[African American Empowerment: The Action Plan]
Black people contribute over $1 trillion to the US economy every year but have no substantial economic or political power and there-in lies the obvious reason why Black communities are super-saturated with fast food eateries, discount stores, hair and beauty shops and other money siphoning establishments.
To help combat this injustice, an Action Plan to turn Black spending power into political power was unveiled by the National Leadership Council on Tuesday, at a community meeting held at The First Church of God in Christ, located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Bob Law, former Radio talk show host and Political Activist was the spokesperson for the National Leadership Council. He called for a commitment from the packed church, to hold on to their dollars and turn them back to Black institutions in our community which are doing positive things.
“Nation wide polls seem to indicate that people are not only fired up because of the Florida, Trayvon Martin verdict, but also because of the pattern of injustice demonstrated throughout the various government systems,” Law said. “We must use the leverage we have. We spend over a trillion dollars but our communities are in shambles. We outspend every other ethnic group. The late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell said that we must use what is in our hands and what is in our hands is a trillion Black dollars.”
Leadership coalition member and the Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, Reverend Calvin Butts III, said: “We must use our strength and power which lies in our spending .” He referred to the Montgomery Bus Boycott of the 1960s “where people did not ride the bus but made sacrifices and walked with others who sought justice.”
“If African Americans stopped buying certain daily newspapers, the owners would lose significant revenue”, he continued, “their margin of profit would change, nobody knows about the strength of the Black churches. Adam Powell said, ‘not burn baby burn, but earn baby earn’. When you accumulate economic strength, you gain respect. We have no more Black media, but we have ourselves, we can spread the word through our civic organizations”.
There are six times as many fast food restaurants in Black communities as they are in other ethnic communities. Eighty percent of the processed foods in the US are already banned in other countries. KFC, Burger King and others, put no resources in our Black communities. Attendees were asked to hold back their Burger and Fries monies and donate them to Black institutions such as Sankofa International Academy, an Afri-centric school which is saving and nurturing future generations.
Ollie McClean, Director of Sankofa, spoke of the need to educate our children with an education rooted in self knowledge so that future generations can break away from the bad customs ingrained by the atrocities of enslavement.
She cited the current state of public and charter schools which are failing our children: “When out of a trillion dollar income Blacks spend 321 million on books and 7.4 Billion on hair and hair products something is wrong with our priorities, the re-education of the miss-educated is paramount.
Attendees included community icon, the Reverend Herbert C. Oliver, known for his involvement in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and standing up to Police Commissioner Bull Connors in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights struggle; Candidate for city council in the 36 District, Rev. Conrad Tillard; Bishop Gerald Seabrook of First Church of God in Christ; Robert Cornegy, District Leader 56AD and others with community and political influence.
A circulated “Open Letter to the Black Community” seems to sums up the event’s purpose:
“The coalition is urging Black people to use our own money more strategically, like every other ethnic group. For we can turn Black consumer spending into real political power if we target and control our spending. Therefore, let’s make where we spend our money a political decision. Let’s begin by cutting back on spending in industries and local businesses that receive so many Black dollars, while giving so little back”.
A word to the wise is enough.