In the record-breaking heat of Houston, Texas, the National Black United Front (NBUF) held its 43rd Annual National Convention from July 8 to July 10, 2022. This was NBUF’s first in-person gathering in two years. The organization convened under the theme “The Sankofa Flex: Building Blocks for the Black Nation.”
The convention brought all the smoke with quality solutions shared throughout the weekend.
Saturday workshop topics included: Self-Defense, Economic Power, Stopping Gentrification, African-Centered Education, Maximizing Social Media & Technology, Food Security, Reparations/Repatriation and Institution Building.
NBUF representatives attended from around the U.S. and world. Those moderating or reporting during workshops included National Treasurer Lisa Quinn (Pittsburgh, PA), National Vice-Chair of Women’s Affairs Jennifer Blyther (Florida), National Vice-Chair of International Affairs Swatara Olushola (Tanzania, East Africa, Friends of NBUF), National Vice-Chair of Administration Jade Harriell (Washington, D.C.), Mickey Dean, Shafeeqa Small, Ngozi Mathews, Jawanza Hardy (Kansas City Chapter) and Baba Willie Davis (Lansing, Michigan).
Houston specialists in each field shared practical information that participants could apply to their daily lives.
Self-defense specialist John ‘Bunchy” Crear, a member of the legendary original Black Panther Party (BPP), enthralled workshop participants with his experiences. He charged those convened to take their projects and programs directly to the most neglected neighbor-“hoods.” Brother Sundiata Shango (Sehah Youth & Fitness) and Sister Maat Kristen Westbrook (Anubis Militia) gave a demonstration of self-defense techniques during this session.
Sister Swatara Olushola submitted a video report from Tanzania, East Africa where she and her family have lived for several years. She shared their experience with virtual African-centered education at the Whole Living Academy. Ola Madzimoyo, 17, a recent high school graduate of Aya Institute online school, inspired everyone with his commitment to his community. He stated the driving force for his life mission and decisions is always asking the question posed by Mama Dr. Marimba Ani — “What does this mean for African People?”
The Food Security workshop took participants directly into the Sundiata Acoli/Shaka Sankofa Self-Determination Community Garden at NBUF headquarters on Southmore (3rd Ward, TX) where Danny Russo taught the basics of growing your own food.
Aspiring institution-builders left NBUF headquarters for the short drive to S.H.A.P.E. Community Center for a walking tour of the Live Oak location by founder and Executive Director Deloyd Parker Jr.
One of the most pressing issues of the day is the demand for reparations. Mickey Dean gave a sweeping historical overview of the movement. Legislative developments in California, Evanston, Illinois, Kansas City, Missouri and the revamped federal bill HR-40 were all covered. The different groups organized around the demand were given cursory assessment.
Swatara Olushola’s video presentation on repatriation to the African continent was a separate part of the workshop. She and her family have moved to the African continent and shared their experience as a viable option for those looking for alternatives. Specialist Brother Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad, Sister Nikala Asante, Brother Cavanaugh Mweze, Brother Lloyd Ford and Brother Ore Oreoluwa Dennis Akinbode left the workshops sizzling with content in each of their focus areas.
Saturday night, the convention site shifted to the Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural and Events Center for the National Reception. More than a dozen vendors dotted the lobby for the Buy Black MarketPlace. An exquisite presentation of finger food and spirits elevated the atmosphere. The energizing African drum led participants into the main lecture hall to hear the keynote remarks of special guest, Dr. Greg Carr of Howard University.
The noted scholar and historian, who teaches Africana Studies and courses in the Howard Law School, has a ubiquitous presence on internet platforms including “In Class with Carr” on Knarrative and YouTube. On the Black Star Network, he appears as a commentator on Roland Martin Unfiltered and hosts “The Black Table” weekly conversation with scholars and activists.
On the Friday of the NBUF Convention, Carr was immersed in Houston’s Black history during a 4-hour tour with journalist Cindy George. Carr shared a powerful message about operational unity, the model implemented in Houston, as well as the value of NBUF by delving into the strength and meaning of each letter of the organization’s acronym. Brother Carr remained at the Shrine well past midnight answering questions and engaging in dialogue. It should be noted that he was fully engaged for every day of the convention — not just during his keynote address.
Earlier in Saturday’s program, founding members Mama Maxine Flowers (New York Chapter), Mama Sandra Dean (Kansas City Chapter), Brother Attorney Mickey Dean (Kansas City Chapter) and Baba Yawo Abdul (Houston Chapter) were acknowledged for over four decades of dedication. Mama Maxine Flowers was the only in-person attendee this year who was present at the founding convention in Brooklyn. Chairman Emeritus Rev. Herbert Daughtry, 91, reported for duty virtually.
Additionally, NBUF’s coveted Maurice Bishop Pan African Hero and Heroines Award was earned by Krista Folade Madzimoyo (NBUF Houston Secretary) and Koswa Williams (NBUF Houston Director of the FEED the HOOD project). Poet Iya Oriyangi – Kayenne Nebula kept the weekend temperature up with several fiery selections.
On Sunday, activities returned to the “Black House” — as NBUF headquarters is known — for a Spiritual Cleansing Ceremony conducted by Iya Osunbunmi G. Fagbenro. The ritual offered healing for the soul with space for attendees to release emotional and spiritual baggage. Young cultural artists played ancient rhythms on the conga drums and shekere to heighten the spiritual energy. The ceremony concluded as each person stepped outside through the constructed “Door of Return” into their best African selves.
National Chairman Emeritus Dr. Conrad Worrill was among the many NBUF ancestors venerated throughout the weekend.
The Convention also showcased the hard work of the Houston Chapter members who contributed hand and resources to the recently remodeled headquarters. This effort was received with great appreciation from all who attended from across the country and locally. We are deeply grateful for Equator Turner, The Cecelia J Collection, Abisola Oluwafemi, Mickey Dean, Herman Burroughs, and Andrea Branche who were among our Convention sponsors. Also, dozens of supporters helped make the weekend successful.
When it was all over, the hot sun of Houston, Texas seemed to blaze back to June 1980 at the old armory building in Brooklyn, New York — the site of the first National Convention. The organization’s four decades of serving people of African descent across the globe is the mighty legacy we stand on to continue this work. In NBUF, we say: FORWARD EVER! BACKWARD NEVER!
National Black United Front
2428 Southmore Blvd.
Houston, TX 77004
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