More than two thousand came 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 the most hate-filled, demagogic and divisive presidential campaigns that produced a presidential regime, elected by less than a majority of the popular vote, embedded 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, 2016, Africans from 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 historical epicenters of the Black Freedom Struggle, for the State of the World Conference IV—responding to the Call. It’s Nation Time Again! People of African descent, Black people, came 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 “It’s nation Time” reverberated throughout, 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- engulfed the gathering.
While it is impossible to capture the full impact of the formidable array of speakers, panelists and resource people who shared their insights, knowledge and wisdom with this remarkable gathering, the following paraphrased expressions are illustrative of the powerful deliberations and proceedings:
Prior to an Empowerment Plenary session, Atty. Faya Rose Toure 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.
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, recalling 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 inflammatory insults to people of African descent/Blacks, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims and women.
In discussing the shocking results of the U.S. presidential election and the rise of white nationalist and xenophobia movements in the U.S. and Europe, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles declared, “We are not going back to the days of white supremacist domination and that the determined quest for reparatory justice will be the dominant movement of the 21st century.”
George Fraser sternly reminded the gathering that white people will not save us; they aren’t even thinking about us; no one will save us but us!”
South African Counsel General Mathula Nkosi spoke passionately about the similarities of our struggles. She recounted the role 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. She shared an inspiring illustration of how love, compassion, culturally relevant education and mentoring can save thousands of our youth 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 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 a moving, 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 invoked the memory of Boukman, the Haitian spiritual leader whose prayer help ignite 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 “ ….When we repair ourselves, we repair the world.”
Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan challenged and charged participants to rededicate 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 so splendid in its humanity that people of all races will feel compelled to follow.”
It is impossible to capture the breadth, depth and scope of the deliberations of this powerful gathering and the resolutions, recommendations, projects and initiatives from in the Issue Area Working Sessions in this Declaration.
However, they will be posted on the IBW website, www.ibw21.org-along with how each Session assigned responsibility for implementation.