The Black Power Blueprint is taking root in North St. Louis, claiming territory by and for us, the African working class.
Currently five blocks on West Florissant Ave. in the O’Fallon neighborhood are in the midst of rapid Black Power Blueprint transformation to serve our own black needs—not gentrification or big developers.
Step by step we are putting in place our own people’s urban plan based on the political and economic empowerment of the African working class.
A program of the African People’s Socialist Party, led by Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela, the Black Power Blueprint is renovating abandoned buildings and spaces, and developing economic projects for our community.
Under Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s bold vision of dual power, Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela and her team put the Black Power Blueprint on the map in less than three years, acquiring 13 properties on the Northside so far.
Now our streets are coming to life as the giant Red, Black and Green African flag flies majestically overhead.
African owned businesses are seeing a future. African homeowners and tenants are refusing to be pushed out of the neighborhood.
This is dual and contending power in our own black hands and we’re just getting started.
Our people’s plan for African self-determination!
The Uhuru House at 4101 W. Florissant opened early in 2018 following nine months of rehab and the Black Power Blueprint never looked back.
In October 2018 our Party held most of our 7th Congress at the St. Louis Uhuru House.
As community wedding receptions, repasts, birthdays and political events began to take place in the now state-of-the-art Uhuru House, we purchased two more badly decayed buildings across Alice Ave. and quickly demolished them. The demolitions were done by African-owned Jath Construction.
We sodded the land, installed a 50-foot flagpole and raised a giant Red, Black and Green African flag.
At our first flag-raising ceremony, traffic came to a halt on W. Florissant with school buses full of African children throwing up their fists and cars with families pulling over to photograph the site.
Last spring our master gardener and dear friend Mr. Gary Brooks began planting vegetables and trees with the help of a local Brightside grant and many volunteers.
Early this year we put in a beautiful wrought iron fence and the outdoor stage was completed by Paradigm Builders owned by Leon O’Hara.
The African People’s Education and Defense Fund won a 3-year USDA Farmers Market Grant enabling us to launch the farmers market on Alice and W. Florissant in the Spring of 2021.
Three blocks down the street at the corner of College Ave we purchased two properties, one of which we demolished in the summer of 2019 and which is slated for a much-needed outdoor community basketball court in a neighborhood that has no sports facilities.
Next door to the projected courts, at 4358 College is a 4-plex apartment building currently in the final days of renovation by Paradigm Builders.
The building will be used for housing for our planned African Independence Workforce Program, providing job training for our African brothers and sisters coming out of the colonial prison system.
The job training will take place at the Uhuru Foods and Pies national production and distribution center which will be coordinated out of our planned Jiko Kitchen at 3742 Goodfellow in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood, about four miles from the Uhuru House.
Despite COVID-19 shutdowns we never missed a beat, demolishing two more buildings a couple of doors down from the Uhuru House at 4007 and 4009 W. Florissant to make way for retail space.
The demolitions and other work were possible thanks to a generous grant from our friends at Clif Bar Corporation.
We have also purchased an empty lot at 3771 W. Florissant earmarked for a medical facility targeting the needs of African women.
Meanwhile an architectural design for the Jiko Kitchen was created by pastry chef Michel Suas, the owner of the San Francisco Baking Institute. The architect for the building will be St. Louis-based Duane Thompson.
Work on the Goodfellow Ave. building will launch in 2021.
The Black Power Blueprint’s charette, a brief but involved summary of our urban plan to be completed next year, was created by St. Louis Urban Designer and Architect Tyler Middendorf.
Black Power Blueprint overturns colonial oppression through our own power
The African People’s Socialist Party has been building in St. Louis ever since Chairman Omali Yeshitela came here and began building the Party right after the police murder of Michael Brown in August of 2014 when the masses of African workers rose up in fierce resistance.
Deputy Chair Ona Zené, the President of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF), was sent to St. Louis by the Party in 2017 to spend a week looking for a building for an Uhuru House, a community organizing and event space such as the ones we have in St. Petersburg, FL and Oakland, CA.
That week turned into two years and the Black Power Blueprint was born.
DC Ona spotted and APEDF purchased what is now the St. Louis Uhuru House at 4101 W. Florissant in the Northside O’Fallon neighborhood. The 3-story, 9000 square foot corner building was condemned.
The Deputy Chair immediately jumped in to coordinate the total renovation with African contractors, tuck pointers, painters, plumbers, roofers.
Hundreds of volunteers were enlisted to participate. Thousands of donors continue to contribute on the website www.blackpowerblueprint.org.
African workers power attacked by the city and Alderman Muhammad
Despite a massive outpouring of support and community participation, and the fact the city of St. Louis has never lifted a finger to improve the conditions here, the neocolonial John C. Muhammad, alderman for Ward 21 where the Uhuru House is located, is leading an attack against the Black Power Blueprint.
Many of the properties owned by the Black Power Blueprint were purchased through the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority (LRA), a city agency that owns at least 12,000 condemned and abandoned properties.
Most of these properties belonged to African people before we were pushed out through the city’s imposed poverty and colonial violence.
The LRA sells the properties for a low price but most African workers do not have the resources to fix up the building within the city’s required 12 to 18 months.
Alderman Muhammad promised African workers a $1 house program through the LRA, but only four people have ever purchased one of these properties due to the $70,000-plus needed to renovate them.
The majority of the people who can purchase LRA properties are white developers, including Paul McKee, a criminal wealthy real estate magnate who was given 64 properties on the Northside by the LRA along with over $4 million in tax credits by the city.
The city has clear plans to make North St Louis white.
Alderman Muhammad, who is in bed with the big developers refuses to write a letter of support for the Black Power Blueprint to purchase two other LRA properties in the 21st Ward along W. Florissant!
The Black Power Blueprint has been fighting these attacks and continues to garner the support of countless community members, supporters, contributions and grants.
African working class participation in the Black Power Blueprint
The Black Power Blueprint is part and parcel with the African working class community.
Here’s what some community members have to say about it.
Mr. Gary Brooks (the Black Power Blueprint gardener): “The Black Power Blueprint makes me feel very proud that I am able to live to see this progress going on here in North St. Louis.”
Elder Helen Hunt (a member of the garden club): “The Black power Blueprint is out there on the frontlines to help somebody have a better place in life.”
Isoke Bell (Black Power Blueprint volunteer): “In order for a few to live greatly, the black working class has to suffer. The Black Power Blueprint is changing that. It gives me a sense of purpose.”
LaVictor “Frogg” Wallace (Hired by Paradigm Builders for the renovation of the 4-plex): “To me the Black Power Blueprint means empowerment. I felt the power from the flag, power from our people.”
The Black Power Blueprint also salutes our numerous grants and donations.
● Special salute to Clif Bar & Company for their generous support
● Thanks to Humble Sea Brewing Co. for all they have contributed
● Salutes and thanks to Kai Avant-deLeon and Black Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn for their profound support.
We could not have accomplished all this without such beautiful work and powerful support from scores of businesses. To mention only a few:
● Dony McFarland Roofing and Construction
● International Union of Painters District Council 58, St. Louis
● Jason Pye, Release Electric Company.
● Riley Heating and Cooling LLC;
● Ron Jones, BlackBerry Landscaping
● Jubilee Tuck Pointing
● Leon O’Hara, Paradigm Builders LLC
● Coney Cleaners, Hardwood Floors
● Dtls Landscape Architecture
● Jath Construction
● Urban planner Tyler Middendorf
● Holt Electrical Supplies
In addition we salute the hundreds of volunteers from north and south of the Delmar Divide and the thousands of individual donors who have come forward to make Black Power a reality in St. Louis!
As Deputy Chair Ona Zené sums up, under the leadership of Chairman Omali Yeshitela we created the Black Power Blueprint as a strategy for Dual and Contending Power.
The reality is the African People’s Socialist Party, the Black Power Blueprint and Black workers power in North St. Louis are winning.
“We’re on a mission,” Deputy Chair asserted. “We’re not turning back!”
Find out more, volunteer and donate at www.blackpowerblueprint.org.