Burning Spear News
An election that took St. Louis by storm: "It ain't over!"
Ticharwa Masimba (left) leads chant during rally in support of Herdosia 'Kalambayi' Bentum's candidacy for Ward 3 Alderman. © The Burning Spear
In October 2020, under the leadership of the Uhuru Movement, “Herdosia Kalambayi” Bentum and I, Ticharwa Masimba, announced our campaigns for Alderperson of St. Louis City’s 3rd and 21st Wards respectively.
We knew we were up against a machine of Democratic Party rule that had effectively been in power since 1955. We were aware of the deep and brutal history of St. Louis, which was once a French colony, sold to English colonizers calling themselves Americans.
St. Louis was colonized under the leadership of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The school system that miseducated us, defined them as heroic explorers. However, they both worked for the U.S. military and their mission was to help the new colonizers become rich by stealing Indigenous land and exploiting enslaved black labor.
To help them perfect their brutal attacks on the Indigenous people, they left a legacy of expert map-making. This mapping expertise led to the creation of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) located in St. Louis.
This history of terror and expert technology, loomed large over our campaigns.
We were not only up against a Democratic Party machine and the two servile black candidates that represented it, we were up against an entire government apparatus that they helped steal nearly 1,000 acres of land from the black community to give to the NGA. There was a total military and political assault on our community.
That is why we chose to campaign - to fight for the working class black community of North St. Louis!
The police were receiving an estimated 50-60 percent of the entire general budget of the city and, during the campaign cycle, the Board of Alderman would vote to allow a billionaire to fly spy planes over the black community and record our every movement up to 18 hours a day.
The Department of Homeland Security was in the throes of a military assault on the black community referred to as “Operation Legend,” which resulted in a campaign of arrest and seizure within the black community. Although this war was waged in the name of “crime prevention,” its true motive was to sanitize North St. Louis for white development. The black politicians we had decided to take on, offered very minor deviations from this overall plan to gentrify the black community out of existence.
White land speculators who call themselves developers were actively campaigning to steal as much land from the black community as possible. While many white Alderpersons demonstrated a love affair with these speculators, many black elected officials held a love-hate relationship with them.
On one hand, corrupt black officials have a thirst to replace the white ruling class. On the other hand, they rely on the white corporations and speculators to convince the starving black community that so-called development is on the way.
To get re-elected year after year, these opportunist politicians give away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks. The corporations and real-estate speculators who receive them rarely create jobs with livable wages or affordable housing for the black community. Instead, they wage military war on the black community and campaign to create policies designed to gentrify us out of existence to ensure that a new wealthier white economy can exist to elevate the value of their investments.
To achieve legitimacy, politicians become experts at targeting a small sector of the population known as super-voters, who are loyal to the electoral process and vote nearly every election, despite the fact that the vast majority of the black community sees no benefit in voting. Politicians teach this sector of voters a shallow politic which says that the problems in the black community exist because we won’t stop killing each other and speeding through the streets. All we need, therefore, is more police and more speed bumps.
We were very clear from the outset
That we had two objectives: one was to rebuild a social movement. The second was to get elected. We were clear that we would not sacrifice building the social movement simply to get elected.
This was not a determination fueled by bravado or ultra-left radicalism.
Our goal was and still is, to ignite the imagination of the majority of the black community and help them recognize that the social system does not and cannot represent our interests as a whole people. Therefore, we advanced an agenda designed to permanently arm the people.
We put reparations to the black community at the top of our platform.
In debates and forums, we declared that every problem we face stems from one thing: the black community is constantly looted of our wealth and resources. The thousands of abandoned buildings, the poverty and poor education, and the so-called black-on-black violence are all symptoms of a community plundered and starved for generations.
We declared that the city of St. Louis is guilty.
Our reparations platform called for a large infusion of capital to the black community.
We educated people about the entity referred to as the Land Reutilization Authority (LRA). We described the LRA as a land bank designed to accumulate property in the black community and turn it over to the white community.
We declared that the LRA should come under black community control, should be renamed the Land Reparations Authority, and the property must be returned to the black community.
We called for genuine economic development to the black community. We referred to our economic agenda as “anti-gentrification” economic development. Our fight, we said, was to bring the masses of black people back into political life and build a movement to revitalize the culture and economy of black St. Louis.
We witnessed our campaigns re-shape discussion throughout the city. We ignited the imagination of those who cannot or do not typically vote. We armed people with political theory and are winning people daily to organization.
The Uhuru Movement carried the slogans of the both campaigns: “Revolutionary Times! Revolutionary Solutions!” and “Black is Back!”
This is a Victory!
It Ain’t Over!