Richard and Milton adopted the African names Imari and Gaidi Obadele in 1968, and with others, founded the Republic of New Afrika. At the meeting founding the group, they formed a "government in exile". Obadele was designated the information minister, and soon published a pamphlet "War in America". The organization's stated aim was to carve Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina out of the United States and establish an independent black nation from these five states.
The Republic of New Afrika also formed a paramilitary unit, the Black Legion. In 1969, the unit was involved in a gun battle in Detroit that killed a police officer.
Imari split from his brother, who came to reject militancy, in 1970, and was also elected president of the Republic of New Afrika. Obadele and the group moved its headquarters to a house in Jackson, Mississippi, despite failing to purchase an 18-acre (73,000 m2) plot.
Obadele and ten others (the "RNA 11") were arrested and charged in the wake of a joint police / FBI raid on the house in 1971. The raid culminated in a gunfight that killed an officer. It was later determined that Obadele was not at the scene, and murder charges against him were dropped. However, he was convicted of conspiracy to assault a federal agent and was sentenced to twelve years in prison (of which he served five). Amnesty International described him as a political prisoner, and the group claimed that it had been targeted by the FBI because of its political views. FBI documentation that was later released confirmed that the agency was following the group. Internal FBI memos suggested that Obadele "be kept off the streets" and that he was one of the country's "most violence-prone black extremists".
- Martin, Douglas (February 5, 2010). "Imari Obadele, Who Fought for Reparations, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
- Obadele, Imari Abubakari (1968). War in America: the Malcolm X doctrine. Malcolm X Society. p. 68.
- Donna Ladd (March 5, 2014). "Jackson Tragedy: The RNA, Revisited". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved October 24, 2018.