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Black folks must use their collective economic weapon

By A. Peter Bailey
Trice Edney News Wire

Now that the end of the presidential campaign is nearly upon us, it is time to state once again that when it comes to promoting and protecting our individual and group interests in this country, we, as Black people, have an extremely powerful — not influential, but powerful — weapon, which we don’t effectively use. That weapon is our individual and group economic resources.

We spend too much time focusing on electoral politics and not nearly enough on wisely using the approaching trillion dollars that we gross annually in this country. Somehow many of us, despite strong evidence to the contrary, believe with all our hearts and souls that the path to equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity lies mainly in electing people to political offices.

Not so, says economist/ professor James Clingman and clergyman Rev. Earl Trent, pastor of Florida Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

Clingman insists: “We must wake up and then get up and be about the business of economic empowerment regardless of who wins any election. We must not allow the hoopla of ‘making history’ to divert our attention from the real action and that action is building, owing and controlling our own income-producing assets.”

Trent says: “An economic agenda is the central agenda of all politics, for it determines who gets a slice of the pie, who gets the crumbs and who gets nothing. The new agenda for Black America must consciously replace the social agenda with an economic agenda whose central focus is how we can improve the state of the Black economy.”

Their position is shared by Chancellor Williams, who wrote in his must-read book, “The Destruction of Black Civilization, Great Issues of a Race: 4500 B.C.-2000 A.D.,” that “the second great understanding should be that economic activities are so fundamental in any truly upward movement, so clearly indispensable at this stage in history that it should be unnecessary to state it even. The still existing slave mentality causes millions of us to shy away from these basics of life itself because it requires more initiative, training and work and less talk than politics.”

Williams provides concrete guidance of what should and can be done economically on page 371 of his book under the heading, “The division of economic planning and development.” Those who are serious about promoting and protecting the interest of Black people should pay close attention to the essential point all three Brothers have made — which is that there can be no political power without economic power, only varying degrees of political influence. With economic power, there is automatic political power.

While on the subject of economic achievement, it must be noted that one of, if not the greatest Black achievements occurred on Oct. 31, 1919. It was on that day that the first ship was launched by Marcus Garvey’s Black Steam Ship Corporation as thousands of people watched on the 125the Street pier in Harlem.

According to reports, white newspapers splashed the news in disbelief all over the world. Black people rejoiced. The Black Star Line was designed to show what self reliance could do. It was financed from its shareholders, all of whom were Black and most were UNIA members. This was a classic example of pooling our economic resources can accomplish.

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