Black Power on the rise in St. Pete

PETERSBURG — Sunday, Nov. 11 saw a diverse group of supporters gather at Akwaaba Hall in the Uhuru House, 1245 18th Ave. S, to celebrate WBPU 96.3 FM Black Power 96 radio station doubling its local listening area. What was strictly on the south side of town, can now be heard beyond neighborhoods north of Central Avenue and out to Gulfport and the Tyrone area.

Earlier this year, the FCC gave the go-ahead to raise the tower from 45 feet to 70 feet, expanding coverage and reaching more of the local African community. Black Power 96 was launched last Dec. on the internet and in Jan. as an FM station. It is completely funded by community support.

The afternoon was dedicated to self-determination, education, history, local live music and delicious food. Keynote speaker Omali Yeshitala, chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, delivered his message on “the war of ideas” being waged against African people on a daily basis.

Yeshitala, a St. Pete native, in 1966 tore down a racist and demeaning mural depicting black musicians serenading white partygoers, a scene he felt was a degrading caricature of black people. He spent two and a half years in prison for that act.

Chairman Yeshitala also spoke of the events in 1996 when the community reacted to the police shooting of 18-year-old TyRon Lewis and the subsequent rioting that ensued after the police officers were exonerated.

The celebration was sponsored by Uhuru Foods and Pies and was also supported by members of Uhuru Solidarity movement, a mass organization of white people working under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party, working in white communities to build white solidarity with black power.

As a new resident to St. Pete, this was a story I needed to hear.

The mission of Black Power 96 is to defend the human and civil rights of the African community through educational and cultural programming, to provide professional radio training and to promote economic development and self-reliance in the African community.

“Black Power 96 is needed to counter and change the relentless and daily negative narrative about African people. Poor and working-class African people are the most slandered people. Our programming addresses the serious disparities in education, health and economic development,” said Diakiesse Lungisani, WBPU 96.3 FM station manager.

He added that the station is designed to raise the consciousness of African people through programming related to and provided by African people, and seeks to unify black people worldwide.

WBPU is seeking businesses, event organizers and service providers to support the radio station. Volunteers are also being sought to help build capacity at the station.

Black Power 96 endeavors to continue to build awareness in the community, host culturally relevant events and invite more diverse voices over the airwaves.

For more information contact station manager Lungisani at (727) 914-3614 or

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