FORT LAUDERDALE — Services are set for Kwame K. Afoh, human rights leader, education advocate and head of the Pan Afrikan Nationalists of South Florida, who succumbed to lung cancer on Sunday, Oct, 24.
Afoh died at Broward General Medical Center’s hospice unit. He was 66.
Afoh was involved in several human rights campaigns in South Florida. These include the anti-Iraq war effort, property rights for poor people whose land was threatened with seizure for redevelopment, racial discrimination in the city of Fort Lauderdale and the 2000 Presidential election re-count.
“What a big loss for the Broward community. Kwame was such a dedicated, passionate and committed community leader,” said Jeffrey Gorley, a former member of the Broward County Human Rights Board who worked with Afoh on several causes.
Now the director of public safety and community affairs for the city of Wayneboro, Va., redevelopment agency, Gorley recruited Afoh as charter member of the South Florida Human Rights Council, a civil rights organization they founded.
Afoh was also one of the first supporters of Citizens Concerned About Our Children, a group that successfully sued the Broward school district for equitable resources and conditions in predominantly black public schools.
“Broward has lost a son, all people of color, a champion and those of us honored to know the man, a friend. His legacy shall never be forgotten," said Levi Williams, the attorney who represented CCC in the case against the school district.
A teacher himself in the Broward school system, Afoh often expressed his frustration with black students who either resisted or were unaware of their rich history and African ancestry.
“I worked in the pubic schools and everyday I’m challenged by children over what I say about Africa,” Afoh said during an address at a rally in February in Miami on behalf of Haitians.
Afoh was also a founding member of the National Coalition of Black for Reparations in America (N’Cobra), an organization that advocates for compensation for people of African descent whose ancestors endured slavery in America.
A Kwanzaa expert, he held annual events to celebrate the Afro-centric holiday through out South Florida.
Afoh was born in Arp, a small Texas town, on Nov. 20, 1943, as Edell Lydia Jr. His family moved to Forth Worth and it was during his segregated upbringing, he once said, that he discovered what he termed his “black nationalism.”
He enrolled at Talladega College in Alabama, where he experienced more intense forms of racism. During speeches he delivered at various events, he would recount the mistreatment and beatings he and other black students endured in Alabama during the civil right era of the 1960s.
It was those experiences that, some believe, shaped his activism.
He moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1994 after leading civil rights causes in Washington, D.C., for decades.
“He was simply a good person who was not afraid or ashamed of being black,” said Walter “Mickey” Hinton, president of the Durrs Homeowners Association, whose members live in a toxic neighborhood in northwest Fort Lauderdale.
“When he found out our community was contaminated, he offered his help. That’s how he was and he would do anything he could for the poor,” Hinton said.
Janice Boursiquot, a former executive board member of the Fort Lauderdale NAACP, said Afoh was “dedicated to the cause with an unwavering commitment and he could not be co-opted by money or any promises.”
Afoh is survived by his mother Lena Ruth Lydia, a son Yao, a student at Blanche Ely High School; and adult daughters, Malkia, an independent filmmaker; Kemba, an attorney; and Afia, a singer and educator.
Services are planned here locally as well as in Washington, D.C., and in Arlington, Texas, where Afoh will be laid to rest on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
Viewing will be held at 1:30 p.m., followed by funeral services at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, at Mizell & Kurtz Funeral Home, 1305 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
*The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations should be made to Afoh’s son’s scholarship fund:
Yao Khari Olujimi Lydia Scholarship Fund
C/O: Kemba Lydia-Moore
339 Corbitt Circle
Bear, DE 19701
Pictured Above: Kwame Afoh