by Max Rameau
In October 2006, a group of housing activists called Take Back the Land seized control of a plot of public land in Miami, Florida and built an encampment that would become known as the Umoja Village Shantytown, a living reminder of the lack of low-cost housing in the city, and a public protest against gentrification. Though the Umoja Village encampment lasted only a few short months, Take Back the Land's actions inspired activists and observers around the country, shifting the conversation, re-politicizing the act of squatting, and helping to catalyze a new movement against the foreclosure crisis that continues to grow stronger as the economy continues to falter.
This is the story of the Umoja Village Shantytown, told by its principal architect, the Haitian-born Pan-African theorist, campaign strategist, organizer, and author Max Rameau. Addressing the issues of land, self-determination, and homelessness in the Black community, Rameau explains the birth and development of Umoja Village day by day, and outlines the larger strategy behind Take Back the Land movement.