24 Feb 1999 Statement by Project 21 at the Announcement of the Samaritan Project’s “New American Compact”
On behalf of the members of the African-American leadership network Project 21, I would like to commend Bishop Earl Jackson for bringing us all here today to be a part of his great effort to promote racial harmony and foster a more perfect union.
Bishop Jackson’s "New American Compact" contains nothing that is really "new." What’s new about it is that the things he asks have never really been tried. It asks people to look within themselves and within their communities to find the answers to our nation’s racial and cultural problems rather than looking to the government. Instead of calling on the state to outlaw hate – which hardly ever works if you look at our nation’s less than sterling civil rights record – it puts the burden of promoting racial healing with you and me and everyone you see for the rest of the day and every day for the rest of your life.
Rather than relying upon laws creating set-asides in employment practices that award jobs and promotions along racial lines, the New American Compact asks people to support policies putting everyone on an equal footing, allowing each person to rise on their own merit. It also challenges people to stretch the current boundaries of educational access to make sure that educational excellence – the key that can bring anyone of any race to prominence and success – is available to all.
Most importantly, it issues a challenge to the current civil rights establishment, which so forcefully clings to the government for support and power. As we have discussed today, the government is actually the cause of many of the problems. The New American Compact calls for people to support leaders who reject demagoguery in favor of those who support reconciliation. If the establishment does not change its tune, it risks being swept aside by the tide of progress.
Once again, I thank Bishop Jackson for his leadership on this important issue, and wish him well in spreading The New American Compact in churches and communities all across America.