The following is a transcription of Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s speech which he made in Houston Texas at the “Juneteenth: Not Yet Uhuru” event on June 19, 2016.
To help us to understand that we are engaged in an international struggle, not for civil rights, but for the liberation of our people, I would like to say that this movement that we are a part of––the African People’s Socialist Party––owes much of what we understand to Malcolm X and the work that he did before us.
Malcolm X who played an important role in defining the situation that gave birth to the Black Panther Party.
Malcolm X who helped promote the whole notion of black power.
Malcolm X who understood the electoral politic that is terrifying many Negro liberals today to the point that they are running around talking about “black lives matter,” “feel the Bern,” and “all out for Hillary.”
Malcolm X who told us it’s the ballot or the bullet…that we didn’t have to be on our knees to anybody.
So we are all out here today because of the understanding that we acquired from Malcolm X and from a study of history as an oppressed people.
We have an organization that is always here (AAPDEP), not only here every four years. This is extremely important because this is an organization of the people, the people who live in this community.
This event couldn’t happen without the participation and support of the Africans who live right here in this community, who white power would convince us have no significance at all, so I want to express appreciation for that.
But we also have, the Uhuru Festival and Marketplace in Philadelphia where we have more than a hundred vendors every year in Philadelphia. We do this as a part of the struggle for economic development.
We have to be able to feed, clothe, and house ourselves. You can’t have a meaningful discussion about being free if you’re not talking about how you’re going to feed, clothe and house yourself.
We have an organization that also created, businesses, such as a fitness gym in St. Petersburg, Florida. We have a furniture store in Oakland, California and another in Philadelphia.
We have a food-producing company particularly in St. Petersburg, Florida and the San Francisco/Oakland, California area.
I’m saying this not being boastful, but I’m saying this that if you’re talking about being free, then you have to begin to prepare yourself to govern yourself, to get out from under the boot of a foreign and hostile enemy that has been oppressing us for six hundred years, since the Portuguese first invaded Africa in 1415.
So, we have to talk about how we take our power back. So we are trying to build organization everywhere Africans are because we are never going to be free unless we organize ourselves everywhere we are located.
There is not going to be a Houston, Texas revolution. There is not going to be a Florida revolution. There is not going to be a Ghana or Haiti revolution.
The fight for black power; not a fight against racism
We recognize that our problem has nothing to do with racism. Racism is the attitude that’s in the minds of white people. Frankly, I don’t give a damn what’s in the minds of white people.
We say that the problem that we suffer from is not the fact that white people don’t like us. We suffer from the problem which is that we do not have the power to keep white people from doing something to us if they don’t like us.
So we say our struggle is for black power! We have to have the power. That is what the Uhuru Movement is about.
We are struggling against colonialism! Colonialism is when some foreign and alien power come from someplace else to take control of another people for economic and political benefit.
Some of you are aware––it’s hard not to be aware––of what just happened a couple of days ago in Orlando, Florida where this man went into this club and killed forty-nine people.
There’s been a lot of discussion of why this man killed those people. He made a statement, according to one sister and one of the white cops who were there.
He asked when he had them trapped in the bathroom, “Are there any blacks in here?” One brother said, “Yes, there are six or seven of us here.”
He said, “I’ve got nothing against the blacks, you suffered enough already. I’m here because of what America is doing to my country, because of what America is doing in Afghanistan. Because of how America is murdering people in and throughout the Middle East.”
I take him for his word.
But I want to say this: if you’re gonna be mad at somebody, be mad at U.S. imperialism for what it is doing to the peoples around the world, because that is how people are trying to respond, and people are going to continue to try to respond as long as they haven’t forgotten.
We are Africans!
Here we are in Houston, Texas. As you know, half of Mexico was stolen by the United States government, just like Afghanistan is being stolen and looted at this very moment today.
And then what’s going to happen when you regain your memory and understand who the hell you are, because you can’t get on no boat in Africa in 1619 or any other time of the year as an African and then get off in Houston as a Negro.
If we were Africans when we got on the damn boat in Africa, we were Africans when we got off the boat in this territory they called America.
We were Africans then, we are Africans now! That’s why we’re here today! That’s why we do Juneteenth, and say “Not yet Uhuru!” because we are struggling to recapture the memory of African people and when we get our consciousness back, we will be dealing with an army that nobody can stop.
A brother spoke a moment ago about these young Africans who live in these cities today without any vision of a future, prosperity, or anything like that.
But this is the most courageous group of Africans we’ve ever seen and they are in a permanent state of resistance.
What is missing is revolutionary ideology to help them to understand how to translate that resistance into struggle to overthrow our oppression and to regain our freedom as a people.
As quiet as it’s kept, I’m sure glad to see everybody who’s out here. But the reason we call for you to be out here is because we want you to participate in the process of preparing to govern.
We have to gain the confidence as a self-governing people, which means that we have to have our own capacity economically.
I’m speaking to some of the vendors who are here who are making their own wares. This venue offers them an opportunity to sell it to us, so that we in the struggle now can regain our economic independence.
Brothers and sisters, I’m not going to say much more, but I’m going to say this: Africa is the richest continent on the planet Earth. Twelve million square miles of richness.
The African Nation has to be freed, and it has to be freed from Cape to Cairo on the continent of Africa, and every other place where we exist on the planet. So that’s what we have to do.
We’re preparing to be self-governing and in order to be self-governing we must fight. We are not going to be able to sing our way out of this mess.
Africans are being murdered because we are colonized!
I want to introduce to you this incredible African woman here who in my view is the epitome of African womanhood.
Her name is Yashica Clemmons. She has come here from St. Petersburg, Florida.
She is the mother of a sixteen-year-old whose name was Dominique Battle. Dominique Battle was one of three children murdered by the Pinellas County sheriff’s department in Florida and two other fifteen years old girls.
They were La’Niyah, Ashaunti, and Dominique who was sixteen.
On March 31, 2016 the Pinellas County sheriff’s department defiled what was supposed to be a no-chase policy and chased these three girls and pushed them into the water and drowned them.
We’ve been struggling around that case.
I just think it’s very important that we embrace this sister because we have an opportunity now to place the murder of our children and our relatives in its proper context: that we are not being killed because of some accident.
We are being killed because the U.S. is a colonial empire and African people are colonized.
And they do the same things to us here in this country that they do the people in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places where people are colonized.
Join the Uhuru Movement!
Join the fight for self-determination!