On Saturday April 18th the Uhuru Solidarity Movement hosted the first annual Earth Day Festival and Flea Market in West Philadelphia’s beautiful Clark Park. This Earth Day was different from any other –it was a fundraiser for the African Village Survival Initiative (AVSI) a new Uhuru Movement-led project that is creating a network of community gardens and economic development institutions in urban and rural African communities. In the heat of the worldwide economic crisis that is hitting the African community particularly hard, AVSI is building real economic self-reliance.
Earth Day also set the new standard for the movement for environmental justice: it must be connected to the African working class movement for self-determination and return of the stolen resources of Africa to African people everywhere. This grassroots event was attended by thousands of people of all nationalities and walks of life, who on a sunny day in the park came out to participate in the Uhuru Earth Day Festival & Flea Market.
On the main stage, there was an entire day of community activist speakers on social justice and workshops on organic gardening and natural health. There were ongoing positive cultural performances by local musicians, over 100 vendors and info tables, special activities for children, free yoga and exercise workshops and a farmer’s market.
The featured speaker was Diop Olugbala, leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement and a member of the City Hall 2. (CH2). The CH2 were brutally arrested inside City Hall protesting the Mayor’s budget, which allocates over $1.1 billion for police, prisons, and the court system while the schools in Philly do not have enough books to go around. In this city Africans are being pushed out of their homes through the subprime mortgage scam and the new 19% property tax hike, which targets African home owners while the white people who buy new condos pay no property tax for 10 years!
Other speakers included Dr. Michelle Strongfields of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project, Pam Africa, leader of Friends and Family of Mumia Abu Jamal, Alison Hoehne, chair of the Philadelphia African People’s Solidarity Committee. African students from University City High School led an incredible workshop on composting. Cultural presentations included Rasheed Bey Revolutionary African poet and long time friend of the Uhuru Movement who gave moving recitations of his poetry accompanied by a young African martial artist. Musicians included Coco Sol who brought her entire band, Djo and his band Os Humanos, revolutionary hip-hop by TriggaNAM, the Gold Coast Buccaneers Drill Team and many more.
There were no corporate sponsors like those who pay for other Earth Day events, but local progressive businesses and non profits such as Philly Carshare and Dhyana Yoga supported the festival by sponsoring it financially and helping promote it to their bases. We deepened our long-standing relationship with the Food Trust Farmers’ Market who led workshops, opened up their resources to contribute to the success of this event. 10th Street Hardware, LaraBar, Ethnics Furniture, ZipCar and Essene Natural Market, juju organics, and Studio 34 were among other sponsors and endorsers.
The Philadelphia branch of Uhuru Furniture cosponsored Earth Day. Uhuru Furniture is an economic development project of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) a founding organization of AVSI. Uhuru Furniture is an institution that is popular in Philly and Oakland CA for its top quality low priced ever changing inventory. Uhuru Furniture also sets the standard for a green, 100% recycled business that is a model for sustainable economic development under African leadership. UFC brought out its active base of volunteers who carried out numerous tasks to run this large successful event.
The process of building this event brought us on to campuses such as Temple and Bryn Mawr where students attempting to deal with the issues such as the conditions on the continent of Africa and the environment are hungry for this leadership. Many students came out to volunteer on the day of the festival.
This event was clearly a product of years of Uhuru Movement work in this city. There has been on going struggle against police containment led by InPDUM since 1986 when the Uhuru Movement came to Philadelphia to build a political response to the bombing of the African MOVE organization by the neo-colonial city government. Uhuru Furniture is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and this is our 5th year of coordinating monthly successful flea markets in Clark Park.
We understand that the crisis in the world, ravaged by war, suffering, starvation, division and environmental degradation comes from an unjust economic system where white people in the US and Europe, less than 20% of the world’s population, consume over 80% of the worlds resources. The status quo unsustainable. There will never be peace until African people and colonized peoples all over the world have control over their own land and resources. The Uhuru Movement is leading the way forward!
We thank everyone one who made this event a success and call on you all to join us in making the 2010 Earth Day Fest even better.