Black Power Blueprint

Our Mission

Black Power Blueprint is a joint program of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) and Black Star Industries (BSI), transforming North St. Louis through renovation, economic development and political power by and for the black community.

Economic power to transform the future!

Led by Ona Zené Yeshitela, President of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) and Black Star Industries (BSI), the Black Power Blueprint was launched in 2017 on the North Side of St. Louis, the most impoverished area of the city. 

The Black Power Blueprint is buying abandoned, dilapidated buildings, initiating a rapid process of restoration or demolition and re-allocation of land to create community-generated, self-reliance programs that uplift the residents and engage them socially, politically and economically in the future of our community. 

In three years APEDF and BSI have raised more than $300,000 in funds primarily from crowd-funding, webinars, Uhuru Pies and Uhuru Furniture sales, countless donors and in-kind services and contributions. 

This outpouring of support has enabled the Black Power Blueprint to transform a community—not just with land and buildings, but with a sense of pride and a vision for a prosperous future once again. 

You can join the thousands of supporters, contractors, skilled workers and volunteers in contributing through this dynamic project that is literally transforming the terrain of the North Side of St. Louis.

Donors to the Black Power Blueprint are supporting African self-determination. Some donors give out of a commitment to reparations, righting a historic wrong.

Thank you so much for contributing to self-reliance, genuine economic development and political engagement in the hands of the African working class!

– Ona Zené Yeshitela
APEDF President

The Story of the Black Power Blueprint

The vision of the Black Power Blueprint is to return the majority-black North Side of St. Louis to its former economic, political and cultural vibrancy through self-sustaining economic development.

The Black Power Blueprint is transforming St. Louis north of the infamous Delmar Boulevard divide, where the population is 94 percent black and 35 percent of the residents live below the poverty line.

Through purchasing properties and renovating or demolishing abandoned buildings, the Black Power Blueprint is creating beautiful, usable cultural and political hubs, economic incubators and community spaces.

Our model is already inspiring others to rejuvenate the neighborhood. Young families are moving in and there are increasing social, cultural and economic activities.

Black Power Blueprint projects include:

  • Black Power Vanguards Community Basketball Court
  • Murals at the basketball court and community garden
  • 4-plex apartment building—housing for the African Independence Workforce Program creating jobs for those re-entering our community from the prison system
  • Uhuru Jiko – a bakery, café, community commercial kitchen, outdoor event space and herb garden
  • African Doula Project
  • Future Uhuru Wa Kulea (Freedom to Nurture) African Women’s Health Center
  • Future Black Power Square
  • Uhuru (Freedom) House community center with Akwaaba (Welcome) Hall
  • Outdoor event space and community garden as home for a One Africa! One Nation! Marketplace
  • A 50’ flagpole flying a 25’ red, black and green flag in our outdoor event space across from the Uhuru House, a much-loved symbol of our heritage, culture and pride

Historic Black Neighborhoods

Once an area with thriving African communities, St. Louis’ North Side encompasses historic black neighborhoods, such as The Ville, the home of many celebrities including Chuck Berry, Josephine Baker, Tina Turner and Dick Gregory to name a few.

Years ago, The Ville was one of the only neighborhoods where African people could buy property due to “racial covenants” in the city. It was the home of Sumner High School, the first black secondary school west of the Mississippi, built in 1910.

In 1917 Annie Turnbo Malone established the Poro College, a manufacturing plant and training school for her cosmetics and beauty products that employed 200 people.

The Ville featured the renowned black-owned Homer G. Phillips Hospital which served as a teaching institution for black doctors and healthcare workers from all over the world from 1937 until its closing in 1979.

Historically, the North Side encompassed hundreds of black businesses including movie theaters, salons, funeral homes, gas stations and grocery stores.

Systemic Injustice

Although the North Side continues to be a strong and resilient community, the conditions today are quite different than they were a hundred, or even 40, years ago.

Today the St. Louis African population is a majority in the city, with 88,000 African residents on the North Side.

The North Side now has more than 7,000 vacant, crumbling buildings and thousands of empty, overgrown lots on streets dotted with potholes, far from commerce and access to schools, grocery stores and other conveniences.

In St. Louis, only 33 percent of black families own their homes, versus 71 percent for white families, according to a 2017 article in the Riverfront Times.

Black residents of North St. Louis face rapidly encroaching gentrification, with higher rents and property taxes, that is forcing thousands further out into the county and beyond.

Sixty percent of the St. Louis African community lives at the poverty line, with 30 percent in deep poverty. The city of St Louis now has the 7th highest disparity in household income between black and white people, according to an East-West Gateway Council of Governments report from 2017.

The St. Louis American newspaper states that “One-fifth of African American families have a net worth of $0 or below; 75 percent have less than $10,000 for retirement.” This is versus median white assets of $134,000.

According to St. Louis County Public Health, there is an 18-year gap in life expectancy between North St. Louis zip codes and the predominantly white Clayton area, separated by less than 10 miles.

We are clear that this reality is the result of an ongoing legacy of deeply ingrained systemic injustice and not the fault of our struggling people.

Bringing North St. Louis
Back to Life

Located just a few miles from Ferguson, where in 2014 18-year-old Mike Brown was killed by the police, sparking a massive outcry, the Uhuru House at 4101 W. Florissant Avenue in North St. Louis stands as a beacon to our past and our future.

Since its opening, the Uhuru House has hosted:

  • Weekly open community meetings
  • Halloween Family Festival
  • Black Power Poetry and Open Mic nights
  • Fashion shows, local bands and musicians
  • National conferences and electoral schools
  • Wedding receptions, family reunions, birthday parties and other community celebrations at Akwaaba Hall

The red, black and green flag that flies across the street from the Uhuru House is an inspiring symbol that represents a future of justice, prosperity and liberation for African people in St. Louis and around the world.

The community is now enjoying the beautiful outdoor venue across the street from the Uhuru House. The outdoor venue is now home to the weekly One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market and Gary Brooks Community Garden. Both are overlooked by the inspiring 332 square foot mural painted in June 2022.

And just two blocks away along  W. Florissant Ave is the Black Power Vanguards Community Basketball Court, mural and next door, the fully renovated and furnished 4-plex housing.

The Black Power Blueprint has demonstrated our commitment to the leadership, genius and future of the long-oppressed black working class and poor community.

With your support, our program is bringing the North Side back to life!

We are clear that this reality is the result of an ongoing legacy of deeply ingrained systemic injustice and not the fault of our struggling people.