Considering the critical importance of the upcoming presidential election and the ongoing systemic barriers to social and economic justice facing the Black community, the impact of politics at every level is arguably more important than ever. Coincidentally, today’s column is by former Los Angeles City Council member Robert Farrell, who is currently on the steering committee of the Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance (BCCLA) in Los Angeles. The information is both timely and illuminating. The People’s Agenda, i.e., a Black United Front, is of singular importance and should be discussed and embraced by Blacks throughout the nation:
The National Black Political Convention (NBPC) is meeting today, June 9th, in Gary, Indiana to deliberate and develop the elements of a 2016 National Black Agenda. The call to meet at this, the second Black political convention, was issued by former Gary mayor Richard Hatcher, current Gary mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, Tuskegee mayor, Johnnie Ford and Newark mayor, Ras Baraka.
It is convened at the Gary Convention Center and the city’s Majestic Hotel. Organizations, key individuals and the interested folks from across the country have been invited to attend and participate. (Follow the NBPC on its website thenbpc.com)
NBPC support staff has been drawn primarily from the National Policy Alliance (NPA), the Washington, DC-based organization which is comprised of all of the national organizations representing Black elected officials from Congress, to city halls and school boards across America, plus the prestigious Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Visit its website at npalinks.org.
The co-chairs of the NPA, Tuskegee mayor Johnny Ford and former Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory, head the list of convention speakers and dignitaries who will give context and content to the convention’s chief goal of developing the 2016 National Black Agenda. Other speakers include Minister Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam; Cornell Brooks, NAACP; Darnell Williams, National Urban League; Reverend Al Sharpton, National Action Network; Dr. E. Faye Williams, National Congress of Black Women; Dick Gregory; Spencer Overton, Joint Center for Political Studies; Judge Leonard Murray, National Bar Association’s Judicial Council; and Darlene Young, Blacks in Government.
In 1972, Mayor Hatcher and his fellow conveners stated, “At every critical moment of our struggle in America we have had to press relentlessly against the limits of the ‘realistic’ to create new realities for the life of our people. This is our challenge at Gary, and beyond, for a new Black politics demands new vision, new hope and new definitions of the possible. Our time has come. These things are necessary. All things are possible.”
In 2016, former mayor Hatcher and a new generation of leaders, in discussing this convention and the agenda that will emerge from it, asserted that “We must (unapologetically) set our agenda as Black Americans and be able to say to both the Democratic National Convention and to any other national convention, that ‘We in Black America have concerns and issues.’ If you want our vote and support, you must consider The People’s Agenda.”(Black United Front)
In 2016, the national political parties are struggling with challenges of disruption and political revolution. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats last year could foresee how the primary elections would turn out as they have. In a like manner, the many challenges- and crises- facing Black Americans, and what must be done in response, demand a new sense of direction and priority from the elected, selected, and who choose to address our national interests of full justice in all aspects of our lives.
The convention will engage those issues throughout the several sessions. The outcomes, the People’s Agenda, will be shared with the national political parties. It will be presented to the NPA constituent groups, the leadership involved in this convention, and key constituents in our home communities. In Los Angeles, for me, two initial tasks will be to present the agenda to the Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance (BCCLA) and the Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC).
The constituent groups of the National Political Alliance are the African American Mayors Association, The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, Blacks in Government, the National Association of Black County Officials, the National Black Caucus of School Board Members, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the National Organization of Black County Officials, the Congressional Black Caucus, the National Bar Association and the World Conference of Mayors.
Please check the history brief at thenbpc.com to see a summary of the 1972 agenda and the items concerning national health insurance, minimum wage guarantee and the establishment of a Black united fund-all of which apply in the 21st century. The Gary Declaration and the Black Agenda are also referenced as “…….an initial statement of goals and directions for our own generation…..Anyone who claims to be serious about the survival and liberation of Black people must be serious about the implementation of the Black Agenda.”
Robert Farrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org