The New Jersey Black Issues Convention, Inc. (NJBIC) was organized in 1983 as the New Jersey state affiliate of the National Black Leadership Roundtable in order to establish a network of communication and cooperation among all predominantly Black organizations in New Jersey and to sponsor annual conventions wherein critical issue affecting the Black community can be discussed, public policy recommendations adopted, and a plan of action with strategies for implementation determined.
New Jersey’s first Black Issues Convention was convened in January 1983 in Somerset, New Jersey by the late Donald Tucker, the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, Jerome Harris of the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute and Margaret Hayes of the Coalition of 100 Black Women. The convention has evolved into a nationally recognized model utilizing the Black Leadership Family Plan for the Unity, Survival, and Progress of Black People as an organizational guide. NJBIC annual conventions represent the culmination of year-round efforts to build the Unity, maintain the Survival, and strive for the Progress of New Jersey’s more than 1,200,000 African-American residents. At the same time, we recognize that most problems affecting Black people throughout the state and the nation affect the general population as well, but they are uniquely expressed in the Black experience.
The theme for the 1986 NJBIC Convention was, The Self-Help Imperative: Using What We Have To Get What We Want. This is not a new concept within the Black Community. It is similar to the sentiments originally voiced by the renowned Booker T. Washington when he said, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” That theme does not imply that all problems affecting Black People alone but it does stress that we must do more with what resources we do have.
In order to accomplish this purpose, former Congressman and Reverend Walter Fauntroy, recipient of the 2009 NJBIC Lifetime Leadership Award, often notes, Black People and Black Leaders must turn to each other, and NOT at each other! Black organizations must work together toward the goals articulated in “The Black Leadership Family Plan,” rather than their individual goals alone. Black leadership must recognize the trust, the faith, and the hope that Black People have placed in it. In fact, family must be family—Save the Children!
The first three annual conventions laid the groundwork for the continuous efforts by NJ BIC Member Organizations, Officers and Directors, State Issue Area Task Forces, the NJ BIC Youth Affiliate, County Coordinators, and Local Affiliates to accomplish our institutional objectives: 1) To establish on the county level similar networks of communication and cooperation we have on a statewide basis; 2) To develop and carry out action plans, policies, and practices beneficial to the community we serve; and 3) To implement “The Black Leadership Family Plan” through predominantly Black statewide organizations in New Jersey. To accomplish these objectives, we must always function on the basis of OPERATIONAL UNITY. This is not an easy task, but nothing of real value ever is. As Frederick Douglass said, “Freedom is not Free.”