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Black Leadership Dialogue

IBW/Black Family Summit
National Black Leadership Dialogue
In conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference

5:00 PM TO 7:00 PM

Convener: Mr. Leonard G. Dunston, President Emeritus,
National Association of Black Social Workers 


Since its inception in 2005, under the leadership of Leonard Dunston, President Emeritus, National Association of Black Social Workers, the Black Family Summit (BFS) of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) has been committed to vigorously promoting cooperation, collaboration, and operational unity to advance the interests of Black people. The BFS has been engaged in very serious work in New Orleans and the Gulf in the aftermath of Katrina, and continues to focus on the holistic models of mental health for residents of the region through the All Healers Mental Health Alliance. The BFS has also convened sessions to discuss strategies for the implementation of public policies critical to the sustenance of Black families and communities. Recently, the BFS organized a Task Force to Preserve and Strengthen Children and Families in Haiti [see web site]. These initiatives have involved the collaboration and engagement of a broad range of Black professional organizations, scholars, and activists. IBW believes that unity in the Black community based on principle and a progressive, African-centered world- view is the order of the day.

It is in this spirit that IBW has initiated the BFS Leadership Dialogue, in order to collaborate with National Leaders and Organizations   about what is perceived to be a State of Emergency in Black America in terms of Depression levels of unemployment, joblessness and widespread violence and fratricide in our communities, particularly among Black youth/young people. IBW has also been struck by the disorientation, disorganization, and disarray in the Black community in the face of these critical challenges.

No matter one´s perspective,  IBW, is sufficiently concerned that it thought it important to use the occasion of the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference (CBC-ALC) for the BFS to convene an informal Leadership Dialogue session to discuss this issue. IBW envisioned an open-ended dialogue to discuss whether there is a State of Emergency in Black America, and if so, what are the various organizations doing to address the crisis. Equally as important, how might we better coordinate to make our collective work more effective? At a minimum, at this session, IBW hopes to have an excellent exchange of views on the subject and to share information about the work of respective organizations in attendance.

Black Family Summit
National Black Leadership Dialogue

Convener: Mr. Leonard G. Dunston, Past President
National Association of Black Social Workers


The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW 21st Century) was established for Black organizations and leaders to come together in a collaborative effort to create a formidable force for the Black community. The Black Family Summit (BFS) is an entity within IBW 21st Century that was established as part of the Million More Movement and the specific request of Minister Louis Farrakhan to Leonard G. Dunston to coordinate a group that could anchor an ongoing dialogue and strategic planning among national Black leaders and organizations.  The BFS convened the Black Leadership Dialogue to have a collaborative discussion about the state of affairs for people of African ancestry, particularly in the United States. Open conversation was encouraged to promote dialogue about the state of the race. There were four major areas identified: (1) the need to strengthen communication across Black organizations, (2) the need to examine leadership in Black organizations and amongst Black leaders, (3) the need to develop a shared vision, and (4) the importance of addressing racism and discrimination particularly in the areas of education, criminal justice and health.

Strengthen Communication

The need to strengthen communication across organizations was identified as being critical.  It was stressed that we miss an opportunity to organize and be informed when we do not include Black radio, the Black press, and the Black journalists in our communication efforts. There is a need to strengthen our messaging to our communities but also among Black organizations. Strategizing on how to use these resources is imperative. In addition, multilevels of communication are needed that cross generations. Communication efforts should target multi-generations and be specific and inclusive of messaging, that will meet their diverse needs. Black organizations and leaders need to be trained on how to best utilize the Black media to advance issues for the community. The use of technology needs to be strengthened as a mechanism used to share information among organizations.  A “formal public relations network” is needed to facilitate communication, strategize on action, and identify shared priorities.

Leadership in the Black Community

There is a critical need to re-examine leadership in the Black community.  While many of the issues that have faced the Black community have been there for many years, the nature of leadership is not the same. The use of protests and marches, while instructive and important, may not be what is most needed to advance the issues affecting our communities. In addition to our strategies needing to be re-examined, we must also increase dialogue around gender as it relates to leadership in Black organizations and our communities. “The remedy would be serious introspection in our organizations of things that work and things that no longer work”.  Black women continue to experience sexism even among Black men who are committed to the uplift of the race. As we discuss what is needed among Black leadership, we must also examine the role of gender and the importance of tackling this issue so that we as a people can fully advance and benefit from the knowledge and skill of our family members regardless of gender.  As we examine new strategies, we must also embrace those strategies that have served our community and use the wisdom of previous generations as an anchor for our movement. We have to understand that our leadership and our movement are global and, therefore, our mechanisms for change must be expanded to include that global context. We must also identify the core values and morality of those elevated to the stature of leadership within our community to ensure that they support who we are and where we are going collectively.


Develop a Shared Vision

We need a shared vision. We must invest in building a framework that speaks to the needs of Black families and communities. That framework must be articulated in a manner that supports a collective vision for the future. We may all have different disciplines and areas of expertise. Yet, it is our commitment to the Black community that must be the starting point for advancing a collective agenda built on a shared vision and agreed upon priorities for the future. Internal divisions have emerged within the Black community, particularly as it relates to a growing divide between the Black middle class and the poor. This class stratification is dismantling trust and communication within the community. It creates divisions on determining mutual priorities and mobilizing for collective action. We cannot allow others to dictate our experiences and our common truths. We have to do internal work and examination to rebuild the shared priorities and move away from those things that artificially divide us. “We need to be aggressive about a new vision” and not allow these issues to determine our collective path. Instead, there must be an emphasis on advancing social and economic transformation within the Black community. It cannot be done alone. We need each other to truly be effective in serving our community. 

Address Racism and Discrimination

The idea that race does not matter is being purported by some pundits as a reality. There has to be a clear statement that this is not a post-racial society. The election of President Barack Obama has not changed the racial landscape.  Racism is persistent and still exists. “The system was born out of racism”.  It is important to be reminded that racism is structural and institutionalized and goes way beyond the election of any President. It is this structural force that must be reckoned with if we are to truly experience social transformation. Major issues identified as being particularly important to address include the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans in the criminal justice system, inequity in education for Black youth, high dropout rates of African American youth from school, the pipeline between the child welfare and juvenile justice system, and poor, inadequate and inequitable health care received by African Americans. The result of discriminatory treatment emanating from racism, both from a historical and contemporary context, is great pain within the community that often goes unaddressed. Therefore, addressing racism and discrimination is not simply a matter of addressing those issues outside of the community but also the pain that manifests as a result of what is being experienced.  For example, addressing mental health and violence within the community must also be connected to the pain experienced from the social determinants and structural dynamics that have significant impacts on the life of an individual, family, and community.


We have the ability to be producers of knowledge and determine how we use information to benefit our people and our communities across the globe. We cannot continue to allow others to define us or to determine who our leaders are. We must define ourselves. We must identify and sanction our own leaders and we must do this with a shared vision. There is an urgency to advocate for the news of Black communities throughout the United States and indeed the Diaspora. We do have the power of our relationships. Building on our relationships and collective commitment to our people, we must start with asking whom we serve and whose interest we serve. The elders need to be engaged to help us create sacred spaces with intentional aspirations and young voices being heard to bring forth a new vision that promotes our mobilization.

Persons in Attendance

Dr. Benson Cooke, Current President, and Dr. Cheryl Grills, President-Elect, National Association of Black Psychologists

Judge Arthur Burnett, Exec. Director,
National African American Drug Policy Coalition

Brother Joe Benton, President,
National Assoc. of Black Social Workers

Dr. Iva Carruthers, CEO,
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference

Sister Sharon Smith, Exec. Dep Director,
National Society of Black Engineers

Brother Joseph Muhammad, President,
International Assoc. of Black Professional Fire Fighters

Brother Carlyle Holder, Exec. Officer,
National Assoc. of Blacks in Criminal Justice

Dr. Claire Nelson, President,
Institute for Caribbean Studies

Jonathan Stitt–DC Coordinator-Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

Attorney Malik Shabazz, Nat’l Chairman,
New Black Panther Party

Dr. Annelle Primm, Chair,
All Healers Mental Health Alliance

Sister Melanie Campbell, CEO,
Nat’l Coalition on Black Civic Participation

Dr. John Flateau, Dep. Sec. for Intergovernmental Relations & Reapportionment, NYS Senate

Sister Arva Rice, CEO,
Urban League of New York

A. Minister Kadir, East Coast Representative of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

National Medical Association – Dr. Leonard Weather, Jr.

President, Black Mental Health Alliance – Tracee Bryant, Executive Director

Brother Chester Marshall, President, DC Chapter NABSW

Attorney John Brittain

Attorney Derrick Humphreys

Sister Annetta Wilson, Assistant to Congressman Danny Davis, and three others

Dr. Gilbert Parks, President Emeritus,
Nat’l Medical Assoc

Makani Themba-Nixon, Executive Director of The Praxis Project


 Dr. Ron Walters became an ancestor September 10, 2010. 

He was a member of the IBW 21st Century Shirley Chisholm Presidential Accountability Commission and was acknowledged for his contribution to the race at the BFS session.

 Institute of the Black World 21st Century

Board of Directors

Dr. Ron Daniels, President
Distinguished Lecturer, York College, City University of New York, Queens, NY

Rick Adams, Board Chair
Co-Convener, Western Pennsylvania Black Political Assembly, Pittsburgh, PA

Executive Committee 

Mary France-Daniels, Educator & Community Activist
New York, New York

Attorney Nkechi Taifi, Senior Policy Analyst
Open Society Foundations, Washington, DC

Leonard G. Dunston, President Emeritus
National Association of Black Social Workers
Durham, NC

Dr. Kimberly Ellis, Executive Director
Historical Hill Institute, Pittsburgh, PA

Jacqui Patterson, Executive Director
Women of Color United, Silver Springs, MD

Hulbert James, Executive Director
Diaspora Project, Miami, FL

Richard Jones, Executive Dean
Office of Accreditation, Quality Assurance and Institutional Effectiveness
Medgar Evers College, City University of New York
Brooklyn, New York

Board Members

Greg Akili, Senior Manager, Field Training
NAACP, Los Angeles, CA

Mark Batson, Executive Director
Morehouse Medical Associates, Atlanta, GA

Folami Harris, Public Health & Development Specialist
Washington, DC

Dr. Jeanette Davidson, Program Director
African and African American Studies
University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Shani Jamila, Radio Host, Blackademics, WPFW
Pacifica Radio Network, Washington, DC

Dr. Jemadari Kamara, Director
Center for African, Caribbean, and Community
Development, University of Massachusetts at Boston,
Boston, MA

NYOIL, Rapper, Social Activist, Motivation Speaker
Staten Island, NY

Honorable Constance Johnson, State Senator
Oklahoma City, OK

Kinaya C. Sokoya, Executive Director
DC Children´s Trust Fund, Washington DC

Sandino Thompson, Executive Director
It is My Community, Oklahoma City, OK

Prepared by: Tricia Bent-Goodley, Ph.D. & Paulette Hubbert, MSW, Ph.D. Student at Howard University


About IBW21

IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to building the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. to work for the social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, the development of the global Black community and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.