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The Millions More Movement: Repairing Ourselves and the World
By: Ramona Edelin and Maulana Karenga
Special to the NNPA, Co-Chairs of Millions More Movement Issues Agenda
Originally posted 10/12/2005

The catastrophic disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina and aggravated by Hurricane Rita of necessity forms a central focus of our concerns and active commitment as we continue to organize the Millions More March and build the Millions More Movement. For it intensifies the urgency of our efforts to organize our people into a self-conscious force that has as its overarching goal repairing ourselves and the world.

We mourn the lives of those who died and we stand in solidarity with the survivors who struggle to repair and rebuild their lives. The great loss of life, the numerous injuries, the disruption of families, the massive displacement of persons, and the tremendous devastation of communities make it a natural disaster of unprecedented proportion in U.S. history. We are called and compelled to respond to it in an equally unprecedented and effective manner.

Moreover, we are profoundly concerned about how this great natural disaster was compounded by an unconscionable degree of human negligence and neglect by the federal, state and local authorities.
We see the devastation and the way it was handled as a microcosm of a larger disaster going on for decades without official acknowledgement. It is the progressive impoverishment and disempowerment of the people and their resultant increased suffering. It involves the continued privatization of public resources and tax policies in the interest of the rich and at the expense of the poor, the cutting of funds for vital human services, the unjustifiable sacrifice of human life and the waste of vital and needed resources in unjust and immoral wars, and the curtailment of freedom and the official cultivation of fear and hatred against different other peoples in this country and the world.

We praise our people, victims and survivors, for their courage, strength and resilience in the face of such immense and overwhelming devastation and the gross failure of the various levels of government to serve and save them; for their kindness, compassion and consideration toward each other, and their high level of order in a chaotic situation without adequate provisions or official protection or monitoring.

We take note that this contrasts sharply with the incorrect, stereotyped and biased mainstream media reports of rape, robbery and rampage which the media recently conceded were not true. We call for a more objective, better researched, truthful and less racialized interpretation and report of the news.

We take note particularly of how race and class determined who was able to escape, drowned, rescued or left behind. And we also note how already the rebuilding and opportunities for participation and benefit are also organized around race and class lines. This is neither just nor justifiable and must be reorganized in a more equitable and rightful way.

We praise also the national African-descended community for its swift response and commitment to action, its outpouring of aid on every level from a wide range of groups, organizations, institutions, professions and persons, demonstrating a profound community commitment to caring, generosity, service and social justice. And we also extend thanks to other persons, groups of good will and the international community for their concern and donations and active commitment.

Like so many others, the co-conveners, organizers and supporters of the Millions More Movement have been both collectively and separately engaged in sustained efforts to respond effectively to the needs and aspirations of the victims and survivors of this awesome catastrophe.

Among the many activities we have been engaged in are: organizing and sending transportation for evacuation and relocation; sending monies, goods and materials for immediate and ongoing needs; mobilizing groups, persons and resources to aid in the rescue, relief and recovery efforts; aiding in relocation of displaced persons and providing relocation assistance, opening our homes, churches, mosques, temples and schools to those displaced; and planning with others principles and practices to monitor and hold accountable agencies responsible for relief, and recovery efforts.

To heal and repair the lives and living space of the survivors, working with others, we call for a political, policy-based process which commits itself to: guarantee the right of return of the people and facilitate its exercise; provide resources and ways to reunite families; open up and fund the occupation of all available housing in New Orleans for returnees; provide medical and remedial services for survivors; insure local participation in planning to rebuild; give priority of jobs, job training, contracts and economic initiatives to survivors; pay prevailing wages to all workers and rescind waiver of Davis Bacon Act; initiate a massive public works program and job training for those who need and request it; drop the charges and expunge records of all those held on non-violent charges and convictions so that they can return to rebuild their lives; protect and preserve the environment; and form structure(s) of accountability which include effective local representation to monitor and insure equity and justice in the rebuilding relief and recovery processes.
Moreover, in building the Millions More Movement, we seek to harness the tremendous outpouring of energy, activism and sense of urgency and commitment directed toward rescue, relief and recovery efforts and use it to build permanent structures and practices which strengthen us and house and advance our aspirations as a people. For we know that we are our own liberators and must struggle to free ourselves and secure justice ourselves if freedom and justice are to be truly ours.

Individuals nor organizations can effect change of the scale required one by one – but in our millions, acting in operational unity, we can put our agreed-upon agenda in place.

Surely, the March and the Movement are needed now more than ever. For we must together build the good and sustainable world we all want and deserve to live in and pass on to our children and future generations. To build a movement is to harness structures and direct towards good and expansive ends the energies, ideas and practices of the people. Towards these ends we have established priority areas of focus and work: unity, spiritual and ethical grounding, family, education, health, economic development, housing, political power, reparations, the justice system and prison industrial complex, artistic and cultural development, and peace.

We call for unity in the family, community, and world African community. We uphold the principle of operational unity—unity in diversity and unity without uniformity. We also call for unity with other peoples of color and progressive peoples in this ongoing historical struggle.

We call for recognition of the indispensability of spiritual and moral grounding in accomplishing the historical task before us, living the best of our various faith traditions ourselves and encouraging our faith communities to participate fully in the struggles of our people to bring and sustain good in the world.

We call for the reaffirmation and strengthening of the Black family through quality male/female relations based on principles of equality, complementarity, mutual respect and shared responsibility in love, life and struggle; and through loving and responsible parenthood that insists on discipline and achievement, and provides spiritual, moral and cultural grounding; through the sustaining and establishment of extended family relationships; and through expanding rites of passage programs, mentorships, and increasing adoptions.

We call for quality and relevant education, an African-centered education, that is culturally and ethically grounded, family and community supportive and supported, world encompassing, and which stresses mastery of knowledge, critical thinking, academic excellence, social responsibility and an expanded sense of human possibility.

We call for policies, personal, family, and social practices supportive of the health and wholeness of African people; demanding an end to the blatant disparity in health care and services for our people; and intensifying and broadening the education of our people on preventive medicine, regular exams, testing, healthy dietary practices, exercise, safe and responsible sexual practices and avoidance of habits and practices which are dangerous, disabling and deadly.

We call for job-creating economic development which aims at economic and entrepreneurial parity, which is undergirded by principles of economic justice and an end to predatory practices, encourages financial discipline and responsibility, stipulates uses of our buying power and economic leverage, withholding or giving support where necessary, supports reparations, and cultivates a culture of giving and investment within the Black community.

We call for the establishment of a National Housing Corps that will work to eliminate all sub-standard housing in the United States, make increasing the stock of affordable housing a priority, use targeted mortgage programs and subsidies to offset market rate issues as incentives for constructing lower-cost housing, build temporary housing shelters for victims of disasters and as homes for the homeless, and create small contractor construction group consortia throughout the nation.

We call for the ongoing pursuit of and positive use of political power through establishing and institutionalizing a progressive Black agenda, on the national and international level, demanding and cultivating the highest level of leadership, registering and voting in large numbers, supporting and voting for candidates who embrace our agenda, holding officials accountable, communicating our positions to officials, organizations and the media, and building and sustaining politically and financially a progressive network of activist organizations.

We call for reparations in the fullest sense; a massive healing and repair of the grave and gross injuries of a whole people as a result of the Holocaust of enslavement and its continuing effects. This would include public dialog, public admission of Holocaust—a morally monstrous act of genocide which is a crime against humanity, public apology, public recognition through monuments and education, compensation of various kinds, and establishment of corrective measures to end this grave injury and to prevent its reoccurrence. As an important initiative we call for support of the Conyers Bill HR 40. We take note that we are significantly self-healed in the process of our struggle for justice and reparations.

We call for a massive challenge to the justice system and prison industrial complex, demanding the revocation of discriminatory mandatory minimum sentences and the freedom of all political prisoners. We encourage elected officials to take up the issues of the “new slavery” of unpaid labor in the penal system, of discrimination in arrests and sentencing, and of political imprisonment and prisoners’ rights. And we call for an end to police brutality, racial profiling and all forms of police abuse.

We call for an increased responsibility and accountability from our artists and entertainers, industry personnel and executives; including engaging in creative activities which are dignity affirming and free of stereotypical caricatures of the racist mind, struggling to eliminate negative media approaches to and portrayals of Black life and culture; organizing a sustained and effective support for positive models, messages and works; achieving adequate and dignified representation of Blacks in various media and in various positions in these media; and expanding support for and development of independent Black media.

Finally, we call for a just and enduring peace in and for the world. It is a position which evolves from the ancient and ongoing tradition of our ancestors which teaches us to respect life, love justice, cherish freedom and uphold the right of all people to be self-determining and free from conquest, occupation, domination and other forms of oppression. We also call for peace and non-injury within our community so that peace truly embraces us and the whole world.

There is a profound sense that the designs of heaven and the demands of history have brought us to this moment in our essential and overarching efforts to repair ourselves and the world. We intend in this Movement not only to end our oppression, but to push our lives forward and forge a good future for our children.

Our goal is to reconstruct our Movement, to re-establish a critical mass of change agents who will act together to implement our agenda. As we said in the Million Man March/Day of Absence Mission Statement, 1995, we also do this work so we will “always know and introduce ourselves to history and humanity as a people who are spiritually and ethically grounded; who speak truth, do justice, respect our ancestors and elders, cherish, support and challenge our children, care for the vulnerable, relate rightfully to the environment, struggle for what is right and resist what is wrong, honor our past, willingly engage our present and self-consciously plan for and welcome our future.”

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