Finding the path to unityBy FinalCall.com News | Last updated: Aug 28, 2013 - 8:20:48 AM
Holding a copy of the “21st Century Agenda for Jobs and Freedom,” National Urban League CEO Marc Morial spoke not only of a new plan for meeting Black needs but of using a new weapon—unity.
In the past the problem of disunity or perceived disunity helped to compound the challenge of dealing with the serious business of Black suffering and inequality, he said.
“We decided instead of joining the chorus of cynics and complainers, that we would create a new course and that would be the course of unity, cooperation and collaboration,” said Mr. Morial.
Rev. Al Sharpton, of the National Action Network, who has been called the lead organizer of the 2013 march, added, “The reason we have not made the progress we needed is we’ve been too disconnected.”
“We’ve been too worried who would get the credit rather than fighting the fight,” he said.
The agenda released Aug. 23 was forged through the efforts of Mr. Morial, Rev. Sharpton, Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP and Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
The goals outlined in the agenda include efforts to “achieve economic parity for African Americans; promote equity in educational opportunity; protect and defend voting rights; promote a healthier nation by eliminating healthcare disparities and achieve comprehensive criminal justice system reform.”
The agenda was an outgrowth of meetings last December and in January 2013, said the conveners. Participants included nearly 60 leading civil rights, social justice, business and community leaders. Conference calls were used to help develop the agenda, according to Mr. Morial.
It is laudable that leaders of civil rights groups are seeing the value of unity to deal with the serious problems facing Black America.
The need for a Black United Front is clear and reflects an appeal from the Hon. Elijah Muhammad in the 1960s and a telegram sent to the leaders of these same organizations, with the exception of the National Action Network which did not exist, calling for a meeting to discuss the plight of our people and joint efforts by us to save us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., actually met with Mr. Muhammad.
Following in the path of his leader and teacher, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has asked leaders of Black organizations and mainstays of the 2013 March on Washington if they would be willing to sit down with him to plot a new destiny for our people.
Despite not being invited to the 2013 march, the Minister applauded the coming together of Black America to speak to serious issues facing this country. Min. Farrakhan has a history as a bridge builder whether it is Black pastors, embattled Black organizations, or civil rights leaders who are under attack. His actions, frankly, have sprung from a strong desire for unity and an understanding of the power of our collective effort.
When it was not popular he supported Rev. Jackson’s run for the White House in 1984. When Rev. Sharpton was seen as a firebrand and outsider in the 1980s and 1990s, it was Minister Farrakhan who stood with him to deal with the cases of Tawana Brawley, Yusuf Hawkins and other racially charged battles for justice in New York.
When members of the Congressional Black Caucus, then federal Alcee Hastings, and state lawmakers were targeted for investigations, Min. Farrakhan defended them.
When he convened the Million Man March in 1995, the largest public gathering in the history of this country, Rev. Jackson, Rev. Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III and Black pastors and political leaders spoke and spoke in prime time. Many of these same individuals did nothing to promote the march and some opposed the march outright.
None of that mattered to the Minister because in the end, the important thing was stopping the self-destructive actions and outside assaults on Black people.
The word unity has true meaning in the heart and mind of this man, who has borne repudiation and censure for no other apparent reason than fear of what the enemy and those outside of our community think.
Min. Farrakhan has never made total acceptance of his views and his position a prerequisite for working with any Black leader or organization. Rather his focus has been on commonality, whether it is the principles of faith or the desire to help, serve or save Black America.
Shortly before the Supreme Court made its decision to gut provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Min. Farrakhan was part of a whistle-stop tour with leader of the Southern Christian leadership Conference and others to call for protection of those rights.
It is time to put the division over tactics and philosophies aside and to coalesce on the things that can be agreed upon. We can agree that Black America is in a crisis. We can agree that mass incarceration is devastating our community. We can agree that Black youth are besieged on all sides from police brutality to failing schools and nonexistent opportunity. We can agree that America needs to be held accountable and that we can better handle the $1 trillion that comes through our hands for our own benefit.
Those simple points seem like enough to get started and big enough fields for us to do serious work without hurting or insulting one another.
In his remarks Aug. 23, Rev. Sharpton referred to the biblical picture of the dry bones in the valley and that the bones could not stand until they were reconnected. That is true. But there is also a missing element, the bones rattled and only came together after the winds of hard times blew on them. Do we need more tragedy, more loss of life and more despair to know the winds are blowing on Black America now and it is time that we find the path to unity?
Richard B. Muhammad
The Final Call Newspaper