MARCH 6, 2019—The Uhuru Movement celebrated a victory as Jesse Todd was elected the alderman of the 18th ward in St. Louis, Missouri.
This was no ordinary election and Jesse Todd no ordinary candidate—having demonstrated his genuine love for African people and his community by speaking out, at one point on his own, fighting for the democratic rights of black people.
He’s the treasurer for the Democratic party central committee and met the Uhuru Movement through the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement’s (InPDUM) “Keep 28” campaign, which is a campaign to halt the white-power-initiated ward reduction from 28 to 14; a proposal that would effectively eliminate a real ability for black people to be able to run for office, on a platform that speaks to our community’s interests and win.
He joined this campaign recognizing that ward reduction allowed the government to, “carry out the genocide of the African community in silence.”
He would soon become known as the Black Power candidate.
He even went on to adopt the National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination, a 19-point-platform that gives Africans the ability to run for office on our own platform that truly represents our interests, founded by the Black is Back Coalition (BIBC).
At his victory party, hosted by InPDUM at the St. Louis Uhuru House, Jesse Todd stated:
“I got into this struggle as a teen, I wake up and go to bed thinking about how I can make the conditions of our African people better.
I want you to hold me accountable. I want to be held accountable by the people who voted me in, but also by the vanguard Party, who I recognize to be the African People’s Socialist Party.
And I don’t separate the people from the Party. The Party is the leadership of the people and helps to provide clarity.”
By the time this article is printed and received by our readers, we will have gotten the results for another election taking place in Madison, Illinois for sister Wanda Carson, a fearless African woman in our movement running for ward three alderwoman.
She served as the faith based community organizer for InPDUM’s “Keep 28” campaign, organizing church congregations to support this initiative.
These struggles and victories being claimed in the electoral arena by our movement are indicative of a whole new front for revolutionary struggle.
The sham of U.S. democracy and the elections
Chairman Omali Yeshitela has summed up what the elections in this country are: a non-violent contest between sectors of the ruling class for control of the State.
The State being the courts, the police, the military, etc. that have the power to exercise the will of the ruling class.
The State is an instrument of coercion, using violence and all other means to maintain the status quo—the status quo of colonial oppression and domination of African people in this country and around the world.
With this understanding, we are able to make sense of why the electoral process as a tool to advance the interests of African people has not been effective in the past.
It begins to explain why, throughout history, the black voter turnout has decreased, in the absence of any real political representation for our people.
During the 1960s, in the height of the Black Revolution, our people across this country were engaged in intense struggles for power.
We were laying out our demands to be a free, self-determining people. We had real leaders, who spoke unapologetically on our community’s behalf, exposing the horrors of domestic colonialism and organizing to overturn them.
Hundreds upon thousands of Africans in the U.S. would heed the call to join the revolution, take up arms in the struggle and seize every inch of political space that we could.
And as our people fought tooth and nail for the right to exercise power through the electoral process, it would soon become the case that, as our movement progressed, the electoral arena would be considered a legitimate entry for struggle.
However, as our movement intensified, as revolution increasingly became the main trend for colonized and oppressed peoples around the world and U.S. imperialism in its purest form could no longer contain the masses rising up, the U.S. government launched a bloody assault against the Black Revolution.
The counterinsurgency, coined by Chairman Omali Yeshitela as “a war without terms”, was unleashed upon the Black Liberation Movement here in the U.S. and against Africans fighting for independence around the globe.
Police agencies such as the FBI and CIA would infiltrate our organizations, send in spies, have our leaders imprisoned or assassinated.
There were mass incarcerations of anyone appearing to be associated with the struggle for Black Power and public executions of figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
As our people were bloodied and beaten by citizens of the colonizer nation and the ruling class State while trying to achieve the right to vote, everything worth voting for was being wiped out from beneath us.
The counterinsurgency would then impose a form of indirect rule, neocolonialism or “white power in black face” to steer our people from the struggle for power to one that fought for government handouts and a seat next to white people.
We had finally achieved the right to vote, but we would have nothing to vote for.
Our movement was effectively crushed by this government assault.
If our people weren’t pushed out of political life totally, we were following the propped up puppet leaders who told us we should desire to fight for integration or some other absurd demand that would not solve the problem of being a powerless people.
This reality, coupled with the multiple attacks against African people to diminish our voting power, including mass arrests resulting in felony convictions, contributed to our movement turning our backs on the electoral arena.
It was clear that voting for the next U.S. imperialist president or local government official would make no difference in the lives of black people.
For decades this would be the case, until Chairman Omali Yeshitela and the African People’s Socialist Party took on this question.
The ballot and the bullet as strategies for revolution
The means by which African people struggle for power is not limited to one form.
We aim to be on all possible fronts at all times, which means there is no space we should abandon should we gain the opportunity to grab it.
This is the same case for the electoral arena.
Though the elections serve the same purpose no matter who’s running, we have the ability to raise important questions, mobilize thousands of people to our demands and win sympathizers to our movement, from the masses of people who, at the moment, believe the elections are the only legitimate form of struggle.
The elections, facilitated by and for white power imperialism, will never result in African Revolution.
As mentioned, the elections are a means to carry out a non-violent contest between sectors of the white ruling class for control of the State—to maintain the current social system.
As African Internationalists, we understand that this system came into being through capitalist-colonialism—the assault on Africa 600 years ago, resulting in Africans becoming the first commodity for sale under capitalism and the birth of the U.S. and the entire white world.
This relationship of capitalist-colonialism has been sustained through elections, as well as other violent means.
As revolutionaries, we are in the business of overthrowing the entire capitalist-colonialist system, which cannot be done through winning elections, but we are able to inject self-determination demands, which help to undermine the system as it exists today and revolutionaries have the responsibility to take up all the political space.
The bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie should never go uncontested in any political forum.
Up to this point, they have dominated the electoral arena.
This is something the African People’s Socialist Party has taken on as a revolutionary organization, running an electoral campaign.
The Party shaped revolutionary struggle in the electoral arena
The APSP has had many notable electoral campaigns, including the bid for mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida by the Chairman in 2001.
By the end of the election, Chairman had won every black and mixed precinct in a majority white city. Had the African community held its own election for its own mayor, Chairman would have won by a landslide.
During the presidential election of 2008, when Barack Hussein Obama was chosen as U.S. imperialism’s last hope to pacify the African community’s growing distrust of the elections, the Party joined together with different African organizations to form the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations.
This coalition would come together to oppose imperialism and all that it attempted to do with a newly appointed black face.
It also developed the electoral campaign school that teaches ordinary black people how to run for office, as well as how to conduct recalls, referendums and ballot initiatives.
In 2017, the Party launched a massive electoral campaign that swept the city of St. Petersburg, Florida, but it would also come to have serious implications on the political atmosphere witnessed today.
The Party’s own Akilé Anai and the Uhuru Solidarity Movement’s national chair, Jesse Nevel, would come to be the world’s original reparations candidates, heading up a dynamic campaign for “Unity Through Reparations”—a brilliant strategy of Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
Despite the bourgeoisie’s attempts to ice out these campaigns from any media, they received national coverage from major news stations and journals, to report on a white reactionary attacking the reparations demand.
The campaign was also profiled in Ebony Magazine, where Akilé was asked what does reparations look like for the black community?
This unprecedented electoral campaign, that created cause for Obama to intervene and endorse the Democratic party candidate in opposition to the reparations demand, saw over 200 white people marching behind the leadership of the African working class of St. Pete, in gentrified downtown chanting “Unity Through Reparations!”
It was a campaign like none other, and it was attacked by the liberals, the white left, the conservatives, the Democratic party progressives and the like.
Reparations just two years ago, when the Party was raising the demand high in the sky, was looked at as a crazy, taboo demand.
Now it’s among one of the most important questions for 2020 presidential candidates to answer.
Electoral politics taking on a more radical fashion
On every television screen or newspaper today we see “radical” politicians speaking out against the current order.
We see more distinguishing politics from even the usual “progressives”, where people like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other self-proclaimed Democratic socialists express contempt for the current capitalist set-up.
They too, however, represent the interests of a sector of the white ruling class, in a much more beguiling face, as to win over the masses of people, especially the African working class, who have been disillusioned and disgusted by what we’ve seen in electoral politics historically.
There are even forces like Ilhan Omar, a U.S. representative out of Minnesota, born in Somalia, who has boldly condemned the settler state of Israel and criticized Obama, calling him “a pretty face that got away with murder.”
We must ask ourselves why there is a growing number of politicians in the mainstream being supported despite their differing politic from that of the status quo.
Is it because Elizabeth Warren woke up one day and suddenly had a burning desire to help black people?
Did U.S. imperialism suddenly gain a conscience?
This growing split in the ruling class and their attempts to restore the people’s faith in its process represents a deepening crisis of imperialism.
It’s white power’s inability to rule in the same old way.
It is forced to respond to the growing anti-U.S. sentiment.
And though it doesn’t intend on ending the conditions that create the basis for discontent, it is doing everything in its power to put forth representatives and band-aid type solutions to give the appearance of the problem being solved.
The problem with this is that the circumstances will not change.
For this system to continue to prosper, it requires the oppression of African people in this country and around the world.
This is why African Revolution has to occur, in order to permanently end the conditions caused by capitalist-colonialism.
A new era in revolution
Despite the attempted hijacking of the Black Liberation Movement’s struggle, happening even today as politicians discuss using elections to gain power to the people, or coming out in support of reparations to African people, our movement is taking this opportunity to deepen these issues further.
We intend to define this period and spell out our independent trajectory of revolutionary politic.
We have already begun this process and we are steadily moving faster to claim victories where ever we can.
This helps us to understand the significance of Jesse Todd and the victory claimed in St. Louis. We are not simply looking for black politicians to run and win, only to talk to white people about what they’re willing to do to us just to prove that they’re different.
We’re looking at people like Todd, or Charles Barron, a New York state assemblyman fighting for the African community in Brooklyn.
These comrades represent the fighting spirit. They are the leaders our people fought to be able to vote for in the 60s.
When we see forces like them on these major platforms, speaking directly to black people without fear, we are reminded that we don’t have to crawl on our bellies.
We can fight fiercely for what we want and what we believe and we can win because of it.
Congratulations Jesse Todd!
Black Power wins in St. Louis!
A victory for the African Nation!