The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) organized a national town hall meeting during election week to discuss Black politics and the implications of the midterm elections on African Americans and the diaspora. The convening took place in Cramton Auditorium at Howard University, was streamed live, and featured a panel of international leaders from political, civic, and academic organizations.
Moderators Roland Martin and Dr. Julianne Malveaux facilitated an intergenerational discussion about the importance of politics in the African American community as panelists successively shared their thoughts about how this past midterm election was pivotal for the nation.
IBW organized the national town hall meeting after the midterm election to ensure African Americans are not overlooked in the electoral process and to extend the political mobilization efforts around the election beyond November.
“Fifty years after Africa Liberation Day and the National Black Convention in Gary, Indiana, which was focused on the urgent need for a Black agenda, IBW has assembled this incredible panel to address the state of Black America and the Pan-African world after the Nov. 8 elections,” said the president of IBW, Dr. Ron Daniels. “Black America and the diaspora are in a precarious situation,”
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, virtually shared insights from the Urban League’s State of Black America report, before Malveaux and Martin adeptly engaged the event’s brilliant panel on various social, political, and economic issues affecting Black America and the diaspora.
The panelists discussed the midterm elections’ increased voter turnout among Black women, men, and young Americans and their impact on halting the expected red wave.
“Their votes prevented a tsunami of Republican victories,” Melanie Campbell, the president of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, said.
Co-Founder of Until Freedom, Tamika Mallory discussed collective responsibility as a young leader who has been embraced by younger and older generations.
“It is time for us to reimagine what the Black experience in America looks like. I think when people abstain from voting – which I don’t agree with – they are really saying we need something different, something more than voting,” Mallory said.
The convening displayed the intellectual, creative, and political differences of the diaspora and collaboration in spite of it. Founder and president of the Constituency for Africa (CFA), Melvin Foote was a panelist who was pleased with the conversations he and fellow panelists were able to have.
“I was really impressed with the diversity and quality of the panel, as half of the panelists were women, and we heard from a number of young people. A number of years ago, it was all men. It might have included Dorothy Height, but that’s it,” Foote said.
“I thought all the panelists had great things to say. I felt like I was a green thumb on the panel because I focused on the international stuff related to Africa. In the past, I would have been left off this program because it was just the domestic discussion,” he continued.
The convening, to some, had the spirit of a family meeting, as international discussants mentioned the foresight and contributions of historical figures and luminaries, such as WEB DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dr. Ron Walters, and Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.
Maurice Mitchell, the director of the Working Families Party and a Howard University alumnus, discussed the importance of third-party politics in America, citing the significance of the political discretion Black Americans have.
“The rigid two-party duopoly is one of the structural challenges that limits our power as Black folks, as working people in general. We must have an international race, class, and gender analysis, and examine the structures of the system,” Mitchell said.
Howard University Student Association Vice President Eryka Anabelle Clarke brought greetings on behalf of Howard students as the panel also featured respondents of international leaders from Gen X, Gen Z, and more.
The town hall’s panel also included Dr. E. Faye Williams, the national chair and CEO emeritus of the National Congress of Black Women and a Howard University School of Law graduate, Janice Mathis, the executive director of National Council of Negro Women, Hilary Shelton, the national advisor of policy and governance for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Pastor Michael McBride and Rev. Sheridan Todd Yeary, former senior vice president of the National Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
Respondents also included Dr. Elsie Scott, Dr. James Early, Justin Hansford, Ron Hampton, Kamm Howard, and Howard University students Dezmond Rosier, Kimora Oliver, and Aaron Johnson. The IBW is organizing the State of the Black World Conference, which will take place in Baltimore in February 2023.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew