Lesson 22: The Five-Year Plan of the U.N.I.A.

Below is a chapter from Message to the People: The Course in African Philosophy.  

In 1934, at the International Convention of the U.N.I.A., held at Edelweiss Park, Cross Roads, St. Andrew, Jamaica, B.W.I., the President-General of the Association presented to the convention in session, the Five-Year Plan scheme, as the most possible and practical scheme through which the Association could rehabilitate itself, and carry out the major objects of the organization.uniafric

The scheme was thoroughly discussed and adopted by resolutions, properly moved and seconded and carried unanimously, as set out in the reprint circular from the Black Man magazine, August-September, 1935, herewith incorporated.  (Secure a copy of this circular).

Explanation of the Five-Year Plan

The Five-year plan is a scheme of colossal magnitude.  Should the amount budgeted for be fully subscribed, it would enable the organization to, in a most practical and efficient manner, carry out, not only the industrial, commercial and other phases of the convention program, but to a great extent encourage and carry out many of the major objects for racial development.  The idea is to get every Negro in the world to pledge to contribute voluntarily a sum of money for five years and pay the same within five years to the Plan.

The amount to be contributed is to be left entirely to the financial ability of the individual person.  it was suggested that no person could be so poor as to not be able to contribute at least $5, within five years, to such a fund to assist in the general development of the race.  Hence, nobody should be left out.  The majority of people would be in a better position to contribute larger sums within five years, for instance, some may be able to contribute $10, $20, $100, $500, or a $1,000 within five years.

There is every reason why every African should contribute to this fund voluntarily, for it would supply the organization with the financial resources to work without prejudice in the complete interest of the Race.  It would help the organization realize all of its objects, from which each and every African would benefit.

The method of contributing to the fund is as follows:
A person desirous of contributing to the fund makes a voluntary pledge for the amount to be contributed within five years, to be paid in installments, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually, until paid.  If possible, one could pay his pledge in one payment.

The pledge must be sent to the headquarters of the organization, the Parent Body, 2200 E. 40th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.  The person pledging must give his or her full name, correct address and profession.  The person may send the first installment with the pledge.  On receipt of the first payment, a pledge card will be issued from headquarters to the subscriber or donor, with the amount pledged written on the card and the amount of the installment paid also entered.

The card is returned to the donor with the request that whenever other installments are to be paid that the card be forwarded with the installment for the amount to be entered on the card and in the ledger at headquarters and returned to the donor.  After the pledge is fully paid, a certificate is issued by the Parent Body to show that the particular person paid the pledge in contributing to the Five Year Plan of the organization.

At the close of the five year period, a record will be published in which each donor who has paid up the pledge will have his or her name recorded for the information of all concerned.

The amount of money collected in the Plan will be appropriated for carrying our the many schemes authorized by the Convention of 1934, as set out in the circular referred to above.  In explaining the Five-Year Plan, great stress must be laid on the fact that for the African to realize the objective of a nation and government of his own, he must first have financial security.  While no individual person can create a nation or a government for the race, because each individual is looking after his own personal and private business, there must be an organized cooperative effort towards this end, hence, the effort is represented by the U.N.I.A. to which all Africans must contribute and with which they must co-operate.

Established nations and governments get their revenue from taxes levied on the citizens.  The African having no government cannot raise revenue for such a purpose in that way, hence, those who desire such a thing must be voluntary contributors.

The establishment of the different enterprises which will help to find employment for Africans, and the profit of which will go to help the organization to carry out its nationalistic program, is in keeping with the principles of the organization; to hold all its properties and wealth in hereditary trust for the African race.  A contribution to the fund simply means that one is helping to place the race, through organization, in a position of financial security, through which it can march on to the realization of nationhood and government.

If everybody contributed just the amount of money that is thrown away on nonessentials, in five years, it would turn out that the very amount that would have been lost in waste, becomes the actual resource to establish that which is most needed by every African in the world.

Therefore, it is a patriotic duty of every African to contribute to the fund to make the Plan a success.  The many enterprises we undertake in America, Canada, the West Indies, South and Central America and Africa, will be instrumental in finding employment for countless thousands of Africans who never would have been employed otherwise; if the Plan is fully supported.  The very magnitude of the Plan would give it status that would compel respect for the aims of the organization by all races.  The Five-Year Plan has been seen as the most thoughtful economic program that could be undertaken as a solution to the economic, industrial, political and other problems of the African.   No African should be left out of an interview on the subject without fully convincing her/him that she/he should contribute and to have her/him contribute to such a Plan.

How to Get Results

There is no use trying to represent the U.N.I.A. before making up your mind to get good results.  The most important results are financial, active and moral support.

Financial support means to get as much money as possible to help finance the program.   In getting such money, you must do so at the least cost, so that the amount received will produce a net that can be used for the purpose for which it was obtained.

Active results mean enrolling persons as active members of the Association; people who will always work as members to help put the program over.

Moral support means to secure sympathy and cooperation from individuals so that the organization can always count on such persons to do their best for the movement.

The Way to Get Money

There are many ways to get money for the U.N.I.A.

  1.     Approach and interview the most substantial members of the race in your community or your jurisdiction, such as, the ministers of the gospel, doctors, lawyers, business men and substantial tradesmen and persons of important occupations.  Meet them at their homes or at their offices or places of business and seriously talk to them about the program of the organization.  Explain to them all its details, aims, and objects and after doing so, ask them to contribute to the assistance of the Association.   Whatever they contribute must always be recorded with their names, occupations and addresses.  The names of such persons must always be transmitted to the Parent Body for record and all remarks that may be necessary to explain the character and disposition of the person must be added to the report on each person, so that the Parent Body can be advised as to the nature of the person to help the cause.  This is important also, because communications with the people must be couched in language consistent with the person’s disposition and intentions.
  2.     It must be taken for granted that people of this class will be skeptical at first, and have to be convinced by proper arguments.  If you can win over the support of such people who are the natural representative class of the race in the community, you have achieved a great deal in winning the kind of support that will enable the organization to speak with authority because it has the best class of people supporting it.
  3.     In approaching ministers of the gospel, always be diplomatic enough to convince them of the Christian policy of the organization and the willingness of the organization to support the cause of the Christian religion.  If the preacher is won over and he contributes, you may get further assistance from him by seeking permission to speak to his congregation to raise funds for the organization.  In doing so, always arrange with him that a percentage of what is raised is given to the church, so that he may feel interested and satisfied to assist that way.  No preacher should be left until he has consented to help in some way, because there is no greater way of the church showing its willingness to expand the functions of the church than by helping a cause like that of the U.N.I.A.  If a preacher refuses, it is evident that he has not been in touch with the proper argument or that he is positively selfish.
    One of the arguments to be used with the preacher is that by preaching unity, the Association is assisting the church by getting Africans to support their own religion just as they are encouraged to support everything else that is theirs.
  4.     In approaching a doctor, you should point out that by the Association preaching unity, self-support and self-reliance, you are helping to increase his practice in the community.  The same argument should be used for African lawyers and African business men.
  5.     The argument for those who are in good positions, employed as they may be by white people, is that the white people will not always employ Africans.   they will only do so until they have been approached or forced to substitute white employees for Africans.  You must convince these Africans that the Association is seeking to establish such economic and industrial independence for the race as to be able to find substantial employment for its own men and women of quality and ability as evidenced by the program of the Five-Year Plan.  Tell them that with the success their support will help bring about, this can be achieved.
  6.     A general approach should also be made to all other Africans, in their homes, or at any place that you may conveniently meet them.  Get them to contribute individually by using good sound arguments for their support.
  7.     The argument for the common people is, that there is no economic security for the race when it has to always depend on the white man’s employment, therefore, by supporting the U.N.I.A. to the point of success, opportunities for employment will be created by the establishment of factories, mills, commercial, farming and shipping enterprises, etc., which may offer them employment according to their training.
    You can explain to all of them, professional and common people, alike, that contributing to the funds of the U.N.I.A. is no different to contributing to the funds of white organizations, which so many of them have done, for so many centuries, but the point is that while contributing to white organizations they are supplying the club to break their own heads, economically and politically.  In contributing to the U.N.I.A. they will be supplying the ammunition that will be used to fight their enemies and to establish their own security.  Explain to them that there is as much need for self-denial, even to the poorest person of the race, to help the U.N.I.A., as the self-denial to help other causes with which they are not directly identified.
    There should be a proper method of approach in acquiring funds for the organization.  If you are a representative of the organization.  If you are a representative of the organization, you will be supplied with the necessary credentials and the necessary account forms to submit for the gathering of such support.  No one is supposed to make an appeal for the U.N.I.A. who is not authorized to do so, because it will mean trouble and fraud and would be unworthy of anyone who has secured these lessons.   This method of approach must not be used for personal purposes, but only for the purposes of the U.N.I.A.

One of the major ways of raising funds for the U.N.I.A. is by public meetings advertised for the U.N.I.A. to explain its objects and to speak on its general program.  Such meetings may be arranged through the agency of divisions of the Association or an affiliated one or through agents in a community.  Where there is no branch of the Association, these meetings can be arranged through friendly churches.
In organizing such meetings, an agent should be appointed first, a place secured and proper advertisement prepared and distributed in the community before the date of the meeting.  In a community of 2,000 people, at least 1,000 handbills should be printed.  In a community of 10,000 or more people, 2,000 or 3,000 handbills should be printed and widely distributed among the African population.  All agents should be written to and asked to see that this is carried out so that upon going to the place to address the meeting, you will not go where no one knows about it.  Always word your handbills in the most attractive manner so as to create interest among Africans.
You should mention that you are a graduate of the School of African Philosophy to suggest to the public that you have rare, uncommon knowledge of great importance.  This will attract their curiosity.  When speaking at such a meeting you should be at your best on the subject that you are going to discuss.  After you have made your speech, sit down for a couple of minutes, then rise again and make your financial appeal.
Unless you are addressing a division, don’t make an appeal for money in the speech that you make, because people will think that you are only speaking for money.   Immediately after the speech, get up and make another short speech for funds to support the organization.
Always have your meeting well organized inside by arranging for ushers to take up the collection after you have asked for special contributions, which should be brought up to a table immediately in front of the platform.  After you have made the appeal for special contributions of large amounts, then get the ushers to take up the small contributions.  Never ask for extraordinary amounts in special contributions.   Consider the pockets of the people.  You may ask for $5, $3, $2 or $1 from those who can give that much for such a cause; then after you have exhausted that, you may even ask for special contributions of 50c and then take up a collection from those who may not be able to give more than 25c or 10c.
When you go into a strange community where the people are not members of the U.N.I.A., make your first public meeting a meeting for obtaining members.  All members who are to join must pay $1; 35c of which is the dues for the 1st month, 25c is the joining fee, 25c is for the constitution and 15c is for the button and certificate.   Each person must be given a receipt for the $1, then the person’s name, occupation, address and age is registered in the book.
If you have secured seven or more people as members, you have enough to start a division.  After the meeting, call upon those who have joined to appoint a president, and then have them elect a vice-president, a treasurer and a secretary.
Leave a constitution and tell them that they must control the organization in keeping with the constitution.  Tell them that they will be privileged to hold regular meeting; suggest twice a week, but particularly on Sunday at 3 P.M. or at 8 P.M.  Instruct them to work to secure more members and then they can apply to the Parent Body for a charter, the cost of which is $25.  Also tell them that they are privileged to collect money in their community from others who are sympathetic to the Association to secure money for the charter.
You should keep in constant touch with the secretary you have elected and find out when they are ready to apply for their charter, then recommend that they contact the Parent Body for the charter.  When they receive their charter, they should be advised to have special meeting for the dedication of the charter.  Then invite all the Africans of the community to attend at which time they should try to get more members for the Association.
If you remain in town for one, two or three days to work up a division or to visit a division, you should take the time to interview all the potential members in the community, to get financial support for the organization, so that the expenses of the trip will not only be on the meeting but on the community from whom you may get financial support.
In getting people to join a division and elect officers, you should leave with them that portion of the first month’s dues that is the division’s, according to the constitutional law.  Also leave them a portion of the proceeds to enable them to start out with something in their treasury.
When setting up a new division, you should always advise them to rent a hall of their own where they will be able to hold their meetings without being disturbed.   Suggest to them that they should not only depend on the regular monthly dues and the collections to support the division, but they should organize entertainment of an innocent nature, such as, dances, concerts, beauty contests, popularity contests, or any kind of social event on a regular basis to help bear the cost of the rental place.   You should explain to them that from the very beginning the division must make a regular monthly report to the Parent Body; this is in accordance with the constitution.
You should point out to them and then mark those important sections of the constitution that deal with the relationship between a division and the Parent Body.   If you are a representative of the U.N.I.A. with credentials, such as a commissioner of a state, you should raise funds in the following ways for the Parent Body which you represent: 1. Hold bazaars within the state, 2. picnics, 3. garden parties, 4. concerts, 5. or any general amusement that the public is accustomed to, and would likely patronize for a cause.  6. Flower days, rose days, tag days or self-denial days.   If these functions are to take in the entire state, then ask all friends or divisions within a special community, then ask all friends or divisions in that particular community to co-operate.  This must only be done with previous arrangements with the Parent Body.  A report to the Parent Body must accompany every such function.   All these functions must be held in the name of the organization.  You may also have groups of people in your jurisdiction organize house parties and give public entertainment for the benefit of the organization.  A way to do this is to approach some responsible person on a street or in a neighborhood and ask him to invite his friends to his house for the party.  If possible, you should always be present, unless the person you have asked to have the party is a responsible and honest person, who is in sympathy with the organization.
If you arrange a tag day or a flower day, this should be of a private organizational nature, because if made public, it would be in conflict with certain municipal or state laws governing charities.  These things are to be organized within the organization and among its friends.  You can appoint members of the organization, such as units of the Black Cross, to go into peoples homes and offices and ask them to buy a tag or a flower to help the cause.  Do not have them do it publicly, on the street, except in communities where you are privileged to do so.
In organizing these things, always try to get interesting people to help who will take part in these activities for the love of the cause and not for payment.  You can arrange with churches in your jurisdiction to stage plays at their church hall or in the church on a percentage basis, and then get local talent in your jurisdiction to contribute to the program free of cost.  In this way you will find yourself continuously active.   After you have done this thoroughly for a year, you will become acquainted with all the parties and it will then be very easy for you to do the same thing annually.

In such work, let every minute count, because if you appreciate all this, you will have no time for idleness.  As far as white people are concerned, we do not specialize in seeking contributions from them, but where you think it is wise to arrange lectures among them, revealing only the humanitarian part of the work, you may conduct such lectures and raise a collection of ask for help only on those humanitarian grounds.  do no commit yourself in any statement that would lead them to think that they could become members of your Association, or be affiliated with it or have any part in it.  To do so, would be a direct violation of the constitution and against the Association.  This applies to individuals of the races that you may ask to contribute to any special fund, but wherever such contributions have been made, a record should be kept of the person’s name and address, and a report should be given to headquarters, with remarks made to show the contributor’s race, for the purpose of guiding the Parent Body in communications with such persons, then and in the future.


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