History of Conventions held to develop a National Black Agenda
At key junctures in history, since at least 1830, African American communities have held political conventions as a means to organize, focus on important issues, and demand effective action.
In 1972, several thousand African Americans, representing many different political persuasions, came together in Gary, Indiana for the National Black Political Convention. In addition to Black elected officials, who were automatically given delegate status, various states sent elected delegates to the convention. On the agenda of the convention were issues such as a national healthcare system, an urban-version of the Homestead Act, the Black United Front, a minimum wage, as well as the effective enforcement of anti-trust legislation. See IT’S NATION TIME: THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GARY NATIONAL BLACK POLITICAL CONVENTION.
In 2004, this press release announcing the National Black Agenda Conference in Boston was issued:
The vision for NBAC 2004 is to bring together people of African descent for a common purpose: To begin to develop a comprehensive agenda and action plan designed to address 21st-century issues and policies of significant importance to black people in the United States, as well as in other parts of the world. Plans also include developing winning strategies to organize and increase the number of black voters before critical national and regional elections in the fall, as well as this summer’s DNC in Boston and the Republican National Convention in New York City.
Among the growing number of supporters and participants are the National Black Caucus of State Legislators; the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials; the PanAfrican Council; Kenneth Gibson, first black Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; Congresswoman Barbara Lee, California; Richard G. Hatcher, first black Mayor of Gary Indiana, a host for the 1972 National Black Political Convention, and one of three co-conveners for NBAC 2004; and Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. The Honorable Richard Hatcher joins the Massachusetts-based co-conveners for NBAC 2004: Bill Owens, Massachusetts’ first black State Senator, and State Representatives Gloria Fox, Shirley Owens-Hicks, and Benjamin Swan. In addition to other politicians, they have invited business and community leaders, as well as citizens from around the country to add their voices to this important and timely dialogue. Participants will serve as presenters, facilitators, sponsors, vendors, advertisers, educational or community supporters, state delegates, and youth advocates.
At key junctures in American history, African American communities have hosted political conventions as a means to organize, focus on important issues, and demand effective action. The NBAC 2004 Committee is building this year’s convention on the success of previous black conventions. Outstanding among them are conventions in 1840 in Albany, NY; 1875 in New Orleans, LA; 1905 in Niagara, NY; and 1972 in Gary, IN.
The NBAC Committee is creating a platform for numerous voices to be heard and a showcase for diverse points of view, representing ideas formed from hub board rooms to farm caucuses. The conveners agree that the primary long-range goals are for the National Black Agenda Convention to become a permanent and stable organization hosting a national convention every other year, and for the action plan to become a catalyst for change across the country and around the world.
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Today, many of these issues remain relevant and unresolved. Others are coming into sharper focus. It is incumbent upon us to pick up the torch and carry on the mission to improve the lives of people of African descent. Our focus should be trained on empowering people who reside here in the Unites States, but also should address how America’s international policies impact people of color in other parts of the world.
This website, nationalblackagendaconsortium.org, represents an ongoing, evolving, and virtual ‘conference’ to develop a black agenda for today, one that is built by all of us, together.