African-American leaders gathered in Washington D.C. last week to assess the post-election status of Black America. The State of the Black World III Conference, hosted by Dr. Ron Daniels, took place at Howard University at the Blackburn Center on the campus of Howard University in Northwest.
The fully stated theme of the conference, State of Emergency in Black America: Time to Heal Black Families and Communities, reflected the belief that despite the re-election of President Barack Obama, America’s first African-American president, leaders still see two Black Americas – one with and the other without, said Daniels during an interview with The Washington Informer.
“We do not buy the idea that we live in a post-racial America, despite the fact that we have the first African-American president,” Daniels told the Washington Informer newspaper before the conference. “D.C. was the quintessential Chocolate City, but now gentrification has become the new Negro urban removal program. This is not just happening in D.C., but it’s happening in Atlanta, Harlem and other cities, as well.”
Daniels stressed that the young people coming up need a cultural anchor, “but that’s not enough. They also need a job. We must push for economic investment in Black communities and we need to be more aggressive and militant and talk about economic sanctions and boycotts,” Daniels said.
“In the spirit of what has been important to our people for generations, the State of the Black World Conference is a great gathering of Black people to assess the state of Black America and the Pan-African world,” Daniels explained. Participants will outline plans for moving forward and they will leave the conference on one accord.
The conference started with a National Town Hall meeting with social, economic and political experts who will discuss the impact of the 2012 presidential election. Featured speakers included George Fraser, president and CEO of FraserNet; Susan Taylor, former editor of Essence Magazine; Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, host of Our World with Black Enterprise, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Maulana Karenga, creator of Kwanzaa and professor of Black Studies at California State University.
A special acknowledgement was given to the late Damu Smith, an environmental and social justice activist, who died in 2006 at age 54. IBW will launch the Damu Smith Institute to provide support to community leaders who want to enhance their skills as servant leaders.
The conference was also dedicated to the memory of Dr. Ron Walters, author, political scientist and civil rights activist, who died in 2010 at age 72. Daniels said he and Walters talked for years about the need for post-election analysis. “He [Walters] said that as black people we should always have an agenda and we should be measuring what progress we’re making no matter who’s in the White House. What are our needs, what kind of progress are we making and what is it all about and finally, how do we benefit.”
Daniels, who ran as an independent for president in 1992, also served as the deputy campaign manager for the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s presidential campaign in 1988. He has a long history in the social justice and Pan-African Movement, which includes the coordination of several African-centered events such as the State of the Race Conferences held in Baltimore in 1994 and 1997.