Eric Adams, addressing the US-Africa Summit in Washington DC
Eric Adams, addressing the US-Africa Summit in Washington DC

What are we going to do with this moment? Asks New York City Mayor, Eric Adams

Reaching out to Africans in the diaspora – including African Americans - is a big deal. Big deal in terms of opportunities for economic investments, cultural exchanges, musical festivals, education tourism, historical connections, scientific and medical collaborations, etc. So it’s a wonder why for so long, these vast opportunities were not exploited fully.

Also in terms of Africa’s self-respect at the international levels, I recall Malcolm X’s note in the 1960s to Africa’s leaders that “You will never be fully respected until and unless we are also respected. You will never be recognised as free human beings until and unless we are also recognised and treated as human beings”.

Our problem is your problem. It is not a [Black] problem, nor an American problem … this is a world problem, a problem for humanity. It is not a problem of civil rights; it is a problem of human rights!”

On that note, it was remarkable hearing Eric Adams introduce the US-Africa Summit in Washington DC (December 13-15, 2022) with the following remarks:

Eric Adams speaks

I say to my African brothers and sisters, we have to be present in the moment. Prior to becoming the mayor of the city of New York, I was the County Executive for the Borough of Brooklyn, and my mother - in her third-grade education - was intimidated by that building.

It was a room and building that was extremely impressive, but then when her son became the County Executive she would walk in the building with a different level of energy. She would walk in the building with this sense of pride and purpose. And then my aunties and my cousins and my nephews, they would come and when they entered the building, they entered with this sense of sureness that their bloodline was in charge of this county, the largest county in the city of New York.

African power

And so, I need my brothers and sisters from the diaspora to understand the moment that you're in right now. You are in a moment right now when the first time in history, you are seeing power that is not American power but it's African power. But if you don't connect the dots, you are not going to understand the full purpose of this moment.

The mayor of the most important city in the most important country is an African. The head of the minority leadership in Congress - Hakeem Jeffries - is an African. Four of the most important cities in America are headed by Africans. In New York City, the top law enforcement executive - Leticia James - is an African. The head of the assembly is an African. The head of the Senate is an African. The head of the City Council is an African. The public advocate is an African. The district attorney in the Bronx is an African. The district attorney in Manhattan is an African. All of this chocolate what are we going to do with it?

So, if you come to Washington and you use this moment to be in a corner somewhere drinking wine and eating off of plates then you don't understand the significance of this moment - that Africans are running this country. You need to walk differently. You need to speak differently. You need to act differently. You need to feel the power of Africa. It's the moment we're in right now.

Connect the dots

My seven trips to Africa watching the different energy and spirit of Africa, we have to connect the dots. You can't walk in this country anymore feeling like a stranger when an African is running the country. You have to think differently of what we must do.

You have been denied, ignored and exploited on the continent of Africa for too long, all of your natural resources have been taken. You're the largest producer of cocoa and others have made the chocolate out of it. Now you make the chocolate out of your cocoa coming from your country. Use your natural resources in a manner they're supposed to be used and bridge the gap with your cousins, your uncles, your aunties that are from here in America.

When I went to Ghana - in Goree Island - two years ago, we left the continent in slavery.

So this conference is significant: share ideas, cross-pollinate energy, come up with real gains, let's focus on what is needed on the continent, and let's utilise the power we have here and make it exciting and encouraging. Let's duplicate what Ghana is doing: giving citizenships to those who are here in America so they could be citizens of the continent. Let's allow the due partnership of our aunties, our uncles and our friends coming home.

My mother transitioned last year from the physical to the spiritual, and nothing gave me a greater honour than taking her name and placing it on the Du Bois wall in Ghana. We need to awaken the spirit of our ancestors that lay on the bottom of the oceans that were ripped apart from our shores. They're watching us right now and we have to ask ourselves: What are we going to do with this moment?

I am ready to turn that question mark into an exclamation point of saying, we will unite and we would listen to Marcus Garvey when he stated, “Up you mighty people; you can be what you will!”

The writer is a trainer of teachers, a leadership coach, a motivational speaker and a quality education advocate.
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