Distinguished group puts issues on table

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The National Newspaper Publishers Association Leadership Forum refocused the debate of whether President Barack Obama should engage a Black Agenda, and how the power of the Black press can illuminate the issues of Black America Friday at Chicago’s

The National Newspaper Publishers Association Leadership Forum refocused the debate of whether President Barack Obama should engage a Black Agenda, and how the power of the Black press can illuminate the issues of Black America Friday at Chicago’s Drake Hotel.

Moderated by Charles Ogletree, the distinguished panel consisted of NNPA Chairman Danny J. Bakewell Sr.; Princeton Professor Cornel West, Ph.D.; General Counsel for NAACP, Kim M. Keenan; Rainbow PUSH founder and leader, Rev. Jesse L.Jackson; Rev. Marcia Dyson,US Organization Founder Dr. Maulana Karenga; Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D; and Dr. Benjamin Chavis.

“This will allow us (NNPA) to begin collectively to formulate an agenda for Black people in America. We have some of the greatest minds, orators and intellectual beings.

And they just happen to be Black. Most of them never hesitate to use their talents to advance the cause of African American people,” Bakewell announced before the discussion.

Ogletree opened the discussion, by asking the panel, “What is the challenge and struggle for Black America today?”

Rev.Jackson explained that with the recent Supreme Court ruling to block a sexual discrimination suit against Walmart and voter supression efforts across the nation are attacks on U.S. democracy.

“The policy right now is that our misery index is on the rise, and our enthusiasm is on the wane. Without enthusiasm, we can’t win. Where is justice in the house?,” he questioned.

Dyson is clear on relevance of a Black Agenda. He has faced scathing criticism because he feels that Obama should be held accountable for what Dyson considers a deafening lack of acknowledgment that African Americans require a separate agenda.

“I respect him as chief executive of the United States. I’m critical of him because no man is bigger than our community. I expect him to take African Americans seriously. Love us the way we love you,” Dyson said.

Karenga feels that Black people need to reconceptualize how they express themselves to the world.

“What Black people need more than anything else is to break beyond the catechism of impossibility,” he said. Karenga created Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration of African heritage and culture with life-affirming principles to be practiced all year long.

“People all over the world borrow our moral vocabulary as a model to emulate,” he said.

The role of the NAACP has always been to insure the fair treatment of Black individuals.

“If you were to look back historically at the NAACP, it’s been the same four issues: Voting, education, economic, and social equality,” said Keenan.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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