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National gathering discusses Black community's issues

Published Jun 5, 2008 11:01 PM

Youth activists meet during breakout session
at Black Left Unity Conference, May 31.
WW photo: Monica Moorehead

Black activists from around the country participated in a “Black Left Unity Conference” held at the Sonja Haynes Stone Black Culture and History Center May 30-June 1 on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The intergenerational gathering of activists came together to continue the discussion on how to build an effective Black United Front in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina/Rita.

Saladin Muhammad

Part of the call for this conference reads: “Back in June 2007 at the U.S. Social Forum, over 50 brothers and sisters gathered in Atlanta to discuss the state of the Black liberation movement and the role of the Black left. Most agreed that the Gulf Coast/Katrina disaster is a defining moment that requires that Black revolutionaries unite and work to build a National Black United Front, its initial focus being the development and support of a Gulf Coast Reconstruction Movement. This movement would be a part of a strategic flank of the wider National Black Liberation Movement.

Ajamu Baraka

“Since the Atlanta meeting, many of us have engaged in numerous gatherings and actions in our local and regional areas as we develop direct support for the Gulf Coast and its Reconstruction Movement.

“At the August International Tribunal on Katrina and Rita held in New Orleans, some of us again came together and initiated the ‘We Charge Genocide Campaign.’ This campaign was initiated to promote the findings of the International Tribunal on Katrina and Rita, which indicted the U.S. government for committing Crimes Against Humanity for its role in causing the massive deaths, dispersing, suffering and repression against the majority Black and working-class people in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and to expose the many conditions of national oppression of Black people throughout the U.S.

Monica Moorehead and
Clarence Thomas.

“We also initiated the Green Ribbon Campaign in direct response to HUD and the New Orleans City Council’s plan to demolish public housing in New Orleans, another direct act that will continue to prevent poor and working class Blacks from coming home. Wearing of a Green Ribbon also represents a People’s Vigil and symbolizes our human right to land and housing and protests the stealing of the land and homes by the big real estate, banks and moneyed interests.”

A large focus of the panel presentations, question and answer periods and break out discussion groups at the conference was on the issues and challenges that the Barack Obama campaign poses for the Black left now and if Obama does become the first Black U.S. president.

Jaribu Hill
WW photos: Larry Hales
and Tyneisha Bowens

Other issues raised during the conference were on how the Black movement and Black community are being impacted by “globalization,” including the U.S. South; imperialist war abroad and the growing economic and political attacks at home; the [email protected] Diaspora; Cynthia McKinney’s electoral campaign, the Reconstruction Party; immigrant rights; labor developments; culture; the demand for reparations; sexism; and much more. A resolution was unanimously passed by the conference delegates demanding that relatives of the Cuban Five be granted visas by the U.S. government in order to visit the anti-terrorist heroes unjustly incarcerated in federal prisons.

Those who attended the conference included Saladin Muhammad, Black Workers For Justice and the Black Workers League; ILWU Local 10 leader Clarence Thomas; activist and poet, Amiri Baraka; Million Worker March leader, Brenda Stokely; Ana Edwards, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality; Ajamu Baraka, U.S. Human Rights Network; Patrisse Cullors, Labor Strategy Center; Efia Nwangaza; Theresa El-Amin; Kali Akuno from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Jaribu Hill, Mississippi Workers for Human Rights; Vickie White, People’s Organization for Progress; labor organizer, Angaza Laughinghouse; Larry Adams, New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW); cultural artist, Luci Murphy; educators Muntu Matsimela, T. Menelik VanDerMeer and Sam Anderson; Yvette Modestin, Afrocaribenas y de la Diaspora; Colia Clark; and activists representing Fight Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST) and the Troops Out Now Coalition.

The conference delegates agreed to continue the various ways to consolidate the building of a Black United Front on a regional level in the coming months. For more information about this conference, go to www.WeChargeGenocide.org.