A Very Brief History of OBS
The Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) was founded in 1980. A group of veteran activists, students, union organizers and community members in St. Louis were seeking to address the needs and issues of the Black working-class. There was a vacuum of Black radical leadership that could boldly speak and act, unencumbered by government or corporate structures. In retrospect, this was a challenging period.
The FBI’s CounterIntelligence Program, known as COINTELPRO, wreaked havoc on the leaders and organizations of the Black Liberation Movement. Aggressive tactics of the government in a search and destroy mission decimated groups like the Black Panther Party, nationally and the Zulu 1200, locally. Even more moderate groups, like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and non-violent, civil rights activists, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., did not escape the wrath of FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover. By 1980 the right was beginning to consolidate its power politically, with a conservative in the White House for the next 12 years. Economically, the country was struggling to get out of the recession. And it was out of this abyss that OBS was born.
OBS studied the organizations of the past to glean from the lessons and best practices on which to build a solid foundation. Local groups like the Congress of Afrikan People (CAP), Action Committee to Improve Opportunities for Negroes (A.C.T.I.O.N.), and Black Nationalist Party (BNP) had varied life spans and histories that provided valuable information and prevented OBS from reinventing the wheel. Taking account of lessons from previous generations of the Black Liberation Movement has prevented OBS from repeating costly mistakes.
Over the years OBS has been involved in an extraordinary number of local, national and international movements, campaigns and initiatives including (but not limited to): the Anti-Apartheid Movement, African Liberation Day Celebrations, the Black Political Assembly, Justice for Frances Beasley, Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children’s Committee, St. Louis Black United Front, National Campaign Against Racist Genocide, Wrightsville March Against the Klan, Ellen Reasonover Support Committee, the Black Radical Congress, Freeman Bosley’s Mayoral Campaign, National Black United Front, Show Me $15 Campaign, Coalition Against Police Crime and Repression (CAPCR), the fight for Local Control of the St. Louis Police Department and most recently the fight for justice for Mike Brown, the Don’t Shoot Coalition, Ferguson October and Ferguson Action. In more recent years, especially around issues of police crime and repression, we have forged solidarities with millennial organizations from across the country like the Dream Defenders, #Black Lives Matter, the Ohio Student Association and the Black Youth Project 100.
Key to OBS’s longevity is our intergenerational membership and our uncompromising commitment to fight for political power, economic justice and cultural dignity for African Americans, especially the Black working class.