By Gregory Lewis
October 25, 2010
Kwame Afoh, a black activist involved in such causes as equality in
school resources, anti-war efforts and black nationalism, died of
lung cancer Sunday at Broward General Medical Center's hospice unit. He was 66.
Mr. Afoh, who headed the Pan Afrikan Nationalists of South Florida
until his death, believed black people should have
self-determination. While others in that movement, prominent in the
1960s and 70s, moved on, "Brother Kwame," as he was often called,
stayed true to that cause and other human rights campaigns, said his
friends and black community leaders.
"He was deeply in love with black folks," said friend Janice
Boursiquot, "and committed to the cause. He was one of the most
committed people I ever met."
Mr. Afoh was an early supporter of Citizens Concerned about Our
Children, which in 1995 sued the Broward School District for
equitable resources and conditions in predominantly black schools.
The group eventually won its case. He also worked behind the scenes
making community members aware of the plight of black, poor and
immigrant children in Broward schools, said Levi Williams, a Fort
"Great man, gone too soon," said Williams, who represented the group
in its lawsuit. "He was a quiet hero who sometimes was not too quiet."
Born Edell Lydia Jr. on Nov. 20, 1943, in Arp, Texas, Mr. Afoh said
he changed his name in 1973 after he discovered African spirituality.
He earned a bachelor of arts in math from Prairie View State College
in Texas in 1966.
He said he became an activist while attending Talladega College in
Alabama in 1961. As a freshman, he sat down at a lunch counter with
"They beat me," said Mr. Afoh, in a 2002 interview with the Sun
Sentinel. "I went to jail. I didn't have an African consciousness
then. I was just learning … But Talladega schooled me as to how much
hate was out there. It was there that the calling hit me."
He grew up in Fort Worth and was active in community organizing in
Texas, Alabama and Washington, D.C., before coming to Fort Lauderdale
in 1994 to raise his son, Yao, as a single father. Mr. Afoh also is
survived by three grown daughters, Malkia, an independent filmmaker;
Kemba, an attorney; and Afia, a vocalist and educator.
"He is an example for men, period," said Boursiquot. "But
particularly to black men as an example of what a black man is and
what a black man does. He was committed to fatherhood and was
involved in his son's life every day."
Mr. Afoh was a teacher off and on in the Broward public school system
during the past decade. He began as a substitute in high school
science and math and later taught middle school students in Sunrise.
He also taught at Cypress Run Education Center in Pompano Beach.
Mr. Afoh, who spent almost 20 years in Washington, D.C., said he was
never about hate.
"A black nationalist is one who is building, perpetuating and growing
a group of people who constitute a nation to gain a greater sense of
self-determination," he said. "It's not necessarily about race but a
common future. I don't hate anybody else. I just want the right to be
During his time in South Florida, Mr. Afoh was involved in the anti-
Iraq war effort. He fought for property rights for poor people who
lost land to developers. He supported racial discrimination suits and
spoke out on the 2000 presidential election recount, several friends said.
"I remember Kwame and his group standing out on Third and Broward
Boulevard protesting the war in Iraq," said Elgin Jones, who received
Mr. Afoh's support in his discrimination suit against the city of
Fort Lauderdale. "That was long before we knew it was a fraud."
Mr. Afoh also was an expert on Kwanzaa and every year was involved
with programs highlighting the seven-day celebration that culminates on Jan. 1.
"Kwame was a black man's black man," said Jones. "He wasn't mean or
harsh about it. He was pro-black."
Services for Mr. Afoh are pending.
Gregory Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-572-2084.