National Council of Elders to release Greensboro declaration in three U.S. cities
On Wednesday, September 12, the newly-formed National Council of Elders (NCOE) will release the Greensboro Declaration, the first statement of the organization since its founding a month ago. The NCOE founding conference was held in Greensboro, NC, site of the historic Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, which represented a major advance in the civil rights struggle.
The Declaration will be presented at significant historic sites of struggle and freedom, with the anchor site being the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. Other sites will be in Detroit, MI; and New York. Press conferences will be held at 11:00 a.m. in the areas’ respective time zones.
Greensboro Declaration Launch Sites
Washington, DC: ML King, Jr. Memorial Center
New York: Zuccotti Park
Detroit: New Bethel Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
11:00 a.m. (local time)
“This statement represents a new epoch,” said 97-year-old Detroit revolutionary theorist and activist Grace Lee Boggs, author of The Next American Revolution. “It calls on Americans to become engaged in a different kind of citizenship, one that transforms their souls in addition to asking them to go to the polls.” Dr. Boggs is the eldest member of the NCOE.
Other NCOE members and signers of the Declaration include:
- Bernice Johnson Reagon, Founder, Sweet Honey in the Rock
- Harry Belafonte, Activist/Performer
- Dolores Huerta, Labor Leader / Civil Rights Activist
- Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Professor & Freedom Summer Participant
- Nelson Johnson, Activist/Organizer
- Shirley M. Sherrod, Former Georgia State Director of Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Arthur Waskow, Author/Activist/Rabbi
- Danny Glover, Activist/Actor/Producer
- Mel White, Author and LGBT Activist
Council members decided to release the Declaration after both Republican and Democratic National Conventions, believing that following the presentations by elected officials, it would be important to offer individual citizens and community groups an opportunity to voice their concerns and demands. The NCOE members will invite community activists to be present at the press conferences to engage in a dialogue on the issues commented upon in the Declaration as well as other concerns that may be raised by those in attendance.
Called into formation by civil rights veterans Rev. James Lawson, Rev. Phil Lawson, and Dr. Vincent Harding, members of the NCOE represent years of committed activism in every major human rights movement of the 20th century.
Recognizing that movement elders were continuing to play critical roles in human rights movements in the U.S., the founders had been considering organizing the Council for some time. Inspired by the determined calls for justice by the emerging Occupy movement, the Lawson brothers and Dr. Harding were moved to bring their vision to fruition.
Members of the NCOE will extend their support to Occupy and other younger generation activists while continuing their own civic engagement in arenas where they have worked for years. They are also committed to the documentation and archiving of their own movement experiences in order to leave a substantial, accessible legacy for the justice workers who will come after them.