More than 35 organizations and individuals signed on to launch the Hands Off Uhuru Fightback Coalition, led by the African People’s Socialist Party on Saturday, July 8.
The dynamic founding meeting was facilitated by Hands Off Uhuru Chair, Mwezi Odom. The new coalition includes members from a broad swath of the political spectrum, coming together for the first time to unite under the leadership of the African Liberation Movement. The gathering was centered on the “objective to build an anticolonial free speech movement,” as laid out by APSP Chairman Omali Yeshitela in his opening statement.
This historic coalition was organized by the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Defense Campaign formed by Chairman Yeshitela just after the brutal military-style, pre-dawn FBI raids of seven properties and homes of the Party in two cities on July 29, 2022. Chairman Yeshitela, along with Penny Hess, the chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, and Jesse Nevel, chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, were indicted in May of this year.
Both Hess and Nevel’s white organizations were formed by and are working under the leadership of the Party. This solidarity has earned all three the nickname, ‘the Uhuru 3.’ The state has levied bogus and racist charges that the three were functioning under the “malign influence of Russia” as “unregistered agents of the Russian Federation.” They face up to 15 years in prison. After nearly a year of fierce and highly visible struggle pushing back these attacks, Chairman Yeshitela and Hands Off Uhuru have galvanized the support of countless individuals, groups, and media platforms, some of which have joined the coalition.
In his overview, Chairman Yeshitela turned history right-side up by laying out how the African Liberation Movement and other colonized forces have always borne the brunt of the colonial state attacks.
The Chairman explained how the colonial mode of production was the basis of “a world economy that linked us in a parasitic relationship as oppressed and oppressors.” The Chairman called on the white left to unite with the leadership of the African and other anticolonial forces, in the struggle for national liberation as the leading force in the world revolutionary movement.
The Chairman stated, “Free speech is critical. But unfortunately, when Africans, Mexicans, and others put forward our views, we have been historically attacked by both the U.S. government and the white leftists, anti-imperialists who jumped in to silence and attack our views. “They would come up with their own arguments for what black people should do to be free. They end up objectively on the side of the colonizers in attempting to control what ideas we are allowed to have. These are our ideas and we have agency! We don’t need Russians or anyone else to tell us that we are oppressed and colonized.” The Chairman called for “solidarity from those who stand with us to demand our right” to struggle for our liberation, “whether or not you agree that Africans are a colonially dispersed nation around the world, which it is, you have to believe in our right to say that.”
This coalition represents a departure from the historic white left opportunism in opposition to the African Liberation Movement and by establishing the leadership of African and other anti-colonial groups as the vanguard of the progressive movement. Jesus Rodriguez of the Orinoco Tribune of Venezuela opened up the discussion period with an enthusiastic statement of unity:
“You can count on us. In the spirit of international solidarity, unity in the fight against imperialism. We will do whatever is needed to support you, to try to get rid of this terrible new attack against black organizations, anti-imperialist organizations.” The new coalition endorsed and committed to building the Black is Back Coalition’s 15th annual March on the White House on November 4 of this year with the demands, “Hands Off Uhuru! Drop the Charges on the Uhuru 3!”
Others who committed to joining the coalition are: African National Women’s Organization; African People’s Socialist Party; African People’s Solidarity Committee; African Socialist International; America United Foundation (Zena Crenshaw); African National Women’s Organization; Black Agenda Report; Black Alliance for Peace; Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (B.A.N.C.O.); Black is Back Coalition (Chairman Omali Yeshitela); Black Panther Party San Diego; Black People’s Advancement & Defense Organization (BPADO); Brown Berets of San Diego; Center for Global Studies; CUNY for Palestine; Elombe Brath Foundation; Friends of the Congo; Green Party organizations of Missouri, Florida, and New Jersey; Harlem Anti-War Coalition; International Association of Democratic Lawyers; International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM); International People’s Tribunal on US imperialism/sanctions; Jericho Movement; Joko Collective; Louisiana United International; Lynne Stewart Organization; Mafundi Lake Day Committee; National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (NCOBRA); National Lawyers Guild; National Network on Cuba (NNOC); New Abolitionist Movement; Odessa Solidarity Campaign; Operation STOP CPS; Orinoco Tribune of Venezuela; Reparations United; Reparations United Front; Socialist Workers Party, Miami; Socialist Unity Party of San Diego; Tampa 5; Students for Democratic Society; Troika Kollective; Uhuru Solidarity Movement; Union del Barrio; United AntiWar Committee (UNAC); Universal African People’s Organization (UAPO); U.S. Hands Off Cuba Committee; U.S. Palestine Community Network; and individual members including Lisa Davis, John McCarthy, Brendan McCoy, and Janet Kobren.