Plans hatched to mobilize at SOBW III Conference
HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 11/26/2012, 4:22 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Amid a number of sterling moments at the Institute of the Black World 21st Century's (IBW) State of the Black World Conference III, recently held here at Howard University, was the town hall meeting.
It was a cast of prominent leaders and thinkers assembled by Dr. Ron Daniels, president of IBW, to critically assess the impact of the 2012 election on the state of emergency in Black America.
Opening remarks from Dr. Alvin Thornton and Rick Adams framed the discussion that was dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Ron Walters, the esteemed political scientist.
"Organizing and informing our community are among the key things on our agenda," Adams told an attentive audience. "Bringing our thinkers together for mobilization is also important, and we must begin to govern like the majority we are."
New Orleans veteran activist Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika was the first to reply to moderator Mark Thompson's question about issues to be conveyed to President Obama.
"They owe us," he insisted, "but what is that they owe us? Without a social movement, we get nothing."
Television host and commentator Jeff Johnson, after listening intently to Sanyika's response, simply said, "I agree," eliciting laughter from the crowd. "Where is the organized force to move us forward? And how do we effectively hold [President Obama] accountable?"
Alabama leader Attorney Faya Ora Toure Rose Sanders said that "education should be a constitutional right." She was concerned that in her state there were no elected Democrats in higher government. Equally troubling to her was the ongoing effort by those seeking to repeal the Voting Rights Act.
Rather than looking for answers from the president, "We need to ask what we demand of ourselves," said the Rev. Willie Wilson of Washington, D.C. "We are at the top of every negative statistic and at the bottom of good ones. To bring about change, we need a more collective approach."
"It's now or never," said Susan Taylor, a former editor of Essence magazine, citing a need to take advantage of a Black president. "We have not stood together since the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and we need to develop a plan on how to move forward."
Noted wealth builder and adviser George Fraser was curious to know when the president would ever say "Black." Jokingly, he suggested, "Maybe a couple of times a week." More seriously, Fraser said, "The president's victory is modeled on leveraging social media, though we're still in the Wilbur Wright stage of social media."
Political economist Julianne Malveaux, addressing the nation's deplorable educational picture, said, "'Race to the top' is not the answer." One of the major problems, she added, was the country's educational "pipeline" in which students reach the realm of higher education unprepared. She drew her loudest response when she snapped, "Everybody brown is not Black."
In an attempt to give the discussion an international edge, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill declared that while it's good to deal with domestic issues, "We can't overlook the situation in Africa." There, he pointed out, HIV/AIDS continues to be a pervasive threat. "We have to care about others," he continued.