After The Zimmerman Verdict… Now What?

The jury in the George Zimmerman murder trial found Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, who faced the possibility of life in prison, showed no reaction to the jury’s verdict. But there were reactions around the nation.

I found out about the verdict via Twitter… I thought it was a prank, a twitter joke (like the fake deaths of celebrities). I knew this could not be real. Then I saw the news articles… Headlines tattered with “Not Guilty”. My thought. Wow.

This case reminded me of Emmett TIll’s murder. Maybe this would be the tipping point to begin “Free in 13” as they chanted in the past “Free in 63”. In 1955, it took the murder and kidnapping of a young black teenager to stir the country out of its apathy. Emmett Till’s death, and the subsequent acquittal of his killers, hardened the resolve of individuals and organizations who’d been fighting for a more equal America for decades. Sound familiar?

Sunday… there were nationwide marches. In Chicago groups marched downtown “Justice For Trayvon” The next weekend WVON held a rally at the Federal Plaza #Chi4Trayvon. While many argued against marches and rallying. I as the question of why not? There is energy that needs to be released. There is anger that needs to be channelled. A good leader is able to channel the anger into something possible, the leader will help point to the next steps after marching not just send people home with the anger still inside. The question in everyone’s mind is now what?

There have been solutions thrown around to boycott Florida. But isn’t this a time to revitalize the civil rights battle which so many thought was dead? This is a time to tackle the problems at the core.. To answer the questions that really matter and solve the problems that create the violence and killing. To destroy the mindset that allows people like Zimmerman to think the way he does and the reason why he killed Trayvon Martin.

It is a time to: Get ready to march on Washinton, yes, but before we get there it is a time to come to a concrete plan of what we want when we get to Washington.

We need to educate ourselves vote in the “litte elections”.

Create programs to better our youth.

Change the way media portrays us.

Get rid of shows that depict us in a negative manner (reality shows such as Love and Hip Hop stop watching!)

It is a time to put differences aside and come together and unite for a group of goals as a community.

“I am Art”

1011921_472821049472445_244156984_nThe Rainbow Push Young Adult League began the 42nd Annual International Convention opened Saturday with a thought provoking panel discussion entitled, “I AM… ART”. The intent of the discussion was to explore the impact of Hip Hop on urban inner city youth and revolved around the question, “Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?”

1006259_475901442497739_1812197279_nFeaturing five successful members of the urban music and media industries like international music superstars, Lupe Fiasco and Waka Flocka Flame; Marketing and Recording Executive at Roc Nation, Chaka Pilgrim; Digital Managing Editor at Jet Magazine and Founder of The Kyles Files, Kyra Kyles; and Chicago State University professor, Dr. Gerrard McClendon; the panel discussion was masterfully moderated by Dr. Chandra Gill.

996806_475901419164408_1065597936_nThe auditorium was near capacity as music fans of all backgrounds and ages filled the seats for the historic discussion followed by an intense Q&A session. Audience members expressed delight at the genuinely candid dialogue, the intelligent and thoughtful responses of each panelist, and the intergenerational appeal that the event had. The recurring theme of the conversation seemed to be the responsibility of artists and labels as it pertains to the content of their music and how it influences youth culture.

995694_475901569164393_54410138_nArtists are so powerful and can use their influence to bring attention to issues that youth may otherwise not be exposed to. While many audience members may have been secretly hoping for a surprise and spontaneous concert, they did not leave disappointed. “I felt like I was watching history being made,” an audience member said after the event. “I was happy to see Rev. Jesse Jackson and Waka Flocka on the same stage. It gave me hope.”

I was able to take part in this by asking questions from social media! Super fun and great to have learned that Waka Flocka is actually not like people believe. He is very self-educated it appears. So lesson to the “wise” don’t judge a book by a song or a cd cover.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 2.02.17 PMAlso later I was able to go on ABC news Chicago and speak about the event! Take a look at the video here.

50th Commemoration of MLK’s Freedom Walk

 Martiin Luther King III, Rev. Al Sharpton, Roslyn M. Brock and Rev. Jesse Jackson (2nd-R) march in the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Freedom Walk June 22, 2013

Martiin Luther King III, Rev. Al Sharpton, Roslyn M. Brock and Rev. Jesse Jackson (2nd-R) march in the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Freedom Walk June 22, 2013

On June 22, 2013, thousands were asked to “Take a Step” in the 50th anniversary march in honor of the original Walk to Freedom/Freedom Walk led in Detroit by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I was able to be one of the thousands, with the Rainbow PUSH Youth League… [Yay Road trip!] Martin Luther King III, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton participated in Saturday’s march and rally.

SONY DSCIT was a day that was of great importance to experience the walk and also the rally after. One common theme was the road is not yet over. The fight is not yet won and all that Dr King fought wanted in this walk is not yet over.

Detroit is still in state of need of reconstruction. There is much progress needed.

“If you don’t take the march to Lansing, if you don’t take the march to D.C., if you don’t take the march to your own neighborhood – then marching don’t mean nothing,” said President of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, Reverend Wendell Anthony.

But Why Detroit?

On that day 50 years ago, in what is considered to be the original debut of his now-famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” King told tens of thousands of people that it was time for the government and society to get serious about providing opportunities and parity in employment, education, housing and the overall quality of life for persons of color.

It was great to be apart of something like this and to be able to discuss it with people my age after. It was also a learning experience to be able to organize this trip (of course with help) and to see that our generation can mobilize and is ready to lead.

Celebrating #42 Jackie Robinson

feature_jackieTonight like many nights was a night to remember! I was able to celebrate Jackie Robinson day with the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Park. Jackie Robinson’s legacy was memorialized on April 15, 2013, by fans, players and Major League Baseball, marking the 66th anniversary of the Hall of Famer breaking baseball’s color barrier. For the fifth consecutive year, all uniformed personnel at 15 different ballparks were asked to wear Jackie’s retired #42.

Where red heels have never gone before! on the field

Where red heels have never gone before! on the field

This year was especially a great time to remember Jackie Robinson as recently his movie 42 came out this month.  Baseball legends were announced and greeted the Jackie Robinson scholarship recipients. Reverend Jesse Jackson threw the first pitch in this historic game. During the game there was a reception where sports favorites such as Ernie Banks,  Billy Williams and Richard Dent (NFL), attended the reception along with Tom Ricketts, Rev Jackson & his family. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition also invited the family of the 15-year-old killed from King High School , Hadiya Pendleton, who attended the game and reception.

It was also a great experience to walk to my car with ex NFL Player Richard Dent. You get special treatment when you are with certain people. Sad, but true. I was even invited inside of a fire station while walking with him (guess they though I was his daughter). Meh… What a way to end the night.

Speaking Out Against Gun Violence: A Press Conference.

Mayor Emanuel looks at the people standing with him against gun violence who have lost loved ones in his city.

Mayor Emanuel looks at the people standing with him against gun violence who have lost loved ones in his city.

January 3rd I was on the first line of seeing some of chicago prominent figures discuss the need for gun control in the city. After the Homicide rate was already outpacing that of 2012 in the first week of 2013, something had to be said…. Even more something had to be done. While I have not known anyone in my personal circle that has lost a loved one due to the horrific tragedy lack of gun control has caused, I feel deeply hurt every time I hear if another shooting. And even more hurt when the mother of a victim fights back tears as she talks about her would be 25-year-old son… (the same age I will soon turn next month)… But I digress…

The press conference, January 3rd 2013, was held at Saint Sabina Church. During this time Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced their new plans for Chicago’s community policing program and also their desire for gun control…

“Gun Control not Guns taken away” says McCarthy

McCarthy believes that with stronger gun control people will not be able to legally buy guns in bulk and then illegally sell them to others where they are used in crimes then face no consequences if they say.. “oh the gun was stolen”. A brief clip of McCarthy speaking is in the Youtube Video following this post.

One point McCarthy, Emanuel, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson and Father Michael Pfleger all agreed upon was that assault weapons were not needed period.

“high-capacity magazines are not designed to hunt animals but to hunt humans”

Behind the four promenant figures stood the some families of the some 500+ victims in the city of Chicago killed due to gun violence in 2012. Many held pictures or momentos of their lost loved onces. This image and the though behind who each victim was, the family they left behind, their children.. and their “what-if” stories should be enough to touch anyone’s heart.

“Chicago is the scene of this international crisis. Now we have Guns in jobs out we need more from the police, we need home land security.” – Rev Jackson

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Sensata

Today was my first experience with seeing civil disobedience right in front of me. In what Rev. Jesse Jackson termed “possibly what Selma was to voting”, I witnessed people standing up for justice in their community. Over a dozen were arrested today in Freeport, IL due to civil disobedience against the Sensata Plant. After a day of coming together and learning more about the cause, I was extremely grateful to be there.

Sensata is an industrial plant that makes parts mostly for cars. The plant is scheduled to close next month and all jobs outsourced to China. Workers have already begun to be laid off and after today’s demonstration, the company has threatened to close sooner. Today workers spoke out about the closing of Sensata and how it has and will affect their lives.

One worker told the story of her husband getting laid off from Sensata this past summer and her worries of herself soon to be without ajob. She spoke of wondering how she and her husband will be able to support their three young children, let alone themselves. Reverend Jesse Jackson commented

“this is not a fight for severance pay, this is a fight for the salvation of jobs”.

Reverend Jackson headlined the march led by the American flag. The same flag that had been taken down and replaced by the Chinese flag while the soon-to-be unemployed workers trained their future replacements. With chants of “U-S-A” and “Save our Jobs”, the group march to the Sensata plan from a field where many of the laid of workers have set up tents and lived since being laid off. This area has been renamed Bainport because of the large stock ownership of the Bain Corporation. Reverend Jackson was the first to be arrested and the only to have actual handcuffs on his wrist. The Freeport police tried to use him as an example to others who would soon be arrested.

After being released those who protested prayed and continued to stress that this is only the beginning of a continued fight, not for severance pay but for jobs.