On Saturday, June 16, the Oakland Freedom Summer Project (OFSP) hosted the Uhuru House Reunion, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the African People's Socialist Party (APSP) and the achievements of the worldwide Uhuru Movement with grace and style.
The Oakland Uhuru House was decked out with banners, posters and remembrances of past struggles and campaigns from its glorious history in Oakland.
Friends and supporters of the movement ate the delicious food prepared by Uhuru Foods Chef John Janosko while seated at tables with white linens and enjoyed iced Jamaica tea while waiting for the program to begin.
Sealli Moyenda, a 20-year veteran of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in Oakland, opened up rocking the house with a powerful and lively rendition of "This Train is Bound for Freedom."ï¿½ Everyone in the house was singing by the end of the song!
Then, APSP USA Secretary General Gaida Kambon opened up the program with an overview of the history of the Party, the Oakland years and the significance of the Oakland Freedom Summer Project and rebuilding the movement for African self-determination in Oakland.
Longtime Oakland leader Bakari Olatunji presented a slide show depicting the historic struggles led by the Party during the APSP's 40 years of existence, especially the struggles of the Oakland years. Those struggles included the historic Measure O and H initiatives for community control of housing as well as the struggle for healthcare with the organizing of the Lil' Bobby Hutton Mobile Healthcare Clinic.
The Party's aim to keep the Black Power Movement of the '60s alive and well in Oakland was clearly successful following the U.S. government's attempt to defeat the movement of the 1960s through counterinsurgency war.
Photos by wise old snail
Remembering our fallen comrades
A tribute to the fallen comrades honored such powerful leaders as Biko Lumumba, who led numerous struggles in Oakland, brought young Africans and their culture to the Uhuru House and led the campaign to set the record straight when the government and media attempted to slander Huey P. Newton, the founder of the Black Panther Party, following his death in 1989.
Biko Lumumba's sister, Yvette Phillips Aldama, tearfully accepted the award for Biko Lumumba, stating her appreciation for the Uhuru Movement and the role it played in her brother's life. "I am so moved by the love everyone has shown for my brother. He is still here," she said.
APSP co-founders Lawrence Mann and Katura Carey as well as Rashida Mustafa (Dessie Woods), Sharon Lee, Michael Ahadou, Andito Siwatu and Pule Shoba who was from Azania (still known as South Africa) were among the many comrades honored during the slide presentation that was accompanied by the sound of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."ï¿½
Following the tribute, the Oakland Freedom Summer Project 2012 presented Comrade Omowale Kefing with a special "Bread, Peace and Black Power Award" for the key part he played in the African People's Socialist Party's Oakland years.
"When we came to Oakland, we came to fight!" Omowale declared as he accepted the award.
Bakari Olatunji also received an award for his longtime commitment to the struggle for the freedom of African people. The crowd was moved when Bakari transformed his acceptance speech into a statement of gratitude for the African Peoples Socialist Party and a self-criticism for leaving the Party for the brief period that he did. Bakari's statement in response to receiving the award was significant. In doing so Bakari displayed the type of honest and righteous stance that we would want others who have left the Party, the movement and political life to take.
Such a stance was also shared by Mary Isham, who had shown solidarity with the Uhuru Movement, particularly in the Lil' Bobby Hutton Mobile Healthcare Clinic, Black Star Vitamins and in contributing to the opening of the Uhuru House In 1984.
Following the tributes and awards, International InPDUM President Diop Olugbala presented the important campaign to Free Bakari Olatunji, who is facing charges following the attack on him by Oakland police officers during the struggle for the Court for Black Justice.
Olatunji was arrested and held for ransom (bail) at the beginning of May, when the OPD was holding an "Open House." The Uhuru Movement held a demonstration in front of the event to protest the occupation of the black community by the police and demand economic development instead of police containment of our community.
Police targeted Olatunji for his public stand in support of the community against the t the police reign of terror on our community, particularly for his public statements supporting Lovelle Mixon who fought back against the police in 2009 in an action that resulted in the deaths of four Oakland cops.
After the report by Olugbala, the reunion program introduced everyone in the room to the current exciting worldwide work of the Uhuru Movement with a dynamic video presentation that showed our Party in action in West Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the U.S, It shows our work building economic development in our communities and taking on political struggle through campaigns such as the "Diop Olugbala for Mayorï¿½ of Philadelphia" campaign.
Following the spectacular video presentation of the Party's forward motion, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, founder of the Uhuru Movement and the African Socialist International (ASI) presented the keynote presentation.
He commended all the comrades for their roles in the struggle for African freedom and liberation. He discussed the theoretical understandings of African Internationalism, the philosophy of the Uhuru Movement that is guiding the way towards the destruction of parasitic capitalism and the transformation of the world into the hands of African and oppressed peoples.
During his presentation, he made a critique of the Occupy Movement stating, "Just the willingness to tear something down does not make you a revolutionary. Revolution is about constructing and building a new world and a new future."ï¿½
Following the presentation, African People's Solidarity Committee (APSC) member Maureen Wagener came up to the podium with Bakari Olatunji to raise resources for the Oakland freedom struggle and the Uhuru Jiko, a commercial kitchen to be installed at the Oakland Uhuru House to bring economic development to the African community of East Oakland.
Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People's Solidarity Committee gave a statement of unity with the reunion and talked about the role that white people must play in principled solidarity with the struggle of African People.
Reunion attendees stayed well past the time that the event was to end to ask Chairman Omali questions and to engage in political discussion.
Reunion re-introduces attendees to independent political life
While the Reunion succeeded in bringing together veterans and newcomers to the Uhuru House in celebration, that was not the primary objective of the event. The goal of the event was to bring the people back into the movement!
It was clear that the people, both veterans as well as newcomers, who attended the Reunion Banquet were impacted by the ongoing call made throughout the event to come into or return to revolutionary political life.
The reality made clear at the event was that freedom for African people has not yet been won and that the experience gained by the veterans of the movement in the 1980s and 1990s is needed now more than ever, alongside the youth and dynamism of the emerging generation of Uhuru Movement forces.
In response to this call, several people registered to participate in the upcoming Oakland Freedom Summer Project, which begins on July 9 at the Uhuru House. Some have even joined the committee to build this campaign.
Among those who answered the call was Marcia Colbert. Marcia played an important role in several Uhuru-led struggles in the '80s including the Measure O housing referendum and the campaign to free Freddy Lee Roberts, an African man accused of killing a cop who was actually shot in the back of the head by his own partner.
Surely the future for Black Power in Oakland looks bright with the return of forces like Marcia and others. We invite others to join with them to participate in the Oakland Freedom Summer Project. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the website and register today online at www.uhurusummerproject.org/register.shtml.