blacks form new rights coalitions
"Black power," what widely used slogan of the 1960s, has returned as a rallying cry for two new coalitions of black leaders. The coalitions were born of unhappiness with the November election results, with the Democratic Party, and with sporadic violence against minorities in several US cities.
In late November, a National Black Independent Party held its founding convention in Philadelphia, drawing 1,500 activists from 27 states.
Last june, following increasing reports of police brutality and murders of blacks in urban areas, a "national black united front" (NBUF) was formed at a meeting in Brooklyn, N.Y., of about 1,000 neighborhood leaders from 35 states -- with black clergymen the driving force.
Neither group seeks support from whites nor coalition with them.
Both groups plan to broaden their bases at large conventions next summer. They did not expect to supplant the influence of groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, and Operation PUSH.
But both expect to wield growing influence by attracting to their ranks blacks who feel their concerns have been ignored by the major civil rights organizations.
"We shall organize a political party that will function for us," declares Zoharah Simmons of Philadelphia, caretaker of the fledgling National Black Independent Party (NBIP).
The NBIP does not consider itself a conventional third party. Its immediate goals are to organize at the grass-roots level and to make black power a decisive political factor in the United States by 1984.
"We do not see electing candidates as our priority at this time," says Mrs. Simmons, "We see as utmost the idea of community building, taking on the struggles affecting our people at the grass-roots level. We see local party units emerging and settling their own goals. . . ."
Meanwhile, dissidents who feel that the nation's criminal justice and law-enforcement systems no longer work in behalf of black people have formed the NBUF to fight what they call "police brutality."
Says the Rev. Herb Daughtry of Brooklyn, leader of NBUF, the struggle against police brutality was a unifying issue. Black people, he adds, also are concerned about the collective low economic profile of blacks in the US, and the likely effect on them of the incoming Reagan presidency.
He sees the updated NBUF, a combination of urban groups sprouting in cities since 1977 and old-line black-power fronts dating back to the 1960s led by activist clergymen like himself, as more effective today than than the nonviolent Southern Christian Leadership Conference of the 60's.