The Spirit, Power and Significance of an Historic Gathering
They came by the hundreds, more than two thousand in all, 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 one of the most hate-filled, demagogic and divisive presidential elections in decades; an election which produced a presidential regime, elected by less than a majority of the popular vote; a regime imbedded 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 16-20, 2016, Africans from the far reaches of 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 great historical epicenters of Black Freedom Struggle, for State of the Black World Conference IV — responding to the Call. It’s Nation Time Again!
In yet another hour of grave crisis, people of African descent, Black people, came seeking 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 the words “it’s nation time” reverberated throughout the gathering, 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 permeated the deliberations.
While it is impossible to capture the full meaning of the words of the formidable array of more than one hundred Speakers, Panelists and Resources People who shared their insights, knowledge and wisdom with this remarkable gathering, these paraphrased expressions are illustrative of the powerful tenor of the deliberations and proceedings:
- Prior to one of the Empowerment Plenary Sessions, Atty. Faya Rose Toure came to the stage and 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. As he has taught so often, Dr. Jeffries stressed the urgency of using a “systems analysis” to successfully confront and defeat a U.S. and global system of white supremacy.
- An impassioned 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 by pointing out that 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 flagrant and inflammatory insults to people of African descent/Blacks, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims and women and could be elected President of the United States.
- In discussing the shocking results of the U.S. presidential elections and the rise of white nationalist and xenophobic movements in the U.S. and Europe, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles firmly declared that we are not going back to the days of white supremacist domination; that the determined quest for reparatory justice will be the dominant movement of the 21st Century.
- George Fraser sternly reminded the gathering that White folks will not save us; they are too busy taking care of their own; they aren’t even thinking about us; no one will save us but us!
- South African Counsel General Mathula Nkosi was so moved by the spirit of the discussions that she spoke passionately about the similarity of our struggles. She recounted the role that 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 and shared an inspiring illustration of how love, compassion and culturally-relevant education and mentoring can rescue/save thousands of our youth/young people 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 vital, 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 an inspiring, 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 evoked the memory of Boukman, the Haitian spiritual leader whose prayer ignited 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, that when we repair ourselves, we repair the world!
- Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan challenged and charged the assembled Participants to rededicate ourselves 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, one so splendid in its humanity that people of all races will feel compelled to follow.