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.
Q: How can I become a Member of The New Coalition?
There are three levels of Membership in The New Coalition: $19, $39, and $89. Members receive a wide range of benefits, including regular publications and discounted invitations to events. You can become a Member of The New Coalition by calling 312/377-4000, or sign up online in The Heartland Institute’s secure store (for quickest access, click on one of the links below).
Basic Members of The New Coalition receive:
- New Coalition News & Views, a bimonthly newsletter that keeps you informed about The New Coalition’s activities.
- Invitations to meetings and other events.
- For an additional $20 ($39 total), Sustaining Members also receive:
- The Heartlander, the monthly newsletter of The Heartland Institute.
- School Reform News, The Heartland Institute’s monthly newspaper focusing on parental choice in education and other reforms.
- For an additional $50 ($89 total), Premium Members also receive:
- Heartland Institute premium member benefits (a $144 value!)
- Other publications and updates
Q: Who is Lee H. Walker?
Lee H. Walker is president of The New Coalition Lee H. Walker is president of The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change and a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute. He is chairman of the Illinois State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He is a director of the Black United Fund of Illinois and the Gidwitz Center for Urban Policy at National Louis University, and chairman of the board of the American Fund and trustee of the Foundation Board for the University of the Orange Free State (South Africa).
Walker is a member of the editorial board and an editorial writer for the Chicago Defender and a former monthly columnist for Crain’s Chicago Business. He is a member of Sigma Pi Phi, Delta Alpha Boule (Northern Illinois), Chicago Chapter of National Guardsmen Inc., and Chicago Chapter of the National Black Journalists. In 2001 he received the Pioneer Award from the Republican National Committee. He was the 2002 National President of the National Guardsmen Inc. He is listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans.
Walker graduated from Fordham University, New York City, majoring in economics, with additional studies at the University of Chicago, New York University, Brooklyn College, and Alabama State University. In 1975, Walker was elected vice president of the Brooklyn, New York chapter of the NAACP. He worked for 10 years as director of labor relations for a shopping center management company before joining Sears, Roebuck and Company in 1970. He as an executive at Sears for 23 years, the first 10 in the New York buying office and the next 13 in the national headquarters in Chicago. Walker accepted an early retirement offer from Sears in 1993 and since then has worked full-time as president of The New Coalition.
Since 1981, Walker has served as a member of the Community Development Board of the University of Chicago’s Office of Special Programs. He is a former member of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Chicago State University Foundation; a trustee of the Illinois State Community College System; a commissioner with the Midwestern (10 States) Higher Education Commission; and a member of the Community Advisory Panel of WTTW-TV (PBS). Between 1990 and 1992 he was chairman of the Merit Advisory Board of the Department of Personnel of the Office of the Secretary of the State of Illinois.
Q: How can I contact The New Coalition?
For more than two decades, The New Coalition has brought conservative and libertarian ideas to nonwhite audiences, and a multicultural perspective to white conservatives and libertarians. In 2005 and beyond, we expect to “ramp up” our activities … with your help! We sincerely appreciate your interest in our work and look forward to hearing from you.
Address: The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change
19 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60603
Q: How was The New Coalition founded?
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 nationÃ¢??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. WalkerÃ¢??s busy schedule of radio and television interviews, monthly columns in CrainÃ¢??s Chicago Business, and attendance at events and meetings around the country.
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 Ã¢??think tankÃ¢?Â?) founded in 1984 in Chicago, has an annual budget of $2.2 million and a staff of 23. Prior to joining forces with Mr. Walker, however, it was not having much success reaching nonwhite audiences.
The result of Mr. WalkerÃ¢??s inquiry was a partnership between The New Coalition and The Heartland Institute, a project under Mr. WalkerÃ¢??s direction that combined The New CoalitionÃ¢??s extensive contacts with nonwhite opinion leaders with access to The Heartland InstituteÃ¢??s staff, publications, and national network of donors and opinion leaders. Mr. Walker–a long-time member of HeartlandÃ¢??s Board of Directors who stepped down from that position in January 2005–has taken the title of Senior Fellow at Heartland and President of The New Coalition.
Q: Who Is Booker T. Washington?
Booker T. Washington was one of the greatest Americans of all time, regardless of color. Postage stamps issued by the U.S. federal government came into existence in the mid-1840s, but it wasn’t until 1940 that the face of a Black American appeared on one. It was Dr. Booker T. Washington. Dr. Washington was honored again in 1956, when his birthplace was featured on a second stamp. He was honored yet again when his face appeared on a U.S. coin–a 50-cent piece–another first for Black Americans. A second U.S. 50-cent piece shows the faces of Dr. Washington and another great Black American, Dr. George Washington Carver.
April 5, 2006 marks the 150th anniversary of Dr. Washington’s birth. The Washington family and members of the Alabama state legislature are planning for a state holiday to celebrate that anniversary. The New Coalition is planning a series of events as well.
Washington’s social, economic, and educational vision is just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. Some may claim he is even more relevant on the important issue of a practical education for all Black Americans–students as well as adults. In his autobiography, Up From Slavery, Dr. Washington described the Reconstruction Period [1877 to 1878] as one where “schools both day and night were filled to overflowing with people of all ages and conditions.” Some of the people were as far in age as 60 and 70, according to Dr. Washington. He went on to write, “The ambition to secure an education was most praiseworthy and encouraging.”
Fast forward to 2005. A new study of student graduation rates funded by the Bill Gates Foundation focusing simply on the percentage of students that came through the public school system and received a high school diploma had startling results. Overall, 71 percent–for Blacks it was 56 percent and 52 percent for Latinos. For the state of Illinois–which had one of the lowest rates for Blacks in the country–it was 52 percent; the rate for Hispanics was 52 percent and whites 85 percent. The study represents a 10-year trend, from 1991 to 2002 and was researched by the Manhattan Institute.
According to the Urban Institute, currently 56 percent of Black females graduate from high school, compared with 43 percent of Black males. Thus, we have a widening gender gap for males.
Despite having more than 40 Black members in Congress since the 1965 Voting Rights Act, “when it comes to the unemployment rate between Black America and white America the gap grows wider. …We see that 40 years later we are in danger of erasing all the gains we have made thus far.” Those were the recent words of National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial as he discussed the organization’s annual state of Black America.
The complex socio-economic situation we are facing in 2005 shows a similar concern that Dr. Washington was faced with during Reconstruction when he founded what is now Tuskegee University. He said, “At the bottom of education, at the bottom of politics, at the bottom of religion, there must be for Black folks, economic independence.”
While Dr. Washington became the most powerful Black man in America with fame as an educator, leader, and organizer of Black businesses, he has remained one of the most controversial figures in Black American history. His historical image has been seriously diminished. He has been labeled an Uncle Tom. This was not justified, and as Thomas Sowell wrote in the December 1994 issue of Forbes magazine, the Booker-bashing was one of the most unfair hands dealt to any Black leader in history.
Dr. Washington graduated with honors from Hampton, taught there, was a married man who raised a family, delivered a commencement speech at Harvard, and was awarded an honorary M.A. degree–the first Black to receive such an honor. He also was awarded an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth.
The bashing has been rapidly changing. Recent scholarship reveals that Dr. Washington truly earned his title as “The Wizard of Tuskegee.”
In 1984 Louis R. Harlan, distinguished professor of history at the University of Maryland, won the Pulitzer Prize for History for his two-volume biography of Dr. Washington and the Washington Papers, a 25-year project–making Dr. Washington’s the first Black biography to receive such an honor.
Dr. Harold Frank Wilson, professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, submitted an insightful paper entitled Booker T. Washington in the 21st Century: The Continuing Legacy. Click the link to read the full version of Dr. Wilson’s paper.
Q: What Is Black Conservatism?
Respected and well-informed nonwhite spokespersons are increasingly taking up the challenge of bringing conservative and libertarian ideas to nonwhite audiences and bringing their own multicultural perspective to what has been a largely white social and political movement. These spokespersons include Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, and others.
Conservative ideas are seldom embraced and advocated by nonwhites for the same reasons as motivate white conservatives and libertarians. Consequently, the multicultural perspective on economic and social policy is different from the white perspective, even if it endorses similar public policies.
Lee Walker, in a recently published book on black conservatives, wrote: “The word [conservative] is best used as an adjective, not a noun, for it seems to me that conservatism is best understood as a state of mind and type of character, a way of looking at the social order.” Peter Eisenstadt, in his introduction to a book on black conservatism, makes a similar observation:
Rather than isolating black conservatism as a distinct and separate category, this volume tries to show the importance of conservative ideas within the diversity of opinion that has always been characteristic of African-American thought.
Conservative multiculturalism holds the truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to Americans regardless of the color of their skin or their ethnic background. But our message reflects our special concerns for economic independence and strong families, good character, our people’s struggle for civil and economic freedoms, and a keen awareness of the barriers that still stand between us and our success.
Proponents of conservative multiculturalism believe:
- Racism in all its forms must be confronted vigorously, but its reality must not be used to excuse unacceptable behavior.
- Strong, intact families must be recognized as the most important element in building healthy and thriving communities.
- Individual responsibility and mutual accountability are the keys to personal success as well as community and spiritual success.
- Government’s duty is to protect civil and economic liberties and remove barriers to social and economic mobility, not to compel integration or otherwise impose on people some elite’s vision of how people should live together.
- Free markets and private enterprise are the surest and necessary route to better living standards for all groups, regardless of race or color.
- Politics is a less reliable route for success, since “majority rules” sacrifices the interests of minorities to majorities, and the instruments of government often fall under the control of the best organized interest groups, which tend not to include people of color.
Conservative multiculturalism contains messages that resonate with large majorities of nonwhites and whites alike. It does not deny the history or reality of racism, yet it rises above the class warfare rhetoric and victimology of many liberal nonwhite spokespersons. It offers solutions, not just criticism, to people who are trying to climb society’s ladder to personal and economic success. It has deep roots in the black intellectual tradition.
While much more work needs to be done to spell out and then popularize conservative multiculturalism, it is already sufficiently conceived to serve as the content of an aggressive and long-overdue educational campaign. While many organizations must participate in this effort, one organization in particular has made it the central element of its existence: The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change.