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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2014

11 - Mississippi


In the wake of the Gaidi-Imari Obadele controversy, the RNA went through a period of instability, uncertainty, and change. While two separate organizations began to form around each of the Obadele brothers, a third organization came into existence where members from both attempted to come or stay together. Not quite able to accept the death of the original vision, this “third way” tried to find a path toward reconciliation without either of the brothers being present. This relatively tempestuous period often resulted in disagreement as issues regarding personnel (e.g., which faction was the meeting chair affiliated with) and guiding orientation (e.g., which faction advocated a particular issue) kept emerging. The situation eventually became intolerable, and two factions essentially killed the third way, leaving only the two smaller factions. First, there was increased tension within organizational meetings about the general state of the RNA and where things should go in the future that on more than one occasion erupted into explosive arguments. Second, dueling conventions were held in late March 1970 (Imari Obadele’s being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while Gaidi Obadele’s was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey), with each meeting barely bringing a few dozen.

Over time, the Gaidi Obadele faction dissolved, but it did not do so quickly. Indeed, the organization limped along for months with few attendees, no real program of action, and few activities. For instance, several of the meetings involved playing a tape of a speech or watching a film and then discussing it. In contrast, the Imari Obadele faction did persist, but on a smaller scale than the original RNA. This version of the organization also changed in many ways. For example, responding to the now pervasive concern with covert repression, there was an increased interest in investigating all new applicants as well as rooting out and eliminating troublemakers/informants (which significantly slowed growth as a backlog of unprocessed individuals quickly developed). This version of the original organization also attempted to return to the RNA’s core – thereby attempting to reestablish the trust of the membership. For one, there was an effort made to address the founding objectives of the RNA as much as possible, first moving the capital to New Orleans to be closer to the South and then to Jackson, Mississippi, to begin the land base for the nation.