“When the axe came into the forest, the trees said, ‘The handle is one of us.’” – Macedonian Axiom

A man came into a forest and asked the trees to provide him a handle for his ax. The trees consented to his request and gave him a young ash-tree. No sooner had the man fitted a new handle to his ax from it than he began to use it and quickly felled with his strokes the noblest giants of the forest.


The movement that began as The One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors, while aspirational as it rapidly moves toward its goal of one million members, is also dynamic as opposed to static. This movement is participatory and calls on all members to bring their talents to the table to “contribute” to its progress. In that vein, although there are a few rock-solid principles upon which the moment was established and built, not everything is written in stone and immune to critique and suggestions for improvement. The name of the movement is a perfect example.

Since 2005, when Dr. Claud Anderson’s group attempted to develop what he called Maroon City in Detroit, The One Million Movement has been through several iterations and has had several names. Beginning with “Bring Back Black,” coined by Bob Law in 2006, it became known as The Nationalist Black Leadership Council in 2007; in that same year, it changed to The Nationalist Black Leadership Coalition in an effort to illustrate openness and inclusion rather than the perception of a small esoteric group.

Added to the NBLC was the acronym “POBA,” which meant President of Black America, a champion for Black folks who would work for and be paid by Black people, advocate for Black causes and be totally accountable to Black people. That concept was shelved because it was obvious to Black people that Barack Obama had a good chance of being elected, and most of our attention was focused on helping him become the “first Black President.” From 2008 until 2013, the core group of “conscious” Blacks continued their individual work in their locales and waited for the opportune time to get busy once again.

After getting back together and revving up our Black empowerment engines again, we named the movement “One Million Conscious Black Voters and Contributors” and began to recruit members, many of whom are some of the brightest minds among our people. Several months had passed when one of our members, Sister Shandra Witherspoon, who has been a teacher for many years, proposed an additional word to our name: Conscientious. We also moved “Contributors” ahead of “Voters” to show more emphasis on economics versus politics.

I can hear some of you saying, “But the name is long enough, Jim. Why add yet another word to it?” I understand, but it is very important to The One Million that you know exactly what we stand for, and if it takes a longer than usual name to describe it, so be it. Compared to names of other Black organizations, there is no trying to figure out what The One Million represents.

We know that consciousness is not enough to cause some of our people to act upon their beliefs. It’s not enough just to be “conscious,” which means “aware, awake and knowledgeable.” We must also be “conscientious,” which means, “… governed by conscience; controlled by or done according to one’s inner sense of what is right; principled.”

Being conscientious causes a conscious person to take appropriate action to solve the problems of which he or she is well aware and knowledgeable. A large part of our problem as Black people is that many of us are “Rapolutionaries,” “Radio Activists,” Political Pontificators,” “Afrocentricksters,” “Hotep Hustlers,” “Pulpit Pacifists” and “Barber Shop Rhetoricians.” None of those classifications actually move us forward; they only keep us on a conversational treadmill.

THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters, because we know that everything black (small “b”) ain’t Black (capital “B”), has added another level of consciousness to our name. We are looking for “Conscientiously Conscious” Black people who are not only aware, but willing to work on and “contribute” their skills, knowledge and treasure to solving our problems and bringing solutions to fruition.

What’s in a name? A great deal when it comes to The One Million. So, if you are one who say, “Your name is too long,” take some time to analyze that name and see if it fits your personal agenda for Black empowerment. If it does, and you are a “Conscientiously Conscious” Black person, then join The One Million and get to work with members in 42 states throughout the country. And when you write your check, just make it out to OMCCBCV – the short name.

Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce.

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