The continuation of the History of NBUF
The National Black United Front Speech
44th Annual Conference, Healthy Village Learning Institute
McKeesport Pennsylvania- July 7th 2023
Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry Sr.
Theme: Freedom and Unity
The subject before me is freedom and unity which is the theme of this year's 44th conference. To have unity we must agree on the goal. What is our goal? If we had our wish, if we could work magic today, what is it that we would say we want. What would be our goal? We say we want unity but how can there be unity unless we are clear on our goal. We say we want freedom, but is that the goal or a means toward the goal?
Is that an objective or a goal? Let me distinguish between an objective and a goal. An objective may be what you do to get to your goal. Let's me explain, I think much misunderstanding is directly related to our confusion let me set the record straight on whether a particular activity or action is a goal or an objective.
Is freedom a goal or an objective? What does it mean when we say we want freedom? Do we mean we want freedom of mobility, to come and go as we please, where we please or how we please. And what restrictions are we going to place on our movements? We live in a world with other humans like ourselves. And even among us we may not always agree on our freedoms. Your freedom may restrict my movements, your freedom may interfere with my mobility.
Likewise, the same thing would apply to all our actions. What you want to do requires restrictions if you plan to live in this world, unless you have enough money to live on an island by yourself like Robinson Caruso. But even so he had to depend on others for various kinds of things. So, in a sense you are not completely alone without others around you that caters to your needs. Hence, since we are going to live with others there is something else and more required than freedom.
The American Constitution and Bill of Rights layout for us the governing of our freedoms. Yes, they say this is a free country. The 13th 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States provided for our freedom from slavery, our citizenship and political rights. And there is the Bill of Rights which spells out freedom of speech, religion, etc. Since we are going to live with others, we must have rules and regulations and laws that have to be made to govern our behavior and actions.
During the Civil Rights days when the country was in turmoil around the rights, especially the rights of People of African Ancestry Rights (POAA), Billy Graham the world-famous holy man and evangelist, was asked about segregation and discrimination and about the rights of (POAA), he replied “you cannot legislate morals.” Yes, that is true, Mr. Graham, but a government must legislate action! It must govern the people's behavior or else it will dissipate or come apart in revolutions.
Now we are talking about government. No matter whatever numbers or organizations, when we think of more than one person you have to be thinking of how you're going to live together.
NBUF has a constitution. We agreed to be together and write a constitution. Hence from the smallest to the largest gathering there must be a government, to restrict or govern our behavior. If everybody got what everybody wanted, we would not have a government we would have fragmentation and chaos and perpetual hostility and war/fighting. So, when we talk about living together in any kind of gathering, we're talking about government. There is no such thing as laissez faire or do as you please, living together.
Since we're talking about our people or people of African Ancestry, are we talking about a world government or an individual country where we or any people have their freedom with their own government alone. I think not. There will be a difference within and among other countries for the reality is more than ever before in history, we live in one world house. In the words of John Donne,
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Or in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
“We shall all live together as brothers or die as fools.”
After saying all that, to talk of freedom of a people we must be talking about government, some form of governing to control or restrict our behavior.
What kind of government do we want? What type of system will we want? Is it Fascism? Democracy? Socialist? Communist? or a combination of these. Or Socialist Communist, meaning economically socialist politically democratic. Someone has said, “we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” I think it was Abraham Lincoln. But what people? Our people, that is POAA? Euro Ethnic people? Chinese people? or are we talking about a whole world - the human family.
I'm not here to tell you what government NBUF should have, but you have asked me to talk about Unity and to talk of Unity, as I forestated, there must be a goal. Unity around freedom to do what and live how? Which brings us back to government. Originally when we started NBUF, we defined our goal as to get control of government for the people. We stated some of the things we would do to get there, which were our objectives. So, we had a wide range of objectives in various cities, 35 when I was Chair. Thus, we did not have discord over objectives and goals.
The next question, if we were defining our goal as a government, what form of governing, how do we get to our goal. To ask that question raises the question of objectives as I have stated. What you do to achieve your goal. It may be necessary to achieve any number of objectives, similar to steppingstones. You may go from one steppingstone to another stepping stone, but your goal is not to stop, you're simply using the stepping stones to get to your goal.
It is right here where so much disunity has occurred. We confuse objectives with goals. Even Malcolm, at least to my knowledge, never expressed the difference between objective and goals. Again, let me be clear, a goal is the ultimate end result or the reason for all of your actions. To repeat, objectives are what we do to get to our goals. You may do different things at different times in different places. This means we are allowed to do different things given where we live and the time in which we live. As long as we are consistent with our goal and recognize we are doing these things to get to our goal.
Principle of Unity (NBUF)
Now there is another piece to Unity and Freedom. It is principle, not what we are trying to do or get but how we are going to go about getting it. What principles will govern, dictate, how we behave or act within our organization or among our people and in relation to other people. Are we only going to have principles among ourselves (NBUF Principal of Unity)? Are we going to coalesce with other groups to achieve our objective or goal? When we started NBUF there were Euro Ethnics who wanted to be a part of our struggle. We believed that they were sincere. But we thought it would be a contradiction to have Euro Ethnics in our organization. But we could embrace a Euro Ethnic support group. We were careful that they did not assume leadership, not even when we had Marches or Rallies. That, it seemed to me, is one of the non-negotiable principles of the Black Power movement and maybe one of the reasons it was initiated. We wanted to control our own Liberation struggle, our own organizations, our own programs and our own projects. There is a quote that says, “You can’t be free if people let you be free.” We wanted to be self-reliant, independent, but that did not mean we reject coalescing with others as long as they understood our principle.
Next week we will discuss what is doable?