The NBUF Comes Home Where It All Began
July 15, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry
August 1979: Mr. Michael Amon-ra and I travelled to Portland, Oregon and met with Mr. Ron Herndon and discussed a national organization.
November 5, 1979: Black Solidarity Day Rally at the United Nations. We met in the chapel at my church, The House of the Lord Church, in Brooklyn, NY to discuss a National Black United Front (NBUF). There were five of us – Mr. Skip Robinson (Mississippi), Dr. Karen. S. Daughtry, Rev. Charles Cohen (Illinois), Mr. Jitu Weusi (the organizer and the man who pulled and held it all together), and I.
December 1, 1979: We conducted a hearing on FBI Activities in the 1960s. After the hearing, we met to discuss National Black Unity. In the meetings were Mr.Bob Brown, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Dr. Rasheden, and Mr. Jitu Weusi.
January 12, 1980: We held a meeting in Philadelphia in the home of Ms. Florence Walker. We constituted ourselves as the Organizing Committee for the Black United Front. We projected a date and a place for a National Conference at the Sumner Avenue Armory on June 26-29, 1980.
We set out to do what many great leaders have thought and dreamed about, but were never able to achieve – to build a National Black United Front, an organization that would convene the widest representation of Black ideologies and religions, and in their diversity unite to achieve the objectives which were freedom, justice, and equality.
Later, I was to coin a phrase, “Let’s not absolutize the methodology.” My idea was that there were many roads that will get us there, as long as we were clear or in agreement on what the “there” was, or the goal.
For a long time, Jitu and I had discussed the idea of a Black United Front, and how it could be done. We figured it was an ideal time to strike. For a year and a half, we had been successful in building a Metropolitan New York Black United Front. I had made some trips across the country, speaking and participating in rallies and marches, and meetings with leaders at local organizations.
The Radical, Revolutionary, Nationalist, and Pan-Africanist wings of our Movement was bloodied, murdered, and scattered by the Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, created by Mr. Edgar J. Hoover, the director of the FBI. We were looking to resuscitate and unite again as witnessed by the rally at the United Nations already alluded to.
During the rally, we revived the genocidal charges of Mr. William Patterson and others. We – NY’s BUF in cooperation with Charlene Hunter’s Alliance Against Racial and Political Repression and Dr. Charlie Cobb, United Church of Christ Commission on Racial Justice, spearheaded by Attorney Lenox Hinds, delivered a 700-page document to UN officials, documenting the validation of genocide.
To take advantage of the energy, motion, and rally at the UN, we turned aside to think through a National Black United Front. On that December afternoon, we constituted ourselves the Organizing Committee for a National Black United Front.
January 25-26, 1980, we convened a Unity meeting primarily consisting of the veterans of the Liberation Movement to inform them of what we were planning. We met in Chicago. Among those who attended the session were Mr. Amiri Baraka, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Mr. Bob Brown, Mr. Haki Madhubuti, Mr. Oba T’Shaka, Dr. J. Caruthers, Dr. Conrad Worrill, andMr. Omari Obadele (who had just been released from prison), and Dr. Worrill (who followed me to the Chairmanship when I resigned in 1986).
While there was a public Unity meeting and rally, the major achievement was the agreement of the veterans to constitute themselves as National Research and Advisory Committee to the Organizing Committee for a National Black United Front. For six months, Jitu and I went on a 24/7 organizing campaign for the National Convention.
We traveled and telephoned. (In those days, there was no social media.) We had multiple meetings, rallies, marches, etc. We produced and disseminated tons of literature, flyers, and brochures. We utilized our contacts with the media and appeared on talk shows, newspapers, and television.
We were also able to organize volunteers from our institutions. To their eternal credit, they worked long hours without pay. Then, when June arrived, they came from 35 cities and 5 foreign countries. Over one thousand delegate were present to form the National Black United Front. After passionately debating every conceivable issue, when it was all over, we had agreed on a Constitution and By-laws to be debated in four regions of the country, and to be ratified the following year at the second Convention.
I was voted temporary Chairman for a year. It was my responsibility to organize the four regions to debate the Constitution and By-laws, which I did. After the Convention, it seemed that we were irreparably fragmented. There were hurt feelings and the re-opening of old wounds, and vows to not return the following year. The hope for a National Black United Front seemed beyond our reach again. One strategy was left for us. Jitu and I sat down and went over all of the persons who had argued vigorously and who left the Conference disappointed, frustrated, and determined not to participate again.
My wife, Dr. Karen S. Daughtry, and I decided that we would visit them in their various cities. We spent three weeks crisscrossing the country, searching for these persons. We went from Brooklyn to Jersey City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Virginia, North and South Carolinas, and Augusta, GA. We drove back Northwest, and crossed West Virginia to Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago.
In some of these cities, we would stay up all night arguing that we must build a National Black United Front. There was nowhere else to go. Our people needed a National Black United Front.
When we came back the following year, we ratified the Constitution and By-laws. It is probably the only one of its kind that has been so democratically debated across the country. I remain as the Chair for two years, as I stated, until I resigned in 1986.
Here is the unbelievable part of the story. We did it all without a paid salary person. Let me emphasize: NBUF never had a paid staff person as the national level, and I’m sure it was the same at the local level, which means there was unparalleled commitment.
We built the NBUF from an idea and a few committed souls into a viable, effective organization. We were located in 35 states, widely known in many capitals of the world, and a constant UN-invitee, including annual invitations to speak at the Political Action Committee of the UN.
During my tenure, NBUF was present at or organized every march and rally of importance. There was no issue of significance to our people that NBUF didn’t make its presence felt in words and actions.
We had united and put back on track the Black power, Black liberation, Radical, Revolutionary, and Pan-African Movements. We added several new dimensions:
God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible were divested of its European dominance, the prominence of the African influence was brought to light. In addition the Arab/Muslim’s roles in Africa’s disintegration, fragmentation, and enslavement were revealed. We were enlightened by renowned scholars – Drs. J. Caruthers, John Henrik Clarke, Ivan Van Sertima, Yosef Ben-Jochannan, Chancellor Williams, Conrad Worrill, James H. Cone, Cornel West, etc.
We studied the histories and economic theories of Hegel, Feuerbach, Kant, Marx, and Lenin.
-Globalizing Our Struggle
We broadened our struggle to include cessation of war and peace, environmental justice, and nuclear disarmament. In June 12, 1982, we helped to organize over a million people from around the world against nuclear disarmament and environmental justice.
In a speech I did in Portland, Oregon (June 21-22, 1981), I said that NBUF was a miracle. I still believe it to be true. What we were able to accomplish, starting with an idea and a few people, and limited resources, can only be defined as miraculous. Of course, for me, it was an idea whose time had come, which meant, it was God ordained.