Tuesday, April 12, 2016

From The Final Call Newspaper

Rebuilding The 'HoodBy Richard B. Muhammad, Eric Ture Muhammad and Kenetta Muhammad -The Final Call- | Last updated: Apr 12, 2016 - 11:30:33 AM

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(L-R) A child wears 10,000 Fearless onesie. | Volunteer puts paint brush to work. | Photo: Rashaad Muhammad | Clearing brush and landscaping is part of beautification efforts. Photo: Erick Muhammad Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad and Rev. Timothy McDonald are making a difference in The Bluff. Photo via Facebook

ATLANTA—“God is in The Bluff,” a long ignored part of a city once called the New Mecca for Blacks, but it’s no spook or spirit, it’s live men, women and even children on a mission to resurrect this neighborhood known for drugs, violence and poverty.


The phrase was coined by Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, head of the local Nation of Islam mosque and its Southeast Region, who works in tandem with Reverend Timothy McDonald. A fruitful Muslim-Christian relationship is making the community a decent place to live—following a directive from Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan from the movement’s headquarters in Chicago and in major addresses in Detroit and Chicago earlier this year.

Speaking at a special meeting webcast from Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad passionately shared the work of the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women in his city, which is credited with bringing more change in months than in 50 years.

“The thing we have to do is obey the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” said the former Nation of Islam Supreme Captain pushing the rebirth of The Bluff. The Minister called for 10,000 Fearless to restore Black communities last year during and in the run-up to the successful Justice Or Else! 20th anniversary gathering of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., last October.

Blacks are suffering regardless of their religious affiliation, observed Rev. McDonald, who spoke April 5 at the same special meeting in Chicago.
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Patrol vehicles and transportation vans used by the 10,000 Fearless working to make a Black community a decent place to live. Photo via Facebook

Min. Farrakhan shared his joy at the work underway in Atlanta and called for it to spread across the country. Brother Sharrieff Muhammad was given a command and found a way to produce the desired results, said Min. Farrakhan.
                    
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“I would like to see the example of Brother Sharrieff and Rev. McDonald duplicated, triplicated, quadruplicated, quintuplicated all over this nation,” said Min. Farrakhan during April 5 Mosque Maryam meeting. Photo: Haroon Rajaee
The details about the assignment were not given but the commitment to do the work was there, he continued. You are more equipped to do things than you think, the Minister told Muslim members watching via the internet. Faith is required to do great work and Jesus admonished his disciples to have greater faith, Min. Farrakhan added.


When you are doing something others will come to help—even Caucasians eager to avoid God’s chastisement will assist, but you have to do something, he said.

Don’t be afraid to stand up in my name, Min. Farrakhan continued. Brother Sharrieff Muhammad was not afraid and is having success and God did not come for us to be unsuccessful, he said.

In March over 160 volunteers from 30 organizations worked beautifying The Bluff using paint and other supplies and equipment donated by Home Depot of Southwest Atlanta. The work is based out of the 10,000 Fearless Headquarters of the South, a home purchased in The Bluff. The English Avenue Community, commonly known as “The Bluff,” has the highest crime rate in Georgia.                     
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Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, Ishmael Muhammad and Rev. Timothy McDonald at special meeting in Chicago. Photo: Rashaad Muhammad

In 2005, Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad established People United For Change Inc., which partners with 10,000 Fearless Men & Women to bring free resources to the community at the headquarters housed at 801 Joseph E. Boone Blvd., in Atlanta.

People United For Change Inc., Home Depot, 10,000 Fearless, Muhammad Mosque No. 15, the Atlanta LOC for Justice or Else! and Sankofa United Church of Christ, under the leadership of Reverend Derrick Rice, united to create “Making Our Community a Decent Place to Live”  Day March 18 in The Bluff.

But the movement started by simply following the instructions of Minister Farrakhan: People United for Change and the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women of the South moved into the community together and started to help fix up houses. They started beautifying the neighborhood by painting houses, improving landscaping and even fixing siding on homes. Karriemah Muhammad went to hardware and paint stores asking for donations. A visit to Home Depot in Southwest Atlanta led to store manager Jeff Stallings joining the effort.

Student Minister Sharrieff shared how he told those offering to help that there would be no strings attached to any donation or assistance. They are not used to Black men standing up like men, he said.
As the environment improved, there was a decision to hide dilapidated homes behind a wall with a mural, he recalled. City officials fought the wall but eventually tore down the blighted structures. When city employees asked who gave permission for the wall and the mural, Student Minister said he responded: “God did!” Then he asked city officials: Who gave permission for neighborhood neglect to run rampant?

While providing free food and clothing, it became clear some in need or even homeless were military veterans, said Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad. The group’s Ambassador for Veterans Affairs, Michael Duncan, did intake and discovered vets were having problems getting services, he said. Refusing to take no for an answer, or be given the runaround, led to a meeting with Veterans Administration officials and connections to ease the suffering of those who served this country, said the Nation of Islam student minister. He was joined in the meeting by Mr. Duncan.
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The headquarters for the 10000 Fearless of the South and the base for revitalizing a suffering Atlanta neighborhood. Photo: Erick Muhammad

In that meeting, Min. Sharrieff Muhammad added, Veterans Administration officials were told flat out that “Farrakhan’s man in Atlanta” was who they were dealing with. It resulted in promises to streamline veterans and promises for a follow-up meeting if the sit down didn’t yield results.


“I worked in this community 32 years ago,” said Mr. Duncan. He often felt alone, opposed by housing officials and felt indirect threats from police. He is a disabled vet, but after Barry Muhammad invited him to join the 10,000 Fearless, he found allies. “Now, it feels good to be in an environment where you are not the only one trying to do the work. I know this is God’s work. I believe that when you allow your hands, your mouth and your strength to be a tool for his purpose, he will lead you, he’ll take over,” he said.                     
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A youngster gets coaching as he helps out. Photo: Erick Muhammad

His evaluation of veterans logs their vital needs, branches of the service and their benefits denials. Many were in the VA database but were mistreated, ignored or turned away before Mr. Duncan started literally walking individual veterans through the bureacracy. It was traumatizing for these men and women being rejected after serving their country, he explained.

“At the time that I served it was during the U.S. invasion of Grenada. And if they were sending you there, you could not say you weren’t going. They’d put you in jail. Under their rules during a time of war, they could hang you for treason,” Mr. Duncan shared. “You have men who were subjected to that kind of treatment, who have rights who are entitled. So we are walking people back through this system and we are demanding access on their behalf to get them what they deserve.”

The Bluff restoration effort has included fixing roofs, putting up new fences, picking up trash, landscaping and creating a peace garden. Health screenings, food giveaways, conflict resolution and training to join the 10,000 Fearless are held at the 24-hour center. The headquarters also provides counseling, youth programs, culinary arts and other training. An “Occupy the Corner” initiative involving several groups trains to patrol The Bluff. The training suite is named after a longtime Nation of Islam pioneer, Minister Abdul Rahman Muhammad.

An April health fair, led by the Mosque No. 15 Ministry of Health and Human Services and Alternative Health Practitioners, was held at the 10,000 Fearless headquarters. The focus was health education and alternatives to traditional medicine. Passersby and residents waded through sidewalk tables and displays, had their blood pressure taken and were engaged in conversations about health. Louis Muhammad, Saabirah Muhammad and others are responsible for community outreach.                     
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Muslim woman lends hand to inspiring effort. Photo via Facebook

Lavania Morris, 63, was born and raised in the Bluff. For 15 years, she has needed dentures. “The impact of 10,000 Fearless on me and in the community is a godsend. Let the church say amen,” she exclaimed.  “It’s a nice program they have done wonderful work and a miracle for me,” as she proudly, showed off a toothless smile. “Sometimes, I help here with the food and clothing and whatever, and it feels good to work on our community first and make it proud and beautiful. Brother Sharrieff is so loving and kind. Brother Farrakhan taught him well,” she said.

“He (Brother Sharrieff) sent a man to make a mold for my mouth and he made me teeth and they are being given to me at no cost,” she added. “The sisters, Kenetta and Alicia Muhammad, have fitted me with outfits. I have always been dreaming on showing my culture. But the impact the brothers and sisters have had on me and this neighborhood has been so loving, so strong and I thank God.”

Chicago native Haroun Shahid Wakil lives in Atlanta and works with 10,000 Fearless through The Street Groomers, a collective of former so-called gang members working on freedom for U.S. political prisoners and those forced to live in exile. Mr. Wakeel frequents The Bluff headquarters. He assists with community patrols and educates residents about political prisoners. “It’s a bunch of guys that come from the streets—the GDs, the Stones, the Vice Lords—that decided to come together over common issues. Right now we are trying to get Imam Malik and Larry Hoover out, they both are political prisoners. But the work of the 10,000 Fearless, the fixing up and cleaning up is very positive,” he said.

Gerald Rose of the Atlanta-based New Order National Human Rights Organization stopped by for an impromptu meeting with Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad and to lend support for the rebuilding work. “This is my first time over here, but I heard of the efforts toward saving this community. So I physically wanted to come over here and thank Minister Sharrieff and offer my support. I have known him for quite a while,” he recalled. “I come to congratulate him and to meet with him over how we can continue our work together.”

Reginald Ward, a 58-year-old Bluff resident, took a break from distributing food and clothes in front of the 10,000 Fearless headquarters. He lives on the streets and sleeps in nearby woods. When it rains, he rests on the front steps of a nearby church. He sat along a sidewalk, eating a bell pepper and watching people pick through donated clothes. He had just laid out the clothes for display.

“I have stroke on the brain, an enlarged heart, and emphysema. Smoking has destroyed both of my lungs. I have an enlarged prostate and vein damage in my legs. They are in constant pain. The doctors have to perform ultrasound just to get a pulse from my feet,” he told The Final Call.

“But God is my deliverer,” he said. “This has been a destroyed community. I see them working for us and I do what I can to help. I read the Holy Qur’an and the Bible and I find them both saying the same things. Our people need each other. It’s about choice. These people have done a lot” in a few months, he said.

“They are teaching us that God is real and without him, we don’t have anything. And we haven’t had anything for a long time, until the 10,000 has come. So, I spend a lot of time on the corners where the brothers be and I tried to teach them and show them what I know and tell them to help ourselves here. I thank God. He is real,” Mr. Ward said.

Joy Muhammad, 11, is youth ambassador for the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee and goes after young people in The Bluff. “The Joshua Generation is the forefront of the Nation and we are going into the community and will hear and obey the instructions of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The goal is to go into the community with our modest clothing, and we will talk to the young girls and do community events together,” she said.

The success in The Bluff is an example of what can happen when egos are checked at the door, said Rev. McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church and chair of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee of the Justice Or Else! movement. In 1995, Rev. McDonald served as Atlanta LOC head for the Million Man March.

Future plans call for technology centers and bringing in Black businesses to keep money circulating in the community, he said.

 “Islam is a religion of peace and it has been demonized by the likes of Donald Trump and others who play on the xenophobic paranoia of our White brothers and sisters,” said Rev. Anthony Motley, pastor of Lindsey Street Baptist Church for 35 years. “We welcome the Nation of Islam into the English Avenue community. The Nation of Islam has an excellent track record for taking Black males and ministering to them and giving them a sense of hope and discipline and dignity and introducing them to God through the Muslim faith, and we applaud that.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

From The Final Call Newspaper

It’s Time To Start Telling The Truth About FarrakhanBy Dr. Boyce Watkins | Last updated: Mar 22, 2016 - 10:50:45 AM

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The world is changing, and we owe most of this change to the Internet.  Ideas are being spread at lightning speed, and people have faster and more immediate access to perspectives and information than ever before.

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    In the age of the Internet, it’s also become more and more difficult to defend a lie, unless it happens to be a lie with which you’re most comfortable. In other words, the web is a place where you can either hunt down the truth or bury your head in the sand. This is one of the reasons that our nation hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War.

    One lie that was well-protected for many decades is the idea of Minister Louis Farrakhan as an anti-semitic extremist. Some have even used terms like “reverse racist”, which are designed to alleviate America of the guilt of what’s been done to Black people for the last 400 years.
    The release of important books like “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander and “Black Labor, White Wealth” by Dr. Claud Anderson, have unveiled the depth of abuse that Black people have endured since slavery, and how these transgressions impact our society today.

    One of the few leaders capable of connecting the struggles of our community with the trauma of the past is Minister Farrakhan. Farrakhan is one of the few members of the Black community who is respected by both his friends and enemies. He’s served well as a thinker, builder, orator, spiritual guide, mentor, father-figure and spokesperson for a community that has had to redefine its leadership over the last five years.                     
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    When rappers refuse to speak to one another, they respond to Farrakhan’s call for reconciliation.

    When the people of Baltimore and Ferguson refused to talk to most old school civil rights leaders, they still paid close attention to the words of Farrakhan.

    When Farrakhan has appeared on media outlets such as The Breakfast Club, the largest urban radio show in the country, the world stood still to hear what he had to say.

    When Farrakhan asked a million Black men to come to Washington, they came in droves and did it again 10 and 20 years later.

    The Minister can go into the darkest and most dangerous parts of any city in America and be fully protected by men of all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds. No politician, advocate or police officer in the world can say the same thing. The reason Farrakhan is respected, especially by Black men, is that he gives us love in a society that is designed to hate, emasculate, criminalize and destroy us. For many of us, he’s all we’ve got.

    In some ways, Minister Farrakhan might be considered the president of the Black community. Of course, not everyone loves the Minister, and he has made a few mistakes over his 60 years of service. But even his harshest critics have a tough time thinking of anything the Minister has done in the last 30 years that has been anything short of productive and uplifting for Black people.

    If a critic is asked to quote any hateful remark Farrakhan has made over the last 30 years, they are left grasping for whatever they can, like a desperate drug addict trying to find money for crack. They are addicted to hating Farrakhan, even if there is little reason to do so, even if they’ve never heard him speak for more than 30 seconds. Brainwashing is difficult to overcome and it might be more painful to acknowledge the truth than it is to keep taking his words out of context.
                        
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    Farrakhan’s greatest strength is his authenticity. He and the Nation of Islam have shown a type of unconditional love for Black people that even the Black community itself cannot comprehend. They stand by us when we are at our worst, and have been arguably the most consistent and self-determined institution in our community. The Nation of Islam shows us that Black people can prosper with dignity, and without begging others to save us. The capacity of members of the Nation to forgive and accept us for who we are is an extraordinary breath of fresh air in a world where we are taught to hate everything about our dark skin and ambiguous culture. Farrakhan and his organization make us PROUD.

    When the police, government and educational systems have abandoned us, the Nation of Islam was always there. When we’ve needed an economic program, they’ve worked to put one together. When our role models were being shipped away to American slave camps (aka prisons), the men of the Nation of Islam were the cleanest, sharpest, most articulate and polite men in the entire neighborhood.

    It is because Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are so beloved and respected that many of us have a difficult time understanding why mainstream media has worked so hard to paint the Minister in ways that are not in the least bit accurate. The fact that a man can be so loved by Black people and hated by Whites is yet another reminder of just how deep the racial divide remains in America.

    The use of propaganda to defame one of the most respected men in the African American community wins absolutely no friends for the Anti-Defamation League. Their insistence that Farrakhan is not even worthy of a meeting is insulting and hurtful to the African American community and indicative of disrespect for the Black community as a whole. It is also reflective of a fear that revealing the truth through a direct meeting with the Minister would undermine many decades of propaganda that have been used to paint him as some kind of deranged and violent bigot.

    The same was done to the Black Panthers.
    The same was done to Malcolm X.
    The same was done to Marcus Garvey.
    The list goes on and on.
    How can you judge a man so harshly when you refuse to even hear him speak? What are you afraid of?

    This century is the first time in American or world history that Black people have been able to communicate with one another without going through media filters controlled by somebody else. We aren’t learning about Minister Farrakhan through CBS News or reading about him in the New York Times. We are hearing from him directly on the Internet, which means that his 20-plus year blackball from mainstream media outlets has come to an end.

    My own meetings with the Minister included a three-hour conversation in which he and I sat knee-to-knee in his office, discussing every topic under the sun, from the state of the educational system to issues in American politics. The entire time, I felt like I was speaking to my own grandfather, and it was a relief to hear from a senior Black man who didn’t live his life in fear, but at the same time, was able to possess enough love in his heart to forgive his enemies.

    Farrakhan is certainly NOT the hate-filled caricature that has been created in mainstream media. Such a fictional portrayal of one of Black America’s most respected leaders is not only one that is easily disproven by the Minister’s own YouTube channel, but it’s one that causes all of us to question the credibility of those who seek to feed such a lie to the American public.

    The ADL and other groups must realize that stubbornly refusing to meet with Minister Farrakhan does not reduce the impact of his legacy. It only speaks to the kind of arrogance that White supremacy creates in a world where Black people are perceived to be second-class citizens. The Minister is strong, even if you want to pretend that he does not exist.  He is the elephant in your room, and it’s better to coordinate with the elephant’s strength than to try to sweep him under a rug.

    Jewish leaders, even when they are at their most extreme, are respected by the American government and the Black community. Black public figures deserve the same respect. I cannot speak for Minister Farrakhan, but I highly doubt that there is any member of ADL leadership who would not be invited into his home for dinner and be treated with complete respect.

    The truth can set us free, but it also indicts those who’ve sought to protect a lie. It’s time to either start telling the truth about Farrakhan, or allow him to speak for himself. You can’t call a man anti-Semitic for 30 years without at least hearing what he has to say. Such behavior is deeply disturbing, counter-productive and perhaps even fraudulent. It’s time for bridges to be built and for seasons to change.

    It’s also time to start telling the TRUTH about Farrakhan.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Ph.D., and founder of The Black Economic Empowerment Tour, designed to share ideas on Economic Empowerment throughout the world. To learn more, please visit BoyceWatkins.com. This column was originally published on http://financialjuneteenth.com.

Monday, March 7, 2016

An Example of Youth, Activism and Voices of the Fearless


By William P. Muhammad
March 3, 2016

            In line with the proverbial raindrop causing the dam to burst, the August 9, 2014 killing of Michael Brown Jr, in Ferguson, Missouri, both preceded and followed by several unarmed Black men and women being shot down in the streets by American law enforcement, has awakened yet another generation of young people to consciousness, activism and an uncompromising drive to see real change.
            Throughout American history, every generation, since the days of chattel enslavement, through the Civil Rights and Black Power Eras, has experienced a series of injustices that not only increased dissatisfaction over the slowness of the redress of grievances, but also toward those, who in too many cases were coopted out of fear, limited options or movement fatigue. Compromising with their oppressors, who in time bought their silence, older generations failed younger generations by resting upon their laurels and buying into a system that at its root would never countenance an empowered, self-respecting and independent Black populace.
Understanding the science of euphemisms and hyperbole in language, as the post-Civil Rights Era of the late 1970s gave way to the reemergence of Black consciousness through Hip-Hop and Rap music in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, regarding Black America, the rhetoric of the political Right continued to exhibit indifference, if not hostility, while the Left practiced a feigned friendship promoting an “illusion of inclusion,” lulling many, particularly in the Black middle class, into a non-productive slumber.
Nevertheless, on both college campuses and on the streets, the rise of Black youth into a pro-Black mindset, while simultaneously facing the derailing effects of the crack cocaine epidemic, justified America’s political Left and Right in labeling and attempting to manage the destiny of Black America.  Warranted as necessary not only by the demographic shifts leading to Black majority cities, as predicted in the 1968 Kerner Commission report, but also in the name of the War on Drugs, as called for by the Nixon administration shortly thereafter, an undeclared “war on Black youth” initiated code phrases by the 1980s such as “unqualified Affirmative-Action recipients,” “welfare queens,” “gang members” and “super predators.” Unleashing a full spectrum assault on the personhood of the descendants of African slaves in the United States, the policies that followed targeted not only unemployed Black men and single Black mothers, but also Black students, Black professionals and even Black children.

New minds, new leaders and new paths
On February, 24, 2016, during a closed door presidential campaign fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in Charleston, South Carolina, student activist, Ashley Williams, 23, a graduate student from the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and member of the Black Lives Matter movement, publicly pressed Mrs. Clinton for an explanation over her labeling Black youth as violent predators that must be controlled. 
Criticizing a 1996 speech in which the then First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton, said Black youth were “not just gangs of kids anymore, they are often the kinds of kids that are called super predators, no conscious, no empathy; we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel,” was a statement and position that gave great insight into the two-faced nature of those claiming friendship and alliance with the Black community.
An advocate for the Democrat sponsored Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, originally written by Sen. Joe Biden (D) Maryland, sponsored by Rep. Jack Brooks (D) Texas, and  signed into law by the president, Mrs. Clinton’s enthusiastic support for a law that led to the elimination of inmate education programs, expanded the definition and likelihood of felony indictments and convictions for lesser crimes, which led to the mass incarceration of primarily Black youth, and ushered in mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines taking away judicial discretion, was not only a cynical attack upon an entire community, but also a cruel piece of legislation that handicapped an entire generation. In addition to aiding the implementation of the three strikes provision, which led to mandatory life sentences, regardless of the severity of an offense, the climate of unemployment, poverty and underground economies, coupled with Hollywood images of the “savage Black male,” this position of the white establishment fed the narrative that both Democrats and Republicans exploited to further marginalize and dismiss Black communities across the country.  
After 22 years from the passage of the Crime Bill, the criminalization of the Black youth image, and the militarization of American police forces, young people are neither satisfied with the “wait on Jesus” programs preached by those sent to pacify their dissatisfaction, nor with the crumbs offered by philanthropic organizations claiming to serve their needs and the promises of political leaders who have failed an entire generation.  Furthermore, the new crop of young Black leadership emerging in opposition to the business as usual paradigm that has defined their reality for the last 20 years, comes not from an attempt to indoctrinate their thinking through the social, educational and guided cultural norms of public and private policy, but in spite of them. 
“I think my family environment was inconsistent with who I know myself to be right now,” said Ashley Williams, who grew up in Fayetteville, NC, the daughter of two retired US Army soldiers from nearby Ft. Bragg. “Growing up in Fayetteville and growing up here in Charlotte, I have seen the effects of mass incarceration, I’ve seen the effects of white supremacist academies trying to control what people think and who people know themselves to be, she said in a recent telephone interview.
Regarding her nationally televised exchange with Hillary Clinton, Ms. Williams said that her motivation to do so, which forced the Democratic frontrunner to acknowledge publically an affront to Black youth and to subsequently backtrack her statement regarding their plight, was based not only upon Williams’ desire to give voice to the voiceless, but also to address the deafening silence among the established Black leadership class who gave Mrs. Clinton their unqualified backing during the South Carolina primaries.       
“At some point, I said, alright, what can I do? But when I knew there was an opportunity for us to be successful, that’s when I said, alright, let’s try it. Ms. Williams said. “We did not know if we were going to be arrested, we were not sure if we would even get the video out, (but) we had a plan and stuck to it. We didn’t deviate and we went hard, we felt good about what we were doing and I think the best half of it (is) when you believe you’re there for the right reason,” she said. “I wanted an apology to Black people, and I believe we had every right to demand that.”
As the 2016 Presidential Elections approach, a new generation of young and fearless Black leadership is rising across the country and demanding real change. These young men and women, rejecting tokenism, promises of nearness to power and the emptiness of go-along-to-get-along capitulation, are leading the way. Through the pincer of both the Black Lives Matter and the Justice or Else Movements, the future, “which is all about youth,” is enveloping an old way that is going out through the sacrifices of those who see a cause bigger than themselves. The only question that remains is who else is willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the people and who else is willing to join the companies of those who strive as help and victory comes?