New Black Paper seeks to call activists to action

Freddie Allen | 9/6/2013, 12:47 p.m.
“There is a ‘state of emergency’ without urgency in Black America,”
Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century talks about the IBW Black Paper project in Washington, D.C. Freddie Allen

“There is a ‘state of emergency’ without urgency in Black America,” writes Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century.

In a collection of essays and briefs, the IBW’s forthcoming Black Paper documents the progress – and lack of progress – made since the 1963 March on Washington and offers potential solutions to the problems afflicting Black America. The authors of the Black Paper say that the compilation is not an academic exercise, but “a call to action.”

Contributors recently discussed their findings at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington. The final product, A Deposit Was Made but the Check Still Bounced, is expected to be published next month and will be available on IBW’s website, http://www.ibw21.org.

Zachery Williams, coordinator of the IBW research consortium, and associate professor of history at the University of Akron in Ohio, said that the purpose of the IBW Black Paper was to suggest strategic directions for the future and to reignite movements for democracy and social change.

The title of the Black Paper is a takeoff of a section of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech. King said, “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, Black men as well as White men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

Williams explained, “Over the last 50 years, we argue that a deposit was made into the account by America, by providing relative ‘equality’ for some Black folks, but the check still bounced because it did not provide ‘equality’ for the overwhelming majority of Black folks.”

The collection examines the wealth gap, housing, education, health care, the criminal justice system and a number of key issues and recommended policy and stakeholder changes that would improve the lives of marginalized and poor Blacks in today’s society.

“We categorically reject the oft-repeated assertion that targeting conversation and analysis to Black people, or focusing on Black issues is politically incorrect in today’s ‘post-racial environment,’” the executive summary of the IBW Black Paper states.

It continued: “IBW regards such distorted thinking as fundamentally flawed and incorrect (whether it comes from Black folks, white folks or other folks) and calls on sober minded persons of all races to join us in this 50 year reflection, analysis and dialogue.”

According to the Black Paper, the 20th Century ushered in the migration of the Black community to the urban centers of America that accompanied a sharp distinction in classes among Blacks.