The “Spokes of the Wheel” Model for Building Cooperative Coalitions

Spokes 4The following video, first conceived in 2011, initially developed in 2015 and refined and converted to video (mp4) format in 2017, discusses the concept of building Cooperative Coalitions among Pan-Afrikan organizations and activists.  Many of our organizations stress the necessity and tout the benefits of establishing Pan-Afrikan Unity, but too few actually do anything to bring that unity about.  Perhaps the reason for this is that we have become jaded and cynical after having seen so many attempts to build this unity fall apart. 

Honorable and laudable organizations from the National Black Independent Political Party (NBIPP) to the Umoja Party, from the US Organization to Kawaida, from the Organization of Afro-American Unity to the Black Panther Party and so many others, have made heroic efforts to bring people of Afrikan descent together in something akin to a Pan-Afrikan United Front.  I have personally watched efforts in recent years to build alliances such as these start strong but then ultimately fail in places such as Baltimore, Maryland where I live.

Perhaps the problem is that we enter into these types of alliances and coalitions with an impractical understanding of what unity would look like in a truly grassroots-democratic setting.  We all agree that people of Afrikan descent need to be unified, but we all seem to believe that we, and we alone, are the best leaders for such an alliance or coalition.  Thus we begin with ideas of “unity” that are based more on competition than on cooperation.  This approach almost ensures that someone’s viewpoint will be ignored, marginalized or discarded, and thus compromises efforts at building unity. 

What we need is a type of structure that would help ensure the inclusion of multiple perspectives and thus would facilitate the creation of a true Cooperative Coalition.  This is where the “Spokes of the Wheel” concept comes from.

As a bit of a spoiler, the idea here is that each distinct type of activist organization represents one “spoke” of a larger “wheel”, and that we need every “spoke” if this “wheel” is to function properly and take us where we need to go as a people.

There are two versions of the video available here, both of which are derived from the original presentation and shortened for ease of viewing.  Both versions describe the basic model and give an explanation of each of the “spokes” (in this case artists, elders, businesses, community activists, state builders, legal professionals, scholars, scientists, revolutionary activists, prison activists, spiritual leaders and the Pan-Afrikan Media) and some of the types of organizations that might be included in each “spoke”. 

Basic Version
A somewhat shortened version of the original “Spokes of the Wheel” presentation.  About 33 minutes.

Shorter Version
A slightly more abbreviated version of the “Spokes of the Wheel” presentation.  About 23 minutes.