Black group calls for bold ‘Marshall Plan’ to rebuild urban America

Emerging from its recently successful “Marshall Plan” symposium, economic summit and national town hall meeting, April 3-4, in Newark, NJ, the Black New York-based group, Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), is calling for a “bold and innovative 21st Century Marshall Plan” to rebuild urban America and to support Newark’s quest to become a “Model City.”

IBW said on Tuesday that the Newark events were dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th Anniversary of his martyrdom in Memphis, TN and were consistent with IBW’s ongoing efforts to highlight the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent.

Scores of African American community economic development specialists, urban planners, community organizers, and scholar/activists along with leaders from the civil rights, faith and business communities gathered to discuss a wide range of strategies for revitalizing urban communities across the country, IBW said.

It said several participants cited the success of the US Government’s Marshall Plan in the 1950s, a $19 billion program that assisted in rebuilding Europe after the devastation of World War II.

IBW said Whitney M. Young, executive director of the National Urban League, first proposed a “Domestic Marshall Plan” in 1964.

Since then, IBW said the Urban League has been at the forefront in advocating the Marshall Plan idea and recently released a “Main Street Marshall Plan” under the current president and chief executive officer Marc Morial.

“The stellar assembly of resource persons also explored ways to aggregate human and material resources from Black America to complement and supplement the development plans and strategies, which have been devised to transform Newark into a ‘Model City’ under the leadership of a progressive and visionary African American Mayor, the Hon. Ras J. Baraka,” IBW said.

“Flowing out of the fruitful deliberations, an ‘Action Agenda’ is now being shaped for implementation by leaders and organizations committed to partnering with IBW to propagate the urgent need for an urban Marshall Plan and to move forward with the Newark as ‘Model City’ initiative,” it added.

At the Town Hall meeting, IBW said keynote speaker Danny Glover, prominent actor/activist and UN ambassador for the Decade of People of African Descent, “spoke passionately to over 500 persons assembled at Newark’s historic Robert Treat Hotel.”

“In the spirit of Dr. King, let us honor his legacy and his sacrifice to rebuild our inner cities and strengthen the ‘beloved community’ that he envisioned,” Glover said.

In his address to the Town Hall Meeting, IBW said Mayor Baraka welcomed the support for his city and pledged to continue collaborating with IBW and its allies on the broader campaign to promote an Urban Marshall Plan to revitalize long neglected and distressed cities across the country.

“We intend to establish a Task Team to develop a consensus on the essential principles and substance of a visionary and bold 21st Century Marshall Plan using the National Urban League’s Mainstreet Marshall Plan as a point of reference,” said IBW’s President Dr. Ron Daniels. “Our objective is to formulate legislation to be introduced in Congress.”

IBW said the Task Team will request a meeting with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to encourage the CBC to introduce legislation to enact an Urban Marshall Plan.

IBW has requested that the Reinvestment Initiative of the Center for Community Change, under the direction of Dr. Charlene Sinclair, play a “leading role in devising a multifaceted education and movement building strategy in support of Marshall Plan legislation.”

The Movement for Black Lives, Dream Defenders and other organizations with similar missions will be invited to participate in this historic effort as well, IBW said.

“We also are eager to continue working closely with Rev. Michael McBride, Director of Urban Strategies, PICO National Network to approach the Association of African American Mayors to support the concept of a 21st Century Marshall Plan,” added Dr. Daniels. “Hopefully, a select group of mayors can be identified who will agree to join Mayor Ras Baraka at the forefront of this crucial movement.”

As it relates to the Newark As Model City Initiative, IBW said it is committed to assist the City’s Department of Economic and Housing Development to strengthen the infrastructure of Black and Brown-led community development corporations by identifying resource people to provide technical assistance and leadership development training.

It is anticipated that the African American Empowerment Network in Omaha, Nebraska, under the leadership of Willie Barney, will be enlisted to support this important work, IBW said.

In addition, IBW has designated Dr. Michael Roberts, chairman/chief executive officer, The Roberts Companies; and Randall Pinkett, president/chief executive officer, BCT Partners, to jointly coordinate the exploration of investment opportunities in support of Newark’s Development Plan.

“There is tremendous excitement in the air about what was accomplished April 3-4 in Newark”, Daniels said. “With the collective brilliance, experience, expertise and commitment of the Resource Persons who gathered in Newark, these Initiatives could be a gamechanger for Black America.”

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