A Call to Youth/Students/Young People
State of the Black World Conferences: This Generation’s Black Power Experience
[For Publication the Week of August 20, 2012]
In the Second Call for State of the Black World Conference III, we issued a challenge to make the event a “Great Gathering of Black People,” a seminal assembly to assess the state of the race and chart directions for the future. Though State of the Black World Conferences are open to any person of African descent, the vision/mission of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), as the convening organization, is progressive, African-centered and action-oriented in nature. We are not neutral. The principled unification and total liberation of people of African descent in the U.S. and the Pan African world is central to our goal of emerging as an engine for global Black empowerment. In the spirit of operational unity, however, the Call to State of the Black World Conferences is issued to the entirety of the Black Nation. All people of African descent are welcome to engage in what we view as a community-building, nation-building experience.
As I reflect on some of the great gatherings of Black people in the era of the 60s — the Black Power Conferences of 1967 and 1968, the Congress of African people in 1970 and the historic Gary Black Political Convention in 1972, it occurs to me that this generation has not experienced the excitement, dynamism, consciousness-raising, inspiration and impact milestone conference of Black people committed to the liberation of African descent first and foremost. To be sure this generation courageously mobilized/organized in support of the Jena-6, rallied to stop the execution of Troy Davis and protested the murder of Trayvon Martin. Hip Hop activists also convened a political convention a few years ago. But, I am not aware of any assembly resembling the great gatherings referenced above. Therefore, State of the Black World Conferences could well be the equivalent of this generation’s Black Power Conferences – powerful events which provide inspiration, information/education and prescriptions to eliminate the devastating vestiges of structural/institutional racism and economic oppression which still afflict millions of Black people imprisoned in America’s “dark ghettos.” These Conferences will also be occasions where Youth/students/young people will be exposed to Pan Africanists dedicated to working to fulfill the vision of Garvey, DuBois, Nkrumah, Malcolm and Bob Marley that “Africa Unite” as the political and economic base for global Black Power!
Franz Fanon, the African revolutionary wrote: “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.” As this generation’s youth/students/young people step onto the stage of history to share and eventually take the torch of leadership of the 21st century liberation movement, State of the Black World Conference III will offer a unique opportunity to hone the skills necessary to fulfill the mission as defined. In defiance of the notion/myth of a “post-racial society,” the Conference will address some of the critical racial justice issues confronting this generation. In the face of an unspeakable epidemic of crime, violence and fratricide wreaking havoc on urban-inner city communities, IBW will convene a Summit of Anti-Violence/Keep the Peace organizations and Hip Hop activists to identify strategies and policies to “increase the peace” in our neighborhoods.
The brothers and sisters in the “hood” have correctly declared that the “War on Drugs is a war on us!” This so called War is a racially-biased strategy, targeting Black communities across this country. The humiliating “stop-and-frisk” practices which so many young Black men and increasingly Black women are being subjected to are directly linked to the War on Drugs. Accordingly, the Opening Ndaba/Plenary Session will include a major Panel devoted to creating greater awareness of the racist nature of the War on Drugs and outlining strategies to end it. The War on Drugs is also tied to one of the defining racial justice/social justice issues of our time, the mass incarceration, emasculation and disempowerment of Black young men and women – which severely jeopardizes the future evolution and development of the Black Nation. A full Working Session with experts, analysts, organizers and affected individuals will be devoted to intensifying the struggle to halt the mass incarceration of our people.
However, youth/students/young people who attend/participate in SOBWC III need not be confined to these areas. There will be Special Affinity Group Sessions on Media/Communications, Reparations, Haiti and a convening of scholar-activists. There will also be Working Sessions on the Black Family, Education, Economic and Community Development, Health and the Environment, Africa and the Caribbean, Culture, Religion and Liberation and White Supremacist Images. Equally important, IBW will be launching the Damu Smith Leadership Development and Organizer Training Institute to educate/orient participants in the art/science of community organizing and the principles of servant leadership [see the SOBWC III Program/Schedule on the website www.ibw21.org].
Finally, youth/students/young people will not only have a chance to interact with some of Black America’s most influential leaders, they will have an opportunity to interface with Elder leaders/organizers/activists from civil rights/human rights and Black Power movements of the 60s. This will be a rare inter-generational opportunity to gain wisdom, knowledge and encouragement from veteran freedom fighters who are ready to share the torch and pass the torch to a generation in search of its mission in the 21st Century. State of the Black World Conference III is the place to be for youth/students/young people to have a Black Power Experience. All that remains is to mobilize/organize now to be at Howard University, November, 14-18 to be part of a Great Gathering of the Black Nation!
Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org and www.northstarnews.com . To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org