Uhuru! This is an incredible time to witness the transformation of the world right before our eyes -- as the movement of national liberation for African and other oppressed peoples is on the rise, and the parasitic system of U.S. imperialism is in its deepest crisis ever. The Uhuru Movement is leading the way in this period, building revolutionary organization all over the world. The African Socialist International just held its successful East Africa regional conference in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together Africans under revolutionary leadership to take back Africa and all its resources! In the U.S., the attacks on the African community have been escalating, from the 2008 police murder of Javon Dawson in St Petersburg FL, to the New Year’s 2009 police murder of Oscar Grant and the March 2009 “routine traffic stop” that left 4 officers and Lovelle Mixon dead in Oakland, CA. As these attacks intensify, the Uhuru Movement is organizing resistance and more people are gravitating towards an analysis that explains the conditions faced by African people in U.S. cities and throughout the world.
It is in this context that the Uhuru Solidarity Movement -- the mass activist organization of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, which works under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party in going back into the white community to raise resources and win allies to work in solidarity with the African-led movement – held its National Conference in Philadelphia, PA this past Saturday, May 2nd, attended by comrades from St Petersburg FL, Oakland and Berkeley CA, Minneapolis MN, Boston MA, Philly and Baltimore MD. There are members of Uhuru Solidarity Movement in London UK, Hamburg Germany, Seattle WA, Salem Oregon, and San Diego CA who were unable to come, but expressed their unity with this conference and will be actively working with the organization to build worldwide.
The conference kicked off with rousing chants of “Solidarity! Not Charity!” led by MCs Alison Hoehne and Wendy Snyder, who guided the participants through a day focused on solidarity with African self-determination, justice, and liberation. The main program began with a multimedia presentation entitled “Environmental Justice Through African Liberation,” by Penny Hess, who is the national chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee. The presentation was a critique of the environmental movement, which like many movements is opportunist, led by white people fighting for our own rights and interests at the expense of freedom and justice for oppressed peoples. The clear solution for the problems facing the environment, Chairwoman Hess showed, is national liberation for all peoples currently experiencing oppression by the same system of imperialism that has destroyed the Earth and created divisions between people. The programs of the Uhuru Movement address both national liberation and environmental sustainability, and now is the time to get behind the movement that’s changing the world! Everyone hearing this was visibly excited about the great potential for change in the air, and stayed to get involved and hear more from the leaders in the Uhuru Movement.
The keynote address was delivered by Chairman Omali Yeshitela, founder & leader of the Uhuru Movement, and a long-standing fighter for African liberation & justice for the past 40 years. He spoke about the history of the black power movement from the 1960s through today, and called on the audience to take a stand on the right side of history during this current, deep crisis of U.S. imperialism. Explaining the conditions of the African community in plain and urgent terms, Chairman Omali challenged everyone attending the conference to look beyond the concept of charity and to work in genuine solidarity with the movement that is changing the world. The call for solidarity from the leadership of the African liberation movement drew much unity with the reality of the conditions of African people, and the real solutions put forth by the Uhuru Movement.
Ironiff Ifoma, director of the African Village Survival Initiative, presented on the new economic development programs of the Uhuru Movement – an initiative that is bringing power into the hands of African working class people in the current economic crisis through collective gardening, rainwater harvesting, food banks, and solar energy, all led by the community. It was an important example of dual and contending power – the ability of the African working class to provide for themselves through self-sufficient and sustainable means, without depending on their oppressor for food, shelter, or energy. This is a major step forward for the movement and for the African community, which will be able to withstand this crisis by coming together collectively, as Africans have historically done to survive. The conference offered an opportunity for white people and other allies to support this revolutionary program through fundraising and concrete work in solidarity with the African Village Survival Initiative.
As the conference moved into the later afternoon, a panel entitled “Stop the Billion Dollar War on the African Community!” provided a glimpse into the intense conditions faced by African people throughout the U.S., particularly in Philadelphia, a city whose impoverished African community is occupied by military-style policing, with a neocolonial mayor, Michael Nutter, whose budget & policies declare all-out war on the African working class through the $1.1 billion war budget for police & prisons, heavy-handed policing, and the blatant, brutal attack on Uhuru Movement organizers Diop Olugbala & Shabaka Mnombatha, aka the City Hall 2, choked, brutalized, and arrested simply for holding up signs in peaceful protest in Philadelphia City Council on March 19th, 2009. Olugbala, one of the presenters on the panel, is also a leader in the Uhuru Movement internationally and in Philadelphia, and gave an in-depth overview on the struggle the African-led movement has been waging in Philadelphia and throughout the world. This panel engaged in a dynamic discussion on the conditions in the African community, and the role and responsibility of white people in a movement struggling to overturn these contradictions.
The call to white people and others who wish to become allies with the Uhuru Movement was clear: get to work! The last part of the conference was the opportunity for all participants to put theory into action in three different breakout workshop sessions: “Solidarity with the African Village Survival Initiative (AVSI)” - raising resources for a liberated African economy, “USM Political Action Campaigns” – the Stop the Billion Dollar War and Defend the rights of the African community campaigns, and “Build Uhuru Solidarity Movement - Outreach and Membership Campaigns.” Each workshop brought together participants to come up with campaigns and actions to carry out nationally in the newly consolidated national committees of Uhuru Solidarity Movement, and focused on how everyone can participate in building the movement and taking the stand of solidarity out to all communities where allies of African liberation can be found. Out of these workshops came resolutions for national fundraising, political action, and membership campaigns to build Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
Many current members of Uhuru Solidarity Movement attended the National Conference in Philadelphia, and one person became a new member after being moved by the presentations by Chairwoman Penny Hess and Chairman Omali Yeshitela. This conference deepened everyone’s understanding of the conditions faced by African people, the intensity and destruction of imperialism and the U.S. State, and the solutions put forth by the African working class for a future of justice & sustainability for all peoples. The people attending this conference from all over the country will now go back into their communities to organize support for this growing movement of activists in solidarity with African liberation & self-determination, and next year the conference will be even larger, with more branches of USM, more members, and more victories led by the Uhuru Movement.
Forward to victory for African people everywhere!
Stop the war on the black community!
Build Uhuru Solidarity Movement!