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National gatherings of African Americans should focus on 2020 vision

By Vernon A. Williams

We play too much.

Let’s face it, no matter what level at which you function, everybody loves a good time. If it’s a conference or convention, often as much focus is put on “happy hour,” social networking and “hospitality suites” workshops or plenary sessions.

Even the church folk often turn their masses gathered into “playing church” and enjoying the “entertainment” of charismatic preachers, as well as stirring singers and musicians that rock the house; not saying absent of the spirit, but can there be more?

It occurred to me that we are a little more than a year away from a crucial day that will determine the fate of our grandchildren’s children. While saving souls is the first order of believers, we are remiss if we ignore the risk of permanently losing the soul of our nation. Black America needs a new attitude.

Fighting the battle the same way we have in the past will produce the same disappointments. We need new thinking because we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

African Americans need to make a shift this year from socializing to strategizing, from open bar drinking to more open minded thinking, from including in our praise Jesus’ ways. He teaches us that what we have done unto the least of us, we do to the Savior. He teaches us that faith without works is dead. He teaches us no status is greater than servant. Whether a believer or not, that mindset is replete with virtue.

The challenge becomes translating words and thoughts into action and results.

There is something that we can do different. Never done before. We can determine a set of priorities for Black America. Five. Ten. Twenty. The number is arbitrary. What matters is that we push all the upcoming major events that will attract Black Americans this year to address as many of those issues as possible – in whatever way that fits their function.

All that would be asked is that there is a rationale derived from dialogue that culminates with a course of action that increases political education, registration and mobilization in November of 2020. And while Black gatherings may be the impetus for this conversation and delineation of plans, Americans of all races and religions are invited to chime in.

There is only one prerequisite for those who participate. These issues must be of major concern to the African American population of the U.S. No, not exclusively pertaining to Blacks. Invariably, most social movements that benefitted people of color brought an improvement in quality of life for all Americans. But no item irrelevant to Blacks should be a part of the process. We don’t have time to play.

Summer is a peak period for annual national conferences and conventions, massive family gatherings, organizational business meetings, religious and professional seminars, public festivals, and class reunions.

Plans are getting started and finalized on a daily basis. I am personally involved in several major events between now and the fall and in all likelihood, so are you. Just share this concept with those who are in charge and figure out where, when and how they can facilitate this vital discussion. It does not require changing plans laid out well in advance, it simply suggests adding one component in the most unobtrusive manner possible. No event is too important for a slight deviation from the established format for our future.

You can do it where only a few hundred are gathered, like the Gary Roosevelt High School Class of 1969 Reunion in the Steel City this July. Or you can make room for the dialogue among thousands at yearly events such as the Indiana Black Expo 49th Annual Summer Celebration July 11th through the 21st in Indianapolis.

Virtually every denomination is looking forward to revivals and national conferences around the country. The Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Church (PCAF) meet July 26 through July 31.

The list goes on. The National Association of Black Journalists Convention is August 7 through August 11. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People meets in Detroit July 20-24. Right after that, The National Urban League Annual Conference will be in Indianapolis July 24 through July 27.

Black fraternities and sororities will bring thousands from around the nation to national conventions this summer. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. will host its conclave in Philadelphia July 30-August 4.

The annual conference of the Congressional Black Caucus will be in Washington, D. C. September 11 through the 15. The Indiana University Neal-Marshall Alumni Club bi-annual reunion takes place the second week of October in Bloomington. In November, the 47 National Association of Black School Educators will meet in Dallas.

Here’s the best part. It’s simple. Nobody has to report out or respond up to some national hierarchy to participate in the process. Simply take the results of dialogue at your event and post it on your existing website and/or distribute it through your own organization’s social media network. Chart action specific to your constituency wherever they live and work.

People are always resistant to the new. Some will insist their agenda is inflexible. But how important could those items be not to allot for the inclusion of the fate of the free world. It will be interesting to see if even one entity responds. I pray there will be much more. In either case, I have completed my assignment by sharing the idea. Heaven help us all.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION  by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams  is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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