The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations held its first conference on January 23rd – 24th at the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida just weeks after an earthquake destroyed Haiti’s capital killing hundreds of thousands and leaving millions homeless.
Despite pledges by bourgeois governments and the imperial powers to “aid” Haiti in its reconstruction, the Black is Back Conference resolved that it would demand the removal of foreign troops from Haiti and the restoration of democracy in the First African Republic in the Western Hemisphere.
The theme of the conference, which began on Saturday, January 23rd with an opening address from Chairman Omali Yeshelita of the African People's Socialist Party, was to “Build and Consolidate the Coalition and Establish its Leadership.”
The Chairman, in his opening statement, said that president Obama represented the latest, most desperate ploy of imperialism wherein the oppressor represented himself in the guise of the oppressed. He also declared that the Coalition was opposed to imperialism and that it “marks the initiation of united resistance to imperialism, a resistance that advances the interests of oppressed and exploited African people within the U.S. and worldwide.”
The first task for the participants at the conference was to discuss and amend the proposed Organizational Structure and Principles of The Black is Back Coalition prepared by Sister Efia Nwangaza of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination.
Various presentations followed. This author gave a report on “The Condition of Haitian Workers in The Bahamas and the Struggle for Democracy in Haiti.” Glen Ford of www.blackagendareport.com gave two insightful reports: “Obama’s Wars as Continuation of Bush’s and Previous U.S. Imperialist Policies” and “Jobs, Wealth Disparities, Housing and Foreclosures in the African Community.”
Lawrence Hamm of the People Organization for Progress based in New Jersey gave a presentation on the examples of community-based political action against the U.S. war against the African community and Brother Thomas Ruffin of the Black August Planning group provided a report and lead a discussion on the “Mass Imprisonment of African People and Political Prisoners.”
On the second day of the conference Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa Ohema spoke on “The Struggle for Reparations in the World-Wide African Community” and Sister Ayesha Fleary reported on the coalition’s position in regard to the topic of climate change.
The Black is Back Media Committee then led a panel discussion and workshop on “Community Reporting, Facebook as it Relates to Organizing and Informing Africans, and Print Journalism.”
All papers presented during the conference were debated and unanimously accepted as Coalition resolutions.
Throughout the conference Chairman Yeshelita also impressed upon the Coalition its duty in respect to Haiti and he suggested the formation of a committee to focus on this issue.
At the end of the conference the Haiti National Mobilizing Committee was established and it was resolved that the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace, and Reparations would demand, amongst other things:
- The removal of all foreign military troops in Haiti including those from the United States, Canada, Europe and the combined imperial forces of the United Nations.
- The return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide from forced exile in South Africa and the restoration of democracy in Haiti.
- Reparations be made to Haiti by France as repayment for the billions of dollars that Haiti was forced to pay France following the struggle for the abolition of slavery and the creation of the First African Republic in the Western Hemisphere on the 1st January 1804. We also demand that the United States makes reparations to Haiti for its brutal and unjust occupation of Haiti from 1915 – 1934 that culminated in the looting of the Haitian Treasury.
- The release of all Africans from Haiti who are being imprisoned in detention centers throughout the world.
- The repudiation of the Wet Foot/Dry Foot Policy that unfairly discriminates against Africans from Haiti and the establishment of an open door policy that allows Africans from Haiti to enter the United States, and any other country, unfettered.
Last year – on November 7th 2009 – the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations violated all notions of conventional wisdom by organizing the first national mobilization in opposition to the United States’ domestic and international actions and policies since the inauguration of the country’s first black president, Barack Hussein Obama. Hundreds of people, mostly Africans, answered the call to rally in Washington, D.C and march on the White House under the slogan: Resist U.S. Wars and Occupation in the U.S. and Abroad! Reparations Now!
The Black is Back Coalition is now gearing up its forces to organize another National Mobilization effort in Miami on February 20th focused on the Haiti question.
Forward to Miami!
More images from the conference
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Ayesha Fleary, BIB National Secretary
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Rich Piedrahita, BIB Media Team
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Lawrence Hamm, Chairman, People's Organization for Progress
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Thomas Ruffin, Black August