Malcolm X characterized Black people as politically dead footballs thrown in a game played between conservatives and liberals. White liberals mastered the science of being an ally; i.e., posing as the friend of Black people and promising token gestures to win their allegiance whereas White conservatives were overt in their disdain of Black people. In his autobiography, Malcolm explains that this political arrangement had Black people confined to ghettos, living for mere survival, and unable to aspire to higher ambitions in life.
In the speech, “The Ballot Or The Bullet” hosted by King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan on April 12, 1964, Malcolm X urged Black people around the country to understand the urgency of their social, political, and economic standing. Malcolm argued, they had to absolutely “know what part politics play in their lives.”
An exciting new political conference took place in Westchester County, Saturday, February 10th, the Westchester Black Political Convention (WBPC). The WBPC recognizes that our county has become both a more diverse yet unequal county. To be recognized as one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, policymakers face the urgent challenge of confronting growing wealth gaps by race and ethnicity.
The goal of Westchester Black Political Convention is to create a more equitable and secure future for communities of color through public policy. They believe, we must shift away from public policies that fuel and exacerbate racial disparities in wealth, housing, education, economic development and criminal justice and mobilize our community to endorse and employ public policies that empower communities of color.
Just under 100 community stakeholders, politicians, residents and members of several organizations such as the White Plains/Greenburgh, Peekskill, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Spring Valley, Nyack and New Rochelle branches of the NAACP, WESPAC, The Urban League of Westchester, Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Nonviolence, Westchester Coalition For Police Reform, LHVPAN, Westchester Corrections Association, Westchester/Rockland Guardians Association, League of Women Voters, Peekskill Board of Education, The Nation of Islam, Indivisible Westchester, Indivisible New Rochelle, Indivisible NY, EffectNY, Westchester Chapter of The National Association of Black Social Workers, Westchester Children’s Association just to name a few gathered at the WESPAC Office located at 77 Tarrytown Rd in White Plains to take part in the historical gathering.
Elected officials in attendance included, County Legislators Lyndon William (13th District), Alfreda Williams (8th District) and David Tubiolo (14th District), and Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. All elected officials were invited.
The Westchester Black Political Convention is born out of the idea of the historical first National Black Political Assembly (NBPA), formerly known as the Gary Convention that was held on March 10, 1972, in Gary Indiana. The NBPA 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 raise the number of black politicians elected to office, increase representation, and create an agenda for fundamental change.
The event consisted of two panels discussions that spoke on four policy issues; economic development, education, public policy and community engagement and a keynote address from Dr. Lenora Fulani, the first woman and first African-American in U.S. history to appear as a presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. Dr. Fulani’s political concerns include the development of youth programs serving minority communities, racial equality and political reform.Panelists included Dr. Abdul Hafeez Muhammad (Eastern Representative of the Nation of Islam), Lena Anderson (President, White Plains/ Greenburgh NAACP), Ms. Sorraya E. Sampson (President and CEO of the Urban League of Westchester), Dr. Robert Baskervill (President, RISEUP) and Jumaane Williams (Councilman 45th District, Brooklyn), moderated by Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., on the first panel. The second panel consisted of Dr. David Holder (Founder, Senior Pastor, New York Covenant Church), André Wallace (Councilman, Mount Vernon, New York), Christopher A. Johnson (County Legislator 16th District), and Minista Jazz (Activist, organizer and Political Strategist), moderated by Damon K. Jones.
Watch the Westester Black Political Conference in its entirety below.
The conference which was standing room only was a call to action,
“We’re not meeting just to meet anymore,” Tasha D Young one of the conference organizers tells the crowd. “We’re putting actions behind what we want and we’re going to hold people accountable until we get it.”
For more information or to become a member of the Westchester Black Political Conference go to their website.