addresses Parliamentarians for Global Action
March 24, 2000
Greetings. What a very special honor
it is to be asked to participate in such a timely conference. I
was only introduced to Parliamentarians for Global Action just a
few short months ago and I can tell you that I am so impressed with
what I've learned! I am proud to be a member and supporter of such
a wonderful organization.
And just a word about President Chiluba
and the people of Zambia. The Zambian people and President Chiluba
have dedicated tremendous resources to finding peaceful solutions
for the region's troubles. I would like to commend both President
Chiluba and the Zambian people for the brave work that they have
done in risking it all to find peace for both Angola and Democratic
Republic of Congo. Not too long ago, before the Lusaka Peace Agreement
was announced, I dubbed Lusaka Africa's City of Peace. Your presence
here today once again confirms the spirit of sacrifice and commitment
of the Zambian people--from the courageous fight a generation ago
against racist governments in southern Africa to the fight today,
in the aftermath of political freedom, to redefine black freedom
and independence to include economic rights over Africa's land and
Your conference is about the very
meaning of the words freedom and independence. For if Africans are
to remain subservient to outside interests who continue to extract
African resources and leave only pain and suffering, guns, and enclaves
of wealth behind, then . . . is that freedom? And is that what the
African freedom fighters fought for?
As a young African American, I can
remember watching as African and Asian freedom fighters risked their
lives so that we all could be free. I remember the first time seeing
African Heads of State on television and realizing that as an African
American something all the way over there in Africa was affecting
my standing in my own country here in the United States of America.
I also saw how the United Nations
was transformed from the private social club that it had been to
a body more representative of all the peoples of the world. In 1961,
change was forced upon the United Nations and the colonial masters
of the world. Sixteen African states joined the U.N.
As I look back over the days of the
Civil Rights Movement, and the isolated pockets of black empowerment
that it produced and today's retrenchment from all those gains,
I wonder what did we African Americans achieve with our freedom.
My generation benefited tremendously from the disobedience of my
parents. Their refusal to accept what had been prescribed for them
as their role in society created a Congressional Black Caucus of
38 members strong.
But just as all of Africa, from the
West Coast to the East Coast down to her very heart, becomes engulfed
in flames of war and misery I ask myself, what has our liberation
on the Continent achieved?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fond
of saying, "A man can't ride your back unless it's bent." I keep
hoping that one day within my lifetime all peoples of color will
stand up and throw off from their backs those who for centuries
have been riding them.