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  • Timothy Vaughn

Celebrate! Madlala, UN Day and Decade for Afro-Descendants



INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT and INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT


The BlackQuaker Project is excited to celebrate the first ever occurrence of the International Day for People of African Descent, a new worldwide commemoration established by the United Nations General Assembly to recognize the history and culture of Afro-Descendant people around the world. This day of remembrance traces its roots back to the First International Convention of the Black Peoples of the World, which was held in New York City in August 1920. Seldom remembered, yet highly relevant to today’s struggles, the conference saw the development of the “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World.” The groundbreaking text was a charter document for the rights of Afro-descendants which outlined fifty-four points of action to address the grievances of Black people on a global scale. This included a mandate for 31 August to serve as a holiday for Africans and those in the African Diaspora. On 16 December 2020, a resolution proposed by Costa Rica to the United Nations General Assembly would make this century-old request a reality. The new celebration also comes at the midpoint for the greater International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD), 2015-2024. This initiative, announced in 2014 by the United Nations General Assembly, recognizes the contributions of--and provides rights for--people of African descent. Guided by the three themes of “Recognition, Justice, and Development,” the Decade provides a framework for countries to take true, anti-racist actions against the ongoing oppression of people of African Descent. The theme of “Recognition'' advocates for member states to remove institutional impediments to racial equality and foster greater education on the heritage and historical contributions of people of African descent. Under “Justice,” nations are advised to reform their judicial systems to provide legal equality for Afro-descendants and to begin to grapple with the legacies of slavery, colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy. Finally, “Development” encourages member states to improve the lives of people of African descent through intervention in education, employment, health, and housing. (To learn more about structural violence against African Americans in housing, please see our June mailing here). Through these interventions, IDPAD seeks to lift people of African descent out of poverty, which Gandhi has described as the greatest form of violence.

In alignment with the goals of the UN Decade, the BlackQuaker Project seeks to foster collaboration with our Quaker sisters and brothers of color around the world. African Friends make up roughly 52% of all members of the Religious Society of Friends, in addition to the Quakers of African Descent living elsewhere on this earth. We are dedicated to providing greater education on Quakers of Color living throughout Africa (Kenya having the largest number of Quakers in a single nation), the Caribbean and Latin America, North America, Asia, and Europe and the Middle East. Our research and advocacy have been visible through our Zoom presentations. In addition to public advocacy, our Quakers of Color International Archive (QCIA) provides an expanding body of testimonies on the lives of Quakers in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the USA. We also encourage the reading of our publications: our October 2020 Pendle Hill pamphlet by Weaver, Race, Systemic Violence, and Retrospective Justice: An African American Quaker Scholar-Activist Challenges Conventional Narratives; Weaver’s January 2021 article, “A Proposed Plan of Retrospective Justice'' in Friends Journal; and Weaver’s 2008 pamphlet and lecture, Facing Unbearable Truths, the basis of a recent 2021 Minute of the Alaska Friends’ Conference, putting Justice back on the front burner as an important Quaker testimony.

Looking ahead, we applaud the recent selection of Sister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge as the Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva (QUNO-Geneva), the first African director of any international Quaker agency. Our F/friend Nozizwe is a lifelong South African Quaker, activist, and politician. She was first elected to Parliament in 1994 and served as South Africa's Deputy Minister of Defense (1999-2004), Deputy Minister of Health (2004-2007), and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (2008-2009). In June 2020, Weaver interviewed her for the QCIA, which can be viewed through the UMass Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois Library here. We are thrilled to watch her leadership continue to unfold in the coming years. Write to us at theblackquakerproject@gmail.com with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have about the role Quakers of Color and other Quakers might play in the UN Decade for People of African Descent. Also consider visiting our website and signing up for our mailing list here.

--The BlackQuaker Procent

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