PHILADELPHIA—On Saturday, October 17, the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF), along with our many community partners, is proud to present the first Uhuru Book Fair & Flea Market (UBFFM) in West Philadelphia’s beautiful Clark Park, located at 43rd St. and Chester Ave.
This lively and informative event is free and will be open to the community from 9am-5pm. The rain date is Sunday, October 18.
The all-day, outdoor festival will feature poetry readings, spoken word performances, African authors with their books, live music, speakers, and an array of craft and market vendors. The event will forward the work of African authors, cultural workers and bookstores. Education resources will be available to address adult literacy, English as a Second Language (ESL), the systemic lack of access to education resources in the African community, and to forward African self-determination.
The program will also feature live music performances by The Chillers – Coco and Friends; Weez the Peeples & Sistahs Laying Down Hands; soulful songstress Tina Mouzone, and poetry readings by Rhanda Rise, Rasheed Bey, and many other talented artists from our community.
This African community-led event was organized to get the Philadelphia community involved in solving our collective problems by ending the grave disparities in the educational system and by building sustainable economic development and self-reliance, created by and for the black community.
The Uhuru Book Fair & Flea Market is honored to feature our keynote speaker Chairman Omali Yeshitela, founder and leader of the Uhuru Movement and Chairman of the African Socialist International. Yeshitela will be speaking on issues faced by the African community and reading from his book An Uneasy Equilibrium: The African Revolution vs. Parasitic Capitalism and will also be signing his book and greeting the community at the Burning Spear Media booth all day.
Yeshitela has been a black community activist since the 1960s and has dedicated his life to uniting and liberating Africa and African people everywhere. He is a well-known author, and actively leads the worldwide Uhuru Movement. Yeshitela is responsible for building African self-determination institutions across the U.S. such as The Burning Spear newspaper, UhuruNews.com, Uhuru Foods and Pies, Uhuru Furniture Stores, Uhuru House community centers, and the TyRon Lewis Community Gym. Yeshitela is also a highly sought after leader who has spoken at the UN and throughout the U.S., Africa, Europe, Canada, Russia, South America, and the Caribbean.
The Uhuru Book Fair & Flea Market is taking place in the context of a historical struggle for black freedom in Philadelphia – including black community education – that has been ongoing since the Reconstruction era. African people who courageously freed themselves from slavery are responsible for the U.S. system of free public schools that exist today. In 1967, African students were forced to heroically fight against the brutal Philadelphia police force, (then led by Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo), to win the ability to study our own, black history in school.
Today’s Philadelphia public schools operate in a system that disproportionately targets black children as young as three years old for suspension and expulsion. Pennsylvania also has the highest level of education funding disparities in the U.S. – Philadelphia schools are underfunded by over $1.35 billion.
In 2012-13, despite an overwhelming community outcry, the city of Philadelphia closed 30 schools in predominately black communities, and drastically cut back on funding for school nurses, extracurricular programs, guidance counselors, and other important services. Their actions served to further undermine the educational progress of the city’s more than 142,000 school children and their families. Defunding these vital services led to increased health problems for African children, including the tragic death of a young African girl due to asthma complications, which was fully preventable.
A large percentage of Philadelphia’s scandalously small education budget is spent on “security,” which ends up primarily being the criminalization of black children. This presents itself in the “school-to-prison pipeline” that targets young African children for prison. In Philadelphia, a city where the majority of the population is either African or Puerto Rican over 40% of residents do not even have a high school diploma. These are deeply ingrained education disparities that lead to unemployment, poverty, and lower wages for families, which lead to poor health and shortened life expectancies.
Uhuru Book Fair & Flea Market Coordinator Tiffany Murphy stated, “UBFFM is particularly significant because it represents the real solution to these dire conditions — African people solving these pressing problems ourselves, collectively. APEDF and our many partners are committed to building community-based self-reliance programs that have a lasting, positive impact on the education, health, and economic development of our community.”
Excited for the event, North Philadelphia’s Black and Nobel Bookstore owner Hakeem Hopkins said, “You gotta make it out to the Uhuru Book Fair & Flea Market!”
The Uhuru Flea Markets (held monthly from April through October) and the Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles store at 832 N. Broad St. are economic development projects of the nonprofit organization African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF.org). APEDF is building programs and campaigns throughout the U.S. for African self-determination and self-reliance in education, health, and economic development. To this end, APEDF has been hosting festivals, fairs, and flea markets in West Philadelphia for 11 years and counting.
You and your family are invited to come out and participate in this dynamic African community-led event! Spaces are still available for authors, book sellers, poets, spoken word artists, independent publishers, education resource providers, and vendors.
To participate, please visit the website at uhurubookfair.blogspot.com, or call 267-875-3532.