On Saturday, September 16, the Maryland Organizing Committee of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) will hold its third Pan-Afrikan Town Hall of the summer. “Pan Afrikan Town Hall 3” will be held at the historic Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue, from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Arch Social Club, at 105 years old, is the second-oldest Black private club in the United States and holds a storied place in the Penn-North Community. Penn-North was the scene of the massive Community mobilization that followed several days of unrest in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in April 2015. Arch Social Club was one of several Black institutions that were not harmed during the days of unrest, and it is working to rebuild a sense of true community in that neighborhood.
The Purpose of the Pan-Afrikan Town Hall
SRDC’s mission is to connect with our grassroots Pan-Afrikan Community (African-Americans, Continental Africans, Afro-Caribbeans and people of African descent) on the local level, bring them out to public meetings (Town Halls), build local lists of issues of concern (Pan-Afrikan Agenda), nominate people who will help represent the local community’s Agenda nationally and internationally, organize our organizations and activists to work together toward realizing that Agenda on the local level and work with similar efforts in other states and other countries around the world to push our combined Agenda items on the world stage. While our efforts culminate in advocacy and action in the international arena, the place where all of this starts, and without which the effort will fall flat, is the local Pan-Afrikan Town Hall Meeting.
At the Town Hall, the essential steps are to build or refine the local Pan-Afrikan Agenda, nominate and elect Elders, Representatives and Observers, and build a structure that will allow our local organizations and activists to work together effectively, for it will take all of us to achieve success in this mission.
The Maryland Pan-Afrikan Agenda, which has been discussed and developed between activists, organizations and Community neighbors (mostly from the surrounding Penn-North neighborhood) over the last two Town Hall Meetings on June 24 and August 12, will be refined at this Town Hall Meeting.
We will also begin to build the local organizing committee anew by nominating and seating a Community Council of Elders, as well as nominating Representatives and Observers to be officially elected now or, possibly, at a later meeting that will probably be held in November.
The Community Council of Elders
The Community Council of Elders will consist of those in our Community who have demonstrated a track record of wisdom and leadership within our Community. While a minimum age will be agreed upon to be considered for the Council of Elders, wisdom is more important than simply age.
The Community Council of Elders will be needed to provide direction to our activists and organizations as they continue to build and advance their programs. The Elders will also be valued resources to help mediate disputes among Community organizations and members, and to correct us when we stray from our missions and when we commit misdeeds in our Community. The Elders will not simply be there to sit regally on a stage so the “real organizers and revolutionaries” can appear to be honoring the Elders and acting in a Pan-Afrikan manner. The Elders are needed to be a proactive, involved presence as we go about our respective missions as activists and organizers to ensure that we do not go astray. Every effort will be made to ensure that there is gender balance on the Community Council of Elders and that Elders are nominated from different areas of the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. Elders can be seated by Afrikan Consensus if all members of the Community recognize and agree upon all Council of Elders candidates as people whose wisdom and authority they will follow.
Representatives and Observers
Representatives must learn about local, national and international efforts to organize and galvanize the voice of the Pan-Afrikan Community and listen to the concerns of the Community as they are stated in the Pan-Afrikan Agenda and specific concerns that are clarified during subsequent Community organizing meetings. Every year, they must work with the Facilitator and the Elders to take the Pan-Afrikan Agenda and the voice of our Community in Maryland to the SRDC National Summit, and may be called upon to be part of the Representative Delegation that would travel to the African Union Summit, United Nations meetings, national and international Pan-Afrikan organization conferences and congresses, and thus help to take the combined Pan-Afrikan Agenda of our Communities across the United States to the World Stage. Representatives will be determined through a multi-step election process.
Representatives will be nominated and then they will submit information about their track record in Pan-Afrikan organizing to the Council of Elders for review. If the Council of Elders approves of the nominee’s experience, knowledge and commitment to the work, they will be approved to move on to the Election phase, where the approved candidates will speak to the gathered Community, explain their commitment to and understanding of what we must do to accomplish the uplift of Afrikan people, and then answer questions from the audience and the Elders, at which time the Community will vote to fill two Representative positions. Those who are not elected as Representatives can become Observers, essentially “back-ups” to the Representatives in case one or both of them cannot fulfill their duties.
Building Functional Unity among Organizations: The Cooperative Coalition
The final step in the local organizing process is the development of a framework through which our different Pan-Afrikan organizations and activists can begin to start working together more effectively instead of the rivalry that too often exists and continually threatens to undo our efforts. The Maryland SRDC Organization has proposed a model for a Cooperative Coalition that we call “Spokes of the Wheel”. That model will be further explained during the meeting, and we will begin the work of bringing organizations and activists together from the artists, the economists, the businesses, the scientists, the media, the revolutionaries, the prison activists, the educators, the lawyers, the community activists, the Elders, the state-builders and other groups that use different strategies to lift Afrikan people up. The spirit of rivalry that too often exists between us must come to an end, and it must be replaced by a spirit of cooperation, ethical behavior (Ma’at) and commitment to the betterment of the community as a whole (Ubuntu) if the work of our Ancestors and the work of our Veteran organizers is not to be wasted by our own stubbornness and arrogance.
Let’s move forward from this point on. There are organizations currently doing great work in Maryland, and we can magnify their efforts and their success if we engage the voice of our grassroots Community and develop ways in which our different organizations and activists can work together cooperatively and help each other so we can all be lifted up.
Again, the Pan-Afrikan Town Hall is Saturday, September 16 at the historic Arch Social Club from 3:00 PM to 7″00 PM. We hope to see you there. A Luta Continua (the struggle continues), but it won’t be the same without YOU.
Peace and Power,
Maryland State Facilitator, Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC)