Nation of Islam’s Western Regional Minister Tony Muhammad, along with Stop the Violence’s Khalid Shah and Sentinel Publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. will hold a town hall at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles September 15, not to just talk, Muhammad said, but to lay out a solution plan to three of the biggest challenges facing the Black community. Peace, education and economic viability will be the main topics of what organizers have dubbed the “United Hood Nation: 10,000 Fearless” movement. The goal is to first get the Black community to face its plight and then, to be actively involved in turning things around.
The movement was borne of a July weekend of community engagement that brought together thousands of south Los Angeles residents, leaders and celebs like Snoop Dogg, rap artist The Game, radio host Big Boy, rap artist Problem and Will.i.am who asked that the three major needs be addressed and effectively dealt with.
Since then, said Shah, “We have all resolved to work together across religious, organizational, agency and neighborhood boundaries. Members of the Safe Communities Initiative, a coalition of more than 40 agencies representing Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles County will be working together to turn out thousands to create a new peace agenda for communities that have endured the recurring scourge of inner city violence…”
“We’ve tried everything from sit-ins, run-ins, vote-ins, don’t vote-ins…,” said Muhamad during a recent interview with the Sentinel.
“We’ve tried everything but two components. That’s our collective unity and the way we spend our money.”
The main problem is a communal sense of apathy here, he said.
“[For instance] we will stand up real quick when a police officer does something against us that [he/she] shouldn’t have done and we should stand up, that’s courageous. But what we don’t do… we say nothing, when we are killing each other,” he said.
“We want to eradicate that. We want it to be where we are just as irate and upset when it’s us killing us. And, we want to be able to have a movement where we go to that hood (responsible for the killing) like how we go downtown to chant ‘no justice, no peace’, in 48 hours, we want to be able to have a thousand men and women in that hood [letting gang members know] we want them to stop…”
But stopping the violence won’t be enough, say organizers. A community needs to be educated as well as economically self-sufficient. Movement organizers said they want to set up a literacy campaign, to bring those who are deficient in reading and math skills up to speed.
“If you can’t read, you can’t communicate,” Muhammad explained.
“We want to set up GED courses and college courses to get people to where they can read and write. They have to be able to measure. They have to know mathematics if they’re going to work construction jobs.”
With education will come the ability to compete in today’s economic climate, organizers said. Part of their plan is to set up training programs for those interested in today’s relevant job markets like construction and technology. They are calling for organizations already in place to help.
“Whether it’s the Brotherhood Crusade or Maxine Waters’ place, we need to get people acclimated to [these fields].”
The community also needs to put more pressure on the city, the state and everyone who does business in the black community, organizers said.
“We’re going to be asking manufacturers like Nike and Adidas [who we support] to do a joint venture with the community,” Muhammad explained.
“We want the shoestring contract for instance and set up a manufacturing plant in Watts. If they don’t, we boycott.”
Also, construction companies will have a difficult time building in Black neighborhoods if Blacks are not adequately represented on their payrolls, he said.
“These are the things the community asked us to do. I’m done with just getting together and talking. We’re coming with solutions…”
“This is a great opportunity for the community to rally behind Minister Tony Muhammad,” said Danny Bakewell, Sr. “I applaud him for his leadership in pulling together community members and notable celebrities such as The Game, Big Boy, and Will.i.am to help create solutions and demonstrate collaborative change. I am happy to be part of the town hall to support Minister Tony and I urge the community to do the same. We can make no progress unless we unify amongst ourselves to help ourselves.”
The town hall begins promptly at 7:00 p.m. (Sept. 15) at Holman United Methodist Church located at 3320 W. Adams Blvd.