The campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark has been selected as host of the third National Black Political Convention next spring — an event that organizers are hoping will create action steps to move the Black community-at-large forward.
The convention will be held April 28-May 1. NJIT was chosen as host because it is home to students from all over the world and ranks No. 1 in New Jersey in awarding engineering degrees to African American students.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka heads of list of numerous African American educators, activists and community leaders expected to be in attendance.
The event’s theme will be “Many Roads, One Destiny: Unity Without Uniformity.”
“I am proud that the third National Black Convention will be held in Newark at the historic NJIT,” Baraka said. “NJIT has been an incredible partner in moving our city forward and will be home to this landmark meeting of minds and purpose.
“As the 2022 gathering approaches, we will purposefully meet in small groups to discuss a variety of topics, including public policy, criminal justice, economic empowerment, mental and emotional wellness, religious and spiritual health, and the importance of the cultural arts in our daily lives. If history has taught us anything, then we have learned that good things happen when we organize. That is what we want to tap into with this gathering in 2022.”
The first National Black Political Convention (also known as the Gary Convention) was held March 10-12, 1972, in Gary, Indiana. Approximately 10,000 African Americans gathered to discuss, debate and advocate for Black people in the U.S. Part of the stated goal was to increase the number of Black elected officials, increase representation and create a Black agenda for fundamental change in the lives of Black people in the U.S.
The 1972 gathering was primarily organized by Amiri Baraka Sr., father of Ras Baraka.
The organizers of next year’s event are hoping for a similar result.
“There is a significant need for Black people to come together, to discuss our circumstances, and to create action steps to move our community-at-large forward,” they said in a joint statement. “This would be similar to the historical traditions of the Niagara Falls Conference (1905); the Congress of Afrikan People (1970); the National Black Political Convention (1972); National Black Student Unity Congress (1986); and the Convention of the Oppressed (1993).
“It is quite possible that Amiri Baraka Sr.’s call to action, ‘Unity Without Uniformity,’ can be actualized, if a working unity is developed with a strong focus on points of commonality.”
Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the event can have tremendous impact.
“I think some of the most significant things happen in history when you get the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and I think that’s what we are,” he said.
Jazz and R&B legend James Mtume agreed.
“Young Black people must demonstrate ‘Unity Without Uniformity,’ their implication will showcase various elements of Black excellence, impact will call for a change of the guard in Black leadership,” Mtume said. “The ‘now’ political generation must be the ‘now’ leadership.”
NJIT President Joel Bloom said the school is honored to host the event.
“NJIT is proud to host the 2022 National Black Political Convention and to partner with the city and convention committee to welcome attendees to NJIT and the city of Newark,” he said. “NJIT, as a Newark anchor institution, looks forward to this historic gathering and the pursuit of policy and advocacy engagements with local and international leaders to inform, educate and impact multiple generations.”