By Saeed Shabazz-Staff Writer-
(FinalCall.com) – The St. Louis, Missouri-based Universal African Peoples Organization celebrated the 25th year of their founding with a weekend of activities from April 4 to April 6. The organization was founded on April 4, 1989, as a progressive business, political, humanitarian and educational vehicle to work for the uplifting of people of African descent throughout the world.
The group’s vision and goal, is to “build a powerful influential organization of at least 144,000 like-minded people,” as stated on their website.
“To that end our message to our people is the hour is late — get behind those who are not afraid to speak truth to power,” explained UAPO co-founder, long time human rights activist and Pan Africanist, President General Zaki Baruti.
One of the main activities of UAPO over the past 25 years has been to build a connection on the ground between the Diaspora and the African Continent. “(It’s) important because we have to recognize that we are one people, and that Africa is important to our development as a collective going forward; and that Africa possesses the rich resources needed for our advancement,” Mr. Baruti told The Final Call.
He recounted UAPO’s involvement in the 1994 Seventh African Congress meeting, shipping medical supplies to Zimbabwe in 2003 and sending medical supplies to Ethiopia and Haiti in 2004. “We also met with the former president of Libya, Muammar Ghadhafi,” Mr. Baruti said.
“Looking back at the first 25 years, we were able to bring to our people the reality of what Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about concerning our condition,” said UAPO co-founder, Safiyah Chauvin. We work now more than ever with the youth, who need an historical perspective so they can continue the work, Ms. Chauvin told The Final Call.
Amari Sneferu said UAPO’s Pan African work is what drew him to the organization in 2010. “I needed to be in a movement that had the level of Pan African spirit I found in UAPO,” said Mr. Sneferu, who serves as the Business General.
While Africa is a focus for the organization, there is a lot of time spent on dealing with local and national issues facing Blacks in the United States, according to the UAPO including racial profiling, Stand Your Ground legislation and other concerns.
One of our strengths as an organization has been our ability to work with others, such as the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression said Ms. Chauvin. “Building towards unity is the key; we all have the same vision, just a different way of working toward it,” she added.
The weekend of festivities began April 4 with a social event, on April 5 group members led people in supporting the GrandSlam Market Place where over 70 Black-owned businesses and vendors sold their products. It also included the official launching of a Jr. Black Chamber of Commerce. An Ecumenical Community Rally was held April 6 in remembrance of the passing of Jackson, Miss. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and to commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was assassinated on April 4, 1968.