Black 'summit' may result in fund for entrepreneurs, community projects

June 21, 1994|By James Bock | James Bock,Sun Staff Writer

A National African-American Development Fund is likely to be one result of the black leadership summit held in Baltimore, the NAACP's chief executive said yesterday.

The Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. told editorial writers at The Sun that the summit's economic development committee was "putting the nuts and bolts together" for a fund to provide venture capital to black entrepreneurs and money for community projects.

"What if thousands of black churches started depositing money in a [fund] every Monday morning?" Dr. Chavis said. "African-American entrepreneurs want to go into business, but there's hardly any venture capital available. We need to fill some voids ourselves."

He said a detailed proposal for such a fund will be discussed when the sequel to last week's summit is held the third week of August, also at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Northwest Baltimore headquarters.

Dr. Chavis said the creation of the development fund "doesn't mean we want to stop putting pressure on the government. But it does mean we won't sit and wait for government programs to solve all our problems."

The economic development committee, headed by Ben F. Andrews Jr., a Connecticut investment banker and NAACP board vice chairman, is one of three working groups set up at the conference.

Dr. Robert Franklin, an Emory University theologian, was chosen to head the summit's committee on moral and spiritual renewal. Haki Madhubuti, a Chicago poet, is chairman of the youth and community empowerment panel.

The NAACP leader said summit participants wanted not to raise blacks' expectations without delivering results.

"A lot of young people are disaffected with traditional organizations," he said, "because there's been a lot of rhetoric, but no follow-through."

Dr. Chavis said political issues were secondary to economic themes at the summit. He said the Democratic Party was not "even mentioned in 2 1/2 days" and analysis of the Clinton administration's record also was not a central concern.

A recent University of Chicago survey indicated that nearly half of black Americans favored formation of an independent black political party, but the NAACP leader said, "I personally don't think that will happen. I don't think the community is ready for that."

"What people want to see is African-American politicians deliver," he said. "

The summit was controversial because of the presence of Louis Farrakhan, the black separatist leader of the Nation of Islam, over the objections of Jewish groups and some NAACP members who noted his history of anti-Jewish remarks.

The NAACP said a poll of 3,750 of its members showed that 85 percent favored inviting Minister Farrakhan. Their top three concerns, the survey found, were economics, education and crime.

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