statement of need
‘Ask not what your community can do for you—ask what you can do for your community?’
I remain convinced that culture is the fuel that sustains the advancement of functional and successful communities. As such, there is a need to preserve and advance our culture through the development of an organization that pursues three broad goals. The first being advocacy for our community’s interests; second is social, political and economic empowerment; and finally, guided research and study.
The successful implementation of these three broad goals would empower the community so that it’s discrete and marginalized status may be changed to that of a functional community that is strong, resilient and able to assume its rightful position in society. The Center for Community Advancement advances the concept that the sustained empowerment of a people or community requires a strong cultural foundation. Therefore, the African-American Community needs to facilitate the development of institutions whose mission is to develop, advance, and protect its culture through strategic and proactive works.
What is culture? Culture can be defined in different ways, however, there is a common thread that runs through all definitions and that is: Culture is the development, improvement, or refinement of the intellect, emotions, interests, manners, and tastes. Culture also has the ability to transfer, communicate, or pass along ideas, customs, skills, arts, language, etc. to succeeding generations.
Culture should be seen as a source of strength because it results in a more refined way of thinking, talking, and acting. Another compelling reason to view culture as a source of strength is that it orders the behavior and belief systems of people and society without them being told or forced to conform.
Truth be told, man will only be at his best when he develops the true nature of himself or herself, and to do that requires a strong culture. The other reality is that we have no choice but to work together to continue to develop, improve, protect and refine our culture. Failure to maintain a strong culture will result in our failed pursuit of empowerment.
Our Community has a rich mosaic of community-based organizations (CBO) that serves to treat the wounds resulting from an unjust society. This is simply not enough, the community must set out to develop the capacity to address the root cause of these wounds. The economic empowerment of our community is one remedy to the root cause of the above-mentioned wounds. The economic reality faced by the community is that black families have lost half of their wealth over the last several years. An African- American media mogul, Byron Allen, who is reported to worth in excess of a billion dollars, characterizes the current situation facing black families quite simply as “economic genocide”.
This question of empowerment requires a robust debate in the community. It is a topic that must be at the forefront of all the community does and says. The community needs to develop vehicles that will advance these conversations and discussions.
An illustration of a robust debate in the black community, about the black community’s standing in society, can be studied by looking at the debate between two civil rights icons, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Dubois. At the turn of the 20th century some 40 years after the emancipation of the Africans enslaved in America, both men led compelling yet diverging stances on the question of “What position(standing) the Negro should assume in society”? For illustration and transition purposes, presented below is a very brief recap of the debate.
It was the position of Booker T. Washington that the Black community should continue to serve former slave masters, and prove to them that Blacks can perform a valuable function in society and therefore win their respect. Booker’s basic argument was that if our race became artisans, blacksmiths, factory workers, masons, farmers and the like that are worth to society would become valuable and therefore gain the respect of the white power structure.
Dr. Dubois, on the other hand, challenged Washington’s cautious attitude with views that included better educational opportunities, and the pursuit of excellence. Dubois argued that in any race or ethnic group there exist a class of educated men and women – leaders – who plan for and advance culture of their people “the Talented Tenth” and that the Black community should seek out the means to educate themselves so that they could provide leadership for its people; and as a consequence develop leader who will plan for and advance the culture of their people.
Today we do have an educated class of Black women and Black men. Consequently, our community now has the greatest opportunity for the continued development of our culture, advancement of our culture and protection of our culture. The Center for Community Advancement was created to pursue and implement proactive and sustained efforts in the form of advocacy, social, political and economic empowerment, and guided research and study. The intent here is for the community, through CCA, to develop the capacity to aggressively address the root causes of the social, political and economic disparity that exists. CCA proposes to build a platform designed to make Dr. W.E.B Dubois’ vision a reality.