IT’S NATION TIME!!! Building a Nation Within a Nation
<><>THE EAST- AN EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL CENTER<><>was founded in 1969 in Brooklyn, New York by a group including students from the African American Student Association (ASA) and Jitu Weusi (Les Campbell), The East was a cultural, educational, and arts organization based on principles of self-determination, nation-building, and Black consciousness.
Originally located at 10 Claver Place in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The East served as a center for many cultural, educational, and community activities. It provided daycare for children and evening classes for adults and served as home for Black News, a bookstore, restaurant, catering service, food co-op, and a bi-weekly national Black nationalist news publication. The East functioned as home to an independent African-centered school named Uhuru Sasa Shule whose name translates to “Freedom Now” in Kiswahili.
The East was also an important art center in Brooklyn, serving as a weekend jazz club, salon, and concert venue for Black musicians and rivaling the popular clubs and theaters of Harlem. It hosted performers including the Last Poets, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter, McCoy Tyner, Max Roach, Sun Ra, Lee Morgan, and Roy Ayers. Its name was included in the album title of Pharoah Sanders’ “Live from the East.”
There were two extensions of The East, one named The Mid-East located in Brownsville, Brooklyn managed by Yusef & Dara Iman and The Far-East managed by John Watusi Branch with Yusef & Kubballah Waliyaya in Queens and, until 1974, hosted jazz, drama, dance, and poetry, as well as evening classes and a Uhuru Sasa preschool. One major legacy of The East is its African Street Festival, now operating as an annual event in Bedford-Stuyvesant known as the International African Arts Festival.
In celebration of Kwanzaa, The Black Reality Think Tank radio broadcast will highlight this institution as an example of how the Nguzo Saba principles were successfully used in this Brooklyn, NY community during the late ’60s through the ‘1980s. The program host is Dr. William Rogers and the co-host is Boniswa Ayan, and Bro. Maliki Luwambe and other family members of the East as well as alumni of the school.