News and Announcements /

City Council of Philadelphia passes resolution saluting Uhuru Furniture and the African People’s Education and Defense Fund

OCT 26: The City Council of Philadelphia passed a resolution to salute Uhuru Furniture and the African People’s Education and Defense Fund for 30 years of work to benefit the African community and defend the democratic rights of the black community. The resolution is below.

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Honoring and recognizing Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles and the African People’s Education & Defense Fund for defending the rights of the African community; providing affordable furniture and home goods to Philadelphians; providing jobs, job training, and volunteer opportunities; and committing all profits to supporting economic development and self-determination programs for Black communities across the country. 

WHEREAS, Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles, located at Broad and Parrish Streets in North Philadelphia, is a Black-owned business that has operated since 1994 reselling affordable furniture and household goods, providing free furniture donation pick-up services, and providing moving services to Philadelphians. Through its work, Uhuru Furniture has saved thousands of tons of furniture from landfills, helped furnish the homes of thousands of Philadelphians, and provided volunteer opportunities, job training, and work experience to its community; and 

WHEREAS, For years, Uhuru Furniture has been a mainstay resource for thousands of Philadelphians and was voted “Best Home Furnishing Store in Philly” multiple times by local Channel 17 viewers. After 29 years in business, Uhuru Furniture will be closing its Philadelphia location on October 31st, 2023; and 

WHEREAS, Uhuru Furniture has served Philadelphia as an economic development institution of the civil rights nonprofit the African People’s Education & Defense Fund (APEDF), which strives to develop and institutionalize programs that defend the human and civil rights of the African community and address the disparities in education, health, health care, and economic development in the African community; and 

WHEREAS, Since 1994, the APEDF has established institutions and programs that put African people in control of their own community life. By building institutions that put economic, political, and cultural power in the hands of the community, the APEDF seeks to combat the colonial conditions that challenge their people’s ability to clothe, feed, and house themselves; and 

WHEREAS, Through on-the-ground institutions like Uhuru Furniture, the APEDF has shown what self-determination for the African community looks like. It is a monumental victory and testament that Uhuru Furniture has succeeded for three decades through conditions that normally keep Black-owned institutions out of the economic arena; and 

WHEREAS, Uhuru Furniture has been instrumental in supporting the creation and growth of other APEDF initiatives that continue to enact the APEDF mission. The Black Power Blueprint programs in St. Louis, MO continues to expand, contributing an African farmer’s market and community garden, a community basketball court, a doula training program, and a women’s health center to the North St. Louis Black community; and

WHEREAS, Under the slogan “Our Labor, Our Future”, the APEDF is launching a new initiative, the African Independence Workforce Program (AIWP), that aims to reverse the negative economic impact of the colonial economy and the prison system. AIWP will train members of the African community, in particular formerly incarcerated members, to contribute to a prosperous future through the development of an independent liberated economy; and 

WHEREAS, The AIWP emerges from the real, material need to reverse the impact of the past 40 years of mass incarceration that has torn apart families, left African communities impoverished, and left families without fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, sisters, and brothers. The AIWP seeks to receive brothers and sisters back into communities and reverse the damage done by the prison system that has been used as a colonial tool against African families; and 

WHEREAS, Uhuru Furniture is one of a network of initiatives that have contributed toward the creation of the AIWP and the enactment of its mission. AIWP now serves to create opportunities for formerly incarcerated African men and women, alongside all its community members, to receive training, gain employment, and become stakeholders in a prosperous economy; and 

WHEREAS, The City of Philadelphia recognizes the powerful work of Uhuru Furniture, the African People’s Education & Defense Fund, and the African Independence Workforce Program. In particular, we recognize and commemorate Uhuru Furniture’s impact on Philadelphia, as a small Black-owned business dedicated to economic development and self-determination for its community; now therefore be it 

RESOLVED, THAT THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, Honors and recognizes Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles and the African People’s Education & Defense Fund for defending the rights of the African community; providing affordable furniture and home goods to Philadelphians; providing jobs, job training, and volunteer opportunities; and committing all profits to supporting economic development and self-determination programs for the Black community across the country. 

FURTHER RESOLVED, That an Engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to the African People’s Education & Defense Fund’s Board President Ona Zene’ Yeshitela, as evidence of the respect and recognition given by this legislative body.

Introduced by 

Council Member Kendra Brooks Cosponsors – 

Mark Squilla 

Sharon Vaughn 

Mike Driscoll 

Curtis Jones 

Jamie Gauthier 

Anthony Phillips 

Isaiah Thomas 

Katherine Gilmore Richardson

October 26, 2023

Marketplace and Garden, News and Announcements, Projects /

Official name for outdoor venue unveiled: Karibu!

KARIBU means Welcome, and that is the official name of the Black Power Blueprint outdoor venue that’s home to the beautiful stage and Gary Brooks Black Power Community Garden!

Thank you to all the community members and artists who came out for our name unveiling ceremony earlier this month! It was a beautiful showcase of African brilliance and culture.

Speakers and performers included Black Power Blueprint resident muralist Jamie the Artist, one of our contractors Patrick Jefferson of Maintenance Boyz, poet FoFeet and singer Daneisha Young accompanied by drummer Baba Kelly, poetry by Ardimus, and by 5th Degree, vocals by Erika Clark, 18th ward alderman Jesse Todd, UAPO President Zaki Baruti, and the One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market manager Rage!

Want to host a concert or movie in the KARIBU outdoor venue? Contact!

Farmers Market, Media Coverage, Projects /

One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market promotes healthy food access and education in north St. Louis

Market season in St. Louis unfolds slowly, with options in all corners of the city and county that each add something unique to the mix. The One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market in north St. Louis is a community favorite, where friends and families gather on Saturdays throughout the summer to connect, learn and participate in an array of activities. …

Read the full story in Feast Magazine »

News and Announcements /

APEDF board president Ona Zené Yeshitela speaks at press conference following fire at The Sanctuary church in St. Louis

The following statement was delivered by Ona Zené Yeshitela, Board President of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF), at a press conference on Monday, January 16—Martin Luther King Jr day—following a fire that destroyed The Sanctuary church, which APEDF was under contract to purchase for renovation as a community center.

My name is Ona Zené Yeshitela.

I’m the Board President of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund.

APEDF is the sponsor of the Black Power Blueprint that has been transforming and building economic and political power to develop the north side of St. Louis since 2017.

We renovated a 9,000-square-foot building on W. Florissant Avenue to create the Uhuru House community center with a beautiful events venue that is popular for conferences, birthday parties and weddings.   

Across the street from the Uhuru House, we built an outdoor event venue and the Gary Brooks Black Power Garden, which has completed its third season of planting and harvesting.

Our One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market completed its 2nd year at the end of October.  We worked with black growers and farmers locally and in the region to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to a community living under food apartheid. 

The market also provides opportunities for economic development for community members that build their business through vending their products and services. 

We worked for two and a half years to raise over $150,000 to build the Black Power Vanguard Basketball Court where our children now have a safe place for recreation that promotes health and uplifts the whole community.

We have taken a dilapidated property and renovated it to provide quality housing to community members coming out of the prison system. Under the slogan “Our Labor! Our Future!,” the African Independence Workforce Program Housing is designed to reverse the negative economic impact of prison on the north side of St. Louis. 

All you have to do is just look down W. Florissant and you will see the mark we have made, including the beautiful murals that we have created to uplift and inspire the entire community!

This is not everything we’ve done. We have a commercial kitchen and bakery under construction, a Black Power Square retail center coming and more!

Just like in the times of Martin Luther King Jr., we have had to overcome nonstop obstacles and even violence.

On July 29 of last year, when the FBI raided seven of our Movement’s homes and institutions in violent pre-dawn 5am military-style raids, we held strong and went ahead with the doula training program set for that day at the Uhuru House. We trained 14 African women to become doulas.

Now we see the violence and destruction of this historic church in our community. 

Last October, the African People’s Education and Defense Fund signed a contract to buy the Sanctuary Church here at 4443 Red Bud Avenue in order to transform this space into a larger community center to serve our people.

The seller asked us to extend the contract twice, pushing the closing date to mid-December, and then suddenly without explanation demanded an additional $50,000. 

Then on Sunday morning January 9, I looked out the window of my home on Red Bud Ave., the one that the FBI raided on July 29, and saw this church completely engulfed in flames!

The burning of this church is an assault on this community, that in a few short years has worked with APEDF to build and invest in our future! 

We want to know who burned this church! Where is the investigation? The attacks on our community and our Movement must stop!

We will not be set back. We are continuing our projects. Our major project for 2023 is building the Uhuru wa Kulea, which is our African Women’s Health Center on property we have already acquired. 

Uhuru wa Kulea will not only impact the women and families it serves, but also train women to be entrepreneurs. Economic empowerment is the foundation of a healthy life.

APEDF’s mission and mantra is to defend the human and civil rights of the African community and we believe African people have the right to self-determination!


News and Announcements /

Highlights from the 2022 Black Power Blueprint volunteer appreciation party

On December 10, 2022 we held our first “Heart and Soul” Volunteer Appreciation Party for all the Uhuru N2U Volunteers involved in the Black Power Blueprint projects.

The Black Power Blueprint projects have addressed the disparities in health, education, and economic development that exist in our communities and the change we have created is possible because of the help from our amazing volunteers.

The volunteer appreciation party included an award ceremony, delicious food, and time and space for attendees to mingle. The event was a great success and we look forward to doing it again next year.

Award Winners

Awarded to volunteers who always strive to make things the very best they can be for the African working class and our struggle for self-determination. The winners are:

Awarded to volunteers who are always there when you need them, and also when you don’t, to do whatever is necessary to complete the task or assignment at hand. The winner is:
Brendan McCoy (Uhuru Solidarity Movement), Program Coordinator for the #GivingTuesday Telethon

Given to volunteers who have contributed a lot of their time. Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence and determination. The winner is:
Marisa Martinez, One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market

Awarded to a young person (age 10-18) who enthusiastically steps forward, taking responsibility to be a positive role model for their peers. Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example. The winner is:
Torryn Gray, Black Power Blueprint Garden and Black Power Vanguard Basketball Court

Given to a group of volunteers whose outstanding performance and accomplishments together warrant recognition. The sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create. The winners are:

Recognizing individuals whose positive attitude impacts those around them. Their positive spirit is contagious, motivating and enhances the confidence of everyone they work with. The winners are:

Awarded to a volunteer who makes others better as a result of their presence and who makes sure that impact lasts in their absence. The winner is:

Tobias Pristupin, Black Power Blueprint Projects

Whether it is a novel improvement or an innovative way to accomplish a task, Bold Initiative Award winners help move the organization forward. Suggestions that improve the quality of the organization’s operations and services are eligible for consideration for this award, as well as accomplishing a task or advancing the struggle. The winner is:
Rhya Fogerty, Uhuru N2U Coordinator

Given to individuals whose performance demonstrates extraordinary efforts above and beyond the “call of duty,” who demonstrate enthusiasm and who promote pride, teamwork and a positive image throughout the organization. The winners are:

More photos from the volunteer appreciation event


Akwaaba Hall is available to rent!

The Heart & Soul Volunteer Appreciation Event was held in St. Louis Akwaaba Hall, a beautiful event space available for community rentals. The room can be used to host events of up to 150 people including birthday parties, weddings, meetings, classes, repast services, graduations, baby showers, and so much more. Call (314) 380-8016 to speak with a representative about reservations, pricing, and tours. You can also learn more about Akwaaba Hall on the APEDF website.

News and Announcements, Projects /

African Doula Training

Fourteen African women from North St Louis were trained as doulas by the African People’s Education and Defense Fund at the end of July 2022. This was a first for this Northside neighborhood which is 97% African and where the conditions of birth are so serious that the number of babies that don’t survive the first year of life would fill 15 kindergarten classrooms.

The training was led by Bianca Nash-Miot and Akhmiri Sekhr-Ra, doula trainers from the Commonsense Childbirth Institute. Each new doula will participate in five births each in order to receive their certification.
The new doulas are also receiving business training from APEDF President Ona Zene Yeshitela and Uhuru Movement members Dr. Aisha Fields, Director of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project, Yejide Orunmila from African National Women’s Organization and Director Akile Anai.
News and Announcements, Projects /

African Doula Project Students sponsored by APEDF and The Black Power Blueprint

Here are African People’s Education and Defense Fund’s newest African Doula Project students taking their class photos! These women along with 13 other students will be offering free doula services to 100 families who are planning to get pregnant or who are already pregnant.

These African Doula Project students attended an informational meeting at Akwaaba Hall on May 31st. The doula students signed commitment forms to do online pre-training in June and July, and will be back at Akwaaba Hall for the in person training July 29-31.  

These students will be changing health for black mothers and babies throughout North St. Louis, one birth at a time. 

If you want to be part of this amazing project CALL 314-334-2070 or email


Volunteers Dree Nicole Smith and Starya Pope, two of our new African Doula Project students, get emotional about their new role to serve African women and babies as Doulas in North St.Louis. APEDF and The Black Power Blueprint will save our black women and children. We Will touch One and Touch all.AFRICANDOULAPROJECT@BLACKPOWERBLUEPRINT.ORG OR CALL 314-334-2070