Students support Uhuru and the African People’s Education and Defense Fund by donating.
Sit back, and spend money on something you can feel good about, without draining your account.
Uhuru Furniture is spending money on a good thing. All profits from the store go to a project called the African People’s Education and Defense Fund, which allocates money to return resources back to the black community.
“You get excellent quality, low-cost, 100-percent recycled furniture,” store manager Ruby Gittelsohn said.
From late-June to late-September, the store will be hosting its annual student sale, where certain items are marked down.
“We’ve got real wood,” Gittelsohn said. “No cookie-cutter furniture like you would find in IKEA.” Uhuru could help in fixing up a whole place with quality vintage furniture.
Gittelsohn said students can donate furniture and Uhuru will pick it up for free.
Even though Uhuru is a non-profit, in a bad economy, it is “on the upswing and moving forward.”
“We’re community-based,” she said. “People make an effort to support [the store] and help carry out its mission.”
Uhuru is an African word for freedom, and the employees and volunteers work toward “self-sustained economic development in the African community.”
“You’re not supporting a regular business,” Gittelsohn said. “You’re supporting programs concerned with a new kind of future.”
Customers help avoid a future worse than the present, where 50 percent of the black community in Philadelphia is unemployed – and as much as 70 to 80 percent in parts of North and Southwest Philly. Gittelsohn said that in some high schools, students are holding bake sales to buy textbooks. Meanwhile, the School District of Philadelphia is underfunded almost $5,000 per student every year.
The recent issue of flash mobs are another way to condemn the black community, Gittelsohn said. She cited the riot after the Phillies World Series win in October 2008, saying the incident was comparable to a flash mob.
“The city dealt with it in a totally different way,” she said. Uhuru Furniture and APEDF advocate for the right of young black people to gather without being pigeon-holed as criminal or dangerous.“It’s slanderous,” she said.
“The city says this is what they strive for, but never end up doing it,” Gittelsohn said. “We’re providing genuine solutions.”
Sarah Sanders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.