Journal of the People’s Pastor

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

DARFUR DIARY

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

So, July 1980, they came from near and far and the heat of passion that fueled the arguments and interactions exceeded the steaming heat in the Sumner Avenue Armory in a hot July month.
I found another old article written in the New York Times on June 30, 1980, which describes the convention. Thomas A. Johnson wrote the article:

Black Rights Group Formed In Brooklyn
New National Organization Seeks ‘Functional Unity’ of Members
While Stressing Diversity

More than a thousand delegates from 34 states formed a new black civil rights organization, the National Black United Front, at a founding conference held over the weekend in a sweltering armory in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

The organizers included many long-time black activists, joined in a coalition that included churchmen and communists, laborers and college professors. All of the participants contended that the desperate conditions of black s made it necessary to try again to build a strong, grassroots black movement.

A principal organizer, the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a Brooklyn Pentecostal minister who was named chairman of the group, said that the effects of unemployment, cutbacks in essential services, shootings of blacks by police officers and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan have “reached genocidal dimensions for blacks.”

Leaders of the new group met late yesterday to determine their next steps, including whether the new organization would participate in any way in the upcoming Presidential election.

Oba T’shaka, chairman of the San Francisco Bay Area Black United Front, said the group would seek to enroll black youths, elderly people, churches, the middle class and professional people “to build the base that is most effective in working to help our masses.”

Headquarters in Brooklyn
The only group that would not be recruited, he said at the organization’s headquarters at the former National Guard armory at 357 Sumner Avenue, were “black leaders created by whites who have sold out to whites and who function to keep community leaders from developing.” He refused to name these persons.
Mr. Daughtry and others contended that there is a “vacuum” in the national black leadership and that “our people are searching for new leaders and new vehicles.” He said that the participants in the four-day conference, which ended yesterday, had been careful not to allow their varying ideologies to keep them from working together.
“Some showed great dexterity in being consistent with their own ideologies and conciliatory to those here who disagreed with them,” he said.

The organization’s chief of operations, Jitu Weusi of Brooklyn, said the conference was put together by blacks who met in Pennsylvania, New York, Oregon, Illinois and Mississippi over the last eight months.

Wide Net Is Cast
Several of the participants said that the wide net cast by the group could pose a threat to its effectiveness. They noted that while the organization insisted only on a “functional unity,” some elements were very diverse, with some preferring integration into the “system” and others advocating that it be destroyed.
Other problems would be created should the black communists in the group insist on bringing nonblacks into the group’s future meetings, some said.

Despite the problems, all of the participants interviewed insisted that the times were so desperate that their differences had to be overlooked.

“We can all sing the same song and the notes can be different, based on our own vibrations,” said Dr. Maleek Rashadeen, an associate professor of Pan African studies at California State University at Los Angeles.

Need for Unity Stressed
Others stressing the need for unity included Amiri Baraka, poet-playwright; Dr. Bobby Wright, director of the Garfield Park Community Mental Health program in Chicago, Amiri Obadeli, president of the New Republic of Africa; Skip Robinson, president of the United League of Mississippi; the Rev. Charles Koen, a United Front official in Cairo, Ill., Prince Ashiel Ben Israel, ambassador from the Hebrew Israelites of Dimona, Israel, and State Assemblyman Al Vann of Brooklyn.

There have been many attempts by blacks to pull together the diverse elements within black America, most of which have not succeeded. The late Malcolm X’s Organization of African Unity fell apart after he was assassinated. The Congress of African Peoples helped to establish the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Ind., in 1972, but that has since been greatly weakened because of philosophical conflicts.

To be continued…

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