The 2015 Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference was all I expected and more. Full of new and dynamic opportunities for growth and learning, as well as invaluable contacts made available through networking social forums.
The most interesting personal experience was the off site visit to Fort Comfort, Virginia where the first African slaves were brought to America. You can't be there and not feel the spirit of our ancestors in that place.
The lecture topics and workshops were sufficiently diverse, covering a wide range of issues and concerns facing the African American community. Sadly enough, it seems that the old topics of concern revolving around issues of racism and inequality are still the primary obstacles facing the African American’s continued progress in the quest for equality.
Why are we fighting the same battles fought and presumably won by our ancestors? President Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emancipation Proclamation, yet black people are still a long way from being free. In 2015, just as in 1865, physical freedom is dependent on economic freedom. Economic dependence on white folk reduces our ability to be truly integrated into American society. As Dr. King once said, “What good does it serve to have the right to sit at the lunch counter, if you don’t have money to buy lunch?” issues of inequality in the criminal justice system relegate increasing numbers of black men to the newest form of slavery which is the mass incarceration of young black males. These issues and others, while adequately covered and discussed during the conference many times, fail to be addressed once conference attendees leave and return to their respective communities and congregations. This point was eloquently made by the Reverend Dr. Virgil Wood on the evening of the “How Beautiful Are the Feet” banquet. Meetings and conferences are one thing, but there is no substitute for action and follow through.
Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.