The Uhuru Movement calls on students, artists, computer technicians, carpenters, plumbers and electricians, health care workers, teachers, young people and workers in general to come and participate in the Oakland Freedom Summer Project (OFSP) 2012, scheduled from July 9 to July 29.
The Oakland Freedom Summer Project is a multi-faceted project designed to advance the struggle for African freedom inside the United States and around the world.
This will be accomplished by hands-on, on-the-ground training through actual political struggle and the building and consolidation of existing institutions of the African Liberation Movement.
This year’s OFSP is like Freedom Summers of the past, such as the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964, the Oakland Summer Project of 1984 and the St Petersburg Summer Project of 2011.
Years of organized black power political work had been done in those locations, making them prime venues for young people to come and work for the purpose of advancing the people’s struggle to be free.
The same is true for present day Oakland, CA. This is the birthplace of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and a city where during the 1980s, the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) led countless struggles and created institutions to rebuild the Black Power Movement in the U.S.
The goal of this year’s Oakland Freedom Summer Project is to strengthen the movement for African political and economic power that the APSP built in the 1980s.
Concretely, the Summer Project will initiate a serious renovation of the Uhuru House, resurrecting it as the revolutionary center for the African community in Oakland.
This process will include transforming half of the Uhuru House into the Uhuru Jiko (kitchen) that will serve as the base of operations for Uhuru Foods, a subsidiary of Black Star Industries.
Uhuru Jiko will also open up economic development within the community. It will be a place where our people can come to expand or start food and other businesses and offer hands-on nutrition and cooking classes.
In addition, we will revitalize the murals on the front of the Uhuru House. These murals present the likenesses of great African Internationalists and revolutionaries of the past and present including Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Huey P Newton and Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
The OFSP will also serve to strengthen the organizational capacity of the struggle for self-determination in the African community.
Programs for political and economic self-determination will include a clothing drive, multi-media and street journalism classes to expose the U.S. government’s war on the black community, martial arts training and basic training on how to be an effective grassroots organizer.
Lastly, through the APSP-led All African People’s Development Empowerment Project, the Summer Project will launch community gardens in the East Oakland area. The first of which will be established in the backyard of the Uhuru House.
Mississippi Freedom Summer, 1964 and the birth of Black Power Movement
Freedom Summer is not a new idea.
In 1964, when lynchings were commonplace among white American working class mobs, and Africans in the U.S. had no democratic rights, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) launched the first Freedom Summer with the Mississippi Summer Project.
Mississippi was the place where years of advanced work had been done due to a high concentration of colonial violence against the African population.
In its literature of the time, the SNCC stated, “As the winds of change grow stronger, the threatened political elite of Mississippi becomes more intransigent and fanatical.”
Out of this struggle, a courageous African woman named Fannie Lou Hamer in Mississippi led the emerging Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party..
Despite intimidation and murders through church bombings, assassinations of freedom workers, and bombing of churches and homes, the Party, with the Black Panther as its symbol, was still able to register more than 80,000 Africans who in turn voted for Aaron Henry, an African for governor of Mississippi.
The Party also went up to the National Democratic Party Convention and challenged the seating of the all white Mississippi convention delegation.
Two years later, Willie Mukassa Ricks, seasoned from the work of Freedom Summer 1964, led the cry for "Black Power!"
The U.S. government responded to the movement demanding independence for African people with a vicious counterinsurgency, or war.
By the latter part of the 1960s, the U.S. had unleashed a bloody wave of political repression that left some of our most outstanding leaders imprisoned, overthrown or murdered and our most significant organizations enfeebled or destroyed.
The list of known victims include such notables as Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and ultimately Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe. Sobukwe was the founder of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania who was imprisoned following the Sharpeville Massacre in March 1960 and, after years of imprisonment and colonial abuse, subsequently died in 1978.
Rebuild the Black Revolution in Oakland!
Even as an era of struggle was being brutally ended and the dreams of freedom and happiness for millions of our people were subordinated to the whims of imperialism, another era was coming to fruition with the founding of the APSP.
In the late 1970s, the Party came to Oakland where African people were catching hell following the U.S. government’s military defeat of the Black Revolution of the 1960s.
The Party was the only organization that exposed the brutal conditions of the African community in a city that bore the brunt of the U.S. government’s brutal infestation of deadly drugs as a means of salting the earth to make sure the African working class would never rise up to struggle again.
Poverty, homelessness, police terror and mass imprisonment were rampant, with no organization representing the masses of African people.
For 12 years in the 1980s and early 1990s, Oakland was the national headquarters of our Party.
In a short time, we built a movement and opened the Uhuru House on MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland as our organizing center.
It was from Oakland, California, the birthplace of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, that the Uhuru Movement, under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party, launched the second historical Freedom Summer.
In 1984,, the Uhuru Movement led the Community Control of Housing Initiative known as Measure O, organizing numerous volunteers who delivered more than 300,000 fliers to the doorsteps of Oakland residents, , which resulted in winning 29,000 votes on the ballot.
Oakland was the center of countless Uhuru Movement campaigns, including the Tent City for the homeless in downtown Oakland and the takeover of an abandoned house in East Oakland for a homeless family a generation before the rise of the Occupy Movement.
The Party in Oakland waged struggles against police murders of Africans and fought for housing, economic development and reparations. Campaigns in solidarity with Mexican, Indigenous and Filipino peoples were also waged.
During these years, a young Tupac Shakur rehearsed at the Uhuru House.
Huey Newton made his last public presentation here, passing the torch from the Black Panther Party to the Uhuru Movement. In addition, countless forums, campaigns, meetings, marches, demonstrations, press conferences and actions also took place here.
Colonial conditions in Oakland have gotten worse since the 1960s
Although the APSP-led Uhuru Movement was successful in pushing back the U.S. counterinsurgency against the Black community to a great degree during the 1980s, our momentum was slowed down by the urgent need for the Party to move its headquarters back to St. Petersburg, FL in 1993 because of the growth of the Party and Movement on the East Coast and increasingly in Europe.
As a consequence of the weakened state of the movement in this area, white power has been able to resume it colonial pillage of the African community in Oakland with even greater veracity than before.
The present day conditions are evidence of this:
• One in five families in Oakland lives on $15,000 a year.
• 40% of Oakland’s billion dollar annual budget is spent on police, while only half of one percent is spent on economic development.
• In 2007, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) murdered five people. In 2008, the OPD murdered seven people. The State has failed to punish a single officer who has shot someone.
According to a 2008 report by the Alameda County Health Department, an African born in West Oakland, as compared to a white child born in the Oakland hills:
• Will live 15 years less.
• Is one and a half times more likely to be born premature with a low birth rate.
• Is seven times more likely to born into poverty.
• As an adult, will be five times more likely to be hospitalized with diabetes, twice as likely to die of heart disease, three times more likely to die of a stroke and twice as likely to die of cancer.
• African people make up five percent of California’s population, but are 50 percent of California’s prison system, which is the fourth largest prison system in the world.
• The OPD is an alien colonial occupying army: 78 percent of the officers do not live in Oakland.
Through the Oakland Freedom Summer Project, the Uhuru Movement aims to rebuild the same movement for Black Power in Oakland that we built during the 1980s.
Such a movement will serve to overturn the parasitic and oppressive relationship that the U.S. government has with our people.
Why the Occupation for Self-Determination?
Currently, the prominent left leaning political activity in Oakland is carried out through the Occupy Movement.
This is changing more and more as African people are coming into political life through spontaneous struggles such as the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Even this struggle, however, is primarily under the leadership of the African petty bourgeois.
While the Uhuru Movement can appreciate and unite with certain struggles the Occupy Movement has generally been responsible for making, we cannot accept Occupy as a substitute for the struggles for national liberation that must be led by oppressed people ourselves.
Nor can we accept the logic being put forth by various sectors of the African petty bourgeois that justice and freedom for African people is synonymous with integration into the same system that is responsible for our oppression.
The fact is that the Occupy Movement’s criticisms of capitalist policy do more to articulate the interests of a white population that became disgruntled only when the amount of colonial loot it is accustomed to receiving got smaller.
The criticisms coming from Occupy make little, if any criticism of capitalism and imperialism as a system that is built off slavery, genocide and colonialism.
They just demand a return of the days when white people could get a larger share of the resources looted from Africa and the rest of the non-white world.
Advance the interests of the African working class
The Uhuru Movement is clear that it works in the interest of the masses of the people, white included, to unite with the struggle against capitalism itself, which can only be made through the struggle for national liberation and self-determination for oppressed people.
Anything less would simply be an arrangement in which white people are restored their financial security at the expense of everyone else.
Therefore, the Uhuru Movement aims to launch the Oakland Freedom Summer Project under the slogan of “Occupation for Self-Determination.” We aim to unite the broadest sectors of the activist sector of the U.S. population with the struggle for self determination for the African community and material support for the Uhuru Movement which is leading that struggle. Most importantly, we are calling on African people to join the Oakland Freedom Summer Project.
At the OFSP, you will receive training on the art and science of grassroots organizing, principles you can take back with you to your community.
Through participation in the OFSP, you will be participating in the strengthening of the capacity of the Uhuru Movement, the organization which is leading the struggle worldwide for the liberation and unification of Africa and African people.
FORWARD TO OAKLAND!
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
BLACK POWER TO THE AFRICAN COMMUNITY!
To register for the Oakland Freedom Summer Project go to uhurusummerproject.org or call 510-569-9620