Uhuru Philadelphia Health Festival goes big time!

PHILADELPHIA–Sat. April 18th 2015 was one of the biggest health festival ever built by the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) in Philadelphia!
The long standing event featured over 100 vendors, free exercise demonstrations, live music, and a section full of free health resources that included information and on site testing.
John Thomas, manager of the TyRon Lewis Community Gym in St Pete FL and festival coordinator APEDF National Representative Tiffany Murphy led the day-long program.
About 1500-2000 people from all walks of life, including African families with children, students, and unexpected passerbys came out to vend, shop, volunteer, dance, sweat, eat, make important health contacts while participating in this 4th annual APEDF-led community event.
APEDF carries out its mission of educating and engaging the African community in solving the health and economic problems that ravage our community.
John Thomas, Manager of the Tyron Lewis Community Gym states, “Our mission is to address the disparities that Africans face on a daily basis.
We don’t to die from Type II diabetes, we don’t have to die of strokes and heart attacks.”
The African and Latino communities have the highest rates of poverty in Philadelphia, and Philadelphia itself being one of the poorest metropolitan cities in America presents significant problems.
Additionally, the city has one of the highest rates of child hunger in the U.S., and African men in the U.S. suffer from HIV at 5 times the national average. 
There are large areas of the city known as food deserts, neighborhoods with no easy access to healthy food. Imprisonment and unemployment are far above the national average and the toxic pollution is some of the worst in the country.
The day was perfect! The temperature hit 80 degrees and flowering trees dotted the park. The paths through Clark Park were lined with vendors on the grass.
Their colorful tables of wares represented independent African commerce in West Philly at a time when the city has attempted to limit street vending or end it through prohibitive licensing policies and fees. 
Uhuru Flea Markets are not only an opportunity for vendors and shoppers to support the economic development programs of APEDF, but also for the vendors themselves to make needed money for their families and participate in African-led community commerce.
Everything you could think of that’s used or handmade was for sale, from bicycles and jewelry, to small appliances, shoes, beautiful African art and handmade natural beauty products.
 Many of the vendors were longtime supporters of Uhuru Flea Markets, but there were many new faces as well! Old and new vendors alike enjoyed a successful day of sales.
APEDF holds this event annually as part of the work to involve the community in transforming the health and economic problems we face.
The city has an interest in maintaining the status quo of black community poverty and ill health. It spends over 25% of its yearly budget –$1.3 billion per year on anti- African programs of the police, prisons, and courts and Philadelphia is notorious for heavy-handed policing policies.
The Uhuru Health Festival featured a great variety of exercise programs accessible to people of all fitness levels.
There was the African martial art of capoeira led by Ron Wood and his team from Capoeira Nao Compreendo, 2 types of yoga workshops led by APEDF friends Pamela Paraison and Gabrielle Burke respectively, Soul Line Dance led by the popular Gloria Kingcade; high energy Zumba by Michelle Mercer of Philly Fit Gym and two dynamic Movement Matters workshops led by John Thomas.
Masses of people were up and dancing from very small children to teenagers, their parents and grandparents!
John Thomas was outstanding in his role as Co-MC and leader. He brought science, and practical solutions and mobilized the crowd.
 He drove home the understanding that our health problems are not individual problems, but that the system of colonialism is bad for our health and that the struggle for African community control of health is part of the struggle for African freedom.
Ramona Africa spoke about the serious health issues faced by Mumia Abu Jamal locked down in prison for 34 years. Mumia is suffering from severe diabetes and is being denied proper medical treatment.
Ramona spoke about the upcoming 30th anniversary of the May 13th, 1985 bombing of the Move organization when the city of Philadelphia under Mayor Wilson Goode dropped a C-4 bomb on the African community only 20 blocks from the festival. 
This city murdered 11 African people including five young children, and burned down over 60 houses. The Uhuru Movement originally came to Philadelphia to reinforce the resistance of communities targeted by government attacks.
Live musicians included long-time friends Karen Smith and her jazz band Weez the Peeples and world fusion by CocoSol. There was poetry by Rasheed Bey and Miguel Huerta, as well as several presentations on health.
The Free Health Resource area included many local non-profits and campus and community groups who are dealing with the serious health issues faced by the African community.
Philadelphia Fight brought a huge bus for confidential HIV testing, TU H.O.P.E. from Temple University brought resources for women’s sexual health. APEDF’s long-time friend Ronn Ross of Formations Fitness brought resources on natural nutrition and healthy exercise.
For their 3rd year Refugee Health Partners of Jefferson University provided screenings for blood pressure & blood sugar, eye testing and gave out information on quitting smoking and avoiding diabetes.
APEDF also partnered with Black Women’s Health Alliance, Kids Smiles a children’s dental program,the Goldring Reentry Initiative, Philadelphia Hepatitis Outreach Project, Women Against Abuse, and many more.
Part of the success of the festival was due to a dedicated committee of volunteers, vendors and friends of APEDF who started working on the Health Festival in November 2014 under the leadership of Tiffany Murphy. Over 30 volunteers participated in the day!
Volunteers handed out beautiful Health Fest Program booklets, which were supported by many local advertisers and featured health information to take home. Volunteers gave out free water and fruit to the participants, assisted the vendors, signed up contacts, kept the park clean and much more.
“The days activities were fun, engaging and necessary. Many individuals in the African community may suffer from a condition and not know about it.
Our purpose in building this health festival is to assist in bridging the gap between suffering from a condition, physical or otherwise and providing the resource to become well again this ultimately fosters self-reliance which is key in overturning such an oppressive system.”, stated Tiffany Murphy, program coordinator.
The Health Festival and flea Market is part of the APEDF strategy of building our own liberated economy and many of the vendors have found that working with APEDF has helped them not only develop their own businesses but also enhanced economic development for the whole community.
This festival is an institution of the Uhuru Movement that opens up the door to a vision of the world we want to see.
It is part of our work to get the community involved in building African community self-determination. As Chairman Omali Yeshitela states “We cannot have self-determination without self-reliance.”
Building the Uhuru Health Festival & Flea Market is a step towards building an independent economy and community health in our own hands!


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