Sunday, July 13, 2014

BlackboardBlog Interview: NBUF Chairman Kofi Taharka

The National Black United Front (NBUF) has just held their 35th annual convention in Washington D.C. at Howard University between July 10th and July 12th. They opened their convention with two inspiring presentations, the first, a panel discussion entitled “Gentrification & Discrimination in Housing and Education: Why we need Reparations”.  There were four panelists provided their analysis around the critical question of reparations and gentrification.  The panel discussion was followed by a presentation, “African History: A Tool for Liberation” delivered by Dr. Leonard Jeffries, who was recently named the International Director of the Organization of African American Unity.  See my article on the panel discussion published by The Black Star News here.  

After the panel discussion where panelists Omowale Clay, Eugene Puryear, Reverend Leah Daughtry, and Dr. Ray Winbush provided their analysis on reparations and gentrification, The BlackboardBlog spoke with the NBUF National Chairman Kofi Taharka:

The BlackboardBlog (BB): For those who don’t know about NBUF and your work – talk about some of the work that NBUF is involved in.
Kofi Taharka (KT): We’re fortunate to have a 35 year history working on national and international issues that affect people of African descent. Right now we have a number of projects operating throughout the country. We have Feed the Hood, where we help people make their basic food needs picking up on the tradition of the original Black Panthers and others who were about helping serve the people.  We also have our N’ Joya Weusi Saturday school, it is a four week camp based on science and mathematics that is African centered for our young people so they get an understanding of who they are and who they can be. 
Some of the (NBUF) chapters deal with community gardens. In Houston, we have the Sundiata Acoli/Shaka Sankofa Community garden. It’s named after Sundiata Acoli, one of our freedom fighters, one of our political prisoners who was a part of the Black Panthers and The Black Liberation Army. And Shaka Sankofa, who was our brother – he was murdered by the state of Texas. It is our way of keeping them in remembrance. We got the idea from Marshall Eddie Conway, when we used to visit him before he was released.

We have a Buy Black initiative in the Kansas City Chapter is pretty strong with our Buy Black initiative and it is being presented here at the national convention. 

We have what we call a Cash Mob where we infuse funds into a conscientious Black business – a business that has showed some interest in what is going on in our community and hire our own people.  What we do is get a number of people, five, ten, fifteen, sometimes thirty people and we say we’re going to go to a particular store and spend money with people who look like us and are conscientious and want to help our community.

BB: What do you want people to take away from the convention and what do you want people to do after leaving the convention?

KT: We want to give the people a good sense of our own history and culture from our own perspective. We don’t someone from NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS or any of these mainstream venues. We want the people to know what is happening to use in a historical perspective and a contemporary perspective. 
Then we want them to take examples of what they see here at the convention and take it back with them all over the country – and see how they can implement projects to improve their community.  This convention is not just to sit down in a room and listen but how will it be applied to the community that we live in. 

BB:  You opened the conference with a panel discussion about gentrification, discrimination and reparations.  Why those topics to start the convention – talk to me about the significance of these two topics.

KT: Well, this is something that is happening all around the country. This is happening in New York City, Washington D.C, Baltimore, Oakland, it’s happening in Houston.  I think the connection is, just like the speakers tonight stressed, we have to see the broader issue. Gentrification is a very real tangible thing that we see happening but it is part of a broader disenfranchisement and oppression of African people – historically and contemporary.  So we have to put it in context. We have some ideas and we don’t have to all agree on all of the strategies and tactics of how we can make reparations a reality – meaning full and complete reparations in all of its forms.

BB: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with The Blackboard.

KT: Yes and I appreciate you brother. Thank you, Peace

BB: Peace.

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