The National Black Political Convention (NBPC) planned for August 2022 in Newark, New Jersey is long overdue and a much-needed active affair; it features a refocused agenda for the future of Blacks in America.
The first two NBPCs took place over 50 years ago. Several generations of our people are not even aware that these events took place. The first NBPC was held in 1972 in Gary, Indiana Feb. 10-12 hosted by Gary’s first Black Mayor Richard Hatcher, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Black activist Amiri Baraka. In attendance were a cadre of politicians, religious leaders, and activists that included: Congresspersons John Conyers (Mich.) Barbara Jordan (Texas), Charles Diggs (IL), Shirley Chisholm (NY), Ron Dellums (CA); Dick Gregory, Julian Bond, Queen Mother Moore, Bobby Seal of the Black Panther Party, Betty Shabazz, Coretta Scott King; Mayors Maynard Jackson (ATL) and Coleman Young (Detroit); also there was Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam and National Urban League President Whitney Young. The NAACP refused to attend because whites were not allowed. More than ten thousand Blacks from throughout America attended, and the theme of the convention was: IT’S NATION TIME.
The 1974 NBPC was held in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 15-17 and co-chaired by Amiri Baraka, Mayor Hatcher, with participation of Daisy Bates of the NAACP and members of the Little Rock Nine. This convention theme was “Unity without Uniformity.” Many of the prominent Black leaders and politicians failed to show up.
Both NBPCs debated and argued many issues, many that were not resolved but all agreed to continue in unity for the liberation of Black people, “at home and abroad.”
I included this brief history about the conventions for those who don’t know and those who have forgotten. Since these two important conventions happened, a number of Black leaders and delegates who attended, have passed.
The August 2022 NBPC will take place at NJ Institute of Technology in Newark, organized by Mayor Ras Baraka and Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. The artist and activist James Mtume was also a co-organizer, but he passed January 9, 2022. These organizers and the committed Black delegates and participants have a chance to fulfill what the two other conventions were unable to do.
With the massive problems Black America currently faces, I am sure there will be a host of issues and platforms that will be dealt with at the upcoming convention. However, I encourage the organizers to prioritize three major platforms which supremely impact the Black community, those being: Economics, Education, and Health
I believe these three entities are essential to our movement for independence, but not limited to all the other topics that need to be addressed in order to maintain our existence in America.
ECONOMICS: We have a buying power of more than $3 trillion. This is more than several countries around the world. Rightly guided and directed, we could address and eliminate many of our financial problems while creating millions of businesses and jobs. This kind of fiscal organizing and fiduciary investment power will attract others outside our community who will be thirsty to do business with us.
EDUCATION: In order to produce well-rounded thinkers and skilled professionals, we must teach and train our youth, starting from the cradle. We must not allow those who don’t have the love, compassion, and best interest of our people to have access to the minds of our babies. There is a saying: “He who controls the diameter of your thinking, controls the circumference of your movement.” Simply put, we must control and finance, without interference, our own educational institutions.
In most inner cities across America, our Black children make up the majority of students in public schools. With a good scientific educational plan, we can produce brilliant, powerful, and well-trained scholars, helping to end growing violence and gang activity.
Our children are waiting for us to start the process.
HEALTH: It’s often said, wealth without health is death. Currently the health of Black America is quickly declining; with COVID-19 pandemic and all illnesses we suffer from, the grave is awaiting to claim many of us. We suffer from diabetes, kidney failure, heart disease, prostate cancer, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS, lupus, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and a host of other illnesses with no names. Of course, drug and alcohol addiction continue to plague our community. A taskforce of doctors and health experts (physical and mental) can turn these conditions around. These health warriors need to be called together, and with the trillions of dollars we possess, along with combined research, analysis, and diagnoses, they can go to work in treating and preventing the causes of the many health problems that exist among our people; and eventually restoring our community to proper health, while establishing health institutions to educate our children to teach and maintain a healthy, conscious community.
Let me add that the coming NBPC would not work or be complete without the guidance of our spiritual and faith leaders, all of whom must be exclusively in and from the Black community.
With or without the three mentioned planks I suggest, the success of this anticipated NBPC will depend on our Black community’s support and participation.
Ronald X Stewart is currently the coordinator of the Step Up Project, a unit of the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative. He is a retired New York State parole officer, and community activist in southern Brooklyn.