New terms set for Black Power struggle at 5th Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party

 

History was made at the 5th Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party held in Washington, DC, July 10-14, 2010.
 
Coming at a critical time as the crisis of imperialism deepens daily and the neocolonial Obama regime escalates its attacks against African and oppressed peoples, the Party Congress catapulted the African Liberation struggle to the center of the world stage.
 
Under the slogan, “One People, One Party, One Destiny,” the 5-day Congress showcased the brilliant 40-year history of the African People’s Socialist Party, founded and led by our Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
 
The Congress is the highest body of the Party, where the entire organization meets to sum up the tasks of the African Revolution for this period, set policies and adopt resolutions that will be put into action.
 
As the Chairman explained, the Congress is where the membership gets “an opportunity to put their handprint on the policies and direction of the Party.”
 
Taking on the mantle of Marcus Garvey, whose slogan was “Africa for the Africans, those at home and those abroad,” the Congress brought together not only Party members and our allies from around the world, but Africans and friends from other organizations and progressive governments.
 
The Congress is guided by the Political Report by the Chairman, summing up the period through the groundwork of African Internationalism that, as the Chairman says is “not just a theory to explain the world but a theory to change it.”
 
Present at the event were some of the most important revolutionary comrades in the entire world, some of whom have struggled along side the Party for many years.
 
Participating in the Congress were Ernesto Bustillos, a founding member of Unión del Barrio; Saladin Muhammad, leader of Black Workers for Justice; Queen Mother Yaa Asantewa (Dorothy Lewis), Co-Chair of the International Affairs Committee of National Committee of Blacks for Reparations in America; Glen Ford, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report; Nellie Bailey, Director of the Harlem Tenants Council; and Chokwe Lumumba, Chairman of the New Afrikan People’s Organization.
 
Also on hand were Marcos Garcia, Labor Attaché of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; Malik Zulu Shabazz, Chairman of the New Black Panther Party; Eugenia Charles of Fondasyon Mapou; Lawrence Hamm, Chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress; Efia Nwangaza, Director of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination.
 
Also present were members of the African Socialist International, including ASI Secretary-General Luwezi Kinshasa who traveled from Britain and Chernoh Alpha M. Bah, ASI Director of Organization, who came to the Congress from Sierra Leone.
 
It was fitting that the Congress took place in Washington, DC, the center of U.S. imperial power and expressed the voice and the vision of the aspirations of the African working class, struggling to regain our control over Our Africa and resources after more than 500 years of imperialist domination.
 
As Chairman Yeshitela stated in his overview to the discussion of the Political Report on the first day of the Congress,
 
“We have said …that the politics of the entire world are shaped and influenced by the struggles of the world’s victims of imperial plunder and capitalist development for the last 600 years or so.
 
“It is the rectification of the relationship created by this imperialist history that is responsible for the crisis of imperialism and the imperialist response of permanent warfare and the selection of Barack Hussein Obama as president of the U.S.
 
“Because the vast majority of the world has been enchained by these 600 years of imperialist history, the current struggles of the world’s peoples, having achieved critical mass, constitute the true measure of progress in human affairs. These struggles represent the fruits of the struggles between world slavery that benefits all imperialism, including U.S. imperialism, and world freedom that benefits all the peoples and toiling masses of the world.”
 
Congress’ opening day features salutes from fraternal, international comrades
 
The Congress opened up with the Processional of the Central Committee of the Party, led by Chairman Omali Yeshitela followed by a powerful rendition of the African National Anthem sung by Akua Allrich.
 
Party Secretary-General and Chair of the Congress Committee Gaida Kambon officially convened the historic Congress in the auditorium of the Kellogg Center, beautifully decorated in the theme colors of gold on black with red and green.
 
After the adjournment, representatives of fraternal and international organizations came to the podium to salute the Congress and give solidarity statements.
 
Ernesto Bustillos of Unión del Barrio, the Mexican-Indigenous liberation organization, gave the first solidarity statement with a moving acknowledgement of the Party:
 
“For 25 years the African People’s Socialist Party and Unión del Barrio have enjoyed an incredible and unprecedented fraternal and comradely unity. We don’t know that you can find two organizations that have worked so close and with so much unity and as principled as has been the relationship between Unión del Barrio and the African People’s Socialist Party…
 
“We want to say with all sincerity and respect that to us the African People’s Socialist Party has proven to be not only the vanguard of the African masses but also our vanguard. To us Chairman Omali is not only the Chairman of the African people’s vanguard but he is also our Chairman!”
 
Other solidarity statements were presented by Saladin Muhammad of Black Workers for Justice, Marcos Garcia representing the embassy of Venezuela as its Labor Attaché, Alex Morley from the Bahamas representing the Black is Back Coalition, Penny Hess, African People’s Solidarity Committee, and Queen Mother Yaa Asantewa (Dorothy Lewis), longtime reparations activist.
 
Solidarity statements were also read from the Pan-Africanist Movement of Azania, MOVE, based in Philadelphia and Oyate, an organization of the Lakota people.
 
[See “highlights of the Congress for quotes from the solidarity statements. The full broadcast of the Congress is available in the archives of UhuruRadio.com]
 
Following these salutes, the Chairman gave his overview of the Political Report, the guiding document of the Congress, which was discussed by Congress participants. The Chairman said of the Political Report:
 
“The Political Report defines our Party. It explains how our Party, by definition, contains all the features and ingredients necessary for victory. It is an anti-colonial Party, a socialist Party and an internationalist and revolutionary Party.
 
“The Political Report reveals the glorious history of our Party, showing that we are not a fly-by-night phenomenon, but an organization with a long and rich history of consistent practice that both reaffirmed our theory and established the primary basis for its development.”
 
The Saturday afternoon session was highlighted by the workshop, “Achieving State Power and the Question of Land,” facilitated by Oronde Takuma. Panelists included New Afrikan People’s Organization Chairman Chokwe Lumumba, New Black Panther Party Chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz and Saladin Muhammad of Black Workers for Justice.
 
Although this panel included forces with whom the Party has political differences centering around a position that would seize land in the Black Belt South, five southern states heavily populated by African people, the purpose of the panel was to build unity on the road to liberating Africa and African people.
 
As Chairman Omali clarified at the beginning of the panel, “This is a call for unity. This is a call to identify those of us who have positions around the capture of state power—the physical capture of state power, land… We have a different view on that, but we can unite with all the different attempts to take state power here.
 
“That’s the basis of our unity. We do that with a caveat, having to deal with the legitimate rights of the Indigenous population who are stuck in these concentration camps that they call reservations…This land is the land of the Indigenous people!
 
“But the question of the seizure of state power is a legitimate question that we have to embrace. What we have put forward in the Revolutionary National Democratic Program is the struggle for state power where we are, as the first stage of a revolutionary movement that would recapture Our Africa and reunite African people worldwide.”
 
After a lively presentation by Diop Olugbala, International Organizer of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) on the Revolutionary National Democratic Program, Secretary-General Gaida Kambon adjourned the first day of the Congress.
 
Day I culminated with the African Resistance Banquet Gala hosted by Ironiff Ifoma, Director of the Office of Finance and Economic Development, and Ruth Kimathi, of the African People’s Socialist Party in Britain.
 
During the gala, the fabulous Uhuru Band played tributes to Fela Kuti and John Coltrane as about 100 people enjoyed their comrades’ company.
 
In the midst of the festivities Chairman Omali gave a very mobilizing and profound presentation claiming for the Party the legacy of Marcus Garvey, defining the Party’s theory of African Internationalism and defeating the position of a “New African” inside the U.S.
 
The Chairman described the Party’s Congress as the coming together of African revolutionaries, “through an African organization that has the objective not of finding ways that we can live in an imperialist system anywhere on earth, but recognizing the absolute necessity to defeat imperialism once and for all.”
 
Lawrence Hamm from the People’s Organization for Progress gave a powerful solidarity statement to the Party during the banquet, saluting the Party and the Chairman “for being on the forefront of the struggle for more than 38 years.”
 
DJ 360 closed out the evening with great music as many comrades wrapped up the first day of the Congress on the dance floor.
 
 
Day Two featured the many fronts of the Uhuru Movement
 
Sunday was a day packed with workshops and presentations that provided an impressive, all-around view of the many faces and fronts of the Party’s work, which reaches around the world.
 
The day started off with a recognition of friends of the Party who had been long-time contributors to the work in the spirit of reparations. Those acknowledged included Mark Anderson, David Reardon and Maureen Wagener, solidarity forces from the San Francisco area, and Matthew Daniels, a solidarity force from Boston.
 
Contributors to the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project were also put forward by Dr. Aisha Fields. These included Arnold Holloway of Delaware, and Carol Stong, Pat Rich and Geneva Ransfer, all of Chicago who raised more than $2000 for the rainwater harvesting project in Lungi, Sierra Leone.
 
A moving audio-visual presentation on the comrade of the quarter program headed by Party Deputy Chair Ona Zene’ Yeshitela, put forward this quarter’s winner as Comrade Earl Smith from the U.K.
 
This segment was followed by a promotional video on the Marcus Garvey Legacy Cruise, a fundraiser for the ASI and Office of the Chairman coming up in December 2010.
 
ASI Secretary-General Luwezi Kinshasa then gave a mobilizing presentation on the significance of the African Socialist International, followed by Party to Party salutes from Chernoh Alpha M. Bah, Interim Chair of the APSP-Sierra Leone and Director of Organization for the African Socialist International and Ruth Kimathi, of the ASI in Britain.
 
Salutes were aired electronically from Jamitah Fari of the ASI in Colombia, South America; Courtenay Harewood of the ASI in Trinidad and Madieu Jalloh of the ASI in Guinea-Conakry.
 
Party member and National Organizer of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, Diop Olugbala gave a dynamic multimedia presentation on “The Glorious History of the Party,” followed by the panel, “The Many Faces of the Uhuru Movement,” which featured Nyabinga Dzimbahwe, APSP Director of Agit-Prop; Dr. Aisha Fields, Director of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project; Kobina Bantushango of the African Internationalist Student Organization; Diop Olugbala of InPDUM and Penny Hess of the African People’s Solidarity Committee.
 
One of the highlights of the Sunday afternoon session was the panel, “The Crisis of Imperialism and Obama’s Wars that included brilliant presentations by Black Agenda Report Executive Editor Glen Ford and Chairman Omali.
 
Ford opened up his presentation by saying:
 
“We of Black Agenda Report salute the African People’s Socialist Party for bringing to the forefront some essential truths of our time, truths that are not heard except in environments like this. That U.S. imperialism is the enemy of all peoples that seek self-determination. That U.S. imperialism is a dying system that is thrashing about, as Comrade Brother Yeshitela likes to say, in a death-bed agony of endless wars.
 
“That U.S. finance capital’s selection years before the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the face of the empire was an act of desperation. It was an act of the slave master putting on the mask of the slave…It was the African People’s Socialist Party that most dramatically and categorically rejected Barack Obama as just another operative of U.S. imperialism and we owe the Party a debt for that.”
 
The panel was followed by “The Mass Incarceration of African People is Genocide!” featuring Efia Nwangaza, Director of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination, along with Chimurenga Waller and Omowale Kefing of the Central Committee of the Party.
 
Luwezi Kinshasa then headed up and presented on the situation in the Congo on the panel, “The African World must Respond to Haiti and the Congo.” Eugenia Charles of Fondasyon Mapou and Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council gave powerful presentations on the continuing crisis in Haiti since the earthquake on January 12.
 
The discussion of the resolution on African youth, “Youth Resistance Must Serve the Revolution,” closed out the day.
 
Resolutions, Constitution adopted; Central Committee elected
 
Monday opened up with a lively discussion of the Resolution on African Women led by Comrade Ayesha Fleary.
 
An exciting workshop on “Organized African Labor,” followed which featured Marcos Garcia, Labor Attaché of the Venezuela Embassy who gave a history of the labor movement in Venezuela prior to and during the Bolivarian Revolution.
 
During his presentation Garcia explained that, “From the point of view of the workers we need to make more connections. We believe the only way to free our country is through cooperation and solidarity. This is why our government and president have been developing a lot of contact with African countries.
 
“We understand that African governments are not true revolutionaries, but we need to make the contact. The second thing we will have to do is make contact with social organizations, with revolutionary forces in those countries and try to organize meetings together. We need to organize a summit of social movements between South America and Africa.”
 
Chairman Omali Yeshitela explained the Party’s view that “the working class must have its own revolutionary party in addition to a labor organization at the point of production. The workers’ party must be organized for the pursuit of political power. The working class has the historic mission of becoming the new ruling class.”
 
The rest of Monday exemplified the democratic process of the Party through a plenary process headed up by the Resolutions and Constitutional Committees.
 
During these sessions, resolutions to the Political Report were discussed and adopted along with the new constitution designating the Party as the African People’s Socialist Party-USA, a component of the African Socialist International, an international, revolutionary party with component national organizations in different countries operating under the name African People’s Socialist Party, for example APSP-United Kingdom.
 
The Tuesday and Wednesday sessions of the Congress covered a lot of organizational work, with Tuesday morning’s session featuring reports from the different offices of the Party’s Central Committee and from the Party’s various organizations such as the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project and the African People’s Solidarity Committee.
 
At the Tuesday afternoon session the new Central Committee was elected based on the changes mandated by the new Party constitution. [See related article on the Central Committee election].
 
Tuesday afternoon workshops included a multimedia presentation by Ironiff Ifoma, Director of Finance and Economic Development, who showed the history of the Party’s work to be economically self-sustaining and the long line of Party economic development institutions set in the context of the legacy of the Marcus Garvey movement.
 
This workshop sparked much enthusiastic discussion from participants and opened up ideas for economic development in many areas of the U.S.
 
Chimurenga Waller, Director of Membership and Recruitment, led a workshop on the Party’s commitment to escalate recruitment into its ranks.
 
Director of Agit-Prop, Nyabinga Dzimbahwe closed out the day with a workshop on “The Offensive to Win the War of Ideas.”
 
On Wednesday morning Chimurenga Waller gave a workshop on “Building Sustainable Funding in InPDUM and discussed the InPDUM Convention slated for February in Houston, TX.”
 
Omowale Kefing led a workshop on the Campaign to Free Diop Olugbala, followed by a plenary process and a summation of the Congress by Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
 
The Chairman summed up the Congress by saying, “I think it is important to see this Congress as a turning point in the whole movement of African Liberation in this country and worldwide.
 
“…Since the defeat of our Revolution here in this country, and the defeat of the general revolutionary trajectory in the world during the late 1960s and early 70s, what has posed as work by groups in the service of freedom and in the service of African people has been nothing but NGO-ism which was a substitute for genuine struggle…
 
“We have seen a series of revolutionary events but not a revolutionary trajectory. It’s a ‘free political prisoners’ campaign, but toward what end?
 
“What this Party and this Congress has done is to establish a revolutionary trajectory. We say that all roads lead to revolution. It’s about revolution! It’s about the liberation and unification of Africa and African people worldwide under the leadership of the African working class. That’s what it’s about!
 
“…We have demanded that all work tie itself to the revolution…This Congress has allowed our Party and anyone in the world to unite with a number of campaigns and projects tied to revolutionary conclusions.”
 
Comrade Secretary General Gaida Kambon adjourned the Congress with these words, “We should be leaving here raring to go! There is no other way to describe these days of the Congress in terms of all it contributed to our understandings and our morale and our overall development.
 
“There is nowhere on this planet that this level of discussion is happening. This is discussion that is signaling the overturning of the misery on the planet Earth. We are entering a new phase of struggle, a higher level of struggle…We are coming closer to achieving our goal and the end is in sight! We are on firm ground and good footing to go into the next phase of the work. I am up to the challenge and I hope that everyone else will take this bull by the horns and ride it until its back breaks.”
 
Uhuru!

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