Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Journalist, homeless activist receive Black Legacy Awards from the people
By Darrielle Muhammad, Contributing Writer
Published March 22, 2017
(L-R) Dr. Maulana Karenga, Sister Charlene Muhammad, Pastor Stephen "Cue" JnMarie, and Dr. Melina Abdullah (Photo by Tiamoyo Karenga)

(L-R) Dr. Maulana Karenga, Sister Charlene Muhammad, Pastor Stephen “Cue” JnMarie, and Dr. Melina Abdullah (Photo by Tiamoyo Karenga)

Stars in the Black community shined brightly at the Legacy Awards held at the African American Cultural Center (Us) on Feb. 15.

Among the stars honored during the Legacy Awards was Sister Charlene Muhammad (national correspondent for the Final Call Newspaper, LA Sentinel/LA Watts Times contributor, and host and producer of the drive-time radio talk shows “Liberated Sisters” and “Uprising: The Freedom Now Edition,” heard on KPFK 90.7 FM ( in L.A.) and Stephen “Cue” JnMarie (pastor of the Row LA, aka the Church Without Walls, in downtown L.A.’s Skid Row homeless community).

A well-deserved light was shed on them for all their hard work and dedication to uplift Black people.


The Legacy Awards was held during the BCCLA (Black Community Clergy Labor Alliance)’s general, monthly meeting. It is an independent, social activist organization dedicated to representing, promoting and protecting the economic interests and well-being of the Black community.

The BCCLA has been meeting every morning at 8:00 a.m. for five years now.

Ms. Muhammad received “The Hon. Elijah Muhammad/Mother Clara Muhammad Legacy Award for Excellence in Journalism, Righteous Witness and Nation-Building.”

Dr. Maulana Karenga, BCCLA co-chair, professor and chair of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach, informed that was for three basic reasons.

“First, our respect for the Nation of Islam, which cultivated her … but not just her, we owe the Nation a great debt. Our coming into conscious, every Black group that came into consciousness in the 60’s and started talking about Black, and recognizing the sacred of Blackness, right, owes a debt to the Hon. Elijah Muhammad,” Dr. Karenga said.

He said the Hon. Elijah Muhammad also cultivated a teacher, a student, a minister (Louis Farrakhan), and the community also learns from him. They give credit to the Nation of Islam for that and recognizes the context in which Ms. Muhammad came into the fullness of herself, said Dr. Karenga, who is also founder of the Pan-African holiday Kwanzaa.


“The second reason that we do it is because we respect her own excellence – her excellence as a journalist, her excellence in bearing witness to truth, right, and setting the scales of justice in their proper place among those who have no voice, as we say in our tradition,” Dr. Karenga continued.

The third reason is because they stand in solidarity with the Muslims in this time of persecution and banning of Muslims, Dr. Karenga said before reading Ms. Muhammad’s biography and presented her award.

With tears of joy and a spirit of humility – stemming in part from her recollection of the suffering of those she’s reported about – she accepted, saying, “This is no lightweight thing.” That is to remark on the eminence of an award that is named after Elijah Muhammad, the eternal leader of the Nation of Islam, and Mother Clara Muhammad, his wife and beloved Mother of the Faithful.

“I know I’m not worthy … But those who teach me are more than worthy, and so, I accept this in the name of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Mother Clara, and my father – my spiritual father, Minister Farrakhan. He’s worthy! This is for him!”

Ms. Muhammad has an extensive background in journalism and a long reputation for providing news coverage of the struggles and triumphs of the Black community in North America, as well as abroad.

She vowed she’ll carry the honor of receiving such an acknowledgement from members of a community she feels she was born to serve as a “charge to move quicker, faster, better for you and our people.”

Dr. Melina Abdullah, an organizer with Black Lives Matter L.A., chair of the Pan African Studies Department at California State University L.A., and BCCLA Steering Committee member, stated she felt privileged and very honored to be able to introduce Pastor Cue, whom she loves deeply and dearly.

He received the “The Malcolm X Legacy Award for Dedication and Service to the Row and the Vulnerable One Street at a Time.”

He’s always pushing for Black liberation as a revolutionary, said Dr. Abdullah. “And he’s also a part of building and visioning and working towards the kind of world and community that we want to live in,” she stated.

“First of all, I don’t know what I’ve done to receive this,” said Pastor Cue, a Hiphop artist (1990’s – College Boyz) turned community activist, who also tackles public policy issues.

He was born on the island of Saint Lucia and his family didn’t have toilets or refrigerators. They slept on wooden floors, and he met his mother and father for the first time when he was nine.

But he was nurtured in the womb of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, great, legendary Reggae artists, he said. “Tosh said no matter where you come from, as long as you a Black man or a Black woman, you’re an African,” said Pastor Cue in his native dialect.

Receiving the award was crazy, he said, before sharing a very personal testimony.

In 1994, he’d just performed before 65,000 people in Milwaukee, Wi. Afterward, he prayed to God to take it all away if it meant losing his soul, because it became overwhelming.

Months later, he saw the movie “Malcolm X.” “In that movie there were two phrases that kept pounding in my spirit. ‘I want you to be like him for me. I want you to be like him for me. I want you to be like him for me. He died too soon. He died too soon. He died too soon, and that’s your warning,” Pastor Cue said.

“So, when God called me, he called me to be a revolutionary, and he called me through art, though the movie of Malcolm X. And so this, I don’t even want to touch it,” he said, looking down at the gold-plated plaque on a bed of black stone with red, black and green borders.

The ceremony was a beautiful display of love and appreciation for community servants from members and fellow servants.

Over the years the BCCLA has advocated for issues central to the Black community, such as better education in the inner cites and voter rights.

Before the Legacy Awards, key members and community organizers gave special reports on local issues. Bernard Dory, a South L.A. organizer, spoke about a proposed measure that would increase sales taxes to expand the county’s transportation system.

Atty. Rasheda Kilpatrick, National Action Network’s Western Region Policy Director, discussed policy initiatives for police accountability, and Rev. Donald Wilson, diversity organizer for UNITE HERE discussed efforts to employ Black L.A.

Dr. Abdullah gave an update on Black Lives Matter L.A., which included its partnership with Black-owned One United Bank, and, Justice for #KishaMichael and #MarquintanSandlin, two single parents allegedly killed by police while sleeping in their car.

Khalil Edwards, organizing director for the Black Worker Center, reported on its efforts to increase quality access to jobs and reduce employment discrimination.

Categories: Crenshaw & Around | Local
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