Fifty years ago Amiri Baraka, the poet and activist began organizing the nation’s first National Black Political Convention along with Gary, Indiana Mayor Richard Hatcher, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, and Congressman Charles C. Diggs Jr. Held in Gary, Indiana Marcy 10-12, 1972, the convention gathered around ten thousand African-Americans to discuss and advocate for Black communities that undergo significant economic and social crisis. Part of their goal was to increase the number of Black politicians elected to office, increase representation, and create an agenda for fundamental change.
On December 1, 2021, Amiri Baraka’s son, Ras Baraka, the poet, activist and mayor of Newark, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba of Jackson, Mississippi, Jazz and R&B Legend James Mtume and New Jersey Institute of Technology President Dr. Joel Bloom, held a press conference to announce the 2022 National Black Political Convention in Newark, New Jersey at NJIT August 4 – August 7, 2022.
“It is timely to have a real discussion about some of the issues we have been grappling with – and real debate. This conference will humbly try to launch that. Whether people believe it, understand it, feel like it or not, we are also a part of this country. It is just as much ours as anyone else’s.” said Baraka.
Lumumba noted that many of the issues people of color face today are what he called “cycles of humiliation.” Within these cycles, he said, issues come to light as high-crime rates, underperforming school systems and failing infrastructure. “It is critical for us to come together at this time, in this moment, to talk about how we establish unity,” said Lumumba. Five decades after the first National Black Political Convention, organizers of the 2022 convention seek to fill gaps and address the needs of Black people with a collective agenda, building on the work of those who came before.
Baraka detailed, “As the 2022 gathering approaches, we will purposefully meet in small groups to discuss a variety of topics, including public policy, criminal justice, economic empowerment, mental and emotional wellness, religious and spiritual health, and the importance of the cultural arts in our daily lives.”
For more information about the National Black Political Convention, visit www.nbpc2022.com.