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The House of the Lord Church where Black Political Power and Culture was Born and Nurtured Part 10

Creating a Movement, Empowering People, and Perpetuating a Memory

Revisiting New York Local Black United Front


One of the major rallies that we held was the March on City Hall in September 1978.


We organized countless cultural awareness programs, rallies, seminars, and lecture series. The most eminent scholars in the country participated in our lecture series, including Cornel West, Ivan Van Sertima, John Henrik Clarke, James Cone, and Gayraud Wilmore.


In July 1978, we organized the Arthur Miller Community Patrol, with the motto: “To serve, share, and protect the community in times of siege and crises.” The Patrol was ably led by long-time activist Yusef Iman, now deceased, who had served as security for Malcolm X. Eventually, Kobie Ransom and Weusi Iman, Yusef’s younger brother, assumed responsibility for the patrol.


Our Police Investigation Unit, organized as an arm of BUF, investigated, monitored, and kept the public informed about police behavior. Dave Walker was appointed coordinator, and later he started his own private investigation agency.


While we viewed all our efforts as related to political empowerment, there were some things that proved more directly political. In addition to working for candidates, we engaged in voter registration and education drives. We also organized political conventions to educate and analyze issues and candidates and to elect candidates. Candidates running for any office eagerly sought our endorsement.


In September 1978, we ran our own slate of candidates:


  • Stanley Clarke, Assemblyman, 43 AD

  • Katie Davis, Female District Leader, 57 AD

  • Bernard Gifford, U.S. Congress, 14 CD

  • Andrew Gill, Male District Leader, 53 AD

  • Roger Green, Male District Leader, 57 AD

  • Horace Greene, Assemblyman, 59 AD

  • Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblywoman, 57 AD

  • Sam Pinn Jr., State Senator, 18 SD

  • Annette Robinson, Female District Leader, 56 AD

  • Albert Vann, Male District Leader and Assemblyman, 56 AD


Except for incumbents Al Vann and Annette Robinson, I regret to say that all these candidates lost. However, in 1991, Annette Robinson ran in the 36th Councilmanic District and won. In 1983, Velmanette Montgomery ran in the 18th Senatorial District and won. In 1981, Roger Green ran in the 57th Assembly District and won.


From 1977 to 1986, the organizations associated with BUF and the movements emanating from it were at the center of the most crucial issues in the city. The Front was not only influential in shaping the life and direction of the city but, through the National Black United Front (NBUF), exerted influence on national and international issues as well.


National Black United Front


In 1981, the second NBUF Convention was held at Boys and Girls High School, in Brooklyn, where we ratified the permanent constitution after a debate at the four regional conventions held during the year. This was historic. It was perhaps the first time any organization’s beginning was so widely debated, thus exemplifying democracy at its highest.


The FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO initiative had created a climate of distrust among Black organizations, turning them into warring camps. But NBUF, perhaps because of its unique constitutional ratification process, marked the first time these factions, along with more moderate and conservative groups, came together to build a truly representative, national Black movement. Participating groups included:


All African People’s Revolutionary Party

Black Panther Party

Institute for Positive Education

League of Revolutionary Struggle

NAACP (chapter levels)

Nation of Islam

Republic of New Afrika

US


The Convention elected offices for a two-year term:

Rev. Herbert Daughtry, National Chairperson

Ron Herndon, National Secretary, and Western Regional Coordinator

Florence Walker, National Treasurer, and Eastern Region Coordinator

Jitu Weusi, National Coordinator

Alfred “Skip” Robertson, Southern Regional Coordinator

Rev. Charles Koen, Midwest Regional Coordinator


The importance of NBUF was that it added a deeper dimension to the social, political, and revolutionary struggle of people of African Ancestry. More importantly, NBUF was the only national mass-based, independent, progressive, nationalist, pan-Africanist, radical, revolutionary organization in the United States of America at that time, perhaps at any time.


I remained chairperson until my resignation in 1984. Dr. Conrad Worrill of Chicago is the current chairperson.

***


Overall, without controversy, Pinn, Weusi, Vann, and I made, and still continue to make a significant impact on our world. What we accomplished is far greater than anything any one of us could have done individually.`


After 1982, our group no longer met, as the responsibilities of our successes became quite demanding. For example, my election as Chair of NBUF necessitated a rigorous travel schedule. Then, too, there are my duties at The House of the Lord Church. Pinn, in addition to his professorship at Ramapo College, created the Fort Greene Senior Citizens Center, which sponsors a variety of social services programs. Weusi had the responsibilities of The East and its school, Uhuru Sasa Shule. Vann, one of the most popular and powerful elected officials throughout the state of New York, continues to inspire his organization of Black elected officials in Brooklyn.


Inarguably, we achieved our objectives:



  • Perpetuating a Memory Randolph Evans’ memory is still alive and will ever remain so as more and more college-bound students receive the scholarship in his name.

  • Creating a Movement As demonstrated, the movement we created had an enormous impact on so many people, organizations, programs, events, etc. around the world that it is impossible to assess the full extent.

  • Political/Economic Empowerment While we are a long way from political and economic empowerment commensurate with our numbers, we are undoubtedly far better off today than we were in 1977, at least potentially so. What we do with it is another question.


The activity we generated put us in a scoring position and helped to place people in positions where they can drive the runs in. Future years will reveal the extent to which we took advantage of the opportunities we created.


To be continued…

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