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Dr. Imari Abubarkari Obadele & Brother Preston Wilcox:

 Black Nationalist & Equality within the “System” Advocate

By H. Khalif Khalifah

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FEBRUARY 6, 2010               Special to the Newport Newservice

SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, VA - The diverse representation at the recent memorial for Dr. Imari Obadele, bore witness to his genius in founding N’COBRA (The National Coalition of Blacks For Reparations). The diversity of N’COBRA was, arguably, the most successful
advancement of a pure Black Nationalist Issue in the history of Black people in
America: The
Demand that America
pay our Reparations.

 On the other hand, some of the most doctrinaire Black Nationalist you are likely to see paid final respects to Dr. Obadele. The presence of Black Nationalist represent the fact that Dr. Obadele also founded the most successful, doctrinaire Black nationalist formation one is likely to find in North America: normal"">The Republic of normal"">New Afrikanormal"">.  

Meanwhile, also present were more than a few Brothers and Sisters you will never see at a memorial for a Black nationalist, or have any association to a Black nationalist Issue.  And of course, all in between were represented, including the Esteemed Minister Akbar Muhammad,
representing Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.


            The work of great Afrikan men and women is characterized by the seemingly uncanny way they can feel the “pulse” of Black people. They understand the needs of Black people; and in a timely manner, find ways to induce them to act in their own Self Interest: this is not an easy thing to do in white America.

In a System that is based on White Supremacy, as the U.S.A. still is, more times than not, so it appears, in order to survive, Black people seldom act in their own Best Interest; to “get ahead” and “stay ahead” Black people earn our livelihoods working in the best interest of the white inheritors of  the wealth of our former chattel slaver owners.
As a Towering Ancestor, Harlem Community Servant, Brother Preston Wilcox said,
when asked why the funding of AFRAM Associates was cut off, he said:

            “They cut me off because I refused to participate in my own oppression. The doctrine of white skin privilege still prevails in normal"">Americanormal"">. We must change that.”

 Preston was just as sincere about a desire for the Liberation of Black people, as any I have ever known. Yet, his leadership and service was to achieve it by “changing” America; to accommodate Black people. Yet he worked with avowed Black Nationalist, like
myself; and he unreservedly admired the work and person of Dr. Obadele. It was
he who formally introduced this Role Model.

            Dr. Imari Obadele and Brother Preston served the greater mass of Black people. Dr. Obadele founded the separatist RNA, admonishing black people to “just do the work.” Meanwhile, anyone who ever worked anytime at all with him knew that he would say this then promptly out “work” everyone else. On the other hand, his
Founding of N’COBRA gave him a means to serve the greater mass of his people.



            Brother Preston served Black people by guile and intellect. He was a scholar on par with the giants of his generation. He was a Columbia University Professor who left that institution in the late 1960’s to found and administer AFRAM Associates. AFRAM was a consummate Reference Library in the heart of Harlem.
It was in the UBA building on 131st Street
between 5th and Park Avenues.

            “I work and live in Harlem by choice,” stated Preston. “Some folk live here because they can’t function or live anywhere else. That’s the difference.

            “See, I know,” he continued, ‘“you can’t be free if someone let’s you be free. I wasn’t the first to say that. But it is true” He shared that the quote was “subway graffiti.”

            Out of Dayton, Ohio, Preston Wilcox received enormous funding after leaving Columbia around 1967. He founded AFRAM Associates, and established it as his base of operations for the next forty years. He used the funding in a very instructive
way to non-profits and profits alike. The money was uses to “tool up,” As he
said, “preparing for day we can be self sufficient.” That day would NOT come
before he could get all “tools” in place. But he had the entire floor; filled
it will file cabinets and hired a dedicated staff to collect data as a one of
great Reference centers in African America history. For the last three decades,
Preston worked without staff, using the “tools” he’d
bought to continue to do his work.

            “He was sort of a historical collector of data on The Movement,” said Herman Ferguson, one of Preston contemporaries at the apex of his power in the late ’60 and early 1970’s.

            “He sent out a lot of data on most all activities of note in The Movement,” Continued the 92-years old Herman Ferguson, “he was involved in a lot of organizational work – collecting information and sharing that around the National Black Community.”

            Preston was in attendance at every major conference of note, from 1967 until a car accident came within a hare’s breath of taking his life in 1973.

More will certainly be written about Preston, if NCOBNE (The National Coalition of Black Nationalist Elders) can secure a lot. If a lot cannot be secured and preserved, then the little that is available will be used to point him up as a model for sincere non-Black Nationalist, historic figures
who did much to advance the interest of The Greater Black Community in North

            So as Black youth, and generations advancing far beyond, continue to strive for Freedom, Justice and Equality, there are enough role models to pattern the characterization of your work after, whether you are a doctrinaire Black Nationalist like Dr. Imari Abubarkari
Obadele; or a Equal in “the system,” advocate like Brother Preston Wilcox, of
AFRAM Associates. As Dr. Obadele was wont to admonish, “just do the work!”

H. Khalif Khalifah is a Publisher who lives in Drewryville, Virginia. To comment, or question this article, call 434-378-2140. Please e-mail  

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