(For publication the week of September 17, 2012)
As some of my followers are aware, I am an occasional Guest Radio Talk Show Host, periodically sitting in for Warren Ballentine, Mark Thompson and Rev. Al Sharpton on Radio-One, SIRIUS/XM networks as well as WWRL AM in New York. In taking to the airwaves in recent weeks, a major goal has been to engage the audience in conversations about the critical presidential election and make the case that there is a political imperative for people of African descent and progressives to vigorously work for the re-election of President Obama. This has not always been an easy task because some listeners are disappointed that President Obama has not overtly addressed the myriad crises afflicting Black communities and in some instances has pursued foreign policy options that are similar to those of George W. Bush. Despite these shortcomings, I have emphatically contended that the “forward” trajectory of the vision and program of President Obama is clearly preferable to the radical, extremist, reactionary, “backward” path of the Tea Party dominated, Grand Obstructionist Party (GOP) — which the political chameleon Mitt Romney now represents. Indeed, in my recent article, President Barack Obama: More Than the “Lesser Evil” [see the website www.ibw21.org ], I argue that Obama is by far the “better choice” for African Americans and the liberal/left/progressive forces – not the perfect choice but the better choice, given the frightening agenda of Romney/Ryan and the radical conservatives who have captured the Republican Party.
I don’t always win the argument, but during my last appearance on the Warren Ballentine Show I was delighted to receive a call from a brother from Atlanta who shared with the audience that he had been listening carefully for weeks and finally made the decision that he won’t sit out the election but will vote for President Obama in November. That was gratifying, and I hope that legions of other potential voters in the Black community have reached a similar conclusion. In order to blunt, reverse and overcome the mean intentions of the machinations of the obstructionists, it is imperative that Black voters march on ballot boxes with the same determination that Black freedom fighters marched across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965. We cannot succumb to disappointment, frustration, apathy and inaction in the face of an imminent threat to turn the clock back on the gains won by our forebears over centuries of bloody and sacrificial struggle. In the face of voter identification laws and other calculated efforts to suppress the Black vote, we must assert that this will not be another “bloody Sunday” where regulations, statutes and procedures rather that State Troopers with Billy Clubs bludgeon us into retreat. In the spirit of the Freedom Fighters who regrouped and crossed the “Bridge” to complete the march toward freedom, we must resolve that “we ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around!” The quest to fulfill the unfulfilled civil rights/human rights agenda and to create a more perfect union is in our hands. So, we must march on ballot boxes with our minds “stayed on freedom” and our “eyes on the prize.”
The second goal I have pounded during my stints as a Guest Host has been to persuade listeners to mobilize/organize to attend/participate in the forthcoming State of the Black World Conference, November 14-18 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Beyond the election people of African descent, the voters who march on ballot boxes, must gather to assess the impact of the election and announce to the world that there is a State of Emergency in America’s “dark ghettos” which must be addressed, that the interests and aspirations of Black people for equity/parity and decent standard of living for the masses of Black poor and working people and struggling middle class have yet to be fulfilled. Therefore, the goals of encouraging Black folks to march on ballot boxes and mobilize for SOBWC III are interrelated. It is precisely because Obama is a better choice not a perfect choice for President of the United States that Africans in America must marshal our forces to project and protect our interests. This is not just true of Obama (or Romney), the political imperative is that the oppressed must always relentlessly strive to advance their quest for full freedom/liberation no matter who or what controls the commanding heights of power.
Hence, the Conveners/Organizers of State of the Black World Conferences have always strategically positioned these “Great Gatherings” after presidential elections to take inventory of our status/condition and galvanize our people to continue to work on all levels to advance a positive, progressive Black Agenda. The theme for SOBWC III, State of Emergency in Black America: Time to Heal Black Families and Communities, was chosen to highlight our rejection of the notion of a “post-racial society.” It proclaims to the world that structural/institutional racism and economic apartheid are still stubborn barriers to full freedom for people of African descent in this country. Therefore, a critical focus for SOBWC III will be to devise a Declaration of Intent to Heal Black Families and Communities shaped by the input of the participants and resource people in the Working Sessions in crucial issue areas, e.g., the Black Family, Education, Economic and Community Development, Health and Environment, Criminal Justice, Culture, Religion and Spirituality, Pan African Policy and Mobilizing the Diaspora. However, the Declaration will not just focus on government. It will outline what we as people of African descent must demand of ourselves and internally from our communities, as well as what we must demand of those private sector businesses, corporations and institutions which thrive on one trillion dollars of Black income! The Declaration will be a blueprint that various organizations will accept responsibility for implementing with IBW functioning as a facilitative/coordinative vehicle – an engine for Black empowerment.
There are two Black imperatives in the critical weeks ahead, march on ballot boxes to re-elect President Obama as the better choice and mobilize for State of the Black World Conference III as part of an absolutely essential effort to ensure that the interests and aspirations of people of African descent are addressed internally to our communities, within the private sector and with much greater clarity, specificity and results by the federal government over the next four years and into the future. So get your marching/mobilizing minds, hands and shoes together because both of these imperatives demand that “we ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around!
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