My High Points at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor 12th Annual Conference
April 21, 2017 by Herbert Daughtry
The following are excerpts from the remarks I prepared for the Samuel DeWitt Proctor 12th Annual Conference where I received the “Beautiful Feet Award.” Dr. Iva Carruthers, the organizing genius of the Conferences, presented the awards.
“I want to express my profound gratitude for honoring me with this prestigious ‘Beautiful Are the Feet’ Award. To Drs. Jeremiah Wright and Frederick D. Haynes, III, and all the members of the Board of Directors and staff, volunteers, thank you for not only the honor, but also for the lavish way you have taken care of my wife and me. Since others have shared stories about Dr. Wright, I have a ‘Jeremiah Wright Story,” too.
“In 1980, the insurgents in El Salvador and Nicaragua sought to end the dictatorship of those two countries. We were members of a delegation which journeyed to meet with the insurgents. We had a productive meeting. I will just leave it at that.
“Honorable Sirs and Madams, pardon me. Bear with me. I want to boast about my degrees. My elementary and high school years took place in the streets of Brooklyn, NY and Jersey City, NJ, and a jail in Brooklyn. My college work was done in Trenton, NJ’s correctional facility. My graduate studies were accomplished in the federal correctional facility in Lewisburg, PA.
“I’ve had many wonderful teachers, but my primary teacher was the Galilean who had/have divine credentials. You might know him. His name was/is Jesus – Jesus the Christ – my Savior, my Friend, my Mentor, and my Leader.
“He said to me, ‘Be a student of everyone and everything. I will be your ultimate Teacher, Trainer, and Leader. I will confer upon you a BA and a HGF. By the way, if the names of the degrees confuse you, they mean: I was ‘born again’ and ‘Holy Ghost-filled.’ During the graduation ceremony, He said to me, ‘I am sending you to impact the world. I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
“Over the years, many strange and wonderful things have happened. I used to have a number after my name. Then, some people said to me, ‘You have contributed many marvelous things to make the world better. We want to confer you honorary degrees.’
“One of the primary reasons why this Beautiful Feet Award is so special to me is that it has been over 60 years since I first received my commission, this award says that I have fulfilled, at least to some extent, my mission. Hallelujah!
“I love conferences – both small or large. Let me share with you a few of the conferences where I had some involvement. In 1974, the World Council of Churches decided it wanted to know the meaning of salvation concomitantly. They planned a three-year study, and called it ‘Salvation Today.’ I was asked to participate.
“Facetiously, I said to the leadership, ‘I can give you the meaning of salvation in less than three minutes: ‘I am saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues as the spirit gives utterance, and I am on my way to meet the soon-coming king.’ (Anyone who is a member or attend a Pentecostal church will recognize that statement. It is the standard testimony at most Pentecostal worship ceremonies.) My explanation of Salvation was insufficient for their purpose.
“Around the world, we went. On one journey, I had breakfast at Saigon, Vietnam (as the war was coming to a close), lunch in Singapore, and dinner at Jakarta, Indonesia. We had mini-conferences in Bangalore, India and visited Calcutta. We even spent time, studying, conferring, and researching at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Bossy, Switzerland. We concluded the conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
“The Conference convened the scholars, theologians, insurgents, revolutionaries, radicals, authors, philosophers, and artists of every description and practically every place around the globe. When it was all over, I was exceedingly glad and grateful for the travels, the opportunity to mix and mingle, share experiences, and learn from men and women of extraordinary achievements in every field of life. It was an experience I will never forget. Next time, I hope that they will take ten years to study ‘Salvation Today’.
“What a conference!
“In 1976, we gathered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for the Sixth Pan-African Congress. We were following the tradition which started at the turn of the 20th Century with W.E. B. Du Bois, Monroe Trotter, and others. We wanted to build on the Fifth Pan-African Congress which was held in Manchester, England in 1945. Twelve years later, the Gold Coast gained its independence under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. The name was changed to Ghana.
“We were giddy. We – Radicals, Revolutionaries, Pan-Africanists, Nationalists, Socialists, Religionists, Moderates, and Militants – were part of a world movement, grounded in history that eventually would free the Motherland. Forty years later, over 40 African countries had gained some degrees of independence. After which, we held meetings in Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, and concluded in Geneva, Switzerland.
“What a conference!
“In 1980, in Brooklyn, NY, we did what many of our leaders dreamed of doing, but never did. We organized the National Black United Front (NBUF), consisting of the widest representation of people of African ancestry. Perhaps, it was the broadest representation ever witnessed or seldom witnessed – maybe, rivaled by the conference in Gary, Indiana in 1972. Surely, the Gary conference had far more participants than NBUF, but I am not sure it had a broader representation.
“However, primarily, the leadership, I think, would characterize themselves as part of the Radical, Nationalist, Pan-Africanist, and Socialist wings of the Freedom Movement among people of African ancestry. The Black Panthers were there. Also present were the Republic of New Africa, the Nation of Islam, the All African Revolutionary Party, the NAACP, the Urban League, The House of the Lord Church, etc. You name the organization, and it was represented. Over 1000 delegates from practically every state of the Union, and five foreign countries were in attendance. They elected me as the Chairman. I remained Chair for six years, and then voluntarily resigned.
“What a conference!”
… to be continued.