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The Uhuru Movement (Uhuru is the Swahili word for freedom.) is a radical socialist movement centered on the theory of African Internationalism, which provides a historical material explanation for the social and economic conditions of African people worldwide. The Movement has been led by the African People's Socialist Party (APSP) whose chairman is Omali Yeshitela who founded the movement in 1972.
Its black members consider themselves to be African; they do not adhere to the identities they consider given to them as a result of colonialism and enslavement. They consider themselves part of the dispersed African Nation, despite Africa never consisting of any one nation or race.
The APSP has formed several organizations, each with specific tasks and purpose. Affiliated organizations include The International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), African Socialist International (ASI), UhuruNews.com, African People's Solidarity Committee (APSC), Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM), Burning Spear Productions, Uhuru Foods, Uhuru Furniture, All African People's Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP), and African People's Education and Defense Foundation (APEDF).
The Uhuru Movement's political ideology is African Internationalism, which states that capitalism was born parasitic through the attack on Africa and her people. African Internationalism holds that capitalism is imperialism developed to its highest stage, not the other way around, as theorized by Lenin.
This belief derives from Marx's 1867 book Capital, in which Marx wrote "of the condition essential to the emergence of capitalism, which he called the 'primitive accumulation' of capital as capitalism's starting point." African Internationalism is not a static theory that only refers to past conditions. It continues to explain the conditions that African people are faced today. It refers to African people who live inside imperialist centers such as the United States and Europe, as an "internal colony". The Movement has called for the release of all African prisoners in U.S. prisons, described as "concentration camps", and has described U.S. police forces as an "illegitimate standing army". They have called for the withdrawal of police forces from exploited and oppressed African communities.
Areas of work
The Uhuru Movement is a collective of organizations and institutions that were formed by the African People's Socialist Party. Each organization was created to deal with specific issues related to the conditions faced by African people under colonialism:
- The African People's Socialist Party is an African-only political party. Its leading body is the National Central Committee (NCC) which makes up the leadership of the Uhuru Movement.
- The African Socialist International is the international manifestation of the African People's Socialist Party. Its job is to build Party organizations around the world and network with other revolutionary African organizations who unite with the principles of the African People's Socialist Party. Party members and institutions have been created in several European countries, the Caribbean and South America.
- International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) "is the leading mass organization in the struggle for Bread, Peace and Black Power in the 21st Century." Now located in three continents around the world, INPDUM has always demanded reparations, state power and self-government for African people worldwide!
- African National Women's Organization (ANWO) is the leading mass organization for African women who struggle against the colonial conditions that remove them from political life.
- All African People's Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) is an international organization establishing development projects in African communities worldwide. Its main work is in the areas of agriculture, education and healthcare. It recently completed a project to help Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone.
- African People's Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) strives to develop and institutionalize programs to defend the human and civil rights of the African community, and to address the grave disparities in education, health, healthcare, and economic development faced by the African community.
Solidarity (non-African) Political Organizations
- African People Solidarity Committee (APSC) was founded in 1976 by the African People's Socialist Party (APSP) as a way for Euro-American and European (white) people to join the African liberation struggle, working directly under the leadership of the APSP.
- Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM) is an organization of white people created by and working directly under the leadership of the African People's Socialist Party.
- Uhuru Furniture Philadelphia represents people in Philadelphia who donate, shop and/or volunteer at the Uhuru Movement's second-hand furniture store in that city.
- Uhuru Furniture Oakland represents people in Oakland who donate, shop and/or volunteer at the Uhuru Movement's second-hand furniture store in that city.
- Uhuru Foods and Pies' mission is to produce and sell the freshest foods to build self-sustaining economic development, designed for the prosperity and self-determination of present and future generations of African people worldwide.
- Akwaaba Hall in Oakland and St. Petersburg are located event rental spaces offered at a low cost to the community.
- Burning Spear Newspaper is the Uhuru Movement's newspaper. They call it "the voice of the international African Revolution."
- Burning Spear Publications
- Black Power 96.3 St. Petersburg
Controversies and criticisms
The Uhuru Movement came to national attention in the United States during the 2008 Presidential campaign season when they interrupted Barack Obama at a town hall meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, and questioned the candidate, asking "What about the black community?" alleging that he was not speaking out for Africans on issues such as police brutality, high unemployment, predatory lending, and Hurricane Katrina.
In 2004, Uhuru Movement's leader Omali Yeshitela was embroiled in an incident in which he tore down a Halloween display in St. Petersburg that depicted "a stuffed figure hung by the neck on a homemade gallows". Subsequent opinions and letters to the St. Petersburg Times regarding the incident were critical of both the Uhuru Movement and Yeshitela's conduct.
The Uhuru Movement was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for engaging in demonstrations on January 3, 2009 in St. Petersburg, Florida which the ADL claims encouraged anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rallies.
In 2009, the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement organized a march in support of Lovelle Mixon and against the Oakland police. Mixon was an Oakland, California, resident who was accused of killing four Oakland police officers and died during a shoot out after a traffic stop, coincidentally just blocks away from the local Uhuru headquarters. On the other hand, many black Oaklanders, as well as those belonging to other racial groups, seemed largely opposed to such sentiments, a clear majority of those who regularly campaign against abuses of police power also rejected any attempt to attach legitimacy to Mixon's murder rampage and Caroline Mixon, a cousin of Lovelle Mixon, paid a public tribute to the Oakland police, thanking them for serving and protecting the people of Oakland.
At the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, the General Students' Committee (AStA) broke apart in April 2015 as a consequence of internal dispute over purported antisemitism after having organized an Information event about the Uhuru Movement on JGU campus in January. Preceding this event, Yeshitela had delivered a speech about "the roots of racism and Zionism", and speaking of the Shoah as "this thing they call the 'Holocaust' […] a tool, a weapon against oppressed people everywhere".
The AStA distanced itself both from the Uhuru Movement, African People's Socialist Part and its leader Omali Yeshitela stating that "the struggle against racism and the consequences of colonialism should not blind us to other reactionary ideologies" and regretted providing a platform for this movement.
- African nationalism
- Black Power
- Dead Prez, hip-hop group which advocates African Internationalism and other Uhuru beliefs
- Omali Yeshitela
- International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement
- Uhuru Movement
- African People's Socialist Party
- African Socialist International
- Standard Swahili-English Dictionary, Frederick Johnson. Oxford University Press (1951), pp. 138, 491.
- "African People's Socialist Party-USA - History". Asiuhuru.org. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- Uhuru profile, sct.temple.edu; accessed September 18, 2015.
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- "African People's Socialist Party-USA Constitution". uhurunews.com. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
- "War abounds! Break the Silence! Join the Black is Back march on Washington Nov 3rd". uhurunews.com. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
- Enhancing Police Integrity, Carl B. Klockars, Sanja Kutnjak Ivković, Maria R. Haberfeld. Springer (2006), p. 118.
- "About Us". inpdum.org. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
- "Protestor Tells Why He Heckled Obama". NPR. 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- Miller, Sunlen. "Protesters: "What About The Black Community, Obama?"". ABC News.
- "Uhurus vs. Halloween display". St. Petersburg Times. October 23, 2004.
- "Uhurus went too far in destroying holiday display". St. Petersburg Times. October 23, 2004.
- "Israel's Action in Gaza Spurs Anti-Israel Rallies". adl.org. Anti-Defamation League.
- "Dozens march for Mixon, against police", San Francisco Chronicle, March 26, 2009.
- "Calling him a 'true hero', mourners hold vigil for suspected Oakland cop killer Lovelle Mixon", New York Daily News; accessed June 13, 2016.
- Woman says she pointed police to Oakland killer, San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 2009.
- Kamiya, Gary (2009-03-28). "Oakland mourns". Salon.com. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- Kuruvila, Matthai (April 1, 2009). "Killer's cousin pays tribute to Oakland cops". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on April 4, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
- Schmidt, Carina (April 30, 2015). "Jusos und CampusGrün: Knatsch im AStA, Zusammenarbeit geplatzt/Streit um Referentin eskaliert". Allgemeine Zeitung. Archived from the original on September 17, 2015. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
- "AStA distanziert sich von der Uhuru-Bewegung". General Students' Committee at the University of Mainz. Archived from the original on September 17, 2015.