Rev. Dennis Dillon’s Ministry of Global African Economic Empowerment

By Ora Burke

Black economic empowerment in the tradition of Marcus Garvey is a concept many in our global African communities talk about — but a Brooklyn-based pastor has gone further, recently launching it into practice.

Reverend Dennis Dillon delivered a rousing revival sermon at his Rise Church in Brooklyn on Marcus Garvey’s birthday (August  17) last month. It was not a revival sermon in the traditional church sense of the word. The focus of his message was a clarion call to re-dedicate ourselves to the principles of Garvey and return to Africa for collective development.

Dillon declared that we can no longer go on with business as usual because we are at a crucial time in our history. Centuries have gone by since the beginning of the enslavement and colonization of African people around the globe. We have varying levels of political empowerment in every region of the world that we live in; yet our economic conditions have been largely unchanged. We are still living at the bottom of the economic well, scrambling and crabbing for all the crumbs we can get under the colonizers’ tables.

Generally speaking, we are languishing under the Black political mis-leadership class who are self-serving puppets that work to enrich themselves and advance the interests of their former colonial masters.

Dillon passionately proclaimed that, “We’ve had political power and positions in America all the way up to the level of the presidency. We’ve had political power when you look at the Congressional Black Caucus. We’ve had political power in the state of New York when you look at the Black and Puerto Rican legislative caucuses. We’ve had all this kind of power. We’ve had this power in South Africa with Black presidents the last four of them have been Black.”

He noted that when we look at other Black nations across the world like in the Caribbean Islands of Jamaica, Antigua and Haiti, we see that same political power. He asked, “But do we have economic power? The reality is that in the absence of economic power, we don’t have power we just have positions. I will trade any day having political positions for economic power. “Political power is not enough, Rev. Dillon stressed.

He cautioned that true revival is not an event but a process of transformation that changes the lives of people and if people are not experiencing change then all we are doing is “having events.” He observed that the physical chains have been taken off the hands and feet of the Global African community but that the remaining problem is the chains still wrapped around our minds. He referenced Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and the need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.

Dillon added, “When we live in communities that we don’t own, we are enslaved. When we allow ourselves to be comfortable as consumers, while almost all others are the merchants, we are not free. When we allow the police to continue to do to our young men what they do then we are not free.”

He said, “It bothers me to see that the children of the great, great, great slave masters continue to control all of the resources that they acquired largely from the enslavement of our great, great, great grandparents.” He went on to add that this is why there are companies like J.P. Morgan, Barclays Bank, Delmonti and Dole. The latter two companies grew out of a West Indian company that once shipped enslaved Africans to the Caribbean; and when slavery ended, the companies changed their names and switched to shipping fruit from the farms they owned.

There are five key things that Rev. Dillon emphasized that we must do in order to experience a true Garvey revival. These five things are tied into the Garvey proclamation of One God, One Aim, One Destiny.

First, he shared that we have to solidify our relationship with God, which is the foundation for everything else that we want to do. Whether we worship in a church, temple or synagogue, we should be committed to putting God first and foremost in our lives. Obtaining true economic success begins with God first.

Second, we need to operate collectively by pooling our resources to achieve economic empowerment. Putting into practice what Dillon is teaching, the Rise Church has created a holding corporation called Archstone. It is an opportunity open to the community –to invest in real estate, transportation services and hospitality.

Third, we must re-establish a connection to Africa. Many of us may not have the traditional familial linkages intact, but we can re-connect through investment and development which will better the lives of Black folks both on the continent and in the Diaspora.

This relates to the fourth key thing that we must do, which is to implement a Nehemiah Plan; a Marshall plan for Africa that involves the building and the repairing of the Motherland which sets the foundation for our return for the ongoing development and investment of the continent.

Garvey, who was Jamaican-born, once commented on the insane folly of giving-up a continent for an island, urged his brethren not to do so. This fall, Dillon will lead a delegation of Diaspora Africans on a business trip to South Africa.

Lastly, we have to put in place strong organizations that are designed to empower African people across the globe and Africa itself. He recalled how the Jewish community created “Friends of Israel” organizations to empower Israel and protect its interests. We as global African people must create similar types of organizations to develop and support our Motherland, Dillon said.

Why a Garvey revival now? Dillon noted that 2019 will mark 400 years since the first ship with enslaved Africans left the door of no return from the continent in 1619 and arrived in the Americas. He added: “They had us so psychologically conditioned that we would never return to Africa.”

When making biblical connections, we see the children of Israel coming out of captivity at the 400th year. Some have seen this as symbolic of our condition. Dillon quoted from a Kwame Nkrumah statement from the 1960s that is seen as prophetic: “Just as in the days of the Egyptians so today God has ordained that certain among the African race should journey abroad from Africa to equip themselves with knowledge and experience for that day when they will be called back to the Motherland to use the learning that they have acquired to improve the lot of their brethren.”

The apostle Paul said in the New Testament that, “blindness in part has happened to Israel” because they lacked the clarity to see their sins and their true redemption, similarly, the same came be said of African people.

Blindness in part has happened to the global house of Africa, but that blindness—mental slavery—is only a temporary condition if we make it so. Time to come out of the sunken place wilderness and stay woke.

Rev. Dillon concluded his revival message with, “Next year, thousands of us should create our own door of return somewhere in Africa and say we are coming back to take our diamonds, our oil, our uranium, our copper, our gold, our cashews, our coco–We have to rise and get up and do what Marcus Garvey started.”

This has to be our clarion call.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *