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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Jamal Senior Activist: ACTIVISM is for you!

I believe I’ve been an activist all of my life. From the day my Catholic school teacher hit my hands with a pointer stick and I told my mom I would never go back to St Columbus School in North Philly, I knew I wanted to change things and how they affected me. Even when I graffitied the walls of Philly growing up as a youngster I knew that was an act of defiance against the status quo. And when I was placed in the House of Umoja, a boys home in Philly and became an integral part as a young man to stop the gang wars that were prevalent at the time, I saw that I could be a vehicle for change Entering the Marine Corps in 1975, I could see the reason why it was the last branch to allow blacks and their shared training with white recruits.
When I returned back to Parris Island as a drill instructor I knew I was making a step to change that which went on before me. Especially when I and others became Muslim and demanded to be given the same rights and privileges as other denominations, which had never been demanded before. And upon my retirement from the Marine Corps and the Post Office, and after raising the last three of my nine children I have accepted the challenge to effect change on all levels that may concern me. As I stood by the courthouse for the Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin I knew that I had to put feet on the ground and in the street to be heard. I felt the same way in the streets that Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Antwon Rose, and recently Emantic Bradford Jr in Alabama walked, where I returned from recently. And sadly the places of our other fallen martyrs too many to list.
But I know we live in a more diverse and complex world that extends outside of just our color and neighborhood. The environmental and political tide also affects us all and we must do our part in those struggles also. When I joined the actions of Standing Rock, ND, I did so remembering the plight of the indigenous people now and before, as well as those of our ancestors. The forcing of big oil on their sacred lands pissed me off and propelled me to act. And the march in 2015 with NAACP America’s Journey for Justice from Selma, Alabama to Washington, DC was to again reaffirm our rights and make others aware of what they are entitled to. Later marching from Philadelphia to DC was to say get money the hell out of politics so that I, someone who had never voted until this year, could believe that my vote truly counted and is not wasted.
Our STOP KILLING US march from Philly to DC will be in its third year next year and it’s to bring attention and solutions to this endless reign of terror and death brought on by police, and unfortunately by ourselves too. We must stop this!
I don’t share this to impress you but to impress upon you that you also have a role in the struggle, whatever that struggle may be. And it should not be just one. Many issues affect us and those we love and we can’t believe that if we sit back and do nothing it will work itself out.
There are many people with book knowledge, and that’s to be applauded, but nothing compares to practical knowledge as it builds character and wisdom. And the exposure to different attitudes and types of people, who don’t look or think exactly like you, teaches you tolerance and hopefully some objectivity. The young ones out here today seem to be serious about the struggle of black people to a point, but their struggle seems to lack a vision of practicality and mature resolution.

Of course, this comes with experience and maybe a little age. Which is why we all must join in this struggle together, with the understanding that it is our different inputs that bring about the best solution. No man is an island when you are working for others. If he is, then he becomes a dictator or cult leader.
Let us all fight white supremacy, police brutality, community violence, political corruption, environmental hazards, etc. Let us all engage in protests, demonstrations, sit-ins, marches, rallies, etc to be heard by those that wish to silence us. They are not outdated and have shown great results.
Activism has taken to the internet, and so have I, and we should use all forms of communication to get the word out. Activism is not a fad, it’s a lifestyle if you are truly serious about it. And if you’re not, please know that you are part of the problem.

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