Seize The Future
Part Sixty- Seven
Because there was widespread interest in our last article Two Motions Anti-violence and Anti-war Mass Movements. I’ve decided to publish another one of my old speeches, Seize the Future. It is a booklet that I produced that contains two speeches, Seize the Future and Struggling Against Madness. I hope that the interest and the love of history will encourage you to keep reading.
SEIZE the FUTURE
An Address By Rev. Herbert Daughtry
At a membership meeting of The Black United Front on February 6, 1979
“The immensity of our task, and the desperation of our situation, make it imperative for all Black men (and women) to assume responsibility for all Black people, for thirty million Black people, in everything they say and do. For if Blackness is worth talking about, if it is worth meeting about and shouting about, it is worth living. And the challenge we face now in the spirit of the united Black community to come.”*
*Lerone Bennett Jr, The Challenge of Blackness Johnson Publishing Co., 1972 p.56
A superficial reading of this topic, Seize the Future, would suggest a contradiction. To seize means to grasp firmly. The future points to a distance in time. How, then, can one firmly grasp what is, in fact, not present and yet like most things in life, the deeper we go the more we see the unity of all things. Peering, then, into the core of our subject, we discern that the future is the present and the present is the future. The harvest of tomorrow is in the seeds of today. What we do here now creates the future.
The thoughts we conceive will come back in our homes, our communities and even in the shape of ourselves. To seize the future is to think positively, creatively and act victoriously in the present and if the universal principle holds true, the future will be ours. On the other side, however, if we think failure, defeat and act cowardly, the future will be lost to us and to our children. It is an awesome responsibility we bear.
We have been called to this hour - some of us willingly and some of us against our wills - to challenge and defeat forces which my theological background constrains me to define as demonic. We have been called to act nobly and sacrificially in the face of overwhelming obstacles. We have been called to build a movement that will marshall the energies and the talents of our people. We have been called to build a new society. To repeat, the task is awesome.
Already, we have done some things for which we can feel proud. Some of the accomplishments of the Black United Front are listed on the Flyer distributed at the U.N. Rally on December 11, 1978.
We are an unusual gathering. Our ranks include socialists, atheists, religionists, professionals and nonprofessionals, bourgeois and proletarians. Looking at ourselves as we are, our call becomes all the more burdensome because we are no match for this enemy. But deeper than what we can see, more profound that what we can analyze is a dimension, an indefinable, intangible dimension. It is a dimension which all of us sense and feel in our best moments - a dimension which grows out of the Black soul - spiritual dimension which cannot be destroyed or defeated.
Since, then, what we do and think today will create our future, we are driven to ask, “What ought we to be about - as the Black United Front?” To ask that question is to raise another question. “What is the goal of the Black United Front?” Again, this line of questioning reveals the unity of life. While it is true that what we think and do today will create the future, it is equally true that what we believe about the future, our visions, will influence how we think and act today.
Our ultimate goal is to radically rearrange the present institutions of the American society and more specifically, to control the machinery of government and to make the resources of God’s earth available to all people equitably. And it is God’s earth for as the Bible states,
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” (2)
Even if we dismiss the theological, the cosmology brings us to the same conclusion because when our first parents arrived, the land was here and when our last parents depart, the land will still be here. Whether we believe that an intelligent being put it here or whether we believe that it was always here means the same thing - nobody owns anything. All of us are tenants. Some of us are stewards. All of us have a divine right or human right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and to actualize that idealism, it is imperative to share equally in the resources of the land and to participate in all of the decision making processes.
Thus, human governments are instituted but that the present American government does not deal fairly in spite of its rhetoric is painfully obvious. We see the deplorable conditions wherever we look whether to the local community where Black men are out of work to the tune of 40% , teenagers 70-80%; miseducation is the norm and police brutality and killings continue unabated - to the national scene where reactionary ferment proliferates, the Bakke decision, Property Tax Referendum or Proposition 13 so that the meager gains of yesterday are stamped out by the heavy hell of facism or whether we look to the international scene where the American government allows itself to be the tool of monopoly capitalism.
Henry Steele Commanger, testifying before the Senate Foreighn Relations Committee said some years ago in an eloquent indictment of the American government,
“ We think we are better than other nations and doubtless in some respects we are… Yet even in domestic affairs we have not been beyond criticism; when we speak, as we often do, of communist slavery we might remember that we retained legal slavery after other civilized nations had abandoned it.. We are distinctly parochial in our attitude toward expansionism, aggression, and imperialism… In the eyes of the 19th century world, the U.S. was preeminently an expansionist and aggressive nation,.. trebling our territory at the expense of France, Spain, Mexico and Britain. Our President, through the Monroe and Polk Doctrines, proclaimed American hegemony in the Western hemisphere. If China today should put on a show of this kind we might truly be alarmed…we claimed a vital interest in Cuba or a Chinese claim to vital interest in South Vietnam. We assert a sphere of influence in Southeast Asia. We feel justified in intervening in the domestic affairs of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic but would be surprised if Cuba intervened in Florida or Mexico or Texas. Our President called it a “dark day” when China exploded a nuclear bomb. We forgot that so far we are the only nation to use the atomic bomb in anger, though it might not be supposed that the Japanese have forgotten or tha the Chinese will forget our 17 years of implacable hostility or the Vietnamese, our bombing. We have allowed ourselves to drift into the position of champion of the status quo.. most of the world looks upon us today as the leading opponent of revolutionary change… The revolt of Asia and Africa against the West and the emergence into modernity of two-thirds of the world’s peoples is probably the greatest revolution since the discovery of America.” (3)
Thus, the American government has not promoted the interests of the masses of people either here or abroad.
The ultimate goal of the B.U.F. is to somehow, someway gain control of the government for the good of the people. It is a towering task and we must ask the question, “How can such a small number of men and women accomplish such an impossible goal?
How do you gain control of the government in the first place? You can buy it. You can steal it or you can take it. For us, we cannot buy it. We will not steal it. The only other option left then, is to take it. But what does that mean? Does it mean classic revolution? Shall we build an army without and infiltrate within?