St. Petersburg, FL––Three dozen Members of the Uhuru Movement gathered in front of St. Petersburg’s City Hall to attend the Mural Committee meeting being held on July 19, 2016.
We attended the meeting because the city’s Mural Committee is planning to replace the mural that was torn down from the Pinellas County courthouse in 1966 by Omali Yeshitela, founder of the Uhuru Movement and Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), without any input from him or the Movement he founded.
Our comrades arrived to the City Hall steps under the leadership of Comrade Gazi Kodzo.
Once inside the conference room, we all militantly gathered around the conference table. Members of the committee attempted to act nonchalant at our presence.
After stalling for quite some time, they brought out minutes from January, April and June and announced that they would be going through them. This was an obvious attempt to further stall and drag on the meeting.
Comrade Gazi decided to interrupt this foolishness by delivering the motion for the “Black Community Control of the Mural.”
Gwendolyn Reese, Chair of the mural committee, attempted to silence him. Aunt Kathy, another African committee member, walked out and returned with security guards.
Once the security guard attempted to silence Comrade Gazi, we began chanting, “Let him speak!” The security guard quickly scurried out the room.
Comrade Gazi continued reading the statement, even standing on the table to show his seriousness.
The committee members, demoralized, cancelled the meeting and exited the room.
Local artist, Roscoe Taylor, tried to confront our comrades in defense of white power.
He cried “This is not the right way.” Our comrades weren’t having any of it and silenced him with chants.
Gazi followed committee members out of the meeting room and continued to criticize them for attempting to replace a mural which Africans in the city deemed offensive and anti-African without the process being controlled by the African community itself.
Tear it down!…again
Chairman Omali spent over two years in prison for removing this heinous mural in 1966.
The mural was a monstrous depiction of African people which showed Africans with exaggerated features, huge white lips and long arms, serenading white people while eating watermelon.
Africans who went to City Hall to pay their bills, etc. would have to face this offensive caricature.
The city decided earlier this year that for the 50th anniversary of the removal of the mural, that they would offer $50,000 (originally $10,000) to an artist of their choice who would create a piece of replacement artwork.
The mural committee, used this as a way to whitewash history as they stated that they wanted the piece of art to show the “inclusivity of St. Pete.”
The mural committee, after excluding the Chairman for months, sent a deplorable email to him which required a response within 10 hours in order for him to be a part of the process of replacing the mural.
This email as sent only after over five actions by members of the Uhuru Movement to demand control over the mural.
The Uhuru Movement is firm that, since no one on the committee played any part in the removal of the mural, then they have no right in deciding what goes up in its place.
Furthermore, the committee is made up of opportunists and parasites who exploits African.
One such parasite is an old white man by the name Snitzer. During the meeting he donned a Dashiki.
His fashion choice was a representation of his life and career as a photographer. He gets rich off of the images of African people.
A white woman on the committee ironically introduced herself as “India.”
Roscoe, the artist that confronted our comrades, is the front-runner artists who stands to receive the money offered to create a new mural.
As Chairman Omali states, “African people were the original art critics.” We should choose what goes up there.
Gazi stated to colonial press that the $50,000 they are offering to an artist to replace the mural should “go into the African community.”
He continued, if we [the Uhuru Movement] don’t choose it, we will tear it down again!”
We chanted “tear it down” as we exited the City Hall.
Demand Black Community Control of the Mural!
Join the Uhuru Movement!
**Editor’s note: A previous version of this article referred to Gwendolyn Reese as “Gwen Davis”. The Burning Spear would like to note that that was an error.