The Spirit, Power and Significance of an Historic Gathering
They came by the hundreds, more than two thousand in all, from the greater Newark/New York region, Black America and the Pan African World, drawn by the urgent impulse to connect, network, bond, share and unite in the wake of one of the most hate-filled, demagogic and divisive presidential elections in decades; an election which produced a presidential regime, elected by less than a majority of the popular vote; a regime imbedded with racism, white nationalism and Islamophobia. It is one of the most threatening moments since the arrival of Africans on these hostile American shores.
November 16-20, 2016, Africans from the far reaches of the U.S. and the Pan African World — South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, Costa Rica, Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada and Europe converged on Newark, New Jersey, one of the great historical epicenters of Black Freedom Struggle, for State of the Black World Conference IV — responding to the Call. It’s Nation Time Again!
In yet another hour of grave crisis, people of African descent, Black people, came seeking to be inspired, revitalized, informed and armed to intensify the essential, continuing struggle to defend and promote the dignity, survival, development, interests and aspirations of Africans, Black people, in America and the Pan African World. As the words “it’s nation time” reverberated throughout the gathering, a spirit of Black love, sharing, bonding, healing, collaboration, resistance, self-determination and renewed commitment to build and strengthen Black institutions, to control the politics and economics of Black communities, territories and nations permeated the deliberations.
While it is impossible to capture the full meaning of the words of the formidable array of more than one hundred Speakers, Panelists and Resources People who shared their insights, knowledge and wisdom with this remarkable gathering, these paraphrased expressions are illustrative of the powerful tenor of the deliberations and proceedings:
- Prior to one of the Empowerment Plenary Sessions, Atty. Faya Rose Toure came to the stage and led the assembly in a rousing rendition of the Freedom Song, “Ain’t Going Let Nobody Turn Us Around.”
- Paramount Chief Dr. Leonard Jeffries spoke on the significance of the gathering and recited a roll call of courageous African leaders to whom we should look for inspiration in this time of crisis. As he has taught so often, Dr. Jeffries stressed the urgency of using a “systems analysis” to successfully confront and defeat a U.S. and global system of white supremacy.
- An impassioned Danny Glover expressed the feelings of many Participants when he said, we needed this conference, we needed to be together at this moment. He encouraged a spirit of constant struggle by Black people, people of color and the oppressed to resist White supremacy and neo-liberal schemes of domination, propagated by the U.S.
- Rev. Waltrina Middleton graphically illustrated the contradictions and moral bankruptcy of the U.S. presidential election by pointing out that the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright was viciously denounced for simply condemning the hypocrisy of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, while Donald Trump waged a campaign of flagrant and inflammatory insults to people of African descent/Blacks, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims and women and could be elected President of the United States.
- In discussing the shocking results of the U.S. presidential elections and the rise of white nationalist and xenophobic movements in the U.S. and Europe, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles firmly declared that we are not going back to the days of white supremacist domination; that the determined quest for reparatory justice will be the dominant movement of the 21st Century.
- George Fraser sternly reminded the gathering that White folks will not save us; they are too busy taking care of their own; they aren’t even thinking about us; no one will save us but us!
- South African Counsel General Mathula Nkosi was so moved by the spirit of the discussions that she spoke passionately about the similarity of our struggles. She recounted the role that Africans in America played in shattering apartheid and spoke to the urgent need to finish the struggle for genuine self-determination by achieving economic independence.
- Susan L. Taylor reminded us of the resilience of African people as the survivors of the holocaust of enslavement and shared an inspiring illustration of how love, compassion and culturally-relevant education and mentoring can rescue/save thousands of our youth/young people who have been marginalized under an oppressive system.
- The brilliant poet Lady Brion brought the gathering to its feet with an inspiring spoken word oration on the vital, indispensable role of women, of sisters, as leaders and partners in the struggle for the liberation of Black people!
- The Conscious Ones of the Lola Louis Creative and Performing Arts Studio treated the assembly with an inspiring, dramatic presentation of Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise!
- Dowoti Desir opened the Closing Ndaba/Plenary with an inspiring traditional African religious Invocation in which she evoked the memory of Boukman, the Haitian spiritual leader whose prayer ignited the Haitian Revolution. That same spirit and power will arm this generation for the awesome battles ahead.
- In an instructive and inspiring lecture Dr. Maulana Karenga reaffirmed the value of the principles of the Nguzo Saba as a foundation and guide at this critical moment in our history and proclaimed that fundamental to the struggle for reparations is the repair and restoration of ourselves as African people, that when we repair ourselves, we repair the world!
- Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan challenged and charged the assembled Participants to rededicate ourselves to building independent Black institutions to achieve social, economic and political control over the spaces and places where we live, to create national/international structures of self-governance and reach out to other people of color nationalities and ethnicities to build a new Nation, one so splendid in its humanity that people of all races will feel compelled to follow.
There was a spirit so strong, so pervasive among the Participants that you needed to be present as an eyewitness at this awesome assembly to feel the power of SOBWC IV.
It is also impossible to capture the breadth, depth and scope of the deliberations of this powerful gathering and the resolutions, recommendations, projects and initiatives discussed in the Issue Area Working Sessions in this Declaration. In composite, they will be posted on the IBW web site www.ibw21.org along with how each Session assigned responsibility for implementation.
About the Declaration
The purpose of this Declaration is to articulate IBW priorities for Racial Healing and Collaboration for Black Empowerment in terms of our work leading up to State of the Black World Conference IV and as an outgrowth of the proceedings. As such this Declaration marks a continuation of the work outlined at State of the Black World Conference III which was organized around the Theme: State of Emergency in Black America: Time to Heal Black Families and Communities.
IBW’S Priorities and Prescriptions for Action
Resisting a Racist Regime
We encourage people of African descent to assume a posture of permanent resistance against the regime which will occupy the White House/Presidency on January 20th as a fervent expression of opposition to white supremacy, sexism, racism, white nationalism, Islamophobia and xenophobia; and to advance a vision of social, economic and political transformation as an expression of our collective resolve to achieve self-determination and a just, humane and peaceful society for African people, other people of color and the oppressed/marginalized people of all races, ethnicities and nationalities.
Towards A Domestic Marshall Plan for Black Communities
Reaffirm support for the demand by Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the National Urban League, the Center for Nu Leadership for Urban Solutions and Harvard University’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice for a Domestic Marshall Plan type program for massive re-investment by the federal government to rebuild oppressed and marginalized Black communities across the nation.
Ending the War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration
Continue the relentless struggle to end the devastating “War on Drugs” in all its destructive manifestations; end police occupation, violence and killing of Black people and mass incarceration. And work for the decriminalization of drugs within the context of a racial, social, economic justice and public health framework; advocate for pre-arrest diversion programs like the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) initiative; mobilize/organize victims of crime to become a constituency for criminal justice reform and de-incarceration; assist formerly incarcerated persons/returning citizens to empower themselves as a constituency for social justice and social change; consolidate existing Justice Collaboratives and expand to other cities (within the limits of IBW’s capacity) to advocate for drug and criminal justice reform; and, strengthen the Police Reform and Accountability Task Force as a Resource Center to promote models of police restructuring to enable Black people to establish control over the police/law enforcement to create safe, just and wholesome communities.
Enhancing the Black Family Summit
Further strengthen and empower the Black Family Summit (BFS) as a resource to implement vital programs like the Emotional Emancipation Circles; to increasingly function as well equipped first responders to mediate and address crises in Black communities through the development of Trauma Centers; and, strengthen the capacity of BFS organizations to employ culturally-appropriate approaches to disaster prevention and relief, utilizing principled and effective relations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and similar federal, state and local agencies.
Creating a Black Research Consortium
Continue the effort to operationalize IBW’s Research Consortium to attract a critical mass of African-centered scholar activists to become a collective resource to undertake theoretical and applied research in support of programs, projects and initiatives by people of African descent in the U.S. and the Pan African world.
Black Dollars as a Weapon and Asset in the Black Freedom Struggle
Encourage the use of the 1.5 trillion dollars of Black consumer power as a weapon to advance the social, economic and political interests and aspirations of people of African descent in the U.S. and the Pan African world by utilizing coordinated, strategic and collective Economic Sanctions/Boycotts to compel businesses/corporations and banks/financial institutions that thrive on Black dollars to reinvest in Black communities, agencies and institutions; to oppose and repeal racially biased public policies targeting Black people and to support policies that promote and protect Black interests. Equally important, to consistently encourage the mobilization/organization of the 1.5 trillion dollars in Black consumer power as the major asset to nourish models of economic and community development to stimulate socially responsible wealth generation and the building of a solid, stable and sustainable internal economy.
Building Labor/Community Solidarity
Continue to build strong bonds of labor/community solidarity as a means of combating the onslaught by the corporate/capitalist class against unions and labor organizations; a war on labor calculated to irreparably cripple the organized vehicles that promote and defend the interests of workers, the struggling middle class and the poor. Accordingly, IBW will request that the Pan African Unity Dialogue in New York convene a Labor/Community Solidarity Summit to discuss and devise strategies for mass, popular education and action in defense of labor. Similar Summits should be convened by Black led organizations in cities across the country.
Intensifying the U.S. and Global Reparations Movement
Work to intensify the U.S. and global struggle for reparations within the context of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action and the U.N. Decade for People of African Descent. To that end, IBW will:
- Strive to strengthen the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) as a co-partner with the CARICOM Reparations Commission in expanding the global Reparations Movement.
- With the consent of Congressional John Conyers, finalize the revision of HR-40 from a “Study Bill” to a “Remedy Bill” to be introduced in the next Congress of the United States as a tool for mass public education, mobilizing/organizing and action to advance the struggle for reparations.
- Encourage the creation of Reparations Studies Curricula at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in collaboration with the University of West Indies Mona Campus in Jamaica.
- Support the convening of Reparations Summits in Africa and Columbia in 2017.
Continuing Cross-Generational Dialogue and Engagement
Continue the Cross-Generational Dialogue initiated at SOBWC IV working collaboratively with the Movement for Black Lives and the Conveners/Facilitators of the Hip Hop/Cultural Workers Plenary and Working Sessions. Accordingly, based on the recommendations from the Cross-Generational Dialogue IBW will:
- Establish safe “Teaching Spaces” for frank/honest cross-generational learning, sharing, exchange of perspectives, constructive critique and devising strategies to strengthen cross-generational engagement.
- Convene a session on the implications and lessons of Cointelpro for the current generations of activists/organizers associated with Black Lives Matter, Movement for Black Lives and similar formations.
Addressing Key Issues in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America
Based on the deliberations and documents developed by the Pan African Unity Dialogue convened by IBW in New York, work to mobilize mass based, popular support for:
- African-centered Principles of Democratic Governance in Africa and the Caribbean.
- Guidelines for Addressing and Resolving Crises in Africa and the Caribbean.
- Principles and Guidelines for Foreign Investment in Africa to counter the “new scramble for Africa.”
In addition, continue efforts to strengthen the capacity of the Diaspora to impact U.S. policy toward Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America; strengthen bonds of solidarity and action with Afro-Descendant communities in Central and South America; and intensify efforts to develop mutually beneficial business and commercial relations between Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Diaspora in the U.S.
Newark as an African Model City
In the spirit of “It’s Nation Time” and in a collective expression/act of Kujichagulia, Self-Determination, we Declare Newark, New Jersey, under the leadership of Mayor Ras J. Baraka, an African Model City. We call on sisters and brothers from the U.S. and the Pan African world with resources, expertise and skills from all sectors of our communities to embrace this community-building/nation-building Pan African Project.
Dr. Ron Daniels has requested that Dr. George Fraser tap the resources of the vast network of 65,000 socially conscious Black professionals, business owners and community development specialists affiliated with Fraser Net, Inc. to contribute to this major undertaking. With the consent and collaboration of Mayor Baraka, IBW is tentatively calling for an Economic and Community Development Planning Summit in Newark April 4, 2017, the date of the martyrdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We wish for God and the Ancestors to bless this monumental endeavor.
The Road Ahead: Implementation with Capacity
Given the tremendous demand that IBW not wait four years to convene another State of the Black World Conference, capacity permitting, we propose the following:
- Based on the urgent need to implement the Economic Priorities outlined in this Declaration, IBW proposes the convening of day and a half Economic Development for Black Empowerment Mini-Conferences in selected cities/areas over the next 18 months beginning with the Northeast Corridor. These Mini-Conferences will be structured in a manner similar to the Plenary and Working Sessions at SOBWC IV and utilize the models showcased at the Conference as the basis for education, organization and action.
- Returning to Newark to convene State of the Black World Conference V in November 2018 to assess the implications of the crucial Mid-Term Elections on Black America and the Pan African World and review progress on the resolutions, recommendations, initiatives and IBW Priorities advanced at State of the Black World Conference IV.
Implementing the Proposals above are totally contingent on enhancing IBW’s capacity as a Good Faith Convener/Facilitator.
Enhancing/Building IBW’s Capacity
The Seventh Goal of State of the Black World Conference IV states: “Strengthen the Institute of the Black World 21st Century as a Good Faith Facilitator and Resource Center Promoting a Culture of Collaboration for Healing and Black Empowerment.
In his Keynote Presentation Dr. Ron Daniels stressed that for far too long, IBW has achieved stunning successes with limited financial resources and infrastructure. He shared that IBW did not have the resources to undertake SOBWC IV but made the decision to move forward because the tenor of the times dictated the need for a significant global gathering of people of African descent. By “guts and faith” the efforts of IBW proved providential in terms of the timing and response from the Participants. However, he indicated the “guts and faith” approach is not sustainable if IBW is to function as a good faith facilitator to convene gatherings like SOBWC IV and effectively implement the Priorities of the Declaration. He made an urgent appeal to the Participants to assist IBW to fulfill its mission by becoming sustaining contributors.
Dr. Haki Madhubuti’s Contribution and Challenge
At the conclusion of Dr. Daniels’ Keynote Presentation, Haki Madhubuti strongly affirmed the value of the work of IBW and urged the Participants to assist the organization to build the capacity/infra-structure to effectively continue its vital role as a Convener/Facilitator and Resource Center for Africans in America and the Pan African World. He asked as many Participants who could afford it to pledge a minimum of $25 a month to support IBW. Scores of Participants raised their hands to make pledges in response to Haki’s appeal. Haki set the tone by making a major donation and pledged that there is more to come.
Minister Farrakhan’s Contribution and Pledge
During the Closing Ndaba/Plenary, where he delivered the Closing Charge as the Keynote Speaker, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan made a major donation and pledged substantial resources to move the gathering beyond the State of the Black World Conference stage to the implementation stage. The Minister urged IBW to create independent ministry type structures to serve the needs of African people and fortify our self-determination as a Nation.
The Stage is Set for Sustaining Contributions for Capacity-Building
With the outpouring support at SOBWC IV the stage is set for Participants to join the effort to build IBW’s infrastructure and capacity. You can respond to Haki Madhubuti’s Challenge and Minister Farrakhan’s Charge by becoming a Member of the Gregory Griffin Circle of Sustaining Contributors via a monthly donation of $25 ($300 a year). Visit the website www.ibw21.org to sign-up and spread the word to family, friends and associates to join you. You can also make arrangements to pay an annual donation via check or money order by calling 1.888.774.2921.
Racial Healing and Collaboration for Black Empowerment
A Luta Continua… The Struggle Continues
Nataki Kambon, the visionary Spokesperson for the Let’s Buy Black 365 Movement, summed up the feelings and feedback expressed by scores of the Participants of State of the Black World Conference IV. She said that to join with and witness hundreds of Black people standing in unison, chanting “It’s Nation Time, Harambee,” to close this historic gathering was one of the most moving and inspiring moments of her life.
Now the real work begins as we collectively strive, with the blessing of God and the Ancestors, to fulfill the promise of one of the great gatherings of people of African descent in the 21st Century, to by our sheer collective will, energy, contributions, sustained struggle and triumphs transform this moment in time into a decisive turning point in reclaiming our just and righteous role at the forefront of human civilization. “Up you mighty race, you can accomplish what you will.” It’s Nation Time!