The international African community organizes to funeralize and bury one of our own sons

TAMPA, FL—Lyfe Lazarus Coleman, my only son, was murdered in Tampa, FL on Monday January 5, 2015. Lyfe was 18-years-old. We decided to funeralize him on Sunday January 11, 2015.
 
I had not prepared to funeralize and bury any of my children—despite knowing that Africans in the U.S. are killed every 28 hours by the police, security guards or vigilantes and understanding that our colonized existence often forces us to do violence to each other—so, I did not have life insurance for Lyfe.
 
I suspected that even basic, traditional funeral and burial services would be more than I could manage to pay. Wayne Bright, the director at the funeral home that handled the services for Lyfe, assured me he would do what he could to minimize my costs because of his appreciation for my organizational work in our community.
 
The bill for Lyfe’s funeral and burial services, even after Wayne’s efforts, was still several thousand dollars.
 
I was certain the sum was more than I alone could afford—especially in six days. I made a list of family members and friends who might be able and willing to help me pay for Lyfe’s services and I made a list of every valuable thing that I owned and could offer for sale.The estimated tally of both those lists left me short by a sizeable amount.
 
I thought intensely about ways to raise the money. I couldn’t come up with a viable solution. Then it hit me—ask the people.
 
I believe in the people
 
The East Tampa neighborhood where I have lived for the past 17 years is a mostly African community. It is notorious for police brutality, horizontal violence, the illegal drug economy forced on us, poor housing, high unemployment and poverty, all of the contradictions that white power imperialism imposes on colonized peoples around the world.
 
Political education, in theory and practice, from the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) and the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) led by Chairman Omali Yeshitela has, since 2003, taught me that the African working class can rescue ourselves from colonial domination and its perils if we organize and fight back.
 
Most of the sisters and brothers who are familiar with me know me for my consistent and diligent work to help organize Africans in Tampa, across the country and around the world to a point where we can protect, defend and provide for ourselves.
 
I used my website and my facebook page to reach out to these sisters and brothers for their help with raising the money for Lyfe’s services.
 
People sent money within minutes of my requests. Nearly half the money needed was raised online over the next couple of days. Africans sent money and other gifts from Singapore, Dubai, Switzerland, London and various places in the U.S.
 
Africans flooded my mother’s house with food, beverages and many other expressions of kindness.
Dozens of sisters and brothers brought money in person. People sold fish dinners and put together car washes to raise funds.
 
The poetry/spoken word community organized shows and donated the money to the Lyfe’s services.
 
Lyfe’s funeral
 
Lyfe was funeralized at New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, where he was a member. Rev. Larry Roundtree, the pastor of New Mt. Zion, donated his time and the church’s facilities to help minimize our costs. Rev. Roundtree and New Mt. Zion donated money to help with the funeral expenses as well.
 
Hundreds of people donated thousands of dollars and a super-generous amount of other gifts.
The Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, Omali Yeshitela, gave the last words at Lyfe’s funeral. Internationally known actor Ron Bobb-Semple moved the people with a brilliant address. Internationally known spoken word artist, Taalam Acey, delivered a spoken word poem.
 
Internationally renowned singers/ musicians Markus Vance, Shawn Brown and Average Joe sang. Billy Wheeler played piano. They all donated their time and talents to help ensure that Lyfe’s funeral was joyous as well as the best a funeral could be.
 
The tremendously generous support and love sisters and brothers lent to help me funeralize and bury Lyfe is evidence of the African community’s capacity to do for ourselves.
 
That love and support is also a testament to the deep appreciation and respect the African working class has for those of us who do the work to change this world into a place where Africans are free and self-determining—a world where we don’t have to bury our children because they were shot dead.
 
 
 
 
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