By Cheryl Brown
The late Dr. Leon Sullivans memory and his work will not be forgotten due to the commitment of Ambassador Andrew Young and Sullivans daughter Hope.
Since Sullivans death in 2000 Hope Sullivan has been working with Young to organize a non profit organization and plan a Summit in Nigeria, July 14 to 18, 2003 to fulfill Sullivans commitment to the continent.
Young is the Chairman of the Board and Hope is the Executive Director of the Leon Sullivan Foundation, Inc.
"I didnt have a choice. Dr. Sullivan made me promise to see that his lifes work in Africa did not die," said Young in an interview with Black Voice News. "He said there must be a bridge between Africa and African Americans heritage, Sullivan said. "Do your best to keep it going," said Young.
This was six months before his death. "He was very ill and said you need to stand behind me. There is nobody left but you all," said Young. When he was his sickest he checked with me to make sure I was still with him," said Young. He spoke to his daughter Hope in the same vein.
"My fathers death left a tremendous void. He was the chief advocate and fundraiser. His work was a precursor for the foundation," said Hope Sullivan.
Sullivan had it all planned until the untimely death of a close confidant Lamond Godwin, a man who he groomed to take his spot, shocked Sullivan and rocked his plans. Godwin had a heart attack and died on the golf course. He was only 53 years old.
Sullivan died less than a year later. "Dad rarely shut his door but that day he went in the room and stayed by himself," said daughter Hope.
Sullivan is the founder of OICs in the 1960s; he is also the chief architect of the program that brought freedom to millions of South Africans, The Sullivan Principles, developed in 1977 to encourage American businesses operating in South Africa to address Aparthied. Sullivan was based in Phoenix, AZ but told his daughter he wanted her to move to Washington D.C. to do this important work.
Presidents of at least 30 African nations will join the already two charter airplanes full of African Americans going to Nigeria.
Nigeria was chosen because Sullivan chose it. His untimely death cut his plan for the Summit short and it had to be cancelled.
New President of Nigeria, President Obasanjo is rolling out the red carpet. He and other heads of state, as well as tribal leaders numbering about 300, will hold a ceremony to say goodbye to Sullivan in a proper African way.
"They want to lay him to rest on the continent of Africas soil," said Ms. Sullivan. Just talking about it brought tears of joy. "This will be a tribute to him, a farewell and this one is critically important," she said.
People who have attended the previous summits see the power in Africa. They have all the worlds riches. Sullivan said that we would not have to depend on the Middle Eastern oil while the area is so unstable. According to recent reports, Nigeria provides about 11 million barrels of oil to America a day already. "Twenty percent of our oil comes from Nigeria," said Young.
We can also go on vacation on the continent. Nigerian hotels are beautiful; the conference center is state of the art. Africa is the land of opportunity. "A Continent of Possibilities," as is the title of the Summit. "We want to introduce people to the opportunities," she said.
The goal of the summit is to build a bridge of opportunity to the rest of the world. Along with the focus of education there will be an emphasis on oil energy and alternative energy sources.
Young said previous summits have blossomed relationships with organizations and businesspersons. The Links Inc, built some 500 schools, the Deltas and the AKAs have education involved programs. Ethiopian professors created a joint venture to start a new private college.
The Summit becomes a channel for Black institutions that want to do something for Africa to make the connection," said Young. He continued, African friends are the biggest hope for African Americans who earn $570 billion a year.
The $3500 cost includes a round trip charter flight, hotels and food, the planes are less than one year old. Abuja is not overcrowded and it is a well designed well laid out city.
There is still room for more. To register for the 6th Leon H. Sullivan Summit or for more information on the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, contact (202) 736-2239 or visit www.leonsullivanfoundation.org.
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