Africa Notes: The White House Conference on Africa - July 1994
July 1, 1994
The Clinton administration's Africa hands have been reminded that in politics few good intentions are fully understood. In an effort to build the domestic base necessary for an effective and sustainable U.S. policy toward Africa, President Clinton convened a first-ever White House Conference on Africa that spanned some 20 packed hours over June 26-27.
The 160 participants included such well-known African-Americans as Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, Representative Maxine Waters, Andrew Young, David Dinkins, Jessee Jackson, and the NAACP's Benjamin Chavis; leaders from most of the private development, education, human rights, and relief organizations involved with Africa; and over 20 representatives from the business sector. Instead of being hailed as an imaginative attempt to address a difficult political challenge, the conference was nearly postponed because of a threatened boycott by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and was largely ignored by the media. The sparse coverage generally focused less on substance than on several myths about the proceedings.