Fight the power
UB group seeks to spread Pan-African knowledge via annual symposium
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 19:03
Students from varying backgrounds and cultures are coming together to discuss struggle, oppression, politics, racism and injustice. They do not only want to voice their opinions, but they hope to change the way society thinks about black rights.
The Annual Black Power Symposium will discuss issues that relate to the history and struggles of people of African descent according to William Richardson, the lead organizer and graduate adviser of Fight the Power UB. The symposium is an academic forum for professors and students to share their research regarding the advancement of black rights domestically and nationally.
A discussion about how these lessons can be applied to organize events in the community to generate change will follow the event, Richardson said. The festivities will be held on Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Student Union 330.
Fight the Power (FTP) is a Pan-African student organization. Its goal is to unite African people worldwide and organize them to fight for self-sustainability and equality alongside the other oppressed peoples of the world, according to Richardson.
He says this event is aimed at anyone who wants to open his or her mind and to influence critical thinking in the attendees.
“Critical thought and questioning the world around you will not only help you in your political life but life in general,” Richardson said. “A man or woman who doesn't question the world around them is a victim in the making.”
The Black Power Symposium began as a small, last-minute project created in Richardson’s African Diaspora class taught by Dr. Antoinette Pressley-Sanon, an assistant professor in transnational studies. This year they want to make it a larger event with a more diverse audience because events like this do not happen on campus often, according to Richardson,
The members of FTP try to not only discuss injustice in their meetings but also get up and do something about it.
“Most student club meetings bring up some issue and everyone gives their views and pontificates about this or that,” Richardson said. “No solution or learning happens in those meetings. We push people to not only encounter these issues but to challenge them to ask themselves: ‘What can we do about this?’ You always leave FTP meetings learning something new and wanting to do something positive or, dare I say, revolutionary.”
Richardson believes events like this are necessary because there is a lack of analysis of African people’s history. He feels the history is “derided and often ignored not only by mainstream American society but also by our own people.”
“The struggles that our ancestors went through warrant more attention not only because they matter but because we can learn a lot from them,” Richardson said.
He is excited about the wide range of topics this year’s event will cover, including black identity politics and systemic oppression, a comparative analysis of the U.S. slavocracy and police institution and a sneak preview of the documentary film, Invisible Racism.
The Black Power Symposium is a large-scale version of what Fight the Power does every week in their “Liberation Circle” discussions, according to Richardson. Each week the club sits down to discuss an issue, its history, the current status and what the members could do about it. Then they go do it.
“There are not many spaces where we can discuss the history of African people,” Richardson said. “Or start talking about how we can tackle the issues that African people and other people of color face today.”
The Black Power Symposium is crucial for FTP to meet its goals because Richardson thinks events like this are what encourage people toward taking action.
Richardson believes Fight the Power has a duty to make people aware of the conditions of society, but what they do with that knowledge is their own choice.
“Our generation has a mission to fulfill and FTP’s job is to wake our peers up to that mission,” Richardson said. “Whether we fulfill it or betray it, it’s up to each individual’s choice to avoid the forces that seek to harm them or challenge those forces head on.”
This summer, Fight the Power plans on expanding its impact on inner-city Buffalo and eventually generation wide.