Born to Lead

We have come down to the last few hours of 2020. It’s finally over! Can I get an AMEN!!! This has been one hell of a year. The TV news shows have been highlighting the events of the year, and it has me thinking about the efficacy of at least one of those events on my family. What I’m referring to is what has come to be referred to as the Black Lives Matter Movement.

I Can’t Breathe

Around the second week of May a video surfaced that ultimately went viral within hours. What was shown exposed in graphic detail, a 25 year old Black man named Ahmaud Arbry who was being hunted, and eventually callously murdered by two white men. The murder had taken place on February 23, 2020, three months prior.

Also, during that same time frame a new story began to circulate. A Black single mother was asleep in her bed when fifteen armed white men, including an off duty North Carolina sheriff, stormed her home. When her teenaged son refused to let them in, the angry mob forced their way into the home while accusing the teenaged boy in the disappearance of a white girl. After being awakened by the violent events taking place in her livingroom, the mother was able to eventually get the angry mob, who was at the wrong house, out of her home. Fortunately, in this case neither one of them was murdered.

Meanwhile, we learned that in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13, 2020 shortly after midnight, the Louisville police, while executing a no-knock warrant, used a battering ram to crash into the apartment of a sleeping 25 year old woman named Breonna Taylor. Breonna was shot multiple times and killed. Police were at the wrong house.

Finally, there came the straw that broke the camel’s back; the spark that lit the flame. It was on May 25, 2020 when yet a new video had come out. The world watched the graphic death of George Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed Black man who died face down in the street while a white police officer held his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 48 seconds. George Floyd’s last words were “I Can’t Breathe”.

We Take The Streets

The protest started to form in Minneapolis just two days later and spread across the country until there were protest in cities in every state in the country. It was during that time that my daughter Mary and her boyfriend Mike immediately joined the protest in Dallas, Texas. In the earlier days of protesting, Mary and Mike encountered a vociferously passionate 25 year young woman named Sheema. Sheema was leading a small group of protesters calling themselves We Take The Streets. After watching and talking with this young lady it became clear that she was born to lead. Mary and Mike decided right then that they wanted to be a part of this powerful group of young activists.

WTTS in Washington DC celebrating 50th Anniversary of the Million Man March

No Justice, No Peace

During the early part of September I went to Ft. Worth for a visit with Mary. We Take The Streets was going to commemorate 100 days of protesting, and Mary had invited me to an event scheduled for that Saturday afternoon. However, as it turned out, Sheema changed plans after learning a fellow protestor from another group had been arrested that morning after having been attacked by a Trump supporter during a protest. Members of the other group were at the Dallas police department demanding the release of their leader. Sheema made the decision to cancel the planned event and We Take The Streets would join the protest outside the police department. Mary, Mike and I arrived at the intersection of Belleview and Lamar at about 3:30 pm. The other group of protesters had been there since that morning.

It was a day that I will never forget. There were people everywhere, protestors, spectators, supporters and news people. I walked around and watched, listened and took pictures, lots of pictures. The protestors would periodically step out into the intersection and stop traffic while chanting and shouting their demands to free the jailed young man. You could feel tension in the air, it was heavy.

There were confrontations between some of the protestors and drivers who didn’t appreciate being detained at the intersection, and they expressed their displeasure with cursing and threats. After a frustrated, angry driver attempted to run over Mary, the police began to make their presence known. Up until that point they had kind of stayed in the background . Suddenly, the police came out in full force; fully armed, they donned riot gear, and lined up aggressively while the young protestors stood their ground against them. After some tense moments of taunting from the protestors the police backed off but a few remained and kept watch from a distance.

Occasionally a small gathering formed where the protestors taunted the police and asked questions about why the young man, who was the focus of the protest, was still being held having not been charged. Police attempted to state their positions while protestors stated theirs. This process of shutting down the intersection and interacting with police went on for several hours until evening came and the sun began to go down.

Finally, we took to the streets marching and chanting along the way, “No Justice No Peace!”; shutting down intersections and creating chaos along the way. We marched until well after midnight. I walked 15,971 steps that day! Now I understand why it is young people that lead the way to change, it was an exhilarating, stressful and exhausting day. I came away with a different kind of awareness of the heart, passion and sacrifice of a protestor. Those young leaders taught me a lot that day.

Making A Difference

As time went by and the protesting died down, We Take The Streets shifted focus and began to get involved in community action. They started going out and encouraging people to register to vote, and eventually they began to do coat drives. These young leaders started asking for donations and then going into areas of Dallas and Ft. Worth giving way coats and other clothing to whoever has a need. To date, We Take The Streets have been in cities in Texas and Alabama.

Giving Back

Prior to coming home for Christmas, Mary put out a call for help in Oklahoma City asking for donations. As a result of Mary’s request her friends and family came through and she collected so many donations that she wasn’t able to get it all in her car. I volunteered to drive back to Ft. Worth with her to carry everything in my car. In doing so, I was able to join We Take The Streets as they went to the Brackins Village Public Housing Apartments in South Dallas on December 26th.

This was another new experience that had a profound effect on me. There were tables and clothes racks filled with clothes, coats, shoes, toys and books. In addition to the free clothes and other items, the group set up two grills and we served hotdogs and hamburgers, chips and bottles of water.

People were able to freely choose whatever they needed and many walked away with smiles on their faces and bags full. It was a great day! I was so proud to watch this group of young people, who were born to lead, giving of their time and energy making an impact in the community.

And finally as we come to the end of this year, yet another black man, Andre Hill has been murdered by police in Columbus, Ohio. I was watching an interview the other night with the family of Andre Hill and one of them stated that 76 Black people have been killed by police since the murder of George Floyd. The work is not finished and it won’t be until it becomes clear that Black Lives do Matter.

It is not a movement it is a statement of TRUTH!


1 thought on “Born to Lead”

  1. Mitzie Richardson

    It makes me feel so proud to see that we as a group and a group that really cares is active and alive Let’s keep hope alive Together we stand divided we fall Amen 🙏🏽

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