*UPDATE* This event included 49 participants, traveling to Kalamazoo from 13 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and from four African countries. Click here to find more information on the event.
The US-Africa Network is inviting a small group of organizers, activists and scholars living and working in Africa and the US to Kalamazoo in June 2013. The consultation will include a broad range of constituencies and multi-issue groups (e.g., African Americans, immigrants and exiles, groups focused on specific issues such as human rights or health, students, trade unions, and allied groups on the African continent). These various groups have historically made essential and complementary contributions to organizing on US and Africa relations. Communication and consultation among allies to build a common vision is essential to renewing effective solidarity work. Some of the strategic planning questions that will be discussed are:
- What are the highest priority “signature issues” that a progressive national organization on Africa in the US should be focusing on?
- In the current context, what proportion of Africa solidarity work should focus on different kinds of targets of action, such as corporations, state and local governments, national government institutions, or others?
- What are the specific needs that existing groups are not meeting, whether focused on specific issues, countries, US constituencies, or geographic areas in the US?
- What new organizational structures may be needed to facilitate ongoing collaborative work to build a strong movement for progressive changes benefiting both Africans and Americans?
Panels on key policy issues will include:
- Who Takes the Heat? Climate Justice & Preserving Our Common Resources
- Follow the Money. Resource Flows and Tax Evasion
- Whose Rights? Whose Responsibilities?: Human Rights in Africa and the USA
- Whose Responsibility to Protect?: Violence and Human Security in Africa and the USA
Strategic planning sessions on organizational issues will include discussion of social justice leadership development, possible organizational structures for the network, plans for activities in the remainder of 2013, the possible choice of “signature issues” for the network to focus on, and how to frame issues, develop communications strategies and organizational forms needed to catalyze and reinvigorate US/Africa activism.
A number of the panelists and participants in the forum will participate in a local community forum the week following the Kalamazoo meeting, in Chicago (a two-and-a-half hour drive from Kalamazoo). The goals of this forum is to expand the conversation to include progressive activists from the United States and Africa. Details are still being worked out.
Serving as co-sponsors for these events are the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College, which is providing the venue for the event, and TrustAfrica, based in Dakar, which is assisting with contacts and financing for panelists coming from Africa for the events.