(FinalCall.com) – Once upon a time grandmothers in the Black community were the rock of the family. From Lena Young, the matriarch in the Lorraine Hansberry play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” to Mama Joe, the matriarch in the movie “Soul Food,” grandmothers’ jobs were to keep the family together.
Today, with younger grandmothers–55 percent not yet the age of 55 according to current U.S. Census statistics–and more issues affecting life in the Black community, grandmothers are coming out of the home and into the streets protesting.
In 1988, Juanita Moore Holloway’s life reached a turning point when her grandchildren were sexually abused. She responded with the horror and terror most would. Her primary concern was for the safety of her grandchildren so she began a letter writing campaign to Detroit’s Wayne County Child and Family Services, Juvenile Probate Court, and the Wayne County Department of Human Services. Neither institution has helped resolve her family’s issues.
“I wrote letters to just about everybody but nothing was done. We even told the police who did it. They were never caught and nothing was done,” she told The Final Call.
“I believed at that time that you could write people and something would be done to solve the problem. I learned differently. I got no help from anywhere,” she said.
That was the start of what motivated her to become a “fighting grandmother against taxation without representation.”
“I just started seeing so many issues over the years that were affecting people’s families and no one was doing anything to help them. We pay tax dollars to people who aren’t doing their job. Why should we pay taxes to those who won’t do their job?
“It’s time for people of all ethnicities to ban together and effect change for the overall good of citizens in these United States. Our tax dollars should be applied to the fight of everyday problems related to American families,” said Ms. Holloway. “We must spread the word and make our voices heard throughout the nation.”
Ms. Holloway decided to do more than just complain about what’s not going on. She took her message to the streets. Ms. Holloway started a mobile billboard that started traveling around the city of Detroit and has grown so popular that it can now be found in New York and Los Angeles.
She’s also taking her message to the airwaves. Her radio show, My Perspectives, airs three days a week on WHPR 88.1 FM.
“I’m just trying to let the public know what’s going on. I’m trying to organize numbers for our survival or we’re a lost cause. Taxation without representation is wrong. We must do for ourselves. Then we’ll be a more respected people,” Ms. Halloway said.
According to the latest Census Report on grandparents, there are one million grandmothers who are raising one or more of there grandchildren. Among children who live with their grandparents, 47 percent live with just a grandmother. Thirty-six percent of grandmothers raising their grandchildren are Black.
On June 28, 11 members of the Granny Peace Brigade were arrested as they tried to enlist for service at a military recruitment office in Philadelphia on their way to Washington, D.C. from New York.
“Take us, not Philadelphia’s children and grandchildren,” they told the recruiters. “Let them live their lives.”
The 18 members of the Granny Brigade represent various organizations including The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Raging Grannies and Grandmothers Against the War, Grey Panthers and Grandmothers for Peace.
They range in age from 59 to 91 years of age and include first-time protestors and long-time activists such as noted poet and author Sonia Sanchez.
Political Affairs Magazine reported that while inside the center, the women talked with two young people who came into the office to enlist. After Granny Gloria Hoffman shared some facts about the Iraq war and the deaths of more than 2,500 soldiers, high school senior Christine Watson, 17, decided to think more about her decision.
An 18-year-old recent high school graduate told the women his mother was okay with his decision to join the Army. “But what about your grandmother?,” they asked.
Granny Marlene Santoyo said, “We need a Department of Peace. It’s Afghanistan and Iraq today–will it be Iran next, or North Korea or Cuba? The billions of dollars spent on war could go to schools and health care.”