Biography

Dr. T’Shaka addresses a crowd of over 1 million Black men at the Million Man March in 1995.

About Dr. T’Shaka

Dr. T’Shaka is an activist’s scholar, renowned public speaker, professor, workshop leader, author, organizer and visionary of exceptional influence who addresses audiences in the United States, Britain, France and Africa. For 38 years, Dr. T’Shaka was a Professor at San Francisco State University, where he is now Professor Emeritus.

San Francisco Civil Rights Movement

The San Francisco Civil Rights Movement is of all the Civil Rights Movements the least known perhaps because it’s achievements are too embarrassing to the white Power Structure of San Francisco and California because it maintained a form of Economic Apartheid towards Blacks and People of Color that was as brutal economically as Southern Political Apartheid was brutal politically, by shutting them out of the private work force up to the sixties. The S.F. Civil Rights Movement occurred between 1960-1965, and it was the largest of the Northern Civil Rights Movement putting over 10,000 people in the streets for over one year for jobs for Blacks and people of color.

The S.F. Civil Rights Movement was the only movement north, or south to effectively fight economic apartheid, while the southern civil rights movement addressed political apartheid. The S.F. Civil Rights Movement, under Bill Bradley’s (now known as Oba T’Shaka) leadership defeated the entire economic power structure of San Francisco, and parts of California, not suffering one defeat, and not compromising in the struggle for jobs and economic empowerment for Blacks and people of color.

In 1963 S.F. CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) under Bill Bradley’s leadership and in coalition with the Black Baptist Ministers Union with 40,000 supporters boycotted Sears and Roebucks for jobs. 2A Sears had only hired 50 Blacks out of a workforce of over 1,000 in San Francisco. The major white newspapers refused to report on this boycott because of the tremendous advertising dollars of Sears. In a 1963 CORE newsletter entitled the Corelator Bill Bradley announced a boycott of the downtown department stores asserting that this was “the boldest employment program (for Blacks and people of color) ever undertaken in S.F. history.” This jobs campaign was launched because while Blacks gave large patronage to these stores, they did not hire Blacks. Macy’s, Penny’s and Sears were faced with pickets and boycotts, which were directed against all of the department stores. The first major jobs victory was achieved against the downtown department stores when they caved into the boycott, after loosing 25% support, and agreeing to hire Blacks and people of color in all positions, and agreeing to inform high school counselors that jobs were available, and to advertise their jobs with the State Department of Employment.

In 1963 S.F. CORE reached job agreements with Safeway and Lucky Supermarkets. On October 16, 1963 Safeway provided CORE with numerical breakdowns by ethnic groups throughout the Bay Area. During this period there had been a 75% increase in the employment of Blacks in Safeway with three being appointed as assistant managers within the Bay Area.

On February 15, 1964, under Bill Bradley’s leadership a boycott and picket was announced against Luckies Supermarket on a Bay Area-wide basis because they had failed to implement their employment agreement. Over a three-month period Luckies hired 320 people and only 18 Blacks. When CORE’s negotiating team met with Luckies management they were adamant in stating that they had hired enough Blacks during this period. When a largely white clientele that patronized their Geary and Laguna store did not honor Core’s boycott of Luckies, Bill Bradley innovated a new tactic, the Shop-In, where we filled grocery carts with groceries, and bought bubble gum. This tactic was used for over two weeks throughout the Bay Area, and because of the low profit margin that supermarkets make on their produce; this tactic nearly put Luckies out of business. Downtown business interests pressured the Baptist Ministers Union’s leadership and they opposed the Shop-In tactic. After suspending the Shop-In, I forced the mayor of San Francisco, to mediate between CORE and Luckies. 3A The agreement reached required that for one year every single new hire would be of Blacks and people of color. This was a great jobs victory for the movement because supermarket jobs were among the best-paid jobs due to the fact that they were union jobs.

The San Francisco Civil Rights Movement gave birth to the Free Speech Movement. In 1963, a United Front was formed between the major Civil Rights Organizations, called the United Freedom Movement. 4A As chair of S.F. CORE Bill Bradley served as chair of the organizing committee, and one of the groups in this coalition was the Ad Hoc Committee led by 18 year-old Tracy Sims. Three major jobs campaigns were selected by the UFM: the hotel and restaurant industry, with the Sheraton Palace being selected for boycotts and picketing, 5A if they refused to hire Blacks and people of color. The Ad Hoc Committee led this campaign. Auto Row was the second jobs campaign and the NAACP under the leadership of Dr. Nathanial Burbridge led it. 6A The third project was to be organized against the Bank of America, under my leadership as Chair of S.F. CORE. This was a statewide campaign against the largest bank in the world. Each of these campaigns was successful. 7A, 8A What is generally not known is that the UC Berkeley students who were members of the Ad Hoc Committee made up some important shock troops who were arrested at the Sheraton Palace campaign and latter on, and after a year of demonstrating in the S, F. Civil Rights Movement they were inspired to start the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley. (Berkeley in the 60’s clip)

Some of the member of the S.F. Civil Rights Movement conceived of the Experimental College that served as the embryo for the Black Studies Department. The S.F. Civil Rights Movement preceded the Black Panther Party, and provided an inspirational and successful example for many leaders of the San Francisco State Strike. Joe Goncalves, chair of S.F. CORE’s education committee, became the founder of the pioneer Journal of Black Poetry that helped pioneer the Black Cultural Arts Movement of the Sixties and Seventies. The San Francisco Civil Rights Movement, under Bill Bradley’s leadership was organized under the most complex conditions in the United States, and was able to carryout the most complex and diverse organizing, leading a coalition of Chinese Americans, Mexican Americans, white students, Black church leaders, and Black community and civil rights organizations. This was the first movement to capture control of the War on Poverty Program, to organize 45,000 Black People block-by-block, and under Bill Bradley’s leadership to pioneer in economic development through building 211 units of low and moderate-income cooperative housing in the Filmore called the Garvey King Cooperatives. 9A This rich organizing and leadership experience acquired by Oba T’Shaka, served as a gigantic classroom encouraging him to engage in deep study of his enemy and of his people, leading him to become a Warrior/Scholar, Professor and author. His experience as an organizer and leader would lead to an approach to scholarship where practice determined theory, and then theory, which had been field-tested, served as a practical guide for action. 10A, 11A. 21A Dr. Oba T’Shaka’s books, The Art of Leadership Vol 1 & 2, Return To The African Mother Principle of Male and Female Equality Vol. 1, The Integration Trap: The Generation Gap, Caused By A Choice Between Two Cultures, and The Political Legacy of Malcolm X, are all extensions of lessons learned by Oba T’Shaka as an organizer, leader, scholar and spiritual person. His thought is cutting edge, because his organizing has and continues to be cutting edge.

Pan African People’s Organization

The Pan African Peoples Organization (then known as the Afro-American Institute) was organized by Oba T’Shaka and other former members of S.F. CORE in 1966. Starting in 1966, Oba T’Shaka underwent an awakening when he realized that his college education as a government administration major and law school student was mis-education. T’Shaka’s battle for economic empowerment for Blacks and a conversation with a CORE member, Norman Brown opened his eyes to the fact that contrary to his mis-education, America was not a Democracy and corporations ruled America, including the political system. This understanding led T’Shaka to realize that he had been programmed rather than educated. He also realized that if he didn’t know his enemy he didn’t know himself. His first experience of thinking politically for himself, led T’Shaka in a lifelong study of African and African American history and culture, and to a study of the political and economic system of the United States and Europe.

In 1963, T’Shaka then discovered the work of the greatest organizer among Blacks in the Western hemisphere in the 2oth century, the honorable Marcus Garvey. These two experiences were combined with a realization that while the S.F. Civil Rights Movement was successful in gaining jobs for Blacks and people of color, still the majority of Blacks, people of color and the poor would be confined to the bottom of an economic system where the rich got rich and the poor got poorer. Experience in the Civil Rights Movement, and careful study revealed that the American political and economic system was not structured to provide freedom for Blacks, people of color and people in general. By 1965, this led T’Shaka and a number of other movement activists, including Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, then Stokeley Carmichael, James Forman and many others to take a more radical approach to social change.

The Pan African People’s Organization was organized in 1966 as part of the Black Power thrust of the Black Liberation Movement. While the Civil Rights Movement at the national level was financed by white liberals, labor, Jews and foundations, and local movements such as the San Francisco movement was largely broke, Oba T’Shaka’s movement experience, study of African and African American history, and his apprenticeship under Marcus Garvey taught him that the Black movement had to be Black financed, Black led, and organizationally composed of Black people if it was to be free from outside control. So the founders of P.A.P.O., represented Black Businesses (Marcus Bookstore, Wesley Johnson Pharmacy, The Sun Reporter Newspaper, Night clubs owned by Wesley Johnson, including The Texas Playhouse, the Congo Club, a Black Community Center (Men’s Action Council), Civil Rights groups including S.F. NAACP, S.F. C.O.R.E.) a Black labor organization (the Negro American Labor Council), and Black Social Clubs, The Aspiring Models, 13 Charms and the Knights of Honor. These organizations financed an executive director and a secretary as well as paid rent on our headquarters for a year.

In 1970 PAPO purchased a 5,500-foot Victorian Building, which it named The Malcolm X Unity House, with a meeting hall called Garvey Hall. The Unity House would serve as he headquarters for PAPO where it launched its first two-year and five-year plan. As a part of the two-year plan PAPO financed and operated a food program called Ujamaa Na Chakula (we serve our food as one African Family) that served over 35,000 plates of food at 25 cents per plate, for those who had the money to pay. 13A Under this plan PAPO provided free clothes to community members and to members of African liberation movements. PAPO also provided housing for some of their organizers, and it published a journal called Black Man Speaks. 14A It also operated an after-school program for Black children teaching them African history, math, reading, writing and Swahili.

In 1972 PAPO carried out a five-year plan that included holding weekly conscious raising meetings in the Black community, operating a full-time independent Black school, doing work in Africa, playing a leadership role in the historic 6th Pan African Congress in Tanzania, organizing African Liberation Day in the Bay Area, publish a newspaper and fight police repression in the Black community.

The first phase of the five-year plan consisted of launching a Pan African mass-based educational movement and institution. A broad-based coalition was formed to build this movement and institution including Black teachers, Black college and high school BSU’s, Black community organizations, Black businesses and a African liberation movement, ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union). This broad-based movement met and planned the creation of a curriculum for an independent Black school and pre-school, called Pan African Center for Progressive Education and NiJiani Nyumbani (on the roadway home). On February 21, 1973 PAPO organizers walked 4,500 Blacks students out of the public schools to hold a march and rally in the Filmore for independent Black education. 16A This school continues to operate to today, under the name African Children’s Advanced Learning Center. Ninety-eight per cent of our graduates have gone onto college, many receiving scholarships, and many continuing to do liberating work in the Black community.

In 1973 PAPO sent a team of people to Tanzania to work in their Ujamaa villages. This work was part of our work to internationalize our struggle thru showing support for progressive African nations and African liberation movements. This Kazi (work) team worked in Mwanza, Arusha, Dodoma, and Tabora, digging wells, clearing agricultural fields chopping down trees, doing carpentry work, helping to dig a 21 mile water pipe line and working in village stores. 17A PAPO also organized for over ten years over 15,000 people a year in an African Liberation Day Program that featured speakers such as CLR James a leading Pan African scholar and organizer, Gil Scott Heron and brother Babu former Foreign Minister of Zanzibar, and a confidante of Brother Malcolm X and Oba T’Shaka.

In 1974, Oba T’Shaka led the West Coast delegation to the historic 6th Pan African Congress held in Tanzania. T’Shaka Chaired the Political Committee to the 6th Pan African Congress, and furthered the work of internationalizing the Black Liberation Movement, meeting with President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania to iron out programs for mutual support of African and African American liberation. 19A T’Shaka also debated Imamu Baraka, and Owusu Sadaukai, on the course of the Black Liberation Movement in the U.S.

During this period 1972-78 T’Shaka was indirectly apprenticing under Brother Malcolm X, and while he was organizing he was writing his first book The Political Legacy of Malcolm X. In 1972 he also started teaching at San Francisco State University.

National Black United Front

In the last year and a half of his life, Brother Malcolm X chartered an organizational style that set the standard for Black Nationalists organizations such as the Black Power movement, the Black Panther Party, PAPO, the African Liberation Support Committee and the National Black United Front. Malcolm’s call for self-defense, and the Black Panther Party organized in Lowndes Country Alabama by SNCC influenced Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in their organization of SNCC. It is generally not known, but Malcolm and Adam Clayton Powell had planned to call a Black Power Conference. Adam Clayton’s call for Black Power after Malcolm’s assassination inspired Stokeley Carmichael (latter Kwame Toure) to call for Black Power. Malcolm’s spirit was behind the Black Power Movement. Malcolm traveled extensively throughout Africa in his last year and in his meeting with Kwame Nkrumah President of Ghana they agreed that Pan Africanism or the idea of one Africa and one African people united in a common struggle for liberation, was the unifying theme for African people. The emergence of the African Liberation Support Committee that was organized in the U.S., and other parts of the world to provide material support for African liberation movements was an extension of Malcolm’s pan Africanists vision. Most importantly, Malcolm’s observation and participation in the OAU (Organization of African Unity) the continental African organization that included all African nations and African independence movements led him to organize the OAAU (the Organization of Afro American Unity) which was his attempt to build a Black United Front, that could unify different elements in the Black liberation movement.

Between June 26-29th 1980 the National Black United Front was organized in Brooklyn New York. NBUF was a realization of Malcolm X’s vision and came to birth after the assassination of Malcolm and King, and the decline of the African Liberation Support Committee and the FBI’s destruction of the Black Panther Party. Oba T’Shaka’s organizing in the S.F. Civil Rights Movement and the Pan African People’s Organization convinced him as it did many other Black movement activists that there was a need for Black organizations around the country to hook up to build a national movement for Black empowerment and liberation. T’Shaka worked with Jitu Weusi the principle organizer of NBUF, and he worked with other local NBUF organizations and national Black organizations to build NBUF.

NBUF was formed in 1980. Between 1980 and 1984 NBUF was a national organization without a national program. In 1979 the Portland chapter of NBUF boycotted the Portland public schools demanding quality education for all students including Black students, and demanding an African Centered Education. This boycott was effective, forcing the school board to hire Dr. Asa Hilliard as the chief consultant to shape an African Centered curriculum. Asa assembled a team of leading African American scholars, and by 1984 the African American Baseline Essays grounded in an Ancient Egyptian historical perspective (which covered every area of the public school curriculum) was completed.

In 1984, T’Shaka then National Vice Chair for Organizing and Training concluded that the African American Baseline Essays provided a novel way to link up the African Centered curriculum with mass movement building around an issue that would unify Black people, the issue of education. T’Shaka realized that a mass movement organized to include the African Centered Baseline Essays into the public school curriculum would represent a lateral attack that would catch the public school and intellectual establishments off guard. He also realized that with America’s demographic shift to a country that would eventually be made up of a majority of people of color, the African Centered curriculum would be seen as a threat to the governing Euro-centric cultural paradigm, and would be fiercely resisted. What T’Shaka didn’t expect was that NBUF would resist taking up the African Centered curriculum as a national campaign. So T’Shaka began organizing a local African Centered Educational Movement in Oakland California under BUFFER (Black United Front For Educational Reform), which he co-chaired with Mr. Oscar Wright. Buffer took control of McClymond’s High School and under Dr. Wade Nobles leadership implemented an African Centered curriculum. This movement helped convince NBUF to adopt the African Centered Educational Movement that included an after school component, an independent Black school program, a rites of passage program and a study group component. At the same time that the Baseline Essays were completed, the State of New York, under the leadership of Adeline Sanford, adopted an African Centered and People of Color Centered set of curriculum standards for the entire school system in New York. Euro-centrism was placed on an equal par with all other worldviews, especially the African worldview.

NBUF became the field arm of the African Centered Educational Movement under Oba T’Shaka’s direction. Because education is an article of faith in the Black community, this movement would unify Blacks behind the movement, and Black children would be the beneficiaries, of an excellent education linked to self-knowledge and self-respect. This movement spread like wild fire with the Baseline Essays being adopted in Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Richmond, Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore, Camden, Kansas City Mo., Broward County Florida and other cities. By 1986 a full-fledged African Centered Movement was in motion with African Centered study groups organizing at the grassroots level. A large number of Black bookstores opened responding to this interest in the study of African history and culture. A Rites of Passage Movement took shape with a national structure coming into place. The W.E.B. Du Bois Learning Center in Kansas City Mo. became the model supplementary or after school in the country and also because of its excellence and connection with NBUF it became the model for supplementary schools. Independent Black schools that had been organized prior to the launching of this movement were thriving and many of them used the Baseline Essays to enrich their curriculum. Most importantly, a radical Hip Hop movement emerged, with an African Centered component.

In 1987 leading Euro-centric scholars on the right and from the middle met in New York to attack the African Centered movement. They attacked the African centered scholars as “the barbarians in tweed.” Leading white think tanks provided financing to the anti-Afro-centric movement. In 1991 Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote a book entitled The Disuniting of America Reflections on a Multicultural Society. This book attacked the African American Baseline Essays arguing that the African Centered thrust threatened to disunite America. The leading Euro-American political scientist, Samuel Huntington wrote a book entitled The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. He agreed with Schlesinger asserting that with the shift of the U.S., population from majority white to a people of color majority America could become a cleft country like Turkey where the cultural of the country (Islam did not match the politics of Turkey (Western Republicanism). Huntington called for a form of ethnic cleansing in the U.S., by the ruling elite purging the African Centered cultural paradigm from the U.S., political, academic and cultural agenda.

A part of this purge would consist of a frontal attack by the Euro-centric think tanks, intellectual elite and boards of education, to wipe out African Centered Black Studies Departments that provided most of the African Centered scholars that fueled the thinking for this movement. Oba T’Shaka would lead the Black Studies Department at San Francisco State University against this attack.

The African Centered Movement also created a climate across the U.S. that favored the organization of The Million Man March. Oba T’Shaka addressed that march, and provided a follow-up plan for the Million Man March. 22A (INSERT SPEECH ON MILLION MAN MARCH) While Dr. T’Shaka was organizing in the Pan African People’s Organization, and in NBUF he was also laying the foundation for far reaching change in the Black Studies Movement. His organizing served as a classroom for his scholarship, and his scholarship provided direction for his organizing. was writing his first book The Political Legacy of Malcolm X. In 1972 he also started teaching at San Francisco State University.

Chair, Black Studies San Francisco State University

Oba T’Shaka was a Full Professor at San Francisco State University, where he taught between 1972 and 2010, and where he served as Chairperson of the Black Studies Department between 1984-1996. He holds a Ph.D., in Philosophy from the Western Institute of Social Research in Berkeley. As Chairperson of Black Studies, T’Shaka provided academic leadership to the department, which led to the development of an African-Centered discipline that includes the natural sciences, (physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics) into the core discipline of Black Studies. He also led the move to define African Philosophy as the foundation of the Black Studies discipline. Dr. T’Shaka has mastery of seven disciplines; African Philosophy, African American Culture, Strategy, Black Political Movements, African and African American Leadership traditions and systems, African and African American Family Paradigms, and African and African American systems of Instruction (Pedagogy or Seba).

Between 1990-1992, T’Shaka, as a scholar-activist, successfully aided his colleagues in thwarting an effort by the right-wing Hoover Institute to destroy the Black Studies Department.

Dr. Oba T’Shaka is the author of five books, each of which is considered a Masterwork. His first book grew out of his organizing in the Civil Rights Movement, entitled The Political Legacy of Malcolm X. Oba T’Shaka heard Malcolm X’s wife speak in 1966 in San Francisco’s Hunters Point, where she said that the FBI had pressured Alex Haley to delete key chapters from The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The Art of Leadership, Volume one and two listed below are 898 pages, and are the only books in the modern world to day on African and American Leadership traditions and systems. These two volumes are used in Black Studies Departments, seminary programs, churches and community organizations around the world. T’Shaka’s fourth book, Return To The African Mother Principle of Male and Female Equality, is considered by scholars to be a classic because it is the only book to accurately define the paradigm for African and African American families. This is a paradigm that will provide balance for Black and non –Black male-female relationships. Dr. T’Shaka’s fifth book The Integration Trap: The Generation Gap, Caused by a Choice Between Two Cultures, explains what has gone wrong in Black families, communities and nations since 1968. T’Shaka shows that since 1968 powerful hostile forces have hit Black communities and African nations causing them to “choose between two cultures, one African American and one European American. This book examines African and African American culture in-depth to rescue African communities and African nations globally.