WASHINGTON, D.C.— Many gathered at the Stuart Center in Washington DC on March 21-22, 2015 for the African Internationalist Conference on African Women as it convened.
This was the first meeting of its kind which took on firsthand issues that African working class women are confronted with.
Onsite, was a free childcare option for those women or men who brought children and wanted to participate fully in the conference without childcare distraction.
The MC for the first day of the Conference was Tammy Harris, administrative assistant in the Office of the Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party.
Opening the program on Day one, comrade Yejide Orunmila gave a rousing presentation which detailed how colonialism impacts the lives of African people and contributes to the special oppression of African women.
She said the reason African women stay in depressed and overworked conditions the world over is because colonial domination facilitates the removal of the resources that could serve to improve the lives of African people.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela followed sister Yejide’s presentation with a dynamic overview of the world situation and how Africans should see our role.
The Chairman made reference to the ways in which African women have to struggle within, not apart from, the African nation to overturn the conditions that impoverish us and render us homeless, which garnered a standing ovation from the conference participants.
The sisters did an impeccable job laying out the program addressing hard hitting issues such as horizontal violence, in a workshop led by Dr. Aisha Fields, the International Director of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project.
An impeccable Day one closes; an exciting Day two begins
The Secretary General of the African People’s Socialist Party, Gaida Kambon, laid out the plan to establish the Uhuru Kijiji Childcare Collectives (UKCC) as an initiative of the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO), which will help to free up African women from being ‘round-the-clock, sole caregivers.
The participants, many of whom came to the conference from places like North Carolina, Seattle Washington, St. Louis, Missouri, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and St. Petersburg Florida, Washington, DC, Newark, New Jersey and Houston, Texas were fully engaged, spurring on great discussion following each workshop.
Day one closed out with closing remarks from Yejide Orunmila, who gave us the outline for Day two.
Dr. Aisha Fields, was the MC for Day two.
Deputy Chair Ona Zene Yeshitela opened up Day two of the conference with a presentation highlighting the work of the overall Uhuru Movement, highlighting that the economic and political work are one; you can’t have one without the other as we are struggling to build an independent African economy that will serve the needs of our people.
She offered various ways that the Uhuru Movement has and will plan to expand this area of work to include housing and job placement specifically targeting previously incarcerated Africans, who face many barriers to employment after being released from colonial prisons.
She offered additional avenues where Africans can get involved, to free us to work for the revolution.
Following Deputy Chair Ona Zene’s presentation, was the panel on State violence and mass incarceration.
African working class women demonstrate courage and commitment
Syreeta Myers, mother of VonDerrit Myers, Toni Taylor, mother of Cary Ball and Alice Willis, mother of Michael Willis traveled from St. Louis, Missouri to talk about their struggle to get justice for their sons, who were murdered by the police.
More than just sharing sad stories, these women proclaimed their continued resistance, saying that they aren’t just here for their sons, they are here for all the families whose children have been murdered by the police.
All of the mothers had a message of empowerment and continued struggle and united with the resolution of ANWO to organize all families, in particular, African women whose children’s lives have been snuffed out by state sponsored murders.
Also on this panel was Washington D.C. based lawyer and African People’s Socialist Party NE Regional Coordinator, Aaron O’Neal who presented on the mass incarceration of Africans.
He provided statistical evidence on the continued role the State has in the lives of African women who have come in contact with the “injustice” system.
He highlighted how even if women aren’t arrested or charged, if a woman has children, child welfare is automatically called and she has to report to them for months after her interaction with the police. This is colonialism tracking the lives of the oppressed.
During the lunch break Zenzele Consigment, a self-help economic endeavor by the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project, held a fashion show to introduce its products and concepts on economic self determination.
The African National Women’s Organization elects leadership, builds membership
The second half of Day two was dedicated to the business of consolidating the African National Women’s Organization which up until this point was just an idea.
Now all of the resolutions presented throughout the two days were reviewed along with the review and amendment to the proposed constitution of the organization.
Once the constitution was voted on by the new ANWO members, the leadership was elected.
In addition to establishing this executive committee, the conference won over 20 new members who have united to take on to build a fighting African National Women’s Organization.
Together we will win! We are winning!
One African One Nation!