Originally published 11.29.08
Written by Jesse Muhammad
Amongst the flurry of prestigious long-time giants of the Black struggle at the State of the Black World Conference II from Nov. 19 -23, resided a cadre of young people eager to learn, dialogue, participate and express themselves as it relates to the role they have to play in the future of the Black freedom movement.
Unlike many other conferences, the youth would not be overlooked but embraced.
The multi-talented Dr. Kimberly Ellis, also known as Dr. Goddess, moderated the panel discussion centered on the need for young people to take the reigns of the struggle while not forgetting to pay homage to those before them.
â€œWhenever we talk about the state of our Black world, I donâ€™t think we should start with the high moments but with the suffering of people who are catching the most hellâ€, said Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a Fox News political contributor. â€œWe need to communicate across generations. History tends to be a baton that is beaten across the head of youth rather than something used to move us forward. We need more inter-generational dialogue because we couldnâ€™t be in those moments so now we as young people have to create our own.â€
Malika Sanders, of the Selma 21st Century Youth Movement, shared the story of how â€œthere was a six year old boy in Selma passing out Barack (Obama) flyers before the election and some elders told him that a Black man would never be president. But that young boy didnâ€™t get discouraged and look what happened. That young boy has hope now and so does other youth.â€
Being the daughter of a former Black Panther now political prisoner, Veronica Conway challenged that â€œour problem is the way we think. The revolution will not be televised because it is internal. We have an opportunity to chart our own courses but we have to decide. I have watched my father imprisoned yet live like a free man. Itâ€™s the state of mind. We forget our mastery powers.â€
The conversation then shifted to the problems that plague Black organizations, the need to properly train up the next crop of leaders and how to shape an agenda with youth at the table.
â€œI first want to humbly acknowledge in terms of leadership that there are a lot of great young people in this room who are doing great things that could be up on this stageâ€, said Hip hop journalist Davey D. â€œI think thatâ€™s one thing our generation has learned from the past that most movements back then were headed by one or two people and once they got taken out it was a wrap for a long time. Thatâ€™s the lesson my generation has learned. If one of us goes, the movement must goes on.â€
Sister Thenjwe of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movements said â€œ I got involved in this work so our children wonâ€™t suffer like they do. â€˜Yes we canâ€™ make sure poverty ends. â€˜Yes we canâ€™ stop the miseducation of our children.â€
Dr. Hill pointed out that â€œthere seems to be no exit strategy for leadership. We talk about exit strategies for Iraq but we need it. Iâ€™m not saying our elders should leave the scene as such but there has to be a way that we can share the platform and usher in a new generation of leadership. Itâ€™s very difficult to sit at the feet of an elder who feels as if a brother or sister is threatening their position. Often in these movements we tend to wage inter-generational warfare.â€
â€œI say to my elders that if Malcolm X had the Internet, a blog, YouTube, a video camera, and a cell phone, what would he do today?â€ asked Dr. Ellis
(For more coverage of the State of the Black World Conference II please visit: www.finalcall.com)