Uhuru Solidarity Movement 2021 Convention raises bar

By Penny Hess

This article was originally published in the June 2021 issue of The Burning Spear newspaper and its online edition TheBurningSpear.com. It is republished with permission from The Burning Spear .


The 2021 National Convention of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM), with 65 cities across the U.S. and five countries in attendance, represented a great leap forward in the African People’s Socialist Party’s (APSP) strategy to extend the African Revolution behind enemy lines into the white colonizer population.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is the mass organization of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), formed by the APSP and Chairman Omali Yeshitela to organize white people to join under the leadership of the Party in a principled relationship of “white solidarity with Black Power.”

The two-day virtual conference was themed “Make Wall Street Pay Reparations,” echoing the slogan of USM’s campaign to intensify the anti-colonial demand for reparations to African people from the Wall Street ruling elites and colonial-capitalist ruling class.

Convention features the leadership of the APSP and APSC

We were honored to feature African People’s Socialist Party member Elikya Ngoma’s powerful “African Nation Fight Song,” a new tradition now preceding events of the Party.

In her keynote presentation, Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the APSC opened with a salute to the leadership of the Party, which has developed the strategic and theoretical basis for the “Solidarity Front of the African Revolution.”

“The critical key question… is the question of colonialism,” Chairwoman Penny explained. “This is a time when white people are being called to task to stand up to take responsibility, to pay reparations… to stop our complicity.”

Using the Party’s theory of African Internationalism, Chairwoman Hess reconstructed the colonial basis of white wealth, revealing the origins of Europe’s ascension from poverty through the looting of Africa and the assault on African people and their subsequent enslavement by white imperialism.

Chairman Omali Yeshitela gave a brilliant keynote address explaining that as imperialism is in a state of crisis, there is an even greater urgency in the significance of the solidarity forces in the Uhuru Movement.

“It’s really important for us to understand that [this] is a social system that cannot sustain itself; they cannot live without this… grotesque brutality imposed on Africans and others around the world.”

The Chairman explained that as North Americans living on stolen Indigenous land gained through the murder, rape and plunder and developed through carrying out the same against Africans and other colonized people, reparations need to be paid. It doesn’t just need to be paid from Wall Street, but from all white people because it’s the only way that actual class struggle can be initiated.

In one of the most memorable presentations of the weekend, titled “We are Preparing to Govern: Building the Liberated African Economy,” APSP Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela presented a mind-blowing virtual tour of the Party’s worldwide network of economic and political institutions that are building a liberated anti-colonial economy in the hands of the African working class. This includes the Black Power Blueprint in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Deputy Chair showed in practice how the Party is directly contending with the parasitic economy represented by Wall Street through the construction of an anti-colonial African political economy in the more than 50 institutions of dual and contending African working class power spanning the globe.

In the workshop “Repair the Damage! Return the Stolen Wealth!” the Reparations Legacy Project steering committee unveiled plans to hold demonstrations demanding reparations from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Wall Street and the Federal Reserve.

The call for resources and membership was a profound victory, with white people contributing collectively over $25,000 in material solidarity to the programs of the African People’s Socialist Party.

White Solidarity with Black Power in the U.S. and abroad

The second day of the convention began with African Socialist International Secretary General Luwezi Kinshasa revealing the untold brutality and violence in the Congo.

“All cell phones and laptops [are] blood money [from] forced labor,” explained Secretary General Luwezi. “Over five million displaced camps, over 10 million African people dead.”

The Party, however, is fighting back – shown by Chairman Tafarie Mugeri of APSP Occupied Azania in his presentation. They are building all over Africa: in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. “Our intention is to govern, to overturn colonialism and reclaim our own power. To be free is our main motivation.”

Uhuru Solidarity Movement has also been building abroad. USM member Lily Ehrlich has been working to mobilize in France, where she did outreach for the convention.

The Membership Office of USM presented on its goals for this upcoming year, including continuing to strengthen forces in the U.S. and abroad, with plans to consolidate branches in major cities by the end of 2021.

USM Vice Chair and Treasurer Amanda Carlozzi, along with Director of the Office of Reparations and Economic Development (ORED) Kitty Reilly and Chair of the Grants Committee Maureen Wagener, gave an impressive report on the work of raising resources as a concrete expression of reparations.

Through dynamic and creative campaigns like the Reparations Challenge organized by Leah Fifield, the Birthday Fundraisers headed by Monica Chiotti and the newest Art for Reparations campaign led by Pittsburgh comrade Eva Conrad, USM is creating a culture of white reparations to African people.
The conference also featured stirring cultural performances by Philadelphia-based African percussionist and Uhuru Movement supporter Karen Smith and longtime USM member in Spokane, Paul Kessler.

APSC Chairwoman Penny Hess announced the re-appointment of Jesse Nevel as the National Chair of USM, with approval from the Party and the Chairman. The general membership also voted to elect the dynamic National Steering Committee to lead USM’s work in the upcoming year.

That committee includes Vice Chair and Treasurer Amanda Carlozzi, Project Director Sarah Ritterspach, Membership Chair Allie Aiello, Northern Regional Chair Len Demmer, Information and Education Chair Mara Ratiu, Social Media Chair Jackson Hollingworth and Birthday Fundraisers Coordinator Monica Chiotti.

USM is now moving ahead with plans to host a major virtual event, “The Reparations Legacy Conference” on June 12, 2021 with the goal of winning white people with access to wealth on the pedestal of colonialism to pay reparations directly into the African self-determination programs of the Uhuru Movement.