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 Dr. Ron Daniels, convener
‘State of the Black World’ Conference Aims to Set Post-Election Black Agenda
By: Hazel Trice Edney
NNPA Editor-in-Chief
Originally posted 9/12/2008

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Unemployment for Black people has crept back into double digits for the first time in three years; currently 10.6 percent in comparison to the 5.4 percent unemployment rate of Whites and the 8 percent rate of Hispanics.

While Black unemployment hadn’t reached 10 percent since November 2005, a search of data bases of the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that White and Hispanic unemployment rates have not reached that high for at least the past decade - if ever.

Unemployment stats are just one illustration of social and economic disparities that persist between the races in America. From education to health care to the criminal justice system, the adage still holds that when America gets a cold, African-Americans get pneumonia.

This is one of the reasons that a group of seasoned Black community activists and organizers will gather in New Orleans Nov. 19-23 well after the Nov. 4 election - to discuss the “state of the Black world.”

“We’re excited about the prospect of Obama winning the White House,” says Dr. Ron Daniels, convener of the conference. “But we must work to create and advance a progressive Black agenda no matter who wins the White House. The crisis afflicting New Orleans, before and after Katrina, is a metaphor for the conditions facing Black people across America,” he says.

“We must not make the mistake of believing that the new President will be able to resolve all our problems without a powerful grassroots movement to promote our agenda. This is very much in keeping with Barack Obama’s position that change comes from the bottom up.”

Daniels, president of the New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century, says the event will be a rare gathering of Black civil rights leaders from all walks of life. The line up reads like a who’s who of the “Black world.”

They include radio talk mogul Bev Smith and Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, who will modify a town hall meeting, the opening event of the conference. Panelists will include Marc Morial, president/CEO National Urban League; Rev. Al Sharpton, president, National Action Network; Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., president, National Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Ben Jealous, the new president/CEO, NAACP; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, president, Bennett College for Women; Dr. Ronald Walters, Professor of government and politics, University of Maryland; Dr. Elsie Scott, president/CEO, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation: Dr. Iva E. Carruthers general secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.; Faya Rose Sanders, founder, Voting Rights Museum, Selma, Alabama; and, Dr. E. Faye Williams, president, National Congress of Black Women.

Minister Louis Farrakhan, Leader of the Nation of Islam, has also been invited as a panelist for the Town Hall Meeting.

Other activities will include a Damu Smith Leadership Development and Organizer Training Institute; Katrina policy roundtables; a special session on Haiti; a Pan-African policy forum; a Black Family Summit; and a wide range of issue-oriented work session and intergenerational dialogues.

“The Conference is timed to occur two weeks after an historic presidential election. While people of African descent are excited about the prospect of an Obama victory, most seasoned observers concur that a myriad of issues rooted in institutional racism and poverty will continue to plague Black people in America and the world whoever wins the White House,” says a statement issued by Daniels.

His sentiments reflect those of civil rights leaders who spoke at a ''Unity Breakfast'' during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

At that breakfast, civil rights icon Rev. Joseph Lowery - a chief supporter of Obama - declared that even if he is elected president, he must still be held accountable. ''Those of us who are called to speak truth to power, we don't care what color power is,'' Lowery told the applauding audience.

The issues at the State of the Black World Conference will not be contained to just Black America. Daniels says delegations of organizers across North and South America, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean are expected to attend.

“The failure of government to respond effectively to the tragedy of Katrina mirrors a failure to act in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. Millions of our people around the world suffer because of these failures of vision and will,” states conference committee chairman Rick Adams in a release. “SOBWC will be our political convention, a time to collectively embrace priority policy proposals to present to the new administration.”

The town hall meeting, to be held Nov. 20 at the Ernest Morial Convention Center, will focus on the theme, “The Black Agenda and the Presidential Election”. The overall conference theme will be “Return to the Source, Restoring Family, Rebuilding Community, Renewing the Struggle.”

Daniels, a veteran social and political activist, says a major goal of the conference is to focus national and international attention on New Orleans and the Gulf in support of the right to return of evacuees/displaced persons and their “heroic struggle to reclaim and rebuild their homes and neighborhoods.”

For more agenda information, call: 888-774-2921, email or visit

“It is crystal clear that massive public and private investments in people, families and communities is what is required to rebuild communities like New Orleans in America and the Pan African World,” Daniels says. “The only way that is going to happen is if there is a massive national and international movement anchored by institutions like IBW to demand social justice and social change. SOBWC will be a modest step in galvanizing such a movement.”

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