by Harry C. Alford
The idea hit me during the International Panel at our 22nd annual conference in Chicago July 10-12. Speaking on the panel were NBCC members from Colombia, Benin, Ghana, Suriname, Ethiopia and France. Ghana, France and Suriname have participated at previous conferences. It was Colombia’s first and they were given an NBCC board seat, taken by Juan Camilo Cabezas, for their effort in forming a strong and viable chapter headquartered in Cali, Colombia, a city of 2.5 million people – and 70 percent Black!
The Ethiopia participation comes by way of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This association of 35 African countries was recently formed and is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We look forward to a productive relationship by way of our Memorandum of Understanding, which was executed during the conference. A contingent of five participants from Benin attended the conference, and they have convinced me to visit this West African nation sometime in September.
As each representative spoke before the audience, my mind started clicking and the excitement was overwhelming. At the end of the session I rose and walked to the podium and these words flowed: “Regardless of where we live in this world, we have one thing in common besides our race. We have been exploited, imprisoned, raped and enslaved by Europe. Whether we were put on a ship and taken across the Atlantic Ocean for a life of slavery or colonized via our land being stolen and new borders drawn that do not make sense and our resources plummeted for over a century, we have been harmed in historical proportions.
“The future is ours and we must now become united under a banner of economic empowerment. Once we have connected all the dots of the African Diaspora we will unite and present two demands to the United Nations: 1) Recognition of our plight and 2) A formal apology. From there we move forward and become productive because God will bless the one who has his own. We will have our own!” It was received with a standing ovation.
Yes, this is where we are going to proceed. The NBCC has been traveling to Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, St. Marten, Barbados, Brazil, Suriname, Colombia, Paris, Canary Islands, Ghana, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, London, Mexico, Toronto, Tanzania, Barcelona and Equatorial Guinea. Some of these nations and cities we have visited more than a few times.
“The future is ours and we must now become united under a banner of economic empowerment. Once we have connected all the dots of the African Diaspora we will unite and present two demands to the United Nations: 1) Recognition of our plight and 2) A formal apology.”
From now on we are going to connect each and every city and nation that has significant numbers of members of the African Diaspora. We will begin to communicate on a regular basis and plan economic projects to employ more and more workers and build more and more wealth via entrepreneurship. These dots of people of African descent will become the envy of the world. Oh, how resilient we have been. Now we will not only survive but begin to thrive. The Chinese and Indians have successfully done this and we can too.
There are 1 billion Blacks living on the African continent. South America has 140 million Blacks. The United States has 45 million. There are significant numbers elsewhere, such as 5 million in France and nearly 2 million in the United Kingdom. The city of Guangzhou, China, has over 300,000 Blacks.
Wherever there have been Black American soldiers, Black babies were born. Vietnam, Germany, Korea, Philippines, Italy and other 20th century military venues hold descendants of these soldiers. They are there waiting to communicate with the rest of us. Thus, we have 1 billion in Africa and about 300 million spread out throughout the rest of the world. Let’s connect the dots.
We can build power through communication. With that power, we build wealth, which will be the best instrument to end poverty, disease and violence.
Technology allows us to do this now. I am going to put a couple of my staffers to work on this. Searching via the internet, they will make contact and build a gigantic database. We will sort them by their interests, industry and commerce. Kay and I started a local Black chamber in Indiana. Then we started a national Black chamber in D.C. Perhaps it is now time to start a global Black chamber. It will have to be virtual and a periodical publication produced that will inform us of opportunity and good case studies and models. It reminds me of the saying, “If not you, then who; if not now, then when?”
We can build power through communication. With that power, we build wealth, which will be the best instrument to end poverty, disease and violence. We have a wonderful God and He has tested us through these last 500 years. He will be pleased once we complete this noble mission.
Harry Alford is the co-founder, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.