself, and is a striking example of the opportunistic flexibility of fascism as a political ideology, able not only to embrace Nazi-collaborators but also to entice Black civil rights activists. Bevel's ties to the fascist Moon circles are through a shared loathing of communism as a godless ideology, an issue which resonates with many Black church-based constituencies. Another congruent theme that fascism can employ to seek alliances with African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans is the opportunistic manipulation of the issues of nationalism and self determination.

Other Black leaders such as Roy Innis and the late Ralph David Abernathy have forged alliances with the fascist right. Innis has worked in alliance with the LaRouchians. Abernathy worked with Moon's Unification movement until his death.

Previous | TOC | Print | Next

Online Articles:

Spotlight On
Explore

Browse Topics | Site Guide | Multimedia Bookstore | Magazine | Publications | Activists Resources

Political Research Associates

Copyright Information, Terms, and Conditions

Please read our Terms and Conditions for copyright information regarding downloading, copying, printing, and linking material on this site; our disclaimer about links present on this website; and our privacy policy.

Updates and Corrections