A new, independent political party could speed our recovery


“The mobilization of the masses, when it arises out of the war of liberation, introduces into each man’s consciousness the ideas of a common cause, a national destiny, and of a collective history.”

— Franz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth

To bring an urban agenda to the forefront in national politics, to address the specific plight of the Black community, Dr. Ron Daniels, founder and CEO of the Institute of the Black World, candidate for U.S. president in 1992 and campaign manager for Rev. Jessie Jackson in 1988, says we need a new national political party: a “Martin Luther King-Malcolm X Initiative.”

Opinion: A new, independent political party could speed our recovery

As the names suggests, this new party would be aggressive for social justice as well as for peace in our communities and justice everywhere for everyone else.

The Martin Luther King-Malcolm X Initiative would fight for the needs of Black communities all over the country: affordable housing, job training, environmentally sustainable community economic development, a land retention program, aid to farmers, culturally inclusive curricula, gang prevention, re-entry programs for prisoners, community-organized multi-purpose community centers, and more.

It would be an organization that has fully learned the lesson of Hurricane Katrina that the U.S. government has no intention of helping Black and poor people, and it would have to fight through smart politics and political will for everything it gets.

Daniels is correct, but not just for these reasons. There are three other reasons Black folks need a new political party.

First, we need to loosen the stranglehold that the Democratic Party has had on Black people since John Kennedy. We have been the Democrats’ most loyal voters — and the most ignored. The Democratic National Committee, which runs the party, gives soccer moms and NASCAR dads more props than Black folks these days.

We usually only see the Democrats a few days before an election when they come to show their faces and remind us to vote. A new party could get Blacks to register as independents and then let all parties, including Democrats, kiss our babies more than once and fight for our vote.

Second, we need a new party as the first step in forming alliances with other progressive forces in this country. An independent party filled with progressive Hispanics, Latinos, Native Americans, Whites, and labor unions such as SEIU is a project just waiting to happen.

Think about it: Instead of registering under the banner of exploitive Democrats or reactionary Republicans, we could do so as independents. This alliance could constitute a voting bloc that couldn’t be ignored and could result in sizable gains not only for Blacks, but for poor people and the environmentalists as well.

Third, let’s face it: Many national Black organizations that once were aggressive in fighting for social justice have, for whatever reason, lost a lot of their power. To give just a few examples, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) has been involved in a political squabble trying to decide if it wants to be a social service or social justice organization. It’s also in financial trouble.

The leadership of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) has gotten older and fallen out of touch. The Nation of Islam (whom some call “Black Muslims”) are experiencing leadership transition issues since their leader, Louis Farrakhan, has experienced failing health.

We need a new national political party to instill a deeper commitment of younger Blacks and breathe new blood, new ideas, and new strategies into the Black politic.

What it is

As Black men, our status is inextricably bound up with the health and survival of Black communities. If the Black community is in poor condition, we’re in poor condition. As the community goes, so goes the Black man. As Madhubuti suggested (see installment two in the June 28 issue), our healing cannot be accomplished outside the context of the Black family and the Black community.

For us to heal, the Black community will need not only appropriate social programs and services, but a more focused national independent political party to fight and win those programs and services for us.

In addition, the Black community will need a political party that will steadily but surely move us from social services to financial autonomy: toward the ownership of our own banks, small businesses, corporations, supermarkets and food cooperatives — in short, from being beggars at the door to producers of goods and services in our own right.