Friday, February 26, 2010

My Vision: Where We Can Go and How to Get There

Henry "Hank" T. Wilfong, Jr., MBA, CPA

Back in the 1940’s when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President of the United States, he had A. Philip Randolph over for dinner at the White House. Randolph was one of the pre-eminent Black leaders of the time, and a future organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King electrified the world with his “I Have a Dream” speech. After hearing what A. Phillip Randolph said said, President Roosevelt agreed with him and then challenged him, “Now go out and make me do it.” In other words, if you organize and mobilize and make me do it, then I will have to do it.” Today, more than ever before we need to organize and mobilize ourselves & the community, and cause the power structure to do what they need to.

My vision includes the minority communities of the United States being seated at the tables of power, and partaking of the economic and aesthetic wealth of this beautiful country that we had a major role in building. My vision is that we fulfill the promissory note owed to our ancestors who helped build and helped to make America into what it is today. Sadly, in the current scheme of things we, on the whole, except for a very few of the “privileged,” are restricted to second-class citizenry.

My vision sees us taking advantage of greatly improved education opportunities and becoming more technology enabled and proficient. We can then take advantage of increased alternative energy, energy-efficient and greening business opportunities spurred on by a renewed and proactive energy from amongst our communities. We shall take advantage of certain entrepreneurial opportunities to start and build companies which will, then, create the higher-paying jobs that will provide us and the community with the opportunity to accumulate wealth and with that, develop economic prosperity.

I see us coming together, organizing and mobilizing and making “them” do what they are supposed to do. We minorities will soon constitute the “majority.” We’ve already achieved that status in many parts of the country. It is time we make the “demand” that is required of “power.” But, remember what Frederick Douglas, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” This is no different from the popular cliché’ that there is no gain, when there is pain. Seeing my vision is not the problem. HOW TO GAIN IT – now, that’s the problem!

From where I sit, there is no “base” already established. I question if there are adequate resources to develop it. Let me put that another way. I question if we have, at our disposal, enough resources to develop it. Do we have the ability to access the “power base” and get cooperation or acquiescence from it?

Remember again, Frederick Douglas, who put it succinctly, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” When power is not put to good use, it becomes toxic and destroys everyone it touches, including bringing down a nation.

In our remembering, please recall something Candidate Barack Obama spoke of in several campaign stops. I personally heard him talk about “the urgency of now.” We are stuck with that position at this time, in this country. If we do not act now and continue to procrastinate, we will be going nowhere. If we do not seize the power now, we never will. And, my vision will be null and void.

Candidate Barack Obama promised Change, and with it, transparency and accountability. He promised that when he became President of the United States, Change would come from the bottom up, rather from the top down. During his first 100 days, President Obama has been true to his word. He never wavered from his promise to bring change. He injected a ray of hope in many Americans who were frustrated by and numb from many unfulfilled promises of politicians in the past with business as usual once they assumed office or were re-elected.

However, this is just the beginning of a two-term presidency. In order for President Obama to say “Mission Accomplished,” he is going to need a lot of help from a Congress that has become somewhat stagnant from the past 8 years of abuse of power at the White House. And he will need our help to work on Congress. Let us, the American people, speak to that Congress which must help this White House be more transparent and accountable.

Let us, the American people, let them and the rest of the country know that Barack Obama is the President, duly and fairly elected by us. He is OUR President. We insist that his “lead” be followed.

There are tremendous dynamics driven by the Stimulus Package just delivered, and the one coming in the next few months, coupled with the “honeymoon” allowed President Barack Obama to move the country forward. Now is our time! Now is our chance. He can’t do it alone; he needs our help to make change happen.

Mr. Hank Wilfong is the Savannah-based President of NASB; he is a well-known, respected and articulate advocate for minority- and women-owned businesses. Hank was the recipient of the “Lifelong Achievement Award” in 2005 from the Asian American Business Roundtable. He is Co-Chair of the Obama Unity Network and a Good Brother in Black Women for Obama for Change.

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