Baba Simba celebrating his life
The funeral of Bro. Simba Mlee (1933-2010) the most beautiful held at the True Bethel Baptist Church, 472 Swan St.
Baba Simba served in the U.S. Army honing his skills as a boxer later in NYC as a Golden Gloves giant. His historical perspectives influenced by Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Puerto Rican Egyptologist Yosef ben-Jochanan and Queen Mother Moore .
Other things his obituary cited Baba Simba was co-creator of the “East School” or ” East School of Common Sense” in New York. He developed the C.O.R.E. (Congress for Racial Equality ) Chapter in Brooklyn along with mentor Sonny Carson, as well as, help to create the African Arts Street Festival in Brooklyn, escorting young folks down from Buffalo as a speaker shared during the eulogy. Baba Simba love to travel and carried his “Peace & Love” to the countries he visited.
The community joined together celebrating his life through music, song, dance while Bro. Simba watched them as he peered from the beautiful coffin drapped in the colors of the African-American Nationalism–black, red and green, befitting his political views and love of his Mother Land–Africa where he requested to finally rest his body.
Mayor Byron W. Brown presented a proclamation to his family announcing August, 7, 2010, Bro. Simba Mlee day in the City of Buffalo. Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant also presented a proclamation from the Erie County Legislator while thanking those in the community who stayed with Bro. Simba and cared for him in his final days before he passed such as Bro. Abubacar, Mama Charlene and others who lovingly tended to his needs.
Mayor Brown commented about the rumors that City Hall, the Mayor’s office is closed to the public but it wasn’t for Bro. Simba, he said. Bro. Simba had the kind of access to the Mayor others complain because it is not as accessable as with previous mayors.
And there is a police officer stationed outside his door in City Hall while the police presence in the community diminishes yearly except for the ongoing cases of police brutality documented in the media daily and the unfair treatment of African-American police officers during disciplinary hearings the case of Cariol J. Horne the most recent while others kept their jobs and allowed to retire they ousted her denied a similar opportunity.
Yet, with the recent suspension of Gregory Kwiatkowski for choking a fellow police officer last month and his other violent altercations, showing his propensity to violence some believe the case of Officer Cariol Horne, an African-American female, attempting to prevent him from similarly choking an African -American man, Neal Mack in 2007 should be re-opened.
Yet, the spirit of Bro. Simba was in the air, radiating in the hearts and souls of a community who loved him dearly and all came to pay their respects to a man who confronted power, the power that kept his beloved community and city as one of the poorest in the nation. And Bro. Simba took them all on with his camera for many years the lens the armor he used to confront them and he did it relentlessly, persistently, without hesitating in his effort to show the beauty of black folks, as well as, those who exploited them.
Then, folks gathered to share more memories of Bro. Simba at a banquet with food members of the community cooked and shared at the Olivencia Center down the street where a parade of friends had followed the hearse still celebrating his life as it continued down Swan Street to his final resting place.
The contentious political battle being waged for the Ellicott District seat just for one day halted as the competitors both the incumbent Councilman Dr. Curtis Haynes and Rev. Darius Pridgen shared the same alter space and podium earlier Rev. Pridgen acknowledging the presence of the councilman at the back of the church among the multitude that had gathered.
Although a few of the spoke about the Freedom Party, Mrs. Eva Doyle running for Lt. Governor, and County Legislator Grant at a table with the Party petitions, it suited the occasion since Bro. Simba a black nationalist supported African-Americans political independence.