ANWO’s 2023 Black Women’s Convention signals a major shift in the political development of African women

With the theme “Burning this system down, lifting our sisters up,” the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) held its Black Women’s Convention in-person from March 24-26, 2023. This was ANWO’s first in-person convention since the COVID-19 colonial virus began.

Comrades came to Saint Louis from Maryland, D.C., Florida, California, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina.

ANWO members who have only known each other through phone calls and Zoom meetings embraced one another, ate together, laughed together, and planned together.

Day one of the convention began with an open mic social night where community members and convention-goers shared poetry and song over good food and music.

Day two of the convention began with early morning yoga led by Keke from Twisted Yogi. The planned march through the community was canceled due to rain.

After the yoga session, convention goers convened for the opening of the convention. Alderman Jesse Todd gave a revolutionary welcome to the ANWO convention attendees to the city of St. Louis. Raja Freeman, a young poet from Ohio, followed up by sharing several of her poems about African women, police brutality, and black joy.

Assuming a great task

Next, I presented the political report to the convention which called on African women to recognize the depth of our mission:

“We have assumed a great task. There are no illusions here. The African National Women’s Organization is small and we are talking about transforming millions of African women around the world into active participants in the African liberation struggle. This is a huge undertaking, especially when we are the only evidence there is of a real revolutionary African women organization.”

The rest of the report spoke to the reasons why African women must take responsibility for making Africa free. I closed with the way forward for ANWO which focused on political education, sustaining membership, and security.

More highlights of the day included the inspiring presentation from African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela about the work of the Black Power Blueprint in St. Louis; afterwards we all piled into our van and vehicles to see some of the projects which included the workforce development housing plex, the basketball court, and the future headquarters of ANWO at 4617 Natural Bridge Road.

The building is over 3,000 square feet and needs work, but it is an exciting opportunity to turn it into an international embassy for African women. The main hall will be our community meeting space. Upstairs will have other program rooms and office space for our comrades. Nail by nail, we will transform that building just like we plan to transform the world.

After the tour, we went back to the venue to hear APSP Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s keynote address. The Chairman opened with a few anecdotes and built up to the significance of creating ANWO and how we have shifted the landscape of black women organizing.

ANWO has filled the space that was abandoned by former revolutionaries who jumped on the bandwagon of petty bourgeois politics.

Day one ended like it started, with revolutionary grounding in preparation for the final day.

Celebrating, appreciating and building up

Day two opened with the African Nation Fight Song penned by Elikya Ngoma. All followed the words on the screen as we sang from the depth of our diaphragms, “we are winning” after every line. Fist pumped in the air and heads bopped to the beat when it came to the chorus:

“Long live the liberation. Of our African Nation. Freedom through organization
Socialist world, our creation. One billion strong; yes, we are one!”

Comrades who had never heard it before were really appreciative of the lyrics. It was a great way to open our program that was followed by reports from ANWO’s regions given by Parrish Davis, Rage Gray and myself.

ANWO has been busy over the last year. The convention stage gave us the perfect vantage point to see the growth of ANWO and the genius of the regional strategy the Chairman called on our movement to embrace.

The African Women in the Revolution panel followed the reports, featuring leaders of the African People’s Socialist Party comrade Directors Aisha Fields of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project and Akilé Anai of the Party’s Department of Agitation and Propaganda.

They responded to questions about how they have transformed from women who were just living their lives to African revolutionaries taking on the responsibility of burning down the colonial mode of production, while lifting African people up. It was truly inspiring and it set the tone for the awards ceremony which came after.

We honored the members and community who we believe exemplify warrior women. Certificates of appreciation were awarded to Fofeet Alkebulan, The Western Region, Parrish Davis, Rage Gray, Attorney LaKeshia Adeniyi, Amanda Wallace of Operation Stop CPS, Dr. Aisha Fields and Mwezi Odom. Special bronze plaque awards were given to Deputy Chairwoman Ona Zené Yeshitela and Director Akilé Anai for their fortitude and resistance in the face of the FBI attacks on our movement.

We wrapped the day with a presentation from comrades Mecca and Etana on political prisoners and the perspective of African women prisoners.

By this time, comrades were amped up and ready to go back into the world to continue the work ready to build ANWO by bringing more African women to the revolution.

If you missed it. You missed a whole lot. I’d compare the convention to a cool glass of water in a hot desert.

We are winning!
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