folks have been meeting about their liberation since first setting
foot on these North American shores. The outcomes or impacts of these
gatherings vary but I believe there’s value anytime we can
convene in the spirit of unity. The National Black Political
Convention held in Gary, Indiana the weekend of March 8-10 was a
major development in the struggle for Black political power.
were many meetings during our enslavement to plan escapes or deal
with eliminating the yoke of chattel slavery. It was during the Negro
Convention Movement from 1831 to 1864 that form and substance began
to solidify. Documents from the first convention provided a written
blueprint that could be shared and debated broadly. Such bold steps
were already in motion before the so-called Emancipation
thrust of the convention movement took us to the ballot box in the
late 1800s. Under Reconstruction, about 2000 descendants of slaves
ascended to public office, including the U.S. Senate. It would be
nearly a century after Hiram Revels and Blanche Bruce took office as
senators that the nation would see Edward Brooke, a Black man, become
a senator from Massachusetts by popular vote.
the post-slavery period, Black folks had waited proudly and patiently
to prove themselves worthy of citizenship. Our reality was jaded by a
false sense of hope that was shattered by the savagery of white
supremacy that wiped out all the gains under Reconstruction.
Perceived as less than human, Black folks get constant reminders that
we have no place in this society. Still, we have persisted to address
our dual predicament: fighting for our liberation and pushing for
participation in the democracy as full citizens.
U.S. finds itself at an historic crossroads. The struggle is always
between democracy and barbarism, between progress and stagnation,
between the haves and the have nots. There’s a part for all
democracy defenders to play.
we are in America, most Black folk have tried to be responsible
participants in this democracy. As an enslaved people, that road has
been a rough one - one of many hills and valleys, of many advances
anger and discontent coming from the Ferguson Uprising in 2014 were
channeled into transformative electoral organizing. Candidates and
ballot issues that are closest to addressing the real needs of people
have been the focus of a strategic, organized movement. A wave of
radical voices has been elected, looking for ways to accelerate the
victories into long-lasting change.
1972, nearly 10,000 Black folks converged on Gary, Indiana for the
National Black Political Convention. The historic event was the
powerful convergence of the Black Power and Civil Rights movements.
The delegates produced the National Black Political Agenda and
organized local and state assemblies to elect candidates who
supported the agenda. In the period following the convention, the
number of elected officials in the country nearly tripled.
struggle for Black political power is not only about whom we elect.
It has also been about creating the conditions that guide people to
stand up to social, economic, and political alienation and
domination. It takes a movement to confront racism and white
supremacy in all its manifestations. The ballot box then becomes a
compelling place of both resistance and affirmation.
preparation for the 50th anniversary of the National Black Political
Convention next year, former members of the Congress of African
People are hosting a virtual webinar, Mar 13, 2021, 2:00 PM Central
Time (US and Canada), to heighten the discussion for which way
forward in building Black political power. CAP members were the
organizing force before, during, and after the historic convention.
Gary 1972: Re-energizing the Movement for Black Political Power in
2021” will bring an array of voices together. In the spirit of
Sankofa, going back to lessons from the past is sharpening the vision
of the world we are building for the future. It’s time for an
update and broader unity around an agenda that goes wider and deeper,
stomping out any vestige of trumpism. (Free
for the webinar)