Greetings Stanyell Bruce and others from the
administration and faculty of Columbia University:
It has come to our attention that you and Columbia
University have rescinded your invitation to host
Omali Yeshitela as the featured speaker at the opening
of Columbia's African History Month on February 1,
You stated that this decision was made because of your
"concerns" and the "concerns" of some of the faculty
and administration about Omali Yeshitela. Despite the
fact that you raised the issue of these "concerns" you
refused to state what the concerns are. The decision
of the university is one thing. The refusal, however,
to state your political differences or other reasons
for rescinding Omali Yeshitela's speaking engagement,
we believe, is unprincipled.
This stand, it seems to us, goes against the
principles of academic freedom of speech, honest
debate and open discussion that is generally upheld
and valued by universities, especially universities as
prestigious as Columbia. More than that, it carries
with it innuendos of slander or underhanded
suggestions of a personal nature, not unlike those
used by the U.S. government against black leaders of
the movement of the 1960s. Your actions are extremely
dangerous in the face of the current political climate
created by the Patriot Act and other anti-democratic
interventions by the government that are so
reminiscent of the COINTELPRO era. The fact that
universities would act in accordance with this
repressive climate is unfortunate.
Omali Yeshitela is Chairman of the African People's
Socialist Party and leader of the Uhuru Movement. He
is, as his resume shows, the most active and most
important African revolutionary leader in this time
when African people in this country and around the
globe are suffering near genocidal conditions. He has
worked tirelessly since the 1960s to rebuild the black
movement, to unify African people everywhere and to
liberate Africa, which is indeed the birthright of all
African people everywhere.
The Uhuru Movement represents the interests of the
African working class and poor inside this country and
around the world, as did Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and
Kwame Nkrumah. Out of everyday struggle against police
containment policies in African communities for the
past 40 years Omali Yeshitela has developed his
political theory, African Internationalism. This
theory makes sense of why it is that African people
are impoverished and catching hell wherever we are
located around the world, even though our continent is
the richest in the world in natural resources. It
shows us how we are going to exercise our human right
to liberate ourselves from oppression. The Uhuru
Movement today is the only movement with real
liberation organizations actually on the ground
throughout the U.S., Europe, and Africa.
Everything that Omali Yeshitela stands for has been
put out publicly in his books, in our newspaper, The
Burning Spear, through his speeches and on our
websites. He has no private or secret agenda. He
invites—always—open public debate about the justness
and correctness of what he is saying and doing.
Please, state your positions and discuss it openly
with him. He would welcome that.
To relegate your disagreements to the shadows of
innuendo and implication is the most profound form of
dishonesty. It is petty, dangerous and, again, counter
to the standards of academic and democratic freedom.
We are also aware of the historic hostility that
Professor Manning Marable has expressed toward Omali
Yeshitela and his work. It is possible that Prof.
Marable may be behind this cowardly stand. If so, we
ask him to come forward to state openly his "concerns"
about Chairman Yeshitela and what he stands for.
We feel that if Columbia University does not open up
this question to the public arena of open political
debate it becomes our responsibility from the African
People's Socialist Party to alert both the broader
academic community as well as the populace at large
about this issue. This is not going to be relegated to
a backroom discussion. The debate about the future of
African people must be open to the participation of
The Burning Spear newspaper