national black political convention

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What happened on February 21 in the past:

Malcolm X, Muslim, Black Nationalist, and founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), was assassinated on this date in 1965.

Lemuel Haynes, Revolutionary War Veteran and the first black minister to serve for a white congregation, became the first black person to receive an honorary degree (Master of Arts) from a white college (Middlebury College) on this date in 1804.

Nina Simone, entertainer known as the “High Priestess of Soul,” was born in Tryon, NC, on this date in 1933. Simone recorded the highly acclaimed “I Love You Porgy” in 1959.

Barbara Jordan, lawyer, educator, Congresswoman, and the first black person to give the keynote address at a national political convention, was born in Houston, TX, on this date in 1936.


Civil rights activist, Julian Bond, was elected Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors on this date in 1998.

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From a drama-inducing email leak to a pattern of audible interruptions from protesters throughout, the unification of the Democratic Party remained a bit of a question mark as the convention drew to a close on Thursday evening. Despite a lineup of speakers intended to calm the anxieties of the delegates and a plea from Sen. Bernie Sanders for his supporters to go all-in with the party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, the tumult of the Democratic National Convention mirrored that of the Republican National Convention the week prior.

Even so, there was triumph amidst the upheaval and the convention marked an important moment: the nomination of the first female presidential candidate for a major party in the history of the United States.

Throughout this past week in Philadelphia, photographer Gabriella Demczuk continued her exploration of the fractures in America’s political system, examining the Democratic Party’s attempt to make itself “stronger together.”

Dissent, Drama And Unity At The Democratic Convention

Photos: Gabriella Demczuk for NPR

Americans who have not suffered these parents’ losses should be mindful about the ease of dismissing these parents as people exploited. And they should be particularly dubious of any suggestion that any of these parents and what they see as solutions to the United States’ current political problems should be dismissed out of hand. At the very least, these are parents who have decided to channel their grief in the direction of a political process or campaign they believe capable of keeping their ranks contained.

That’s hard under any circumstances. But, that’s harder still when one party just wrapped a convention where some speakers implied that police should not, under any circumstances, face questions about how they do their work, or, that black America does not care if someone who was not a police officer took their child’s life.

We are faithful to the best hopes of our fathers and our people if we move for nothing less than a politics which places community before individualism, love before sexual exploitation, a living environment before profits, peace before war, justice before unjust order, and morality before expediency.
—  Excerpt from the agenda of the National Black Political Convention, March 10-12, 1972 in Gary, Indiana