St. Petersburg, FL—The national holiday set aside to remember the iconic African martyr, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., holds its largest celebration in this city.
A day primarily acknowledged only by the black community, it is a time for us to come together and remember King for his contributions to our struggle to be a free, independent people.
The south side black community made a tradition of lining MLK Street, wearing our finest clothes, driving candy painted cars, listening and dancing to music, hearing the sounds of marching bands, and vending food, clothes, jewelry—you name it.
In a city where the government has successfully wiped out black businesses and set public policies that prevent us from having any kind of economic life, MLK Day served to bring business to a lot of black vendors in this city and across the country.
Half of black vendor’s income was reported to come from MLK Day alone. It’s really the only time that our community has to buy, trade, and sell amongst ourselves; something white people have the luxury of doing all the time.
It was the one time out of the year our community could come out and be unapologetically black, but over the last decade the city government has made drastic changes to this celebration through gentrification, police containment, and economic quarantines.
The changes could be seen gradually, each year the festivities on MLK being shut down earlier, the parade rerouting to go downtown to the white community.
It reached a height last year, when two weeks before MLK Day the Kriseman regime, through the police chief Anthony Holloway, enforced a restriction on black vendors on MLK Street. The only vending options offered was at Tropicana Field (the baseball dome that is built atop one of the most historic black communities of St. Pete), which is completely removed from the African community.
In addition to this ban of vending, they locked down our community; the presence of the police overwhelmed us.
The pigs were on every corner of the south side, preventing us from coming in or out. It was beyond causing disruption to traffic. It was a threat.
It was intimidation.
It was a complete stranglehold on our community.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela, leader and founder of the Uhuru Movement, characterized the scene of police occupation as “Palestine on steroids.”
The event that we coined as the “MLK Lockdown” sparked outrage among the south side black community.
The Uhuru Movement makes no mistake that the reason for this military occupying force being in the black community is to ensure that our self determination could never cause an issue for the ever-expanding downtown high rises and condos that bring with them more parasitic investors and gentrifiers.
In short, all of these actions are to make the city white through and through.
The sellout police chief said that the only apology he’ll make to the black community is not putting us on notice ahead of the time.
The notice, however, has gone out early. Their warning to us was the taking of MLK Day last year.
This year, we are putting the city on notice.
To every government official, every white gentrifier, every sellout, we say, “It’s on!”
Be like King
When the U.S. government killed King and in turn gave us a holiday to keep our mouths shut, they hurriedly sanitized King’s image so that the movement he had inspired would never rear its head again.
They told us the reasons we should love him were because he was for “peace” and “non-violence”.
They then tell us to be like King, so that they can continue their violence and brutalization of our community.
Taking back MLK Day requires us to truly be like King.
To mobilize thousands of people and criticize the status quo.
To fight back against oppressive policies of police containment through civil disobedience.
This was not the King we were taught to love, but it is the King we intend to be like come this next MLK Day.
We are going to disrupt everything this city has in place.
Where they say we can’t go, we are going to be.
When they attempt to force a curfew, we will stay as long as we please.
We will vend and defend those who choose to.
We will fight for this community no matter what.
We’ve seen the power of the south side black community. We have pushed back this same police, this same city government, and won!
We’re calling on you to be a part of this effort to take back MLK Day. We’re calling on you to be like King!
Fists up, fight back!
We’re calling on 10,000 guerilla shock troops to take to the streets this coming January 21 to defend our community.
We want everyone to come out to the Black Power 96 FM radio hosted “Free Da Mic 727” community festival, where we will have live performances and the only vending on the south side. It’s free, family friendly, and we won’t have to worry about the pigs trying to shut us down.
This event is to be held at the Uhuru House!
If they try to stop us from celebrating MLK Day, we will rise up!
We will also be meeting to plan around this event as well as the overall MLK Day, every Sunday, from 3-5 PM at the Uhuru House.
All members of the community are called on to participate in this mobilization strategy to take back what belongs to us!
Our black businesses, our black community, and our MLK Day!
It’s on! Take back MLK Day!
Make the south side black again!
We’re putting St. Pete on notice!