Committee member highlight – Diop Olugbala,
President of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement
Diop Olugbala’s government name is Wali Shamsidiin Abdur-Rahman. He was born on May 4, 1977 in Brooklyn, New York. He was given this name because his parents used to be members of the Nation of Islam.
To get his family out the ‘hood Diop’s father joined the army. Because of this Diop grew up travelling from place to place. Eventually Diop’s family moved to El Paso, Texas. Diop graduated from high school there.
Regardless of the places he lived, Diop’s experiences taught him the same lessons about what it means to be black in America.
When he moved to El Paso, which is right on the imaginary line that the white man calls the U.S./Mexico “border,” he saw the struggle that the Mexican people faced. They were treated as criminals and illegal aliens just for walking on the land that the U.S. stole from them!
Diop’s understanding of the police and the government grew more and more. During this period he listened to political hip hop artists like Ice Cube, Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. These artists were talking about what was really going on with African youth.
Meanwhile Diop and his friends saw African resistance happening around the world. When he was in the 10th grade Diop remembers viewing the video of Rodney King being beaten by the police. When the rebellions happened in Los Angeles, Diop remembers several of the kids at his high school organizing to go burn down some stores in their neighborhood. They saw a connection between the struggle in Los Angeles and the struggle they were facing even in El Paso, Texas!
Diop’s first political work as an activist started when joined the struggle to save the affirmative action programs that made it possible for him to go to school. At that time, a couple of white law school students had filed a law suit against the University of Texas for “reverse discrimination.”
This was the case that was to formally end the “affirmative action” era as defined by the so-called Bakke Movement, which purported that white people were being discriminated against in the University of California school system.
Despite the marches and protests, the white students won the case. Diop’s freshman year – 1995 – was the last year the affirmative action program at his school would be active.
Diop left UT Austin with a double major in Linguistics and African American Studies. By the time he left school Diop understood that the reason they let him go to school was to turn him into another uncle tom. While in college he remembers seeing posters in the linguistics department and other offices placed by the FBI and CIA looking for new recruits.
One thing Diop learned in school was the importance of the working class in society. He also learned some important history of the Black Power Movement. His professors in the African Americans Studies department wanted him to stay to attend graduate school. He considered it, but decided that his role was in the community – he wanted to serve the people.
Following college Diop moved back to Brooklyn in 2000. That same year he became a union organizer for U.N.I.T.E. (Union for Needletrade and Industrial Textile Employees).
In his search for the answer to his people’s struggle Diop began to see that the union he was working with wasn’t really fighting for its members. It was exploiting right along with the bosses. Even when the union would set up shop they would do nothing to stop the police brutality, the slumlords and the schools from attacking our youth.
Diop felt that he was being used as a tool by the union to get more black people to join them. He felt like a traitor. It was around this time that Diop joined the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) – after hearing Uhuru Movement founder and leader Chairman Omali Yeshitela speak at the 2001 InPDUM Convention in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Diop was blown away by the Chairman’s words. He felt like everything the Chairman said was what he had been thinking all his life but couldn’t explain. That trip to St. Petersburg changed Diop’s life. He joined the African People’s Socialist Party later that year.
He immediately started organizing for the Uhuru Movement. He led the work in Brooklyn for a couple of years before being appointed as the International Organizer of InPDUM.
Through the aggressive style of outreach he developed on the streets of the Brooklyn Front, Diop helped transform the style of outreach the Uhuru Movement used in London. In the summer of 2004, he was sent there by the APSP to help organize a conference to build the African Socialist International.
In this period, Diop took on the name “Africa’s Trigga” because he set it off everywhere he went. Diop has been traveling throughout the U.S. and the world, building branches of InPDUM where they do not exist.
What about the Black Community, Obama?
The U.S. made a last ditch effort at tricking the world through the selection of Barack Hussein Obama as leader. This was exposed by an InPDUM demonstration in St. Petersburg, Florida, led by none other than Diop Olugbala.
The African People’s Socialist Party has recognized all along that Barack Obama was a spokesman for, and a selected leader of, the white power liberal wing of the democratic party, a party who 50 years ago Malcolm X had already defined for us.
It was this correct analysis which led the Party to make the decision to expose Barack Obama as a self-serving neocolonialist tool of imperialism. Diop would carry out the Party’s strategy to a T.
At that August 1, 2008 demonstration Diop posed a simple question to then candidate Obama, “What about the black community?” Obama, with all of his Harvard educated oratorical brilliance could do nothing but stutter on the question. It was then that Obama too was characterized as a neocolonial stooge, exercising white power through black face.
The case of the Philadelphia City Hall Two
In 2010he State, through representatives of the court and police agencies in Philadelphia, has concocted trumped up charges against Diop Olugbala and Shabaka Mnombatha.
They accuse these two perfectly sane brothers of attacking and assaulting the armed police in an open Philadelphia City Council meeting. They level these charges against the brothers although video and still photos clearly show the police attacking and assaulting the InPDUM leaders.
The assault of black people by the Philadelphia Police Department is precisely the reason Diop and InPDUM had called for an organized protest at the City Council meeting to protest Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposed city budget.
The budget would have given more than $1 billion to an already over-armed, brutal and homicidal police department.
Mayor Michael Nutter who is also African was confronted by inPDUM and called out on the question of why he would give the brutal and lawless Philadelphia Police Department more than a billion dollars while at the same time closing libraries and other essential services in an African community where unemployment hovers at 50 percent and the poverty rate is among the highest in the U.S.
The InPDUM-led protesters were characterized Nutter as a neocolonialist who was in fact exercising white power through black face. They were calling a spade a spade, as the old saying goes.
Diop for Mayor
In 2011, Diop ran for mayor of Philadelphia and won a significant percentage of the vote, challenging the neo-colonial Mayor Nutter’s policies of police containment and Jim Crow curfews for the black community. The campaign received a tremendous response from a diverse array of sectors in the city and changed the political climate showing that the people are ready for real change. He challenged the Democratic and Republican party machine in the city calling, as an independent candidate for economic development for the community and opposing the billions of dollars for police, prisons and courts.
Oakland Freedom Summer Project
Diop currently leads the Oakland Freedom Summer Project calls on students, artists, computer technicians, carpenters, plumbers and electricians, health care workers, teachers, young people and workers in general to come and participate in the Oakland Freedom Summer Project (OFSP) 2012, scheduled from July 9 to July 29.
The Oakland Freedom Summer Project is a multi-faceted project designed to advance the struggle for African freedom inside the United States and around the world.