The start of a new year is a time of new beginnings. It also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the things of the past. 2005 was filled with many challenges for me, but I can also say that it was a time of happiness. I enjoyed the Kwanzaa celebration that we, the AAABNA held at the Austin Town Hall. I think I enjoyed it more than anybody else. As I look toward the future, I hope 2006 will be the year that we as African-Americans can truly take the principles that we celebrate during Kwanzaa and apply them to everyday life.

I pray this will be the year that we show Umoja (Unity) in business and as residents and start flying our banderas (flags) on our storefronts and houses, cars and everywhere. I hope that we will practice Kujichagulia (Self-determination). We must began to look at ourselves first and create an agenda that is representative of us as a people, not by what side of town you live on, or whose ward you live in, or by what religion you practice.

Now the one principle that sticks out most to me is Ujima (Collective work and responsibility.) We have to collectively begin to work on some of the issues that face us as a race of people, such as the incarceration of our young men and women and children. We must also hold accountable those whom we have trusted to represent us as social service agents, elected officials, and those who say that they speak for us. We need to hold community forums at which residents and business owners can ask tough questions of local lawmakers as well as those running for public office. I believe the proper term for them is “public servants.”

As more development begins on Madison Street, and as the City of Chicago begins to implement the recommendations of the Macondo Revitalization Study of Chicago Avenue, Division Street and North Avenue, we should use Ujamaa (Cooperative economics) and start buying from each other. We need to stress the importance of having a section in Austin that reflects the people (African Americans) who are in the majority here and who take pride in being in this community. This should be a place where we can showcase black culture in an African-American Business District.

Let’s show Nia (Purpose) and make it our goal to create landmarks and murals honoring those who dedicated their lives to the struggles of African Americans in Austin. Although Austin has the largest concentration of African Americans in the city of Chicago, and is one of the largest geographical communities, we have no landmark or monument to honor our pioneers such as Leola Spann and Ed Bailey.

Let’s use Kuumba (Creativity) to design a community that we can be proud of and one that people from miles away will want to visit long after we are gone.

And lastly, I will keep Imani (Faith) that this will not just be an article that people will come up to me and tell me how much they liked reading, but one that they will incorporate into their plans to work to get some things fixed in 2006.