Brother Imari Obadele, 79, former U.S. political prisoner, anti-U.S. military draft activist, leader of the Republic of New Africa, co-founder of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA), and the subject of U.S. government persecution since 1948 died of a stroke, Monday, January 18th, in Atlanta, Georgia.
At the pinnacle of the U.S. Black Power Movement for Self Determination, late 1960's, brothers, Imari Abubakari Obadele and Gaidi Obadele (fka Richard and Milton Henry, respectively) called a national meeting in Detroit, Michigan to discuss the creation of a Black state within the southeastern United States; the area known as "The Black Belt," given the high concentration of Afrikans, primary site of enslavement, and symbol of continued national oppression. On March 31, 1968, 100 of the 500 conferees signed a Declaration of Independence, elected a provisional government, and named the nation the Republic of New Africa (RNA). Robert F. Williams, a human rights revolutionary and former president of Monroe, NC branch of NAACP, then living in exile in China to avoid lynching and government persecution, was chosen as the first President of the provisional government (PG); attorney Gaidi Obadele was named First Vice President and Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X, served as Second Vice President. All were comrades and students of Malcolm X.
The Declaration of Independence asserted the right of self determination of the descendants of Afrikans kidnapped and formerly enslaved in North America. Among other things, it demanded the cession by the United States of the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, the payment of $400 billion in reparations for the kidnapping, enslavement, and continued injustices suffered by Afrikans in the United States. Members of the Republic were constantly under assault by every form of U.S. state and federal government. The U.S. government began monitoring Dr. Obadele in 1948, when he urged Afrikans in the U.S. to resist the draft as a protest against the segregated military. In July of that year, President Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces.
In 1968, Dr. Obadele was labeled a "key black extremist" by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover because of his civil rights activism. Three years later, August, 1971, as part of the U.S. government's COINTELPRO program to "expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize" black nationalist and other radical dissident organizations, the FBI conducted a pre-dawn raid on the Jackson, Mississippi headquarters of the Republic of New Africa. In the ensuing gun battle, a Jackson policeman was killed and another, along with an FBI agent, was wounded.
Imari Obadele and several other RNA officials were tried and sentenced to long prison terms. He was imprisoned for five years and released, along with others, after a national grassroots mobilization and legal campaign. Following his 1980 release, Imari Obadele, as from prison, continued his work with the RNA and became its president.
Dr. Obadele attended Temple University and, at age 55, earned a PhD in political science. In addition to the RNA, he served the Afrikan liberation struggle by providing material and political support to independence movements here and abroad, lecturing and teaching at various universities, conferences and gatherings, publishing books and articles upholding the aims of the RNA and the Afrikan’s right of self determination.
Throughout his life, he worked with and impacted the lives of thousands of youth to ensure the next generation of struggle. Dr. Obadele taught at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, William Paterson University in New Jersey, and the College of Wooster in Ohio. His subject areas included U.S. government, constitutional law, international relations, and African American politics.
THE BLACK IS BACK COALITION for SOCIAL JUSTICE, PEACE, AND REPARATIONS SALUTES DR. IMARI ABUBAKARI OBADELE AND HIS LEGACY OF STRUGGLE. May we prove ourselves worthy of the legacy we've inherited, Long Live Dr. Imari Obadele!