I sometimes get led into these things. I meet people that are way too real. They all know me for what I am – a guy who will work his ass off to help them out.
I am frightened that I can’t do this without help. And I don’t know too many people who might actually see this vision that I have seen. It is very different to be the one White confidante among the 1000 African Americans.
The White guy who is invited out to dinner, who sits at the table with the rich guys in pin stripe suits and the guys in flip flops at the place that serves the best greasey food in Atlanta. Where the waitress says the collards aren’t up to par tonight so stick with the gumbo and hush puppies, and the shrimp is excellent. And everone says grace and they all drink Bud. The waitress even stood with a bowed head, she knew she was in the presence of some really different folks, and I do really mean that.
Morehouse College is a big deal. MLK was here and Andrew Young and the movement, as they say, started here. Which may or may not be true, but the legend has it.
Here is the order that has been given to me this week and I am very serious about this and I do mean this. I have to make a concerted effort to perform this task. Barak O’Bama and the rest of the power brokers who are strong in the East need and want an entry into the West and they see Texas as a stepping stone. I said Houston because of all its Blacks but they said no, they want the young Hispanics to come together with us. We have to do something to dissolve the mistrust that exists between the Black and the Brown, we have to form a coalition, a coalition that would be powerful enough to get something done.
One man, at one of my sessions (and that is going to sound very strange, ‘my session’) said he is tired, very tired of burying his children, be it from street violence, and now from the Iraq war which is the work of Satan. He is a Baptist preacher from South Carolina. And he is right. It is time to turn the country around. And he said he was 72 and he is too old to pick cotton anymore and too old to march to Washington, but we have to train the new ones to do the work. And they have to be trained well.
But I want to set up a South Texas meeting of NPLC Fatherhood development group for the helping and developing of Fragile Families in San Antonio. We have the national organizations who will cooperate. I am sure we can get Wade Horn on board.
We need a venue. UTSA maybe? Or Trinity or even Seguin? The Convention Center, of course, if it were reasonable. Morehouse and the University of Detroit were gratis to our organization. But I think San Antonio would be the best place to do this. Of course, it wouldn’t be free, but the people at the college in Seguin or Texas State could cooperate with the big boys in San Antonio?
Then the second part after we get some funding to get this off the ground is to get jobs. Get people like Toyota and Samsung and so forth to teach the young people what it takes to get a job. Train the youngstere to be able to work and to be able to talk to people in an understandable language.
I met last night at a bar (I am good at that), with a haberdasher from New York – a very rich Black guy who is devoted to the project. We discussed religion, of all things, for an hour or two. They feel they are mandated from God to do this.
There are others, too, who want to work on this, many. We have talked and we have come up with a plan of which I am a big, big part. Why me? Don’t ask, but this has got to fly, it just has to and there are a hundred reasons why.
Our youth, Black, White, Hispanic are losing the battle of getting ready for the job market. Yes, 30 percent or so go to college, but 70 percent are under the radar, working for low wages, and they are not meeting their obligations to family. There are 70 percent, 70 percent of the births in this country that are just that. No family, no marriage, not that marriage is the all encompassing answer, but it helps. But to make it all work we need kids with jobs and that whole thing starts at a very young age…middle school, and grade school. We are talking about saving the nation here.
I know that sounds damn stupid coming from a scatterbrain like me, but I need help and I need your input. You might help organize, you can help find the people who you know who have the power to make it work and let me and my people who have the ideas and clout talk to them. We need the Michael Dells and Henry Cisneroses and the San Antonio Spurs, the George Gervinss of the world to move this forward and it is so imperative that it be done now before it is too late.
I went to the church where Martin Luther King was the preacher, I went to the church where they held the service for Correta Scott King. I talked to Denzel Washington. I saw that the movement for a better and stronger America is eroded, it is stagnant and there has to be something done and it has to be done by us. Hell, as I told the men I was with, we are all gray beards, we all marched.
I can truthfully say that. One of my very best friends and I were told to get the hell out of here with a .45 in our faces. We were tear-gassed and chased by the police. We went to Chicago and so on and so forth, so we have a feel for it. We know that there are still Confederate flags flying and there is still that sickness in the country that we delude ourselves into thinking is free.
The Katrina refugees (and I call them that) are not a bunch of freeloaders. They want to rebuild. But they can’t. I talked to a large group of them and heard their stories. It was so heart-wrenching that I actually cried with them. These are hard-hearted men who worked for years. They were never rich, they were never what we would consider well off, but they fed their families and paid their rent and had homes and jobs, be it playing a sax at a club or tending bar or cooking hush puppies and catfish. They worked and were content with their place in life; oh, I am sure they wished they might win the lotto, but they were real. Now they are the living dead. It is horrible, horrible, horrible. No society that is as rich as ours should allow this to happen.
It isn’t only New Orleans, and it isn’t only African-Americans. Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Texas are in the same struggle. Why?
I can come up with a few answers and the people here have a few answers, too. One, of course, is red tape, which is attached to greed.
Have I said enough?
Charles Rangel told me yesterday, when I told him I listened to his speech at the Democratic Convention, that I must have been the only White guy that did. He was joking, but impressed that I had heard every word. I didn’t tell him it was mostly by accident, as I was driving to Syracuse, NY, but still I did not turn to another station. He is a smart man, perhaps a tad corrupt, but then who in Washington isn’t? He also has a vision and it is becoming the same as mine. Heaven help me now.
There is work to be done. A lot of work. Am I thinking over the top here?