Chairman Omali Yeshitela
From the day he tore down the racist mural from the City Hall in St Petersburg, Florida in 1966, Chairman Omali Yeshitela (then known as Joseph Waller) has never stopped fighting for justice for African people everywhere.
Politicized in his youth by the revolutionary movements around the world and the struggle for black liberation inside the U.S., Yeshitela dedicated his life to uniting and liberating Africa and African people everywhere.
In the heat of revolutionary struggle and years in prison for his political work, Yeshitela was driven to discover the reasons why black people all over the world are impoverished and oppressed. Yeshitela developed the political theory of African Internationalism that understands the world through the eyes of the African working class.
Through African Internationalism the Chairman exposes the significance of Marx’s concept called the “primitive accumulation of capital,” which Marx called the “starting point” of capitalist accumulation, playing in “political economy about the same part as original sin in theology.”
Breathing life into Marx’s analysis, Yeshitela noted that “African Internationalism recognizes that the process of slavery and brigandage that consolidated the political economy, national identity and general well-being of what came to be known as Europe is the same process that results in the wretched, divided, impoverished and exploited lot of Africans and much of the world.”
Yeshitela contends that the leading force of struggle is the African and oppressed working class throughout the world against “parasitic capitalism,” built on enslavement, genocide and colonialism.
In 1968 Chairman Yeshitela founded The Burning Spear newspaper which is still published today. Throughout the years Yeshitela has authored numerous articles, pamphlets and books, including Omali Yeshitela Speaks and Quotations from Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
In 1972, Yeshitela formed the African People’s Socialist Party which he chairs. He built the worldwide Uhuru Movement and the African Socialist International now active in the U.S., Europe, on the continent of Africa and in the Caribbean.
Some of the most critical and legendary campaigns of the African community over the past 40 years have been led by Chairman Omali and the Uhuru Movement.
Victories such as the movement which freed Dessie Woods, an African woman sentenced to 22 years for killing a white attempted rapist with his own gun in the 1970s are known throughout the world.
The historic Measure O, the Community Control of Housing Initiative placed on the ballot in Oakland, CA as a land and housing reform measure won 22,000 votes in 1984.
In 1996, the Chairman united and mobilized the African community following the rebellions sparked by the police murder of 17 year old TyRon Lewis just four blocks from the Uhuru House in St Petersburg. The Chairman launched the slogan for “economic development, not police containment,” forcing the U.S. government to send in the Civil Rights Commission for hearings.
Chairman Omali succeeded in making “reparations a household word” with the establishment of the International Tribunal on Reparations for African People which was first held in Brooklyn, New York in 1982. Hearings of the tribunal, which determined that U.S. owes African people in the U.S. $4.1 trillion for stolen labor alone, have been held thirteen times.
In 1976 Chairman Omali led in the formation of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, the organization of white people under the leadership of the Party.
Chairman Omali also founded several mass organizations including the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, the All-African People’s Development and Empowerment Program, the African National Prison Organization and the Black is Back Coalition.
Throughout the years, Chairman Omali has founded African-controlled economic institutions such as Spear Graphics and the popular Uhuru Bakery Café in Oakland in the 1980s, as well as the Uhuru Furniture Stores in Oakland and Philadelphia which have enjoyed a huge community-based success for more than 20 years.
The Chairman has built Uhuru House centers in St Petersburg and Oakland, as well as the TyRon Lewis Community Gym, Uhuru Radio and UhuruNews.com based in St Petersburg.
In 2012 the Party launched Black Star Industries which bring all of the economic development institutions of the Party under one umbrella, creating partnerships with community members.
Today, Chairman Omali Yeshitela speaks to his growing base around the world, writes and leads the worldwide movement for the liberation of Africa and African people everywhere.