Gary Crusader staff report
The celebration of the historic 1972 Black Political Convention in Gary will be held June 9-12 at the Genesis Convention Center.
Leaders from the 1972 National Black Convention will be there, including Gary’s first Black Mayor Richard G. Hatcher, Tuskegee, Alabama Mayor Johnny Ford, and Amiri Baraka’s son, present Newark, NJ Mayor Ras Baraka. Freeman-Wilson and a host of today and tomorrow’s Black leaders are expected to attend the festivities.
Unlike the first convention, this one will have a broader agenda that includes economic justice, drug and welfare laws, along with the disproportionate number of Blacks who have been incarcerated.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the lingering income disparity between Blacks and their counterparts will be discussed. Issues affecting law enforcement is also on the agenda.
The issues facing young African Americans will be discussed during the three-day conference. Hatcher says that all are welcome to participate. He also said he looks forward to the involvement of Black Lives Matter.
Like the first convention, this year’s convention is being held during the presidential contest. A number of presidential candidates from both parties have been invited to attend the convention, Freeman-Wilson said.
Among the crowds in 1972 were the Who’s Who of Black America: Julian Bond, Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Carl Stokes, Louis Farrakhan and Barbara Jordan. The widows of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X — Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, were also in attendance.
During that time, America was cooling from the tumultuous Civil Rights Movement and Blacks around the country were enjoying new freedoms as a result of numerous marches and bloody protests. During that time, the attention was on Vietnam, where thousands of Blacks fought in an unpopular battle that left thousands of Americans dead.
The success of the Civil Rights Movement kept the spirit of Blacks up and opportunities flowing for people of color. The National Black Political Convention was hailed as the event that led to more Black political leaders in the United States since Reconstruction.
Anticipation of the historic event has been building since the announcement was made by Freeman-Wilson last February.