The struggle for justice and freedom for Afrikan people continues for Baba El Senzengakulu Zulu. After the freedom rides Dr. El Zulu became an enlisted warrior on the front line of the civil rights movement of the 1960's, repeatedly risking his life battling the Jim Crow laws of the segregated Deep South. Dr Zulu was a true warrior, while engaging and battling the racist segregationist during the civil rights struggle. There were at least 3 attempts to kill him and he was arrested a total of sixty-nine times. Although Dr. Zulu struggled against the racial injustice of this society, in many ways he was very concerned about the education in our community and in particular the education of our youth. This was evident in the unfolding of his history beyond the freedom rides.
He became involved with the SNCC movement in 1906. He was on the executive board, a field secretary and one of the organizers of the March on Washington. This was during the time when Martin Luther King gave his powerful speech "I Have a Dream". During Dr. Zulu's tenure with SNCC he served as director of the following chapters: Nashville Student Movement; Jackson, Mississippi; Macomb, Mississippi and Washington DC. The focus of the SNCC movement was voter's registration and direct action which was that the struggle against segregation.
While working in Macomb, Mississippi he participated in a demonstration against the segregation establishment. One hundred and thirteen students were expelled from school. In an effort to help the students SNCC established freedom schools to conduct academic classes. While working with the students they learned that they could not read or write and did not know anything about their history. There were too many students to teach so they were sent to various locations in the US where families took them in and helped them enroll in other schools. While in Mississippi Dr. Zulu met Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer and others, they worked closely together on the voters' registration drive and the struggle against discrimination. This was the beginning of Dr Zulu's thoughts to open his won school because he knew that at some point we had to open up our schools to teach our own history.
After laving Mississippi in 1964, he received two scholarships one for Harvard Law School and one form Howard University Law School. He chose Howard University Law School. He chose Howard University Law School. While attending Howard University Law School, Dr. Zulu received a call from James Forman, Executive Secretary of SNCC, requesting his help with Selma, Alabama Crisis. The assignment was the Washington, DC chapter of SNCC. He went to the White House as a SNCC representative along with H. Rap Brown, NAG; Walter Fauntroy, SCLC; The Urban League and others. This visit was to urge he president to send troops to protect the people during the civil rights demonstrations in Alabama. Dr. Zulu and Marion Barry as members of the DC chapter of SNCC organized the Free DC Movement that provided help with the voters' registration, improved housing, transportation charges, food and shelter for the homeless and the struggle against police brutality.
In 1966 Marion Barry resigned and Baba Zulu became director of the D.C. Chapter. At this time, he organized the freedom schools in DC in order to help our youth with schools in DC in order to help our youth with reading, writing and their history. In January of 1968 The Ujamaa Afrikan Shop was opened to build a financial basis for an independent Afrikan community school.
On May 4, 1968 Ujamaa School opened with 3 students in preschool and added a grade each year up through high school. Ujamaa School is an ungraded school system. He chose that system because it allowed him to move students according to their ability. Ujamaa School is the first and oldest Afrikan independent school in he USA. In the last 44 years many students have graduated from high school, some as early as age 14. he majority of he shades who graduated went on to receive honors and degrees from from major universities. Some have returned to teach at the school. Many of our graduates now have families of their own have chosen to send their children to Ujamaa.
Dr. Zulu was blessed to have 7 children and 8 grand children. All of his children attended Ujamaa School and are productive in their careers. One is an attorney, four are teachers, one is a construction contractor and one is a computer specialists and chief chef.
Ujamaa is not just pre-school through high school, it provides adult education and seminars with well known speakers to re-educate the community. Dr. Zulu also helped and aided the start of their independent schools in the DC area, his belief is that these schools should be in every section in the DC area and beyond.
In 1970 Dr. Zulu was elected to the position of President at a Community Credit Union. In 1972 he was elected to the District of Columbia City Wide DC Development Council. Dr Zulu has traveled extensively nationally an internationally speaking about the struggle of our people and the need to build independent institutions to provide quality education and to teach or history.
In 1977, The Center for Black Education which is the parent institution for all Independent institutions in the USA received an invitation to visit China. Ujamaa School was part of that trip to examine China's school system, factories and other areas of interest. While on the way to China, Ujamaa School stopped in Egypt. While in China, Dr. Zulu met Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa, for the first time.
In 1982, Ujamaa School was invited by President Julius Nyere to visit Tanzania. A group of 15 students, teachers and parents visited schools, factories and the Ujamaa village of self-reliance. The Government had an annual festival called the Saba Festival. When Dr. Zulu returned to the US he organized an annual festival called the Nguzo Saba Festival. The Festival was designed to bring about cultural awareness and to help destroy the injustices and discrimination in America. In 1992 a group of 22 students, parents and teachers visited West Afrika. The first stop was in Senegal. While in Senegal they visited schools and the slave castle in Goree Island. This is where the slave ships arrived to pick-up Afrikan men, women, and children to enslave them in other cities.
The next stop was the Ivory Coast where they visited museums and shops. The last stop was Accra, Ghana. There they visited schools, shops, slave castles, traditional shrines, museums and other art facilities. While in KAMASI, the group met with the Asantehene at which time he gave the school 7 acres of land. The purpose of his trip was to bridge the gap between Afrikans born in Afrika and Afrikans born in America.
While in Ghana Dr. Zulu was installed as a Chief. He was informed that this recognition was because of his role as a leader in the USA, teaching children not only academics but also their culture and inspiring everyone in the school to receive Afrikan names and to practice their culture. He received Afrikan stool and a plaque. Dr. Zulu's international travel also included a trip to Brazil and other countries.
Since it's inception, Ujamaa School has been a cornerstone in the community providing a forum to re-education our families through annual festival, world class cultural performances, and Friday Night Family Night Programs. Featured speakers have included: Dr. John Henrick Clarke, Dr. Ben Jochannan, Theophile Obenga, Dr. Asa G Hillard, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Dr. Molefi Asante, Min. Louis Farrakhan, Kwame Toure, Sterling Brown, Dr. Ron Walters, Queen Mother Moore, Sonia Sanchez, Pres. Imari Obadele, Pres. Robert Mugabe, Rev. Willie Wilson, Dr. Alyce Gullattee, Haki Madhubuti, Dr. Iyaho Rashida, Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango, and many more.
Dr. Zulu has not wavered in his desire to continue to educate our Afrikan children. His philosophy for breaking free from our oppressor's mental and psychological control over us is to "remember to practice our Afrikan culture with conscious responsibility, determination, commitment, and loyalty. Let's renew our build for our people - Afrikan people."