Engaging the Village
John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM | 8/26/2017, 6:56 a.m.
Recently, I had an opportunity to travel to Maryland and take part in a Power Networking Conference hosted by Dr. George C. Fraser. The theme was Connect, Grow and Prosper. There were over 1,000 attendees representing 45 states, the Caribbean and several African Countries.
Dr. Fraser is the Founder and CEO of FraserNet, an organization that he established 30 years ago as a vehicle to bring black people from throughout the diaspora together to network, share information relative to wealth creation strategies and capitalistic activities that could lead to financial independence. There were a number of encouraging moments for me over my few days at the conference, however what really impressed me was the significant representation of young people ranging in age from 18-35. Many of the youth tagged along with their parents while others were there taking part in the conference as registered attendees or entrepreneurs.
The conference agenda offered something for everyone. There was morning prayer service, group walks around the complex, structured fitness workouts, and a series of workshops and plenary sessions. These sessions were designed to prick the consciousness of conference participants on the political and economic standing of blacks in America and throughout the African diaspora while offering a variety of pathways to unite our efforts towards economic prosperity.
There was a Power Point presentation by Anthony T. Browder, entitled, “Recognizing our Brilliance as An African People,” which focused on the contributions to history, culture and religion of our ancestors. My take away from this module, was that it reconnected the audience with the generational tumult of our ancestors, who were captives taken from the native land then forced to work under duress in unbearable climates to produce commodities, construct infrastructure and historic landmarks that are frequented today by tourists. Something that is often overlooked in the presentation of the injustice meted out to our ancestors during those cruel periods were the massive amounts of wealth that was manifested for a few families resulting from the free imported labor. What a sobering reminder of a traumatic start for black people throughout the diaspora who slowly and methodically endured the torment while developing a resolve to change this narrative overtime.
To me, this conference in many respects represented a blueprint of actions that can be taken in communities throughout America today by black people to improve educational outcomes and career pathways for their families. Also, to encourage sustained engagement in capitalistic activities that produce wealth and economic independence.
Although blacks have made great strides both domestically and globally, we still are grossly underperforming in many categories based upon current standards. In New Jersey, we still have the highest unemployment and poverty when compared to any other group. However, looking back over the tumultuous past of black people in America, I am reminded that the possibilities exist to do better. There are constant reminders of this level of optimism in our daily existence on earth; either through reading, movies, music, social interactions or a great sermon given by a seasoned minister. There are opportunities all around us to pursue a path that could greatly impact our individual situation; however, the decision resides with you to pursue it.