Vantage Point: A year of destiny for Africans in AmericaBy Ron Daniels
Published: January 3, 2013
Africans in America should be aware that 2013 is a year of great significance. It will mark the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Medgar Evers and the 50th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington.
The question is whether 2013 will be a year of superfluous commemorations, ceremonies and celebrations, or will it be a year of destiny
for Africans in America where we create new history? The recent State of the Black World Conference III was organized around the theme – State of Emergency in Black America: Time to Heal Black Families and Communities. We selected this theme to emphatically declare that we have yet to achieve the “dream” so brilliantly articulated by Martin Luther King, against the backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial a half century ago. Hence, the choice is clear, it is imperative that 2013 be a year of historical reflection on the deeds and events of the past as the foundation for concerted action to fulfill our destiny as a fully free and self-determining people in the U.S. and the world.
While reflecting on Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, we should be ever mindful of Lerone Bennett, Jr.’s, assertion that the 16th President of the United States was “forced into glory;” that his “greatness” is to be found not in his love of African people or his desire to abolish slavery but his steadfast and unwavering commitment to “save the union” with or without slavery. Moreover, the glorification of Lincoln obscures the fact that the Proclamation, which only “freed” some of the enslaved, was prompted by his recognition that Africans were already striking blows for our own freedom by deserting the plantations in droves.
Equally important, we must remember that “emancipation” and Reconstruction may have temporarily bestowed political rights but failed to provide that which formerly enslaved Africans needed most urgently — social rights, land, property, capital, reparations for the centuries of free labor which contributed mightily to the emergence of the American nation.
We were not and have not ever been paid restitution to repair the cultural, spiritual and physical damages done during the holocaust of enslavement.
As a consequence, a huge “wealth gap” persists between Euro-ethnics and Africans in America today – despite the fact that we have thousands of Black
elected officials and a Black family in the White House. The State of Emergency in Black America would be eliminated if the government were compelled to award reparations to the sons and daughters of Africa in America. One hundred and fifty years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, there must be a renewed demand for reparations.
If 2013 is to be more than a year of empty celebrations, Africans in America must muster the determination and rediscover a spirit of resistance required to heal Black families and communities. As Richard Allen, Booker T. Washington, the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Mary McLeod
Bethune, Madame C.J. Walker, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and numerous other leaders have taught, the first priority is to “do for self” – to utilize what we have in “our own hands” to empower African people to effectively advance a freedom/liberation agenda. With a trillion dollars in Black spending power, we must intensify the struggle to build and strengthen Black social and economic institutions as the first source of our empowerment and sustenance as a people. In this regard, the Institute of the Black World 21st Century unites with the goals of the Freedom 2013 Initiative spearheaded by the Rev. Dennis Dillon of New York. The goal of this Initiative is to
use the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation to galvanize Africans in America to amass our economic/financial resources for Black empowerment.
Faced with the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, Africans in America must decide that our destiny is in our hands.
Dr. Ron Daniels is president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and distinguished lecturer at York College City University of New York. Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at email@example.com.