Economic development, political empowerment and embracement of African values systems such as the principles of Kwanzaa was the message of the Pre-Black Solidarity Day Celebration, held at the Fort Green Senior Citizens Center in Brooklyn this past Sunday.

Initiated in November of 1969 by former Brooklyn College professor Dr. Carlos Russell, Black Solidarity Day is the first Monday in November. The purpose of Black Solidarity Day is for African-Americans to come together to discuss whom they should vote for on Election Day. Another purpose for Black Solidarity Day is for African-Americans to refrain from spending money outside of their community and to stay home from work and school as well. During this time, the African-American community should reflect on strategies to improve its condition and to use its economic power and labor force as leverage against racial inequality.

Hosted by Michael “Kofi” Hooper of the National Black United Front, the program was filled with a good cross section of artists, educators and organizations. Bob Law, media personality and community activist, discussed how the African-American consumers are disrespected. He stated that they must use their wealth to build their neighborhoods and institutions as opposed to those that racially profile African-Americans.

Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (NOI) spoke about the NOI’s economic blueprint for Black America. Muhammad told the nearly 200 people in attendance that if for one year, 16 million wage earners donated 35 cents a week to a national treasury, that would give Black people $291 million to be used toward the purchase of farm land. The highlight of the program was the students of Sankofa Academy. They amazed the crowd with their ability to recite all 54 African countries and all 50 states from memory.

This year’s celebration was sponsored by a collective of organizations including the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement, Board of Education for People of African Ancestry, Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People, December 12th Movement, National Association of Kawaida Organizations, National Black United Front, Roots Revisited, Sankofa International School and the Universal Negro Improvement Association.