Ewuare Osayande

Ewuare Osayande


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




Black culture in this country has become commercialized.

Black culture begins as an act of resistance on the part

of local people to affirm each other




Ewuare Osayande 

Celebrates Ten Years of Activism

By Junious R. Stanton


In 1991 while Camden native Ewuare Osayande was a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, a fourteen-year-old African-American boy named Phillip Pennell Jr. was murdered in a neighbor’s back yard by a white Plainfield police officer, Gary Spatt. This event changed his life forever.

Outraged by the senseless, callous and wanton murder of the fourteen-year-old, Osayande organized protest demonstrations on the campus, participated in teach-ins, community awareness and organizing meetings during the two years the investigation and case against the police officer dragged on. Like so many cases of police brutality and abuse the white police officer was exonerated of all charges.

Ewuare, already a fledgling poet, became a correspondent and columnist for The City News the local black newspaper that covered Northern New Jersey during the two-year ordeal. At a writers’ conference in Newark, New Jersey, he met renowned poets Amiri Baraka and Gwendolyn Brooks. Ewuare approached Ms Brooks to get her to sign and autograph one of her books and shared some of his poetry with her.

She read two poems approvingly and curtly asked him why wasn’t he a published writer? Stunned he responded he didn’t have an agent. She replied, “Do you own a stapler?” To further make her point Ms Brooks told him she would not read another word until he made the effort to publish and distribute his works.  Gwendolyn Brook’s admonition officiated at a marriage that for Osayande joined art and activism. As a result of Gwendolyn Brooks’ advice Ewuare founded Talking Drum Communications printing and publishing his own works.

Last Thursday at Temple University’s Pan African Studies Community Education Program in Anderson Hall Ewuare Osayande held a ten-year celebration to commemorate his life mission as an artist/activist and to thank the members of the community who have supported nurtured and helped him during the past ten years. Educators, follow activists, PASCEP students, and mentors were on hand to help Osayande mark ten years as a writer/ activist, and listen as he read from his latest book, Black Anti-Ballistic Missives Resisting War Resisting Racism.

In ten years he has written and self published through his Talking Drum Communications publishing arm ten books on topics covering the biblical affirmation of Kwanzaa, critiques of Hip Hop and Gangsta Rap, the politics of black poetry, 9-11 and essays of social commentary. Osayande is still on the battlefield still working to raise consciousness still writing learning growing evolving as an artist and human being.

Several of the people in attendance spoke of the various facets of Osayande’s work as a teacher, as an anti-racism facilitator and as a writer. The celebration was Osayande’s way of saying thank you to those who have touched his life over the years. “I wanted to have an opportunity to say thank you to the city and the people in the city who have been instrumental in my ability because it’s not without the help of so many folks that I am able to in fact write and publish what I want. Many of the people I invited probably won’t be able to make it because they are activists like myself and they are out there working on something really important but I want to personally thank them. ” Osayande explained.

Sharing how he became involved as an activist and reading poems spanning the ten years he has been involved and writing, his growth, maturity and evolution as a writer, thinker, artist/healer were obvious. Following his readings Osayande entertained questions from the audience that ran the gamut from his views on religion, the war, the role of whites in the struggle, his views on white skin privilege and his philosophy and approach to the business of writing and publishing.

“I’m not in this to make a lot of money. What’s important for me is that people are challenged to think, that we create a culture that is in resistance to this domination that we all have experienced, these are the things that motivate me and keep me going. Black culture in this country has become commercialized. Black culture begins as an act of resistance on the part of local people to affirm each other but sooner or later someone comes along and says ‘Hey we can make some money off of this’.”

Osayande who served briefly as the president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Radical Congress is preparing to go on a speaking and teaching tour to promote the release of his latest book. Several of the guests have worked with Osayande over the years and spoke very highly of him and his dedication to the community. Andrea Muhammad an educator from New Jersey served as Mistress of Ceremonies and shared how Ewuare assisted her in her programs teaching poetry and sharing his talents with the young girls in her teen mothers program and her teacher workshops in New Jersey. 

Shared Simons, an anti-racist activist and workshop facilitator, shared how Ewuare worked with her in the “Healing the Wounds of Racism” and “Dismantling White Skin Privilege” workshops. “Ewuare has been my advisor my partner. I can only proceed with the anti-racism work with contact, sharing, and advice from Ewuare.”

Pam Africa of MOVE came to support Ewuare because he has always been there for her. “Brother Ewuare is one that you see in the community everywhere and whenever there is a problem and need of resistance he’s always organizing in the community. This brother has love for his people, for black people. He’s a teacher of white people about the problem they have; he teaches black people about the problems we have; and he uplifts younger children.”

The event was originally planned as a venue to say thank you to his supporters. However it turned out to be a mutual admiration love fest.

Photo: Junious R. Stanton

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update 20 December 2011




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