It has been almost three months since the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) formation at our founding conferences in Washington, D.C, and London, England.
The goals of the conferences were to create a space where working class African women could be engaged politically and where we would be empowered to take up our roles as leaders and organizers in the struggle to be free. We wanted to widen the political landscape of the Black Revolution which, at that moment, seemed to ghettoize the issues of African women, in addition to silencing African women’s voices.
This society made it acceptable for us to talk about power through hair trends, fashion and cultural identity. But when it came to strategizing and implementing plans on how to be a free and self-determined African people, the avenues seemed to close.
The African People’s Socialist Party, who had long been an organization that held women in leadership, was the exception. It was the vision and forethought of Chairman Omali Yeshitela that provided the impetus for establishing ANWO.
It was, therefore, time to organize the women of the Party into an organization that was tasked to rapidly develop the masses of our women who are bogged down with the day-to-day struggles that exist due to our being colonized. In order to do this we have to break down any barriers that would restrict the role that African women play in our liberation struggle.
The conferences met our goals, winning over two dozen members. This is a testimony to the compelling presentations, resolutions and constitution which led to the election of the governing body—the International Executive Committee (IEC) of ANWO.
The Committee consists of Yejide Orunmila, President (Maryland); Kushinda Olarenwaju, Vice President (London); Rose Turner, Secretary (Florida); Teonia Burton, Membership Coordinator (Florida); Naomi Jeeter, Information and Education Director (North Carolina), Patricia Lumumba, Economic Development Director/Interim Treasurer (London) and Fulaniyira Atinaka, North American Regional Director (Florida).
The IEC is responsible for ensuring that the organization carries out its objectives through our resolutions, which are:
To initiate the “Protect and Defend” Assata Shakur campaign committee that will champion the work of our sister comrade, who now lives as a political exile in Cuba.
To initiate Uhuru Kijiji (Freedom Village) Childcare Collectives where we have communities that step up to care for our children.
To address and find solutions that will facilitate the end of mass incarceration of our people.
To create African Mothers Against State Violence (AMASV), a subcommittee of ANWO that will organize African mothers and families of Africans killed by police.
To develop economic development opportunities for African women so that they can see their future in the economic power that we create.
To educate towards ending horizontal violence in our communities, specifically domestic violence between men and women which incapacitates our women.
To develop a subcommittee that will work on issues related to birth and reproductive justice – because as we clearly defined in the resolution to the conferences, we have to be able to produce and reproduce life.
To initiate political education campaigns that will stamp out Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a violent practice of butchering a girl child’s reproductive organs due to backward cultural, religious or societal precepts. FGM is practiced predominantly in the Sahel region of Africa, however these practices are carried to other places in the world.
To facilitate an international tribunal that will address separation and social justice for all victims of all European immigration laws and practices.
To work with other African organizations to initiate an international tribunal to end the imperialist wars against women, children and men in the Congo and Africa.
We have a lot on our plate, but we’re committed to make all of this work happen.
Great leaps forward
ANWO has been making great strides toward building the organization in the months following the conference. We’ve consolidated the leadership of African Mothers Against State Violence, with Syreeta Myers (Chair), mother of Vonderrit Myers who was killed by St. Louis Police in October 2014; Toni Taylor (Vice Chair), mother of Carey Ball who was killed by St. Louis police in April 2013, and Alice Willis (Secretary) mother of Michael Willis who was killed by police in September 2014.
These sisters have been fierce warriors in the fight to bring their children’s murderers to justice. They have sworn to be part of the process that will end the police violence against our people.
We’ve consolidated our first official branch in Washington, DC.
A sister who is a seasoned Uhuru Movement organizer reached out to us with interest in starting a branch in Colombia, a country that has the second largest African population in South America after Brazil. The sister’s history with the Uhuru Movement gives us confidence in our ability to gain traction in this region.
While we have members in Europe we have yet to confirm a leadership body in that region, but we are working to rectify that in the upcoming months.
We also expect to be moving into the African continent with the growth of the Party in Azania (South Africa).
None of this could be possible without the dedication and steadfastness of the sisters that have committed themselves to the work of building the worldwide African Revolution.
ANWO needs you! We need every African woman who wants to break out of the conditions caused by colonialism and contribute to uniting our people, providing solutions to the contradictions African women face. We need mothers, sisters and daughters—women who want to help build our power. We need grassroots organizers, graphic designers, propagandists, writers, etc. to help propel ANWO to the next level.
Together we will win. Together we are winning!