Burning Spear News
Reparations campaigns kick-off in St. Pete
On June 14, 2019, the campaign committee to elect Eritha Akilé Cainion for District 7 City Council hosted a campaign kick-off barbecue at Wildwood Park to celebrate Cainion’s official qualification.
Campaign volunteers, family, and community members gathered at the park to eat, speak with and congratulate the candidate for officially putting reparations on the ballot in St. Pete.
It was an exciting moment for the southside black community.
Children played in their bright orange ‘Akilé’ shirts.
A giant “Make the Southside Black Again” banner waved in the wind, causing people to stop their cars and turn around to make sure they were reading the slogan clearly.
Akile spoke to every new face, going up to the cars to share her platform with those that were intrigued.
“I had to turn my car around when I saw that slogan. I agree with it. I used to live in southside St. Pete but I had to move, and now I’m here visiting my mother,” a woman told Akilé as she signed up to volunteer with the campaigns.
Those were the general sentiments of that evening.
Akilé delivered a motivating presentation to the BBQ attendees, garnering more supporters and donations from the community.
"Make the Southside Black Again is an anti-gentrification slogan, that’s why we believe everyone should be able to say it.
"Everyone should be against gentrification. We are opposed to what this government has done to the black community.
"It razed the Gas Plant District and destroyed 100 black owned business that don’t exist today.
"We are running against the skyscrapers being built downtown, that’s pushing out the black community and making this city unaffordable to everyday workers.
"In order to stop the big developers buying up this city with the cooperation of these crooks sitting in city government today, we must create a city based on justice. That starts with reparations to the black community!"
The people were really excited to hear the bold platform of reparations and economic development to the black community: a positive vision for the future of St. Pete.
It is a platform that speaks to the historic and present day oppression of the black community, and how, through reparations, we can uplift the entire city by genuinely restoring economic development in the southside.
This is not a platform based on charity and well-wishing. It is about overturning the oppression of the black community in order to establish social and economic justice in this city.
Only then can we see genuine progress.
It’s a platform that Akilé shares with her running mate Anne Hirsch for District 5 City Council.
Both women are running side-by-side on this platform to win support from both the black and white community.
"Everyone benefits when there is no more oppression in our city. This government can’t expect for my community to be complicit in gentrifying and exploiting the black community anymore.
"I represent the voices of thousands of white people who no longer want to live at the black community’s expense.
"We believe that reparations is possible and that this government must repay what it has stolen from the black community,” said Anne Hirsch at her campaign barbecue, held the following evening at Lake Vista Park.
Anne Hirsch supporters sported their teal t-shirts and congratulated her for entering the race.
Anne too delivered an inspirational presentation that assured her supporters that victory against big money politicians and the status quo is possible.
The significance of these campaigns running in tandem can be seen not only in their mission to win support from every sector of St. Pete’s population, but their ability to give real influence on city council when they win, despite the fact that they will still have to face the paid-for politicians.
We have the option now to make the city of St. Pete the first reparations city in history.
We are constantly told that change takes time. We are fed that the reason we haven’t seen the conditions in the black community get better is because “it doesn’t happen overnight.''
Although the current government seems to be able to put up another luxury apartment with a 24-hour turnaround time, or an $84 million police station versus units of affordable housing.
The black community has no more time to waste. We don’t have another four years in this city at the current rate of gentrification.
Young black people won’t put up with four more years of slander and locking us into prisons.
There is a movement growing in this city that is getting behind Akilé and Anne to make reparations real in this city.
It’s a movement comprised of people who are fed up with this city government’s attacks on the people and the undeclared war on the southside black community.
A movement of people who want an alternative to a system of capitalism and exploitation and instead want a city that prioritizes people over profit.
We can create that oppression-free system through reparations!
This vision was perfectly articulated at both campaign launch BBQs, leaving campaign volunteers and supporters excited about the next steps in the campaign.
Join the people’s movement for reparations!
Vote Eritha Akilé Cainion for District 7 and Anne Hirsch for District 5 City Council!
The elections are August 27.
Visit VoteAkile.com and VoteHirsch.com to learn more about these candidates and their platform.