Africare News Release

 

Africare President Moderates Morehouse Panel on the Role of African American Men Beyond “the Dream”


Washington, DC, January 19, 2009
 Approximately 100 Morehouse College alumni and student leaders gathered in Washington on Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 80th birthday and the day before the inauguration of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, to discuss the impact and role of African-American men as agents of change during the Obama Administration and beyond. Meeting at the historic Willard Hotel, where in 1963 Dr. King wrote his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, the alumni engaged in a public dialogue about the new roles and responsibilities of black men in their families, their communities, and ultimately the world.

Following the Invocation by the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, pastor of the Historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, NY, and a welcome by Dr. Robert M. Franklin, President of Morehouse College, Africare President Julius E. Coles set the stage for the panel discussion to follow. Coles noted that many parts of Dr. King’s “Dream” are beginning to be realized, citing as an example Barack Obama’s election, which was based not on “the color of his skin but on the content of his character.” Coles cautioned, however, that fulfilling other parts of this seminal speech  – “Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy” – remains a challenge to all Americans.

Otis Moss, Jr., civil rights leader and former chair of the Morehouse Board of Trustees; Jamal Simmons, CNN contributor and noted political strategist; Dr. Robert M. Franklin, president of Morehouse College; Terrence Woodbury, student activist; Sanford Bishop, U.S. Congressman; and Dr. Clayborne Carson, Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Collection at Morehouse College served as distinguished panelists. 

After spirited debate, the panel concluded that Martin Luther King’s Dream must be viewed in a broader context beyond a domestic vision that ends at America’s borders. Dr. King was a world prophet, who saw individual responsibility as a world responsibility. For Morehouse Men, as descendants of the Dream and agents of change in the years to come, their special responsibility beyond the edges of their own lives should be towards those in need in Africa, the birthplace of their forefathers. Helping Africa stop the spread of HIV/AIDS was at the top of the agenda, followed by working to expand trade relations as a means of improving peace and prosperity across the African continent.

In conclusion, President Franklin stressed the need for Morehouse to continue its program of training Renaissance Men with a strong emphasis on ethical and moral leadership. All those attending the panel discussion agreed that the topic of responsibility during the Obama Administration and beyond is vitally important and merits further exploration. Consensus was reached that there should be a follow-on conference to continue the discussion.

This discussion was covered by the BBC, WAGA Fox 5 (Atlanta), German TV and Japanese TV.

Africare is a leading non-profit organization specializing in African development aid. It is the oldest and largest African-American led organization in that field. Since its founding in 1970, Africare has delivered more than $710 million in assistance and support — over 2,500 projects and millions of beneficiaries —to 36 countries Africa-wide. Africare has its international headquarters in Washington, DC, with field offices currently in some 25 African countries.

 

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