Burning Spear News
The history of building the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement in Huntsville, Alabama
Kobina Bantushango selling The Burning Spear and organizing in Huntsville, Alabama
It all started in Washington, D.C. Students from Alabama A&M University had been a part of a student organization called the Pan-African Alliance. Through this, organization, discussion and searching for revolutionary organizations ensued.
The Pan-African Alliance collaborated with the local Nation of Islam and organized two buses to attend the anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. Once in D.C., we met African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) Chairman Omali Yeshitela and other organizers of the Uhuru Movement.
After a brief discussion, we purchased the book “Omali Yeshitela Speaks.” This book would prove to change our lives.
For me, it turned an upside down world right side up. Everything started to make sense—Africa and African people, why we were oppressed and what it would take for us to get free. It provided the theory to understand the revolution and the practice to carry it out.
We began organizing meetings immediately upon our return. In January 2006, we attended our first APSP cadre school in St. Petersburg, Florida. Organizers from Huntsville, Alabama joined the Party right then and there.
Building Huntsville’s first InPDUM branch
Once we returned to Huntsville from St. Petersburg, we began building the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM). We erroneously assumed that everyone that we were organizing with on campus and around the city of Huntsville would automatically join and feel the same way we did.
This was our first experience with understanding different class interests in our community. There were people we encountered who were more interested in building themselves than building the African revolution.
We started passing out InPDUM “Know Your Rights" cards. These cards list all of the Do’s and Don’ts when encountering the police.
We also started selling The Burning Spear newspaper. The masses gravitated toward InPDUM and loved The Burning Spear. People would walk up to us on the street and join InPDUM on the spot.
We began to receive phone calls from people saying how the community appreciated us informing and fighting for the community. One call gave our new branch of InPDUM its first experience organizing and fighting for the masses.
The call informed InPDUM organizers that the Huntsville police were arresting young Africans in the local Council Court housing project and coercing them to admit to crimes that they had no knowledge of. This was done with no legal guardian or parent representation for minors.
We held demonstrations at the juvenile detention center in Huntsville and the downtown courthouse. We begin to organize our first campaign and passed out propaganda condemning the State for this attack on the African community.
The young Africans that were arrested were released, and the police were pushed back from the community. The campaign led to the mass distribution of “Know Your Rights” cards and encouraged African youth to not talk to the police.
We held meetings to inform the community of our rights and of the fact that we had a right to resist police oppression. Organizers began to come into Huntsville, and we started weekly meetings. The InPDUM membership began to grow, and the Uhuru Movement presence in Huntsville, Alabama was solidified.
Applying our skills to the African Revolution
The All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP)—an organization of the Party with the focus on using African skills to build sustainable development for African people—was born not long after, and we began to build community gardens and garden collectives. This began to strengthen our foundation and gave us a broader reach in the community.
We then began working to build the African Internationalist Student Organization (AISO), a student wing of the APSP. We gained membership and held a student conference with people coming from Florida A&M University, Tennessee State University, the University of Toronto and other schools.
The AISO allowed us to build on the campuses of Alabama A&M University, Oakwood University and the University of Alabama at Huntsville. However, the AISO efforts dissolved, but not before we had already made some headway in influencing the academic terrain from an African Internationalist perspective.
The Spear was circulating regularly and on all the local campuses. We had The Spear in several barbershops and an African bookstore.
The Huntsville AAPDEP branch collaborated with a church in Decatur, Alabama to develop a community garden there. We also collaborated with the City of Huntsville’s Office of Multicultural Affairs to put on our One Africa! One Nation! Cultural Festivals. Attendees and vendors came from all over the southern region of the U.S.
The AAPDEP branch began to pick up momentum, and our base and influence began to grow. This led to AAPDEP building an economic institution called Zenzele Consignment Shop, which it has maintained for more than five years. AAPDEP and Zenzele’s work has had a tremendous impact on the Huntsville community.
InPDUM has continued to lead in actions such as building tribunals for bringing the Huntsville police and the city government to trial for the murder and unjust treatment of Africans in Huntsville. Participants from these tribunals have said that this had been the first time that they had received justice.
The work on the tribunals has been a powerful process, and we’ve organized respected judges from throughout the community. We led campaigns like the Justice for Sam Ward campaign.
Sam Ward is an African who stood up and refused to allow the police to continue to terrorize and brutalize our community. This young African was shot at by the Huntsville police over 50 times in broad daylight in a local playground surrounded by children. Police charged him with attempting to murder a cop. InPDUM immediately organized the family and community to defend Sam and praised him for his courage.
InPDUM fought and led a campaign to get Justice for Mustafa Bearfield Jr., another African victim of police terror. We stood with the families and demanded black community control of the police.
We are in the process of rebuilding Huntsville, and we call on you to participate in building our future in our best interest. Join the African People’s Socialist Party and Uhuru Movement in Huntsville, Alabama.
Join the African People’s Socialist Party at: APSPUhuru.org/join
Contact us at: [email protected]
Join AAPDEP today! Visit: DevelopmentForAfrica.org