A gathering of students, faculty and staff convened at the Main Building on Wednesday, April 11 to hear Dr. Leonard Moore, interim vice president for diversity and community engagement, discuss his new book, “The Defeat of Black Power.”
The event began with a trivia game about prolific African American political leaders. Knowledgeable audience members received free copies of the book, which has been lauded as “The most thorough exploration of the 1972 National Black Political Convention” by acclaimed author and scholar Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar.
Throughout his talk, Moore shared striking photographs of pivotal figures in the civil rights movement during a time of great tension within the African American community. Turning back the pages to the late ’60s and early ’70s, Moore discussed the rift between integrationists and separatists—and how they all brought their arguments to the forefront at the iconic National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana.
More than 8,000 people attended the historic event which was designed to merge competing ideologies into a national, unified call to action.
“Although they didn’t leave on the same page, the convention inspired them to run for office at the county, state and federal level,” said Moore, who is the George Littlefield Professor of American History.
After taking questions from the audience, Moore concluded the event with a quote that he often reflects on in his work.
“Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward to guarantee the future of their children…”—Amicar Cabral revolutionary, poet, liberation philosopher and leader of the independence movement of Guinea Bissau and Cap Verde.
In the classroom, Moore keeps these words in mind so he can better prepare the next generation of thought leaders.
“I’m always mindful that, as academics, we can’t just be fighting for ideas; we also have to be fighting for material benefits,” Moore said.