The Uhuru Movement has announced two candidates to represent north St. Louis’s black community in the March 2 local election. I, Ticharwa Masimba, intend to be the next Alderperson for Ward 21 and Herdosia “Kalambayi” Bentum, will be the next Alderperson for Ward 3.
As the March 2 election fast approaches, we are taking on greedy developers and corrupt politicians – and are winning more voters and supporters.
Status quo politicians have convinced the public that young and poor black people are the primary problem within the black community and that the issue with previous black elected officials is that they simply have not been skilled or proficient enough at peeling off a piece of the action for the black community.
They tell us that black people can be free simply by relying on the individual genius of elected officials whose job is to negotiate deals behind closed doors and write perfect policies that will once and for all change the conditions faced by the black community for centuries.
Such explanations, unfortunately, are designed to hide the fact that the primary cause of the ongoing poverty and disparities experienced by the black community is a result of a looting process that robs us of vital resources every day.
Through Herdosia “Kalambayi” Bentum, Ward 3 Aldermanic candidate and myself, Ticharwa Masimba for Ward 21, the Uhuru Movement has taken up the fight to stop the looting process and to recapture the money that is supposed to be allocated to housing, schools, jobs, business development and municipal services.
But for decades in the black community, housing has deteriorated, schools are being shut down, unemployment rises, businesses close their doors and services come increasingly at a bare minimum. This is part of the looting process that results from a marriage between status quo politicians and developers hungry for ever increasing returns.
Most recently, Herdosia and I organized a significant community forum, a press conference and a press protest in response to the St. Louis Public School Board’s announcement that 10 schools may close, seven of which are located in majority-black neighborhoods.
What was significant was not that we simply held an event, but that we have smashed the phony explanations political officials give to explain why the schools are suffering. We have armed everyday residents with an understanding that schools in the black community are suffering because, like the black community as a whole, they are being looted.
Both candidates have built concrete economic development programs in both of our respective wards. We have spent the last few years in the heart of black North St. Louis rehabbing a beautiful banquet hall, community center, and office space located on W. Florissant.
We have participated on the ground level in building a new outdoor event space, outdoor market and community garden. We have demolished multiple other dilapidated buildings and helped renovate a rotting four-plex apartment building and have laid the groundwork for a new community basketball court.
We did this without the benefit of the budget given to elected officials.
We have led campaigns to fight the reduction of the 28 Wards to 14, which gentrifying developers have pushed as a way to dilute the voting power of the black community.
We fought when no one else spoke against the city government’s use of eminent domain to lift nearly 100 families from their homes and give a thousand acres of land in the black community to an international spy agency called the NGA.
We held web shows on the NGA and the LRA Landbank to expose this to the public. We held demonstrations and rallies to organize against it.
We called out the gentrifying developer Paul McKee, who acquired dozens of properties from the LRA Landbank. McKee let the properties rot with overgrown weeds and decaying brick and wood, hoping that gentrification would drive up the value of the land, making it opportune for him to own.
We called out alderpersons like my opponent, who attempted to sell the public airport to private billionaire owners.
We have been able to make the call for reparations to the black community. We have said from day one that the majority black north St. Louis is poor because it is being looted.
South of Delmar is prosperous because greedy developers pave their streets with our money, build outdoor cafes with our taxes and fund high rise condominiums with money stolen from the coffers of our looted school system.
We called on members of the white community to get on the right side of history and unite with reparations and black self-determination.
The Uhuru Movement has been right at the center of all the important questions faced by our movement from the 1960s until now.
Recently, we saw the formal achievement of our decades long objective to make reparations a household name when Eritha “Akilé” Canon and Jesse Nevel took reparations to the ballot in 2017 and forced then President Barack Obama to fly to St. Petersburg, Florida to stop Akilé from upsetting the status quo democratic candidate with a bold platform centered on reparations and genuine economic development.
The reparations door has been cracked in the imagination of masses of people. With the right leadership, the door will be pushed open completely.
Today, the Uhuru Movement is running two more candidates for Alderperson in St. Louis.
Both are reintroducing the critical questions of reparations and self-determination to the black community. Those two candidates are Herdosia “Kalambayi” Bentum and myself, Ticharwa Masimba.
We are ushering in a period of bold new leadership. We are not afraid to make the demand for reparations to the black community in the form of a massive infusion of capital to fund black business development, job creation and home purchase and repair.
We have the audacity to fight for the LRA Landbank to return the thousands of homes and properties looted from the black community and for the city government to provide funding for black home ownership and housing development.
We are calling for the city government to clean up the northside. This includes providing services for trash collection to clean-up litter from empty lots, trim trees and, among other things, to stabilize abandoned buildings.
Black people the world over live with a permanent pent-up desire to be free.
Today, that desire is finding expression in a way the world has not witnessed since the Black Freedom Struggle of the 1960s. In many ways, St. Louis is seen as the epicenter of U.S. resistance.
The incredible resistance of everyday black people to the gruesome murder of Mike Brown on August 9, 2014 is certainly a sort of launch pad into a new historical period. We need new leadership for this new period in history.
We are Herdosia “Kalambayi” Bentum and Ticharwa Masimba! With your help, we will be the next Alderpersons of the 3rd and 21st Wards respectively!
Learn more about the Campaign to Elect Herdosia “Kalambayi” Bentum at votekalambayi.org.
Learn more about the Campaign to Elect Ticharwa Masimba at votemasimba.org.