‘Great gathering’ aims to set Black agenda post-election
By Hazel Trice Edney
Trice Edney News Wire
As political observers prepare for three presidential debates and as activists continue to plan get-out-to-vote and voter protection efforts, at least one organization is focused on the next four years after the election, regardless of who wins.
“We don’t make any pretense that we have any capacity as a nonprofit organization to impact the election,” says Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World — 21st Century. “But, we want to be in a position after the election to do an assessment of exactly what happened in the election no matter who wins … and then we chart a course. We begin to talk about where we go from here as people of African dissent.”
This is the purpose of the State of the Black World Conference that Daniels has announced for Nov. 14-18 on the Campus of Howard University. He describes it as “the first great gathering of Black people immediately after the election.”
The long list of more than 100 leading panelists, speakers and contributors are well-acquainted with Black America and its issues, including names like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.; Congressman John Conyers, D-Mich.; Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; Rev. Al Sharpton; and Dr. Julianne Malveaux.
Though these are all orators, Daniels says the uniqueness of this conference is that it will be more focused on action than on talk.
“We hope to come out with a declaration of intent to heal Black families and communities. In other words, at the conference in working sessions, we’re asking people to do four things,” he says. They are:
n Determine what Blacks “can we do for ourselves as Black people.”
n Decide and document what we expect from private sector institutions like banks, retail establishments where Blacks spend billions a year. What are we asking them to do in terms of reinvesting in our community? “We will also decide how to use economic sanctions or boycotts. We’ve got to fight back.”
n As tax-paying citizens of the United States of America, decide what we must demand of government, including urban policy, targeted jobs, and economic development “in the hardest hit areas in the Black community where people are suffering so badly.”
n And finally, decide which organizations or combination of organizations will be responsible for moving forward on specific actions that are agreed upon during the conference.
“Our theme, therefore, is ‘State of emergency in Black America — A Time to Heal Black Families and Communities,’” says Daniels. “Joblessness, mass incarceration, crime, fratricide, violence — these issues require direct, specific targeted action at the Black community.”
Daniels has a long history of activism in the Black community. He is perhaps best known for his leadership of the Haiti Support Project and his mantra, “For the love of Haiti.” He was also a key organizer and advisor to Rev. Jackson in his 1984 and 1988 bids for the White House. Registration information for the 2012 State of the Black World Conference can be found at www.ibw21.org.
The Institute of the Black World held a similar post-election conference in 2008 in New Orleans as America basked in the historic triumph of the first Black presidency. While polls are currently projecting another likely win for President Obama, Daniels says strategies will differ depending on which candidate prevails on Nov. 6.
“As a political analyst, I’m very excited about the prospects of Barack Obama being re-elected. The reality is that there are huge issues that are unresolved in the Black community,” he said. “The expectation is that if Black people support President Obama — a projected 95 percent — the anticipation is that there will be friendlier ground given the overall philosophy of the Democratic Party and what some believe is the real heart of President Obama.”
He continued, “And so, during the first administration, there’s been some hesitancy to address issues. That does not mean that the accomplishments of the Obama Administration have not benefitted Black people. It certainly has in many, many, many ways. But, there are some particular issues that I’ve identified where there has been some reluctance. Our hope is that in his second administration, President Obama will feel emancipated and free to speak out and not be so constrained and not feel as if he said something relative to Black people that somehow he’ll be accused of being pro-Black because he is president of everybody. That includes us, too.”
On the other hand, if Romney is elected, “it would be a much more complex and much more difficult terrain which probably would require probably much more direct action in the streets, much more vocal, vociferous protests because their agenda is so antithetical to the agendas of Blacks, labor, women and so many groups.”
Daniels added, “If necessary, we would do the same thing with Obama.” However, he believes there are enough Black organizations that he would listen to for the needs of African Americans in a second term.
“I don’t anticipate that that is going to be an issue because a number of people have the president’s ear from the African American community — Sharpton, National Council of Negro Women, Marc Morial and others,” Daniels said. “I would think that they will be stepping up to the plate and that they will be pushing the targeting of jobs to alleviate the state of emergency in Black America.”
The gist of the conference will be held on Howard’s main conference in the Blackburn Center. To attract students and other youths, he has invited anti-violence groups and hip hop activists.
“We’ve got to adopt a more fighting spirit in order for Black people to overcome the state of emergency that we face.”