Q: What Is The New Coalition?
The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change is a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago devoted to advancing conservative multiculturalism, a way of looking at the social order that leads to conservative or libertarian conclusions, but that is filtered and changed by experiences both historic and personal that are not shared by others.
The New Coalition was born out of the excitement and energy of a conference convened by Dr. Henry Lucas and Thomas Sowell in 1980 in San Francisco, California. This conference, called the Fairmont Conference, attracted Democrats, Republicans, independents, and community activists from around the country. Those attending included many of the nation’s leading intellectuals, including Michael Boskin, Milton Friedman, Edwin Meese, Chuck Stone, Clarence Thomas, and Walter Williams. Together, they called for a New Black Agenda that stressed free enterprise, community, and individual empowerment.
The New Coalition operated for over a decade in San Diego until 1993, when Mr. Lee Walker, who had attended the 1980 conference and was elected to its national board of directors, incorporated it as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation. For the next 10 years, Mr. Walker and The New Coalition maintained an office in downtown Chicago, exposing millions of people across the country to the conservative black perspective through Mr. Walker’s busy schedule of radio and television interviews, attendance at events and meetings around the country and his work on the editorial board of the Chicago Defender. Mr. Walker serves as Chairman of the Illinois State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and was a former weekly columnist at Crain’s Chicago Business.
In 2002, Mr. Walker asked The Heartland Institute to help him marshal the resources necessary to take The New Coalition to a new and higher level of effectiveness. The Heartland Institute, a national research organization (or “think tank”) founded in 1984 in Chicago, has an annual budget of $3 million and a staff of 30.
The result of Mr. Walker’s inquiry was a partnership between The New Coalition and The Heartland Institute, a project under Mr. Walker’s direction that combined The New Coalition’s extensive contacts with nonwhite opinion leaders with access to The Heartland Institute’s staff, publications, and national network of donors and opinion leaders. Mr. Walker – a long-time member of Heartland’s Board of Directors – has taken the title of Senior Fellow at Heartland and President of The New Coalition.
The New Coalition pursues following strategies:
- Express accurately and professionally our perspective on issues of national and local concern using whatever forums and platforms are available to us.
Activities: Public speaking, media interviews, attendance at events, writing letters to editors and elected officials, op-eds for newspapers, feature articles for magazines and newsletters.
- Identify conservative blacks and other people of color and bring them together regularly so they know they are not alone, confused, or misled, but in fact are on the right track to securing a better life for themselves, their loved ones, their communities, and their country.
Activities: Host regular seminars and informal meetings to create a core of committed activists willing to study the issues and recruit others to join the cause.
- Help deepen understanding by people of color of conservative multicultural thinking so they can be informed advocates and defenders of this perspective.
Activities: Write for publications directed to black, Latinos, and other multicultural populations; write white papers, shorter essays, and small books explicating conservative/moderate multiculturalism for a multicultural audience; help newcomers to the movement get on the mailing lists of national conservative, libertarian, and mainstream organizations.
- Motivate conservative and moderate people of color to speak out on the issues of the day, to act in ways that advance conservative ideas, and to challenge those around them to recognize and respond to conservative ideas.
Activities: Issue calls to action and publicize opportunities to participate in the programs of others; exhibit at events attended by a variety of people and leaders from nonwhite communities; use public speaking engagements and interviews to call for action; include calls for action in our own publications and in articles written for others.
In all these activities we take inspiration from the life and achievements of Booker T. Washington, a man who was lionized in his time but is sometimes disparaged today by some civil rights leaders and academics more interested in politics and media attention than showing good character and achieving lasting social change. As Lee Walker writes:
As with Frederick Douglass before him and Lincoln after him, Washington had the ideas, strategy, and skill to influence the behavior of black and white Americans. Washington was a practical realist, and he worked to improve society, including race relations, to the degree he could. His wisdom is patent still today, and all Americans would do well to consult him and so further his legacy.