We salute Chairman Omali for courageously tearing down an anti-African mural 50 years ago

St. Petersburg, FL. Chairman Omali Yeshitela, leader of the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement addresses an enthusiastic audience Tuesday, Sept. 13 at Akwaaba Hall about the issue of the anti-African mural that hung in the St. Petersburg, FL city hall for 30 years.

As the local leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chairman Yeshitela, then known as Joseph Waller, ripped down the offensive painting during a protest on 50 years ago on December 28, 1966.

The mural portrayed hideous depictions of African people playing music on the beach for white tourists and hung in full view of everyone who entered city hall.

The mural represented the subservient and oppressed position that white people expected African people to have in St. Petersburg and throughout the U.S.

For his courageous act, Chairman Omali was charged with multiple felony offenses and endured several trials after the 1966 action.

The Chairman received a 5-year sentence of which he served 2 ½ years.

The spot on the wall where the mural once hung has been empty ever since it was ripped down.

Now, the city is offering to pay an artist $50,000 to paint a new mural to go in the same spot—a painting that would show St. Petersburg today as a city of “diversity,” and “progress,” when in fact the conditions for African people here are worse than ever with deepening poverty, gentrification and the ongoing police murders of African teens and adults.

Chairman Omali and the Uhuru Movement are calling for “Black Community Control of the Mural” and demanding that the city of St. Petersburg to put an historic plaque in the spot where the mural once hung.


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