Old Parkland Conference more than Justice Thomas’ comments

Star Parker
Conservative Opinion

Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education
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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently expressed alarm about the leaked draft opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade. What has received little attention, in contrast, is the event where the 73-year-old Justice made his remarks. Straight Arrow News contributor Star Parker reminds us of the rich history of the Old Parkland Conference and its predecessor: 

The event was a convening of the nation’s leading black conservative intellectuals – from academia, policy institutes, media – to focus on, as explained in a press release from one of the institutional sponsors, the American Enterprise Institute, why “Despite decades of affirmative action programs, wealth-distribution schemes, and other well-intentioned government efforts, racial gaps in educational achievement, employment income, family formation, and crime persist.”

The venue, Old Parkland in Dallas, was provided through the generosity of Texas businessman Harlan Crow.

The Old Parkland Conference was inspired as a reconvening of a similar effort organized by economist Thomas Sowell in December 1980 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco – a pioneering effort, the first of its kind.

As that time, in 1980, Sowell was already making his mark challenging what had become conventional wisdom that it was essential for government to play the central role in dealing with challenges facing black Americans.

Sowell, who began his career seeing the world from the perspective of the left, changed. He was once asked in an interview what drove his transformation in perspective from left to right, and he answered, “facts.”

Looking over those who presented at the 1980 Fairmont Conference, we see greats who no longer are with us. Greats like the late economist Walter Williams and economics Nobel laureate Milton Friedman.

The topic of Friedman’s presentation then says it all. “Government is the problem.”

One attendee of both events – the Old Parkland Conference I attended last week, and the Fairmont Conference in 1980 – is Clarence Thomas, who attended in 1980 as a young congressional aide.

The analysis and conclusions of Thomas Sowell and others 40 years ago at the Fairmont Conference were correct. They saw then that human lives are not liberated by government programs and politics, and they saw then that that approach would make lives worse not better.

And this is indeed what happened.

 

Recent remarks by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, noting the institutional damage caused by the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion on Roe v Wade, has gotten exhaustive coverage in the press.

But, not surprisingly, the venue where Justice Thomas made these remarks has gotten little attention by these same journalists.

The event was a convening of the nation’s leading black conservative intellectuals – from academia, policy institutes, media – to focus on, as explained in a press release from one of the institutional sponsors, the American Enterprise Institute, why “Despite decades of affirmative action programs, wealth-distribution schemes, and other well-intentioned government efforts, racial gaps in educational achievement, employment income, family formation, and crime persist.”

The venue, Old Parkland in Dallas, was provided through the generosity of Texas businessman Harlan Crow.

The Old Parkland Conference was inspired as a reconvening of a similar effort organized by economist Thomas Sowell in December 1980 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco – a pioneering effort, the first of its kind.

As that time, in 1980, Sowell was already making his mark challenging what had become conventional wisdom that it was essential for government to play the central role in dealing with challenges facing black Americans.

Sowell, who began his career seeing the world from the perspective of the left, changed. He was once asked in an interview what drove his transformation in perspective from left to right, and he answered, “facts.”

The Old Parkland Conference was organized and hosted by four of America’s leading conservative black thought leaders – Brown University economist Glenn Loury, Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal, Ian Rowe of the American Enterprise Institute, and Shelby Steele of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Three days of speeches and panels covered the gamut of today’s racial discussions.

Looking over those who presented at the 1980 Fairmont Conference, we see greats who no longer are with us.  Greats like the late economist Walter Williams and economics Nobel laureate Milton Friedman.

The topic of Friedman’s presentation then says it all.  `’Government is the problem.”

One attendee of both events – the Old Parkland Conference I attended last week, and the Fairmont Conference in 1980 – is Clarence Thomas, who attended in 1980 as a young congressional aide.

The analysis and conclusions of Thomas Sowell and others 40 years ago at the Fairmont Conference were correct.  They saw then that human lives are not liberated by government programs and politics, and they saw then that that approach would make lives worse not better.

And this is indeed what happened.

I began my work in the 1990’s inspired to bring the success of a capitalist America to the failures in our nations low-income communities caused by socialism. 

What we have today, unfortunately, is the reverse. 

Mainstream American is looking more like our poor communities destroyed by socialism than the other way around.

So, my work must continue. And the Old Parkland Conference has inspired me to continue it with even more zeal.   

The special responsibility of African Americans, even with our unique and troubled history, is to show that evil occurs because men sin. 

Not because the vision of American freedom is flawed, as we hear almost hourly from progressives.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion answer on race matters can only be to seek, in the words of Lincoln, “a new birth of freedom,” for every American of every background.


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