Oppose the theft of funding from St. Petersburg’s black community and demand the fair and legal funding for radio station equipment for Black Power 96 FM and a back-up power generator for the Uhuru House
The Pinellas County Commission is trying to take away funding that rightfully belongs to the black community of south St. Pete.
The African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) submitted 2 grant applications for federal COVID relief funding to help the nonprofit recover from the negative economic impact of the pandemic. One for $36,801 for radio station equipment to provide local community public service information, free professional broadcast journalism training and community cultural upliftment. The second for $67, 327 for a back-up generator for the Uhuru House to maintain operations of the Black Power 96 radio station, the Uhuru Jiko community kitchen and the Akwaaba Hall events venue during power outages – critically important for maintaining emergency local communications during hurricanes and preventing the loss of thousands of dollars in refrigerated food needed to feed our neighborhood during such crises.
Both applications ranked 4th of 55 and 79 applications respectively and were recommended for funding by the Pinellas Community Foundation. In November the Pinellas County Commissioners agreed to fund the radio equipment. Then in February they voted to rescind the funding because they said they don’t like what the Uhuru Movement is about. The vote for the back-up generator is coming up on June 13 and the Commission’s agenda says they intend to reject the Community Foundation’s recommendations and deny the APEDF’s application.
The APEDF’s mission is to “defend the human and civil rights of the African community and end the disparities faced by African people in health, healthcare, education and economic development”. Why don’t the Commissioners support this? Why don’t they support this work that APEDF does?
APEDF has served the black community of south St. Petersburg in Pinellas County for 27 years with programs including a fitness gym, free HIV testing, an events venue and licensed kitchen, family festivals, marketplaces for neighborhood vendors, public forums, a community meeting place, a Saturday school and backyard vegetable gardening education. This black-run nonprofit has worked to grow a healthy community by providing exercise facilities, health education and coaching for youth basketball. We provide assistance to neighborhood entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and facilities to produce healthy food for consumption by local families.
APEDF’s licensed kitchen provides a unique resource used by local entrepreneurs to build their food businesses, including the nonprofit organization, Isaiah’s Place, that prepares 300 meals bi-monthly for distribution to unhoused residents of St. Petersburg.
For the past 5 years, APEDF has operated a noncommercial low power FM radio station, broadcasting music and public affairs programming produced by and for the local black community. WBPU’s FM signal serves over 100,000 residents in south St. Pete, Pinellas County’s largest and most concentrated historically black community.
During hurricane season, Black Power 96 FM broadcast critical preparedness tips along with up-to-the-minute news on shelter and transportation availability. Throughout the COVID pandemic, the station has provided timely and reliable information on public safety protocols, testing and vaccine availability and educational programming to help community members build healthy lifestyles and strong immune systems.
WBPU also serves the black community with unique access to the world of media communications. We have provided free training and internships to over 50 local residents, ranging from high school students to senior citizens. WBPU has helped local unsigned artists build a fan base and secure recording contracts.
Black Power 96 radio’s Station Manager, Mr. Eddie Maultsby, Jr. is 100% blind and a shining example of the opportunities created in the institutions of APEDF for anyone in the black community to rise to their full potential. Why don’t the Commissioners want a blind black man to succeed?
This federal funding should be granted according to the guidelines and not the political views of the Commissioners. APEDF meets all the requirements and has a stellar track record of work that uplifts the black community. The Commissioners’ reasons for rescinding or denying this funding is unconstitutional and an attack on free speech.