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The early 1970s saw a collective outrage in the Black community following years of discrimination and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
It led to a historic gathering of Black leaders in March 1972 in Gary, Indiana. Approximately 10,000 people gathered to channel that rage into political action by setting a Black agenda.
“We must emerge from this convention an independent, national Black political agenda, a dynamic program for Black liberation that in the process will liberate all of America from its current decadence,” Then-Mayor of Gary Richard Hatcher said while opening the convention.
The convention was organized by poet and activist Imamu Amiri Baraka and Congressman Charles Diggs Jr., the leader of the newly-formed Congressional Black Caucus.
The convention attracted Black leaders with vastly different political ideologies like Coretta Scott King and Malcolm X’s widow Betty Shabazz, along with Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale.
Celebrities Harry Belafonte, Isaac Hayes, Richard Roundtree and Dick Gregory were all among the 10,000 attendees as well.
One notable absence however was Shirley Chisholm, who was making her historic run for President as the first woman and first African-American. Chisholm decided to skip the convention when organizers couldn’t decide if they would endorse her candidacy.
More than 3,300 delegates from just about every state in the country tried to reach a consensus around a Black agenda on issues like affordable housing, improved health care, a guaranteed minimum wage and political representation, among several other pressing concerns.
One of the delegates at the convention of was Reverend Al Sampson.
“It was convention, full of tension, because people needed attention and the value of convention, folk came together and folk stayed together and that meant people has to listen to one another,” Sampson said.
A young Reverend Jesse Jackson fired up the crowd with chants of nation time, from Imamu Baraka’s poem on Black nationalism.
“Black nationalism does not espouse Black supremacy, it just simply says ‘We want to be free, we want to control our communities,’” Northeastern Illinois University Political Science professor Bob Starks said.
In later years, Jackson moderated his position on Black nationalism, eventually running for the Democratic nomination for President twice, in 1984 and 1988. Activists today, however, are taking a cue from the 1972 convention.
“The Black Lives Matter movement is one of those things that came out of this whole convention. The idea that you continue protests, because one of the demands on the part of the nationalists is that you never give up, and continue to fight,” Starks said.
Organizers also have credited the convention for nearly tripling the number of Black elected officials in the United States.
Angela Ford recently uncovered several photos taken by an unknown photographer at the convention. She has posted them on her website, ‘The Obsidian Collection”, a digital museum of Black history.
“What it does, is it allows a new generation to tell our stories. As we organize and deal with the politics today, it’s important that they understand what successes their elders had, and how they did it,” Ford said.
The convention adjourned without reaching a consensus but a committee later published a 68-page National Black Agenda, which called for among many things, more Black representation in Congress.
Filmmaker Williams Greaves also produced an 80-minute documentary on the convention called ‘Nationtime.’ It was considered too militant to be released at the time, but was recently uncovered in a Philadelphia warehouse, restored and released in 2020 by Kino Lorber.
You can stream it here.
The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, who U.S. officials say was the operation’s ringleader.
Democrats in Congress praised the administration for releasing the report — the Trump administration had refused to do so — but urged it to take more aggressive actions, including against the prince.
Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, urged the Biden administration to consider punishing the prince, who he says has the blood of an American journalist on his hands.
“The President should not meet with the Crown Prince, or talk with him, and the Administration should consider sanctions on assets in the Saudi Public Investment Fund he controls that have any link to the crime,” Schiff said in a statement.
Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, called for consequences for the prince — such as sanctions — as well as for the Saudi kingdom as a whole.
Rights activists said the lack of any punitive measures would signal impunity for the prince and other autocrats.
Without sanctions, “it’s a joke,” said Tawwakol Karman, a Nobel Peace Price winner from neighboring Yemen and friend of Khashoggi’s.
While Biden had pledged as a candidate to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the killing, he appeared to take a milder tone during a call Thursday with Saudi King Salman.
In the midst of the still-unspooling crisis, it turned out that Attorney General Ken Paxton, under felony indictment, had jetted off to Utah. A state senator had taken a private jet to Florida. And, of course, Sen. Ted Cruz had been caught red-handed slinking off to Cancun with his family.
The wags at El Arroyo, a legendary Tex-Mex dive in downtown Austin, updated their daily street sign commentary: “If you’re cold, just Cruz to Mexico.” Yet rage was building. People had begun to die: in their homes, in their stranded vehicles, inside idling cars in their garages. Galveston ordered a meat refrigeration truck for the dead.
Abbott didn’t even bother to call his big-city mayors.
“I have not talked to the governor at any time during this crisis, but we’re pushing forward.” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told MSNBC on Friday, Feb. 19. “The White House has reached out to me several times, and we’ve had those communications.”
This might not surprise students of Texas politics. After all, years ago, Abbott had declared a kind of war on his cities. He didn’t like them regulating business where the state hadn’t.
At first, he battled them over environmental laws like banning plastic grocery bags, which blew everywhere in the Texas wind. He fought with them over natural gas fracking inside city limits, which tended to set off earthquakes. Then came the pandemic. He refused to let them impose mask-wearing mandates, shut down local economies or even limit restaurant services, whether capacity or hours. He excluded mayors from briefings on the pandemic. A self-described small government constitutionalist, he was really a new breed: a big government Republican, claiming to defend limited government while expanding state power if it meant protecting business interests.
So, this time, the cities’ own response was erratic. Dallas told downtown buildings to cut back on power use. Yet in Houston and Austin soaring downtown skyscrapers were lit up even as people shivered in the dark elsewhere. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, whose jurisdiction includes Houston, called the light show “maddening.”
Catching wind that utilities were sending people $16,000 bills, an angry Ron Nirenberg, the mayor of San Antonio vowed in his daily briefing: “There will be hell to pay.”
In his Feb. 13 letter to President Biden, it was what the governor didn’t ask for that stuck out. He asked for no military help with logistics or aid distribution. He didn’t ask for disaster unemployment insurance, money for local governments, not even hazard mitigation for damaged homes, not even food or water. He asked for no military assistance. Abbott asked only for direct financial assistance for individuals and help keeping emergency services going till the storm passed.
In sharp contrast, Abbott asked for and got massive federal help before Hurricane Harvey even came ashore in August 2017. At his request, FEMA pre-positioned people and supplies, linking up with the Texas Emergency Management Agency, bringing in over 1 million meals, 3 million bottles of water, blankets and cots, providing medical services to more than 5,000 Texans. The federal government even brought in 210,000 pounds of hay for livestock, according to FEMA’s 2017 after-action report. The Air Force flew 30 missions, mostly ferrying supplies. Abbott activated all 30,000 members of the Texas National Guard. But none of that happened this time.
Abbott was in a different political situation. On the one hand there was a Democratic president in office, not his old ally Donald Trump. On the other hand, Abbott’s biggest threat, as he prepares to run for re-election in 2022 and possibly the presidency in 2024, isn’t to his left but to his right. Florida transplant Allen West chairs the Texas GOP and is even calling for secession.
“My sense is that Abbott is calibrating his relationship with a Democratic president,” said James Henson, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. Despite the human toll, Abbott, say, doesn’t want ads in 2022 portraying him as hat-in-hand to Biden. “The Republicans just want to do the bare essential here and they don’t want to do too much. Plus, Abbott doesn’t want this storm to be the focus of another news cycle.”
“I have been closely following recent developments in our member state Armenia and I call for calm, restraint and responsibility.
All political disagreements should be discussed and resolved in a peaceful manner, around an inclusive negotiating table involving civilian representatives of society and in line with the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
The Council of Europe remains at the disposal of the Armenian authorities and civil society to provide assistance in this respect.”
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