NEW YORK (–Hundreds of friends and associates gathered Oct. 24 in the basement of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration business complex to celebrate the life of activist Sonny Carson. A native of Brooklyn, he was honored by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz with a proclamation naming the day “Sonny Carson Day.”

The who’s who of New York City’s political and activist scene that gathered at the ceremony included Prof. Carlos Russell, a community activist and playwright; December 12th Movement’s Viola Plummer and Omowale Clay; City Council members Charles Barron and Yvette Clarke; former Councilwoman Una Clarke, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, Councilman Al Vann, education activist Jitu Weusi and Elombe Brath of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition.

They gathered to talk about a man known as an agitator and a firebrand who has been “a champion, a leader, a man on a mission,” according to Mr. Markowitz.


Unfortunately, Mr. Carson, who changed his name to Mwalamu Imiri Abubadika, was not present to hear the proclamation. He has been hospitalized since Sept. 20 due to a stroke.

“It is painful seeing him in his present condition,” Ali Lamont, a long-time associate told The Final Call. “He is a good brother, a powerful brother.

“I remember walking the streets with Abubadika during the street disturbances after the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Mr. Lamont recalled, adding that everyone respected Sonny Carson.

The news of Mr. Carson’s illness also came as a shock to Michael Campus, who directed the 1974 film “The Education of Sonny Carson.” The movie was released on DVD on Oct. 22.

“I’ve been Sonny’s friend for 27 years. We always respected each other and there was always a feeling we were after the same thing,” Mr. Campus said. “I can’t compute that Sonny lies in a coma because he was always the most vital person of the two of us. No question he was the one with the energy.”

The film shows Mr. Carson’s life–from an honor student and criminal–starting as an elementary school student. It covers his childhood in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant, a stint in juvenile detention, membership in a gang and a lengthy stay at the infamous Sing Sing prison.

As an activist, his critics have called him anti-Semitic and a racist.

“In the eyes of the White establishment in New York, ‘Sonny’ has been a thorn in their side,” commented Mr. Campus, who is White. Such is the dislike of Sonny Carson by the New York City’s mainstream media that one newspaper chastised Brooklyn Councilman Barron for having him at his swearing in ceremony.

“I love that man. I respect him and he respects me,” Councilman Barron told The Final Call. He said that no one had been as consistent in standing up for the grassroots than Abubadika Sonny Carson.

“He loves his people,” Mr. Lamont said.

–Saeed Shabazz