‘No Empire Lasts Forever’: Here’s What Gives These ESSENCE ‘Black Futures Now’ Honorees Hope For Our Future

ESSENCE closed out Black History Month with a fiery conversation on our radical Black future.

The panel featured some of the honorees on the inaugural ‘Black Futures Now’ list, celebrating 11 progressive and radical thinkers and activists fighting for economic and social justice.

Actor and activist Kendrick Sampson, former New York State Assemblymembers and Councilmembers Inez and Charles Barron, and Wayne State University Professor Dr. Charisse Burden-Stelly took part in the conversation with Senior News and Politics Editor Malaika Jabali, which addressed whether electoral politics can be effective for progress and how to stay motivated in light of the daily struggles Black Americans face.

The panelists kicked off the conversation by discussing what gives them hope about our future.

As Burden-Stelly noted, “Things are darkest before the dawn. It seems to me that more and more people– especially young people, especially racialized people– are arriving to a radical consciousness. Historically…these are times when our people got active and got busy.”

Mr. and Mrs. Barron echoed how history inspires them. “We have survived all of the atrocities. We have survived all of the threats. We’ve not given up….The Sankofa in me says look back and get what we need from the past and bring it in our future,” Mrs. Barron noted.

“Nothing in history said that our oppression is permanent. It is temporary, and we are winning.” Mr. Barron added. “No empire lasts forever. The American empire is falling.”

Along with his starring role on HBO’s hit show Insecure, Sampson was active in the SAG/AFTRA strikes in 2023. “I love the bubbling up of the liberation and labor movements. They’re complete interlinked. You see 5,000 Teamsters about to strike in Texas [against] Anheuser-Busch. You have the teachers unions. I think there’s an enlightenment happening.”

WATCH the full conversation embedded in this article.

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