The “Unity Through Reparations” platform, born of the Uhuru Movement in St. Petersburg, FL, brought white residents from throughout the Tampa Bay area together on Oct 7th to the St. Pete Uhuru House, the headquarters of the African liberation movement.
The St. Petersburg event was the second stop on the Days in Solidarity with African People (DSAP) national speaking tour, hosted by the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC) and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM).
The “Unity Through Reparations” platform emerged during Akilé Anai and Jesse Nevel’s joint campaign for St. Pete mayor and District 6 city council, respectively. Anai, an African woman and Nevel, a white Jewish man, still in their early and mid twenties, are both longtime and leading community activists and organizers in the Uhuru Movement.
The Uhuru Movement is a continuation of the Black Power movement of the 1960s for African liberation from parasitic capitalism, imperialism and for unification of African people everywhere, led by the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), the revolutionary political party of the African working class.
With revolutionary organization behind these electoral campaigns, hundreds of people, including hundreds of white people, rallied around the real issues faced by the people of St. Pete.
The electoral campaign for “Unity Through Reparations” reached white people all throughout St. Pete
Anai was born and raised in St. Pete, is a member of APSP and is the Chair of the Committee for Justice for the Three Drowned Black Girls, which seeks justice for three teenage African girls, Dominique Battle, Laniyah Miller and Ashaunti Butler, who were drowned and murdered by Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.
Therefore it’s only natural that this revolutionary leader in the fight for African children and the entire African community would be asked to run for office, in the formerly majority African District 6, to illuminate the effects of the fierce ravages of gentrification in this district, of which police violence plays a key part.
Nevel is a member of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), the cadre organization of white people under the leadership of the Party, and is the Chair of its mass organization the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM). In the majority white city of St. Pete, the Party asked Nevel to run for mayor to speak to white people on how “Unity Through Reparations” is in our interests and is the only progressive stance we can take.
Both APSC and USM were formed by, and work under the leadership of, the African People’s Socialist Party. APSC and USM are comprised of white people who organize in the white community for reparations to African people; returning the hoarded material resources of the white community to African people through the Party’s myriad economic initiatives including Black Star Industries, whose institutions are the basis of a liberated African economy for, by and between African people worldwide.
The solution to the issues of St. Pete — such as gentrification, police violence, poor health care, the exploitation of African sanitation workers and many others, as raised by Anai and Nevel — is reparations and economic development for the black community and Black Community Control of the Police.
Reparations, economic development for the black community, and Black Community Control of the Police would ensure that African people have power over their own lives independent from the parasitic, exploitative status quo of gentrification and police terror. White solidarity with Black Power would also uplift all people within the city, as Black Power is inherently against a status quo that hurts all people — even white people, who live on the pedestal of this oppression and at the expense of the African community.
Anai and Nevel’s campaigns showed St. Pete what reparations and economic development looks like on the local level:
Reparations and real economic development mean that the Tropicana Dome, which was built where a black community once thrived — destroyed before there was even a baseball team to put in the dome — would be demolished and that area of the city go back to the black community for genuine affordable housing.
Real economic development for the black community means a true revitalization — not gentrification — of the communities between 16th street and 34th street in St. Pete, where African-owned businesses once maintained commerce for and between African people.
Anai and Nevel’s campaigns also championed over two dozen institutions built by the Uhuru Movement nationwide, such as the Black Power 96.3 FM radio station of South St. Petersburg, the Burning Spear newspaper, Uhuru Foods and Pies, Uhuru Jiko Community Commercial Kitchen, the All People’s TyRon Lewis Community Gym and many more.
The speakers at the Days in Solidarity with African People event moved white people to take action
The St. Pete Day in Solidarity with African People event opened with a beautiful revolutionary rendition of “Summertime” by Diakiesse Lungisani, the station manager for Black Power 96.3 FM.
The keynote speaker at the event was Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party and leader of the Uhuru Movement. He has been called “the last man standing” from the revolutionaries of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and is the leader of the African liberation movement and anti-colonialist movement worldwide.
The Chairman gave an overview of the historical and current conditions in which we live, summing up this political period of resistance of colonized people forcing the white oppressor nation into a period of crisis.
The Chairman stated that “When you see certain things in the world,” like a “bombastic Trump,” “they don’t frighten [the Uhuru Movement]” because “I know what I’m looking at.” That is because Trump is just one symptom of a dying imperialism in crisis and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement is a part of the African people’s strategy for not just resistance against but liberation from this system.
Chairwoman Penny Hess of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and author of Overturning the Culture of Violence — the classic revolutionary text on the legacy of European colonial violence — spoke next on the history of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and the role of white people in the African liberation movement.
In the presentation, she described revolution and liberation, using the Vietnamese revolution as an example.
Hess explained that the Vietnamese revolution, fighting French and U.S. colonialism, was not a fight for “body cameras or for [the French and the U.S.] to unlearn their racism”.
“What the Vietnamese said was, ‘We will fight you no matter how long it takes, no matter how many Vietnamese will die. We will overturn your State. We will take power over our own land and resources. And that’s what they did.’
She then continued, “This is what Chairman Omali Yeshitela is talking about — an anti-colonial struggle by the African working class inside the borders of the United States”. White people can become a part of the anti-colonial struggle by coming into organization under the Party’s leadership and organizing in the white community for reparations to African people.
Jesse Nevel then spoke about the campaign of Unity Through Reparations and what white solidarity with Black Power looks like in the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
He explained that USM is “not a call to become like Rachel Dolezal or something like that. The point is there’s no escaping that reality [of white people as colonizers of African and Indigenous people]. The call from the African People’s Socialist Party is not to escape it, is not to escape whiteness or to deny it, but to participate in destroying it — in destroying the basis of what it even means to be a white person.”
Nevel elaborated that white people “created the whole concept of race to justify colonizing African people and stealing their resources. That’s what it means to be white. So the call is to turn loose our whiteness through unity with the African liberation movement.”
Akilé Anai then spoke on USM’s role in the overall Uhuru Movement and about USM in the context of current social conditions and the resistance of African people.
Anai emphasized that white people “don’t have to ask that question anymore” of “where [they] fit in” in the anti-colonialist movement. She continued, “I just want to really urge the white people in this room” to “join the African People’s Solidarity Committee” and USM so that “this system can die much faster” .
Building Uhuru Solidarity Movement, St. Pete!
After the main speakers, Gazi Kodzo and Kundé Mwamvita gave powerful presentations. Kodzo, APSP Director of the National Office of Recruitment and Membership, spoke about the Black is Back Coalition’s annual political conference and march on the White House in Washington, DC, as well as the upcoming APSP 7th Congress in summer 2018. Mwamvita, Party member and mother of slain teen Dominique Battle, spoke on Black Star Industries and its economic institutions, such as Uhuru Foods and Pies.
Many white people, including those who had not heard about the campaign but united with reparations and an end to gentrification, came to Days in Solidarity with African People in St. Pete. Many were introduced to the Uhuru Solidarity Movement through the electoral campaign and enthusiastically filled positions to help with food, set up, security and many other roles and contributed reparations.
The outreach done on the ground brought in resources and won membership to help build DSAP-St. Petersburg and USM.
White people in the audience who were not already members became members that day, paying reparations monthly and asking how to become more involved in the work. Membership meant joining the St. Pete branch of USM, led by the national DSAP coordinator Jackson Hollingsworth and joining the local outreach committee led by USM National Outreach Coordinator Johann Bedingfield.
The passion of the white community in St. Pete (and of those watching the event online) for “Unity Through Reparations” led to the event surpassing its goal of reparations to African people. This proved that we as white people can get on the right side of history, that we can organize other white people like us and raise reparations to African people for African and world liberation.
Unity Through Reparations!
Jesse Nevel, Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement
Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee
Diakiesse Lungisani, African People’s Socialist Party
Gazi Kodzo, African People’s Socialist Party