This is the thought that has been gestating in my mind since I left the first day of the Rainbow/PUSH convention this past Saturday. Delores McCain, the Austin Weekly News’ reporter, spoke to me of the ‘Operation Breadbasket’ days.
She talked about this great building where Operation Breadbasket was housed and how the program evolved into Operation PUSH, PUSH and now Rainbow/PUSH. She spoke of how Westsiders and Southsiders were together shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand and heart to heart in this very same building – black folks together.
The great legacy and living testament of black people in American should never be defined by what side of town we live on, but rather that we are all on the same side.
It is not so much about where we are from, but please get this – it must always be about where we are going. Or as Dr. King wrote, “Where do we go from here?”
As we all know, the West Side of Chicago was the only northern city Dr. King and his family briefly called home. Sitting next to the King’s hometown of Atlanta’s mayor, Shirley Franklin, we talked about the need of a new urban policy. We talked about the fact that our people are literally dying from bullets, disease, prison, unemployment and hopelessness.
The sisters and brothers that Dr. King lived for while staying in an apartment building with his family at 1550 Hamlin Avenue on the West Side in 1966, and died for by an assassin’s bullet in the city of Memphis in 1968, must come together in order to get it together.
That same Saturday I met for the first time America’s “first black president,” Bill Clinton. He of course headlined Saturday’s event focusing on urban policy. President Clinton spoke of an urban policy concerned with jobs, anti-poverty, healthcare and the prison industrial complex.
Indeed, these issues must be addressed by anyone running for political offices that are connected to major urban centers. We must ensure that this current crop of presidential candidates include a real, honest and workable urban policy plank in their platforms.
If any of these candidates are not forthcoming and/or clear about urban renewal – don’t vote for them. If you do, then you are merely voting against yourself. Don’t do that.
In this column’s headline are the words, “Stand Tall West Side, Stand Tall.” That thought came about because after having such an awesome experience in the house that King built – I found ringing in the subterranean chambers of my soul his words: “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.”
We were black before the dominate culture labeled us West Side and South Side by dictating where we live with restrictive covenants and the prevalance of “white flight.” Black folk, we all have too much in common not to be together, and not enough uncommon to make a nickel’s worth of difference.
It is always to someone else’s benefit to divide a people and it is to their surprise when these same people wake up, rise up and come together.
Rev. Jesse Jackson learned from Dr. King that he can’t win this fight by staying on one side of town. In his 65th year, he is reaching out to our West Side and has talked to ministers like myself about the creation of “Greater Westside RainbowPUSH.” This includes our west suburban family as well.
This is not subtraction, but addition. We need all the righteous organizations and leaders we can get to save OUR people.
We recently lost a giant who reached out to Dr. King so many years ago, the Rev. Dr. Shelvin Hall. These persons lived and died in order that the “least of these among us” might live.
United we stand. Divided we fall. Ya feel me?
If you’re interested in adding your blood, sweat, toil and tears to Dr. King’s living legacy, Greater Westside Rainbow/PUSH call me at 773/626-3626 or email at http://thoughts-gsl.blogspot.com