National Black United Front: A decade of struggle

NBUF Convention set for Chicago

by Tim Thomas

Meeting under the theme “A Decade of Commitment and Struggle,” the National Black United Front (NBUF) will hold its 10th Annual Convention in Chicago, July 20-23.

NBUF was founded in June 1980, when some 1,000 African Americans from 35 states came together in New York. Since then, NBUF has grown from five chapters to over 18 chapters, with a presence in 40 cities.

“I see NBUF as keeping the spirit of our people alive to continue to struggle,” National Secretary Elizabeth Butler told Unity.

A convention highlight will be a community forum featuring Dr. Mary Hoover of San Francisco State University. The topic: “Toward the Continued Development of an African-Centered Curriculum in the Education of African American Youth.”

ConradWorrillDr. Conrad W. Worrill, NBUF’s national chair, told Unity, “Over the last year or two, the major focus of our National Plan of Action has been centered around what we call the Portland model. This model came out of a 1980 struggle in Portland, Oregon, against a school desegregation plan that called for busing Black children to white schools. This plan was viewed as racist by Portland’s Black community because it implied that Black children could only get quality education in predominantly white schools.”

The Portland BUF led an 80-95% effective school boycott by African American students, demanding an end to the busing program, the hiring of more Black teachers and principals, and a curriculum that included the contributions of African Americans and Africans. As a result, the school board hired noted African American educator Asa Hilliard, who developed the rationale for Black inclusion in the curriculum in areas of art, social studies, language, math, science, and so on.

NBUF chapters in Chicago, Oakland and Kansas City, Missouri, are all in various stages of implementing this model. For example, the Kansas City BUF is leading a struggle for quality education in Black neighborhood schools, as opposed to the city’s desegregation plan which only deals with racial composition of the schools. Mickey Dean of the K.C. BUF steering committee told Unity the BUF is also “trying hard to get this Afrocentric curriculum” through active parent committees.

“We have been organizing around some of the salient issues that impact upon the African American community,” said Dr. Worrill, listing such issues as “economic disparity as reflected in the policy of the government towards the African American community” and police brutality. NBUF chapters are also involved in electoral politics, women’s issues, youth development, housing, and international affairs.

“What NBUF essentially seeks to do,” Dr. Worrill told Unity, “is to represent the tendencies of various organizations in our movement working together for a better life for ourselves and our children.”