Umar Johnson speaks on race, education

Dr. Umar Johnson speaks on Pan-Africanism and addresses his controversial views regarding homosexuality during his speech at the KIVA on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016.

Nicholas Garisto

Umar Johnson, self proclaimed ‘Prince of Pan-Africanism’, spoke on the relationship between African-Americans and the cultural United States at the Kiva Monday night.

“Black America is at a crossroads and we are at a crossroads for a lot of different reasons,” said Johnson in the beginning of his speech, “Some of them are our fault and others are not our fault.”

Johnson spoke Monday night because of an invitation from Kent State’s Leaders of Conscious Knowledge Seekers, a student run organization led by president John Jones.

Johnson made many ideas on his beliefs as to why black America is at that crossroads. The root that sprouted his tree of belief comes from the systematic oppression of African-Americans. Johnson says this oppression is only entrenched by the irresponsibility of the black community.

Instead of engaging in life, Johnson said many in the black community substituted active life with religion.

“Slavery took away your culture and gave you religion,” said Johnson, “We are the only ethnic group in America that prays for leaders instead of raising them.”

“We don’t build leaders, we don’t make leaders, we go to church and pray for God to send the messiah, and you wonder why you dead last.”  

“Slavery made us [African-Americans] comfortable having no power over our reality,” said Johnson. Power is a key component of Johnson’s philosophy and only through power can progress be made.

“We define progress as the extent to which you control your livelihood and the institutions necessary for your people to make your own way,” said Johnson, “How can you say we have made progress when the power relationship between white and black people hasn’t changed in 150 years.”

Johnson spoke on many of the institutions that he believes creates progress such as education and economics, but all of these institutions are still affected by the systemic oppression that coats so many of his ideas.

Johnson claims that the educational system created special education in school for the continued segregation of the black community. Because of this belief he is currently seeking funds to build his own school.

“That’s why I’m working to open up the Fredrick Douglas and Marcus Garvey RBG National Leadership academy,” said Johnson.

This academy would teach a curriculum of Johnson’s choosing. During his speech, he mentioned raising African-American males to leadership positions.

Johnson says he would teach them to be men.

“Unapologetic alpha males… Garvey type, the Malcolm type, the Martin type… uncompromising black men because we need that, because we’re losing that,” said Johnson.

Johnson also believes that economic institutions hold the black community back from reaching his state of progress.

“The reason black folk are not a self sustaining community like all the other non white ethnic groups in America is because the other non white ethnic groups are able to access capital to build up the institutions that they need,” said Johnson.

Johnson’s views on the institutions of America are largely influenced by his own ideas on Pan Africanism, which he translates to “All African people.”

He believes in the unity of the black community. To him nothing else can steer the community to the path of progress in his eyes.

“Nothing comes before race,” said Johnson. Johnson has this belief because he said it is the one facet of his life he couldn’t choose. Johnson says that every other part of his life he was able to freely, choose his beliefs and he is not afraid to fight for them or receive criticism of them although he refers to his critics as attackers.

“They attack me because I’m an unapologetic black African leader who says what he means, means what he says, don’t scratch if I don’t itch, and don’t dance if I don’t like the music,” said Johnson.

A Q/A was held after the end of his speech.