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Seven city Day of Solidarity tour kicked off in St. Pete
Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African Peoples Socialist Party
BY ANNA WELCH, Neighborhood News Bureau
ST. PETERSBURG — Activists and community members gathered in the Akwaaba Hall at St. Petersburg’s local Uhuru House Oct. 2 to unite as one for the first of many “Days in Solidarity with African People,” an event that is described as a call to white people to support justice for Africans.
The evening kicked off with Penny Hess, the chairperson of the African People’s Solidarity Committee. Hess attended an event similar to this Day in Solidarity 40 years ago, where the African People’s Solidarity Committee was born, and she has been an active member ever since.
Her dedication to the cause was unmistakable, the strength in her voice mirroring the strength in the hearts of the Midtown community present, who cheered and shouted “Uhuru” as Hess explained that the movement is about African people having control over their own lives.
“All human beings can live in a world, this world… No one at the expense of someone else,” Hess said.
In attendance was Kunde Mwamvita (also known as Yashica Clemmons), the mother of Dominique Battle, the 16-year-old girl who died in a car accident on March 31 with two 15-year-old friends while being pursued by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department. Mwamvita struggled to share her story, holding onto a letter that her daughter had written her.
As she spoke, her grief was apparent in her voice.
Audience members embraced and wiped their eyes, mothers looked towards their own children. Mwamvita demanded justice, not only for her daughter and the two honorary daughters that she lost, but for Africans all over the United States, who are suffering just the same. She continued on to thank the members of the Uhuru Movement, whom she stated were there for her when lawyers were not.
“I thought I had to do it by myself, but I didn’t. I tried to get a lawyer. Do you know how many lawyers turned me down until that press conference? But then they started calling me. But I didn’t need them anymore because I had the Uhuru,” Mwamvita said.
Omali Yeshitela, the chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party and the founder and leader of the Uhuru Movement, delivered the keynote speech for the evening. Yeshitela described the history that came before him, reminding those listening, who were black, brown and white, young and old, that Africans have dealt with oppression for centuries in this country. According to Yeshitela, the struggles Africans face today are not much different than those he faced growing up in Midtown St. Petersburg.
“Growing up, everywhere I looked, people like me were suffering,” Yeshitela said regarding both his experiences in Midtown and at Gibbs High. During that time, those around him made it abundantly clear that unless he could live and be like a white person, he would not succeed. “African people are not motivated by hatred, [but] I cannot be your equal on my knees,” Yeshitela said.
A cultural performance by the membership coordinator of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, Akile Anai, depicted an African woman in Buffalo, NY, in the 1950s. She used magic and her charms to make a change in the world. The first part of this act was performed in Ferguson, but in St. Petersburg, this woman came to the realization that she must fight to make the change she wanted to see in the world. Anai’s character exclaimed to those higher powers that she would put down her potions and charms for the time being, and pick up tools to fight.
The Day of Solidarity Movement 2016 is the most significant of any, Chairman Yeshitela explained to the crowd, because the struggle of Africans has been placed back onto the global agenda in light of recent events. Yeshitela continued on to discuss the movement, explaining that it calls for a uniting of people, regardless of gender or race, to stand together with Africans and make a change to the society in which we currently live.
“White people are going to have to make a decision to stand on the right side of history,” Chairman Yeshitela said.
Similar meetings will take place over the next few weeks in cities across the country, such as San Diego, Gainesville, Seattle and Boston.