Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

" Part II: Another Memorable Week in the Life of An Activist Pastor "

As I was preparing to present my response to Minister Akbar Muhammad’s defense of the Sudanese action in Sudan, it occurred to me, while I had mentioned NBUF sponsorship of the conference on Africa, there were probably many readers who knew little or nothing about NBUF and there were those who knew and/or were involved might need a refresher course. So, I decided to take us for a stroll down memory lane then return to my response to Minister Akbar.

NBUF, growing out of the fire lit by the New York Metropolitan Black United Front was founded in the Sumner Avenue Armory in Brooklyn, New York, July 1980. Delegates from 35 states and five foreign countries representing the widest spectrum of ideologies, philosophies and religions, among people of African Ancestry, vociferously and angrily argued all the issues important to black people.

Finally, at the end of the conference, three major resolutions were adopted; 1) I was voted temporary chair for one year, 2) Jitu Weusi was appointed Chief of Operations with the approval of all present; and, 3) We adopted a Constitution and Bi-laws, which would be debated in the four (4) regions of the country, East, South, Midwest and West, for the rest of the year. At the conference the following year, the Constitution would be ratified.

After the conference, my wife and I spent three weeks on the road. We went as far southward to Georgia and as far westward to Texas. We visited the leaders who were the most passionate in putting forth their ideas. Whether they agreed with us or not was not our overriding concern. We, Jitu and I, knew unless we could address the issues these leaders were raising there was not going to be a viable National Black United Front (NBUF). Years later, Dr. Conrad Worrell of Chicago, told me after my wife I had left the meeting we had organized, Chicago leaders said, and I quote, “Those Negroes must either be sincere or crazy to drive all this distance to talk to us.” Chicago became one of NBUF’s strongest chapters. As before state, Dr. Worrell succeeded me as chair of NBUF.

After a lot of hard work and patience, and I must say, skill and love, the Constitution and Bi-laws were ratified at the next conference in 1981. I was elected chair for two years and Jitu was reappointed Chief of Operations. Elections were to be held every two years thereafter.

The NBUF founding conference did not come easily. There had been a year of debate, tolling, extensive travel and patience and patience and more patience. First, Jitu and I selected four persons from four areas of the country, who were engaged in some kind of organizing efforts in their communities; Skip Roberson in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Charles Cohen, who had already organized a United Black Front in Cairo, Illinois, both were fighting the Klan; Florence Roberson in Philadelphia was organizing around police brutality and Ron Herndon in Portland, Oregon was principally organizing around educational issues. These persons were not the veterans of the civil rights, Black Power, African liberation, radical, revolutionary movements. As were, Amiri Baraka in Newark, League of Revolutionary Struggle and organizer of one of the most important conferences which was held in Gary Indiana, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Oakland, California, Kawaida Groundwak Committee, Kwame Ture (a/k/a Stokely Carmichael) Chairman of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) and the All African People’s Revolutionary Party, Oba T’Shaka from San Francisco, CORE (Congress On Racial Equality) and the Pan Afrikan Secretarial, etc. Our challenge was to keep the veterans involved, but keep the leadership in the hands of the people we identified. The veterans had too many wounds from past encounters. They would never be able to organize a National Black United Front. They had tried it many times and failed. We reasoned, that the leaders without the baggage of yesteryear’ struggles would be the ones to make a Black United Front happen. We set about meeting with the veterans. We succeeded in persuading them to let us proceed and they would form an advisory group to our organizing efforts. We constituted ourselves the Organizing Committee for a National Black United Front and the veterans organized themselves as the National Advisory Committee to the Organizing committee of the NBUF. I cannot praise Dr. Malana Karanga enough, who, after we had an exchange of letters clarifying our positions, became one of our most ardent supporters. Also Amiri Baraka was supportive from the beginning.

I ran across an old article in the South Suburban Standard a Chicago newspaper dated February 16 – March 1, 1980. The article discusses the meeting where we were attempting to resolve the issue of the role of the veterans. The meeting actually took place on Jan. 25 and 26, 1980 in Chicago, Illinois. In our literature, we referred to the meeting as the National Black Forum on Unity. The article headlined, Black United Front Formed. It has a picture of some of the organizers. Akil Jazar, African People Socialist Party, Oba T’Shaka, Pan Afrikan Secretarial, Herb Daughtry, Black United Front New York, Dr. Malana Karange Kawaieda Groundwak Committee, and Amiri Baraka, Legal of Revolutionary Struggle. Following is the article:

Black United Front Formed
Black leaders, activists, and scholars met in Chicago last Saturday t discuss, debate, and lay ground-work for a “National Forum for Black Unity,” according to a spokesman at a press conference held at Robert’s Motel.

Twenty-one people were invited representing the various degrees of ideological thoughts from the nationalist to the internationalist. These various factions saw the need to bury their ideological hatchets as Blacks face greater oppression in the 1980’s.

The dialogue lasted 16 straight hours and concluded Saturday with a consensus that a Black United Front was needed to further the Liberation Struggle.

Later that evening, over 350 people jammed Rev. John Porter’s Christ United Methodist Church to hear various spokesmen and leaders speak on the nature of the current struggle and the need for a Black United Front.

One of the most inspiring speakers was Ron Karenga who spoke directly to the issue of Black Unity. He spoke on the need for commitment, priorities, and values while attacking capitalism racism and Sexism as being against the best interests of Blacks in America.

The above meeting was exceedingly important. If we had not been able to arrive at an agreement I doubt if the NBUF could have been formed. For the rest of the year, we continued to meet and/or correspond in some way. So, when the NBUF founding conference arrived there were many issues that we fought over but not once was there a challenge of the new leadership.

To be continued…

Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center weekly Thursday night forums 7 to 9pm held at the House of the Lord Church.
Hold the date – The National Religious Leaders Concerned About Darfur (NRLAA) will sponsor its first Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, October 18, 2007, from 6pm to 8pm at the House of the Lord Church, located at 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum focusing on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 1pm to 2pm.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
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For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991.