In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly declared the International Decade for People of African Descent, designating Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2024 as a time period to refocus the world’s efforts on achieving freedom, justice and equality for African people wherever they lived globally. It was a momentous designation, though its significance has yet to fully resonate in most parts of the world. The pandemic is partially to blame for that.

Meanwhile, in August, the UN General Assembly made another bold move: it declared Aug. 31, 2021 as The International Day for People of African Descent/African Independence Day worldwide. This coincides with August being considered Black Freedom Month (as explained in a previous OUR WEEKLY column). August is Black Freedom Fighters’ Month already. It is also the month of Marcus Garvey’s birthday (Aug. 17th).

Aug. 31st was also the last day of the 1920 Garveyite convention that included over 20,000 multi-national participants at Madison Square Garden, New York, that elected Mr. Garvey the first Provisional President of Africa, and that produced the apocalyptic document, the Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World, and made permanently public the ever-present red-black- and green Black liberation flag (“Declaration 39: The Colors of Red-Black and Green to be the colors of the Negro Race.” Published in The Negro World, July, 1926).

This past week in Los Angeles, the resurgent Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.)—African Communities League (A.C.L.), the plus 100-year-old organization founded by Mr. Garvey, held its most recent convention, coordinated by its current iteration—the Rehabilitating Committee 2020. In spite of the continuing COVID-19 experience, the confab was well attended at the Marriott Airport Hotel and other places.

One of those places included the Douglas Dollarhide Community Center in Compton, hosted by City Councilwoman Michelle Chambers and former City Attorney Legrand Clegg. Many outsiders still believe in the 1970’s and 1980’s image of Compton as the principal U.S. battleground of gang murders and drug deals, so the U.N.I.A. convention visit was a welcome and successful respite from that urban legend.

Secondly, convention members paid their respects to the artistic and cultural center of Black life in L.A., the Leimert Park area of the Crenshaw Boulevard District, by holding a public session there. Ben Caldwell at KAOS Network grandly hosted them.

The U.N.I.A.-A.C.L. conventioneers voted this time to re-issue a modernized version of Garvey’s “Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World” as another plank in the bridge towards African unity and respect for Black people in the world. Without such self-dignity and mutual respect as called for in those rights, there is little hope that the second hundred years of Garveyite efforts, or the UN’s designation of both the Decade of the People of African Descent and Aug. 31st as the International Day for People of African Descent, will do much good in positively affecting the conditions and lives of Black folks in the world.

Yes, we must keep fighting for equal voting rights; yes, we must keep fighting for equal education and an end to Black poverty and homelessness. Yes, we must keep fighting. But fighting for what has to always be the question answered again and again. The Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World provides that answer.

I hereby refer you to them.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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