A second Uhuru-affiliated candidate is running for St. Petersburg City Council this year. Activist Anne Hirsch is running for outgoing Council member Steve Kornell’s open District 5 seat.
Hirsch is a nearly 20-year member of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement. It’s a socialist group that seeks reparations for African-American individuals to compensate for years of institutional racism and resulting poor socio-economic status.
Hirsch is running under the platform “unity through reparations.”
A midwife by trade, Hirsch became affiliated with the group in 2000 after being inspired by its leaders, Omali Yeshitela. Hirsch writes in her campaign bio she was “deeply inspired by his vision of a city whose agenda prioritized a positive public policy of economic development and reparations for the black community, as opposed to the failed, negative policies of police containment.”
Hirsch is coordinating her campaign with Eritha “Akile” Cainion, a 22-year old member of the Uhuru group running for District 7. Both districts include South St. Pete.
District 5 includes the Skyway Marina District, Greater Pinellas Point, the Pink Streets and Bahama Shores, but it’s also home to some less affluent areas along 4th and 9th Streets north of 54th Avenue South.
Hirsch is running to stop what she calls “the ravages of gentrification and big development that are pushing black families out of their traditional homes.”
Cainion’s campaign is similar, though she’s running on a much more inflammatory campaign slogan: “Make the Southside Black Again,” a nod to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”
Like Hirsch, Cainion wants to ensure the cultural significance of the areas in her district, which is south of downtown in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, is upheld.
The Uhuru group opposes what they describe as “police occupation of black neighborhoods.” They frequently protest police brutality.
This is Cainion’s second bid for City Council District 6 two years ago. Gina Driscoll won that race replacing Karl Nurse who was term limited out of office.
Cainion overwhelming lost that race in 2017, but her candidacy, along with mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel, made international news as the two disrupted City Council and mayoral forums with impassioned pleas for equality in oppressed communities, which at times included inflammatory remarks against incumbents and other candidates. One altercation in particular went viral. In that case, mayoral candidate Paul Congemi told other candidates to “go back to Africa,” infuriating the African-American community.
Hirsch so far faces four other candidates including Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Trenia Cox, Beth Connor and Anthony Cates III. Cainion will take on popular incumbent Lisa Wheeler-Bowman who won her seat in 2015 against Will Newton whose brother previously represented the district.