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Saturday, February 26, 2005

The State of the Black Union 2005

The first state of the black union panel

State of the Black Union 2005: Road to Health™ and Defining the African American Agenda
Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente

SOBU 2005 Program Guide

Join Tavis Smiley, Tom Joyner and thirty-five fhe o America’s Black thought leaders, educators, public policy makers, religious leaders, opinion makers and community organizers for two in-depth discussions, Road to Health™, and Defining the African American Agenda. The morning discussion, Road to Health™, is the kickoff to Tavis’ health and wellness expo and spotlights health and the health care crisis in America, its disproportionate effects on the African American community and what individual steps we can take towards better health. The afternoon discussion, Defining the African American Agenda, sets the stage to establish a new direction on how the Black community effects social and political change.

Invited speakers include (partial list):

Marian Wright Edelman, The Children’s Defense Fund
Julian Bond, NAACP
Theodore Shaw, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
Harry Belafonte, Actor & Activist
Bishop Eddie L. Long
Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Senator-Elect Barack Obama
Marc Morial, National Urban League
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
Reverend Al Sharpton, National Action Network
Dr. David Satcher, Former US Surgeon General
Dr. Benjamin Carson, Johns Hopkins Hospital
Jackie-Joyner Kersee, Olympic Gold Medalist and Athlete
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Cathy Hughes, Radio One
Dr. Cornel West, Princeton University
Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Harvard University

State of the Black Union 2005, Morning Session
State of the Black Union 2005, Afternoon Session

OK, I tripped across this on CSPAN this afternoon and was captivated. The program is available on Real Player and will be broadcast tonight from eight o'clock on.

Bob Johnson's little sucker the negroes meeting was an attempt to forestall the work of his former employee, Tavis Smiley. Smiley decided he could make more money elsewhere and promote a black agenda not tempered by greed.

I know some of you folks are worried that the GOP might make inroads into the black community, but after watching this, the real intellectual heart of black America, you should be ready to listen and help, but worry should be off your agenda.

The people listed there aren't reformed criminals, but some of the best and brightest of America. They aren't speaking in some white think tank, but in a black church, bought, maintained and run by black people. They didn't need to beg their patrons for space and time, and white people didn't fill the tiny audience. This was a conversation between black Americans and it's one which everyone should hear. Unlike a dry symposium, the intellectuals here actually engage each other, respectfully.

The goal of the forum was to create a "Contract with Black America". The sellout ministers have created a suimilar docunment, but relies on GOP sponsorship to do things like renefenchise felons.

Of course, the irony of Kaiser and McDonald's sponsoring a discussion on black health is, of course, humorous.

Several panelists, including both Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, condemned the anti-gay bigotry that some ministers have embraced. Jesse Jackson was especially derisive of those who "found more comfort with wite evangelicals than black leadership". They made the point clearly that we had other issues to deal with and that this was a distraction created to hide those issues.

What isn't widely realized is that Tavis Smiley and Tom Joyner are the leading media figures in black America. If you live in a city where Joyner is on the air, you would do well to listen to him to understand black politics.

The thing about this forum was that ideas there should cause all politically active democrats to think about what they can offer voters. The two parts of the afternoon are 4 hours long, but it is both funny and intelligent.

At one point, the pastor of the church, Bishop Eddie Long, was chided for going to the White House. While no one was disrespected, the panelists made it clear that they were not happy with him going and sticking to Bush's agenda.

While most whites have long ago written off Louis Farrakhan, in that black audience, he was accorded tremendous respect. Not because of his rantings, but because he is uncompromising in his stand in support of black people. The same applies to Sharpton as well. The lack of appreciation whites have for him only increases his stature. But of course, the main key to his success with audiences, is that he can speak very well.

A lot of ground was covered and you need to see it to get the breath and depth of it.

But let me put it this way, the range of political discussion had Farrakhan on the far left and Former Detriot mayor Dennis Archer on the right. Which is still a room full of liberals.

In the second panel, Cory Booker was included as well as AARP President Marie Smith, as well as Jesse Jackson. Jackson went after the homophobic ministers immediately, ridiculing them. The second panel, hosted by Court TV host Michael Brown, also included Keith Boykin, an openly gay man who's just written a book: Beyond the Down Low.

What is so important about this is that these statements were made, live on TV, in a large Baptist Church to refute the idea that a few bigots can speak for a diverse, educated community. And it was clear that the majority of people would not tolerate these folks being held up as role models, because they don't speak for black America.

If you want to find out who does, watch the show on C-SPAN or hit the link.

posted by Steve @ 7:12:00 PM

7:12:00 PM

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