Report from the USM National Convention: “Occupy Imperialism” resolves to Grow the Uhuru Solidarity Movement!
USM convenes in period of imperialism’s decline, re-emergence of national liberation struggles
As the African People’s Socialist Party spreads like wildfire around the globe, “Occupy Imperialism,” the National Convention of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, was held in Philadelphia, PA on June 9-10, 2012, marking a great leap forward in the struggle to organize Euro-Americans and other allies in solidarity with the worldwide African Revolution.
This 2nd annual National Convention of the USM was held under the theme, “Occupy Imperialism: Crisis, Resistance, Solidarity with the Liberation of Africans and Oppressed Peoples.”
The USM was honored to host the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party as special guests at our national convention, including keynote speaker Chairman Omali Yeshitela, who provided profound political analysis, explaining the world through the eyes of the African working class.
Chairman Omali and other APSP leaders had just returned from Europe where the APSP held the first-ever African Liberation Day event in Paris, France, a powerful victory for the African Liberation Movement and evidence of the ever increasing expansion of the Uhuru Movement across the planet wherever African people are located.
Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, Penny Hess, who has led the solidarity movement for over 35 years, brought convention participants to a deeper understanding of our role as white people in the movement for the liberation of African people and what we must do to end our relationship with imperialism.
Other speakers included Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report, who spoke on the intensifying imperialist wars of the Obama administration.
The vision of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement
The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is the mass organization of Euro-Americans (white people) and other allies of black liberation, formed by and working under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party to build political and material solidarity with the struggle for African Liberation.
National Chair of USM, Stephanie Midler, opened the convention with a presentation that laid out the vision for the USM as a mass organization: “The vision of this organization is for there to be hundreds of thousands of white people and other allies of African people participating in this work, in reparations in action, in growing USM in our communities.
“When I walk out of my apartment I want to see the person across the street saying ‘Uhuru!’ to me, and I say ‘Uhuru!’ back!” said Midler.
“Uhuru” is the Swahili word for “freedom”. It was the slogan used by the Kenya Land and Freedom Army during the struggle against British colonialism in the 1950s. The African People’s Socialist Party, founded in 1972, adopted the slogan “Uhuru” and is today known around the world as the Uhuru Movement.
USM National Chair Midler explained how the strategy and vision of the APSP points the way forward for all of humanity to live in a world without slavery and oppression. It is a strategy designed to win liberation for African people. The USM is a manifestation of that strategy.
Midler primed up the convention participants for a transformative two-day process. “Through participating in this convention and in this organization, you start to go through a process of seeing the world through the eyes of the African working class. This is completely different from what we experience as Euro-Americans.”
USM Philadelphia’s Harris Daniels, USM St Petersburg’s Jesse Nevel, and USM West Coast representative Wendy Craig reported on the work of the USM in each of their respective areas -the broad array of campaigns, reparations-in-action fundraising programs, political demonstrations and other activities of the movement.
USM honored by international recognition from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
A powerful solidarity statement from Marcos Garcia, the Labor Attache of the Venezuelan Embassy, was presented to the convention attendees, beginning with the words, “Revolutionary greetings, dear comrades and friends of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement on the occasion of your National Convention, on behalf of the people and government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” Read the complete statement here.
Comrade Garcia’s statement detailed the achievements of the Venezuelan government in areas such as education, poverty reduction and healthcare. It also exposed the attacks by US Imperialism against the peoples of Venezuela and other progressive governments in Latin America.
As Comrade Wendy Craig said, “The USM stands in complete solidarity with the peoples of Venezuela against US Imperialism!”
John Morrison of Liberation Art and Culture Works performed a hip-hop song inspired by the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. BIBC is an anti-imperialist coalition in which the APSP plays a key leading role.
Chairwoman Penny Hess on the revolutionary science of African Internationalism
Penny Hess, the Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and the author of Overturning the Culture of Violence, gave a powerful mutli-media presentation called “Occupy Imperialism! Solidarity with African Liberation!”
Chairwoman Hess showed scientifically how the development of capitalism and the wealth of Europe and the United States were only made possible through the enslavement of African people the genocide against the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and colonization of the majority of the peoples of the world.
Citing concrete examples such as the fact that 15,000 African bodies are buried beneath Wall Street, Chairwoman Hess showed the relationship of white wealth to the oppression of African people.
“This understanding of the world is scientific,” said Hess. “It is based on science, reality, the world as it really is. We challenge you to dispute it!”
Chairwoman Hess closed her presentation by struggling for all of the convention attendees to understand the primary significance of reparations as the cornestone of our work in the Uhuru Solidarity Movement. Hess explained that our stance around reparations is “what determines if we are revolutionaries or not.”
Glen Ford, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report and founding member of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace, and Reparations, presented on Obama’s wars in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Glen Ford described the Obama adminstration as “manifesting a critical illness” in the system of imperialism itself.
Tina, Philly’s Own Souful Singer, performed a number of beautiful songs with the common theme of social transformation.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela shows how capitalism was born – and how it will be destroyed
Approaching the podium amid a standing ovation and roaring applause, Chairman Omali Yeshitela gave the keynote presentation at the Occupy Imperialism national convention.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela is the founder and leader of the Uhuru Movement, the chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party and the African Socialist International, as well as the Chairman of the Black is Back Coalition. Chariman Omali is also the theoretical architect of African Internationalism or Yeshitelism, the revolutionary political theory of the Uhuru Movement. He has authored dozens of books and pamphlets, including the recently published, “Quotations from Chairman Omali Yeshitela.”
In his keynote presentation, Chairman Omali spoke about the glorious history of the APSP which was formed in the wake of a counterinsurgency war waged by the US government against the African Liberation Movement of the 1960s.
Chairman Omali discussed the evolution of the Civil Rights Movement into the Black Power Movement of the 1960s. Ideological differences emerged as the voice of the African working class began to make itself heard in the form of black revolutionary leaders such as Malcolm X and Fred Hampton.
It was during this period that the US government adopted “assassination as its primary form of criticism,” carrying out the murders of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and countless others.
“We don’t even know how many were killed during that period,” said Chairman Omali.
In spite of their brutal efforts , the US government could not extinguish the flames of the African Revolution. In 1972 out of the ashes of the counterinsurgency emerged the African People’s Socialist Party.
Chairman Omali’s profound presentation refuted the assumption that capitalism is responsible for progress and growth, which is how many white people view capitalism while disregarding the experience of the vast majority of the world’s population.
Chairman Omali’s theory of African Internationalism turns the world right side up. Regardless of the “progress and growth” enjoyed by the white population at the expense of humanity, it is colonized peoples’ experience of the other side of parasitism that exposes the reality of capitalism as a system that has imposed poverty, suffering, war, violence and exploitation on the masses of Africans and other oppressed peoples.
Chairman Omali explained how Marxists and others have failed to grasp that the fundamnental feature of capitalism is parasitism. Capitalism requires for its existence the parasitic extraction of labor, land, and resources from the colonized and oppressed peoples of the world. This is the pedestal upon which capitalism resides.
As Chairman Omali said, “You cannot get rid of capitalism if you don’t get rid of parasitism.”
USM salutes African People’s Socialist Party on its 40th Anniversary
After Chairman Omali’s presentation, Johann Bedingfield of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and African People’s Solidarity Committee joined Stephanie Midler and Jesse Nevel at the podium to deliver a powerful statement that saluted the African People’s Socialist Party on its 40th anniversary.
Said comrade Johann, “We recognize how crucial our role is to take the message of Black Power into the white community, ending our alliance with imperial white power. It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to join humanity and have a future with the oppressed peoples of the planet as they end parasitic capitalism. We of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement present this plaque to Chairman Omali Yeshitela and salute the African People’s Socialist Party on its 40th anniversary of resisting white power.”
Chairman Omali was then presented with a plaque from the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, featuring the famous quotation from Che Guevara, “It is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate, one must accompany him to his death or to victory.”
Planting the seeds of solidarity: Grow the Uhuru Solidarity Movement!
Stephanie Midler and Jesse Nevel led a workshop called “Solidarity, Not Charity” that illustrated through two powerful videos what it means to become a sustaining member of USM. The videos deepened our understanding of reparations and showed the powerful work being done throughout the world by the African People’s Socialist Party, which leads the USM.
Next, USM members, special guests and convention attendees were presented with thank you gifts recognizing their contributions to the USM and their willingness to participate in a process of seeing the world from the perspective of African and other oppressed peoples and uniting in genuine solidarity.
Gifts of non-GMO, heirloom vegetable seeds in ready-made peat pots were distributed as thank you gifts as a reminder of the positive vision for a sustainable future that the APSP has given us and that we all have the ability to grow USM!
In a new tradition of the USM national convention, members of USM and other attendees had the opportunity to participate in the program by making statements at the microphone about why they are becoming sustaining members of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
On a panel entitled “The US Government Has Killed 1000 Trayvon Martins,” Ayesha Fleary of the African People’s Socialist Party gave an impassioned presentation about the war against the African community that is waged by white imperialism everyday and why it is the human right of Africans and all oppressed to fight back against imperialist violence by any means necessary.
Jesse Nevel spoke on actions and campaigns that USM will be carrying out in the upcoming year, including the Days in Solidarity with African People, Days of Action that will revolve around a demonstation at the Republican National Convention, the Uhuru Pies and other reparations in action programs, and the Oakland Freedom Summer Project to be held in July.
A lively question-and-answer session moderated by Penny Hess allowed for convention participants to ask questions directly of Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
USM members elect national officers and vote on resolutions
The highest leading body of the USM is the national convention. That is concretely expressed through the ability of the membership body to present, discuss and vote on resolutions that will guide the work of the entire organization in between conventions.
On June 10, 2012 the membership of USM voted to pass three resolutions (available here): to grow the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, to build the Oakland Freedom Summer Project, and to build the campaign for A Day in Solidarity with African People.
As stated by the USM Constitution, APSC Chairwoman Penny Hess appointed the USM National Chair.
Stephanie Midler has led the USM as National Chair for the past 2 years and has demonstrated incredible leadership and a genuine commitment to building the USM as a mass organization. The USM membership applauded as Stephanie Midler was appointed to lead the USM as National Chair for the upcoming year.
USM members also voted in the nominees for the National Steering Committee. The National Steering Committee is the body that leads the USM in carrying out the mission of the USM as described in the Constitution and the resolutions passed at the convention for the year.
Jesse Nevel – National Outreach Chair
Harris Daniels – Sustainable Membership Chair
Kefira Baron – Secretary
Wendy Craig – Treasurer
Not another talkfest – Occupy Imperialism armed organizers with the tools to build
After the election and resolutions process, Jesse Nevel led a mobilizing workshop called “How to Build the USM Part 1: With the Burning Spear Newspaper, Anyone Can Be An Organizer!” This workshop armed USM members with the tools and confidence to go anywhere in the world with nothing but a Burning Spear Newspaper and build a branch of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
The Burning Spear is the official newspaper of the African People’s Socialist Party. Nevel went over different ways of selling the Spear, how to come up with an attention-grabbing hook such as asking passers-by, “Are you sick of this unjust system?” and the importance of setting concrete measureable goals anytime you go out with the Burning Spear Newspaper.
Comrades Jesse Nevel and Johann Bedingfield traveled to Philadelphia on May 31 and spent over a week prior to the convention leading daily street organizing, selling the Burning Spear, raising over $300 and signing up over 50 new contacts. These experiences informed the workshop on selling the Burning Spear.
Stephanie Midler then led the 2nd half of “How to Build the USM” with a workshop called, “Reparations in Action.”
In this workshop USM Chair Stephanie called up other organizers to report on the major campaigns of the USM: the Days of Action, the Oakland Freedom Summer Project and the Day in Solidarity with African People.
Stephanie also guided us through an organizing manual so that all new members can go back to their areas and start building a branch of USM.
“Occupy Imperialism” broke new ground for the Uhuru Solidarity Movement. Members who traveled to Philadelphia from around the country reported that they felt like the convention brought them to a new level of political clarity and energized them to hit the streets and do the work necessary to grow this organization.
As Chairman Omali reminded us during his keynote presentation, African Internationalism is not a theory intended only to explain the world, but to transform it.
“Occupy Imperialism” was a tremendous victory in the struggle for social justice, peace, and reparations to Africans and all oppressed peoples.
The USM convened under the theme of “Occupy Imperialism” because we recognize that simply occupying Wall Street is not enough. It is not enough to struggle for a bigger share of the stolen loot for ourselves while Africans and other oppressed people continue to suffer under the brunt of US colonial exploitation and war.
We have to take a stand in solidarity with African liberation and the oppressed peoples’ resistance to imperialism.
USM is the organization under the leadership of the APSP. We are part of the strategy for the liberation of African and oppressed peoples around the world.
We have a responsibility to go back into our own communities and grow this organization, if we truly want to transform this world and bring about a sustainable and positive future with justice and genuine peace for all humanity. “Occupy Imperialism” gave us the tools to do that.
You can start today by becoming a sustaining member of the USM. Click here to join as a sustaining member of this organization! Take the next step by participating in an orientation that will plug you into this movement, no matter where you are located.
Click here to Take the Pledge of Solidarity as a concrete way to show your support for the revolutionary struggles of African people for national liberation and self-determination. Donations support the work of the African-led Uhuru Movement working for liberation and self-determination for African people everywhere.
Occupy Imperialism! Reparations Now!
Grow the Uhuru Solidarity Movement!