LAFAYETTE, Louisiana (FinalCall.com) – On January 15, a forum was hosted at Imani Temple in an effort to organize the Black community around various issues such as education, economic development, housing, politics, and operational unity.
“There is no difference in what you’re going through and what we’re going through in Houston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, or Miami, Florida. Black people are in a bad condition everywhere,” said Robert Muhammad, Nation of Islam Student Southwest Regional Minister.
“And the reason we are in a bad condition is because we refuse to listen to good guidance. We’ve had teacher after teacher. But we refuse to get up and move out on it. Sooner or later the consequence of us ignoring what we were told comes to bay,” warned Mr. Muhammad, during his keynote address.
Mr. Muhammad, a Houston-based urban planning expert, then gave the audience a blueprint on how to create change in their neighborhoods.
“The only thing that is going to unite you is an agenda and it can’t be a long one. It has to be about three or four things that you agree to get done. You must have an objective, which has a timeline. You assign tasks to accomplish the objective and then you have to have an evaluation,” advised Mr. Muhammad.
Rahim X, who organized the forum, said “I had to do something. We brought Brother Robert here to give us something to move out on as a community in action.”
The Lafayette Housing Authority (LHA) has come under great scrutiny after Democratic State Rep. Rickey Hardy called for a full legislative auditor’s investigation. A preliminary 2008-09 audit, released last summer, revealed alarming mismanagement of millions of dollars in funds and substandard bookkeeping. The final findings were released on Jan. 17 to the District Attorney and could lead to criminal charges for some.
Leon Simmons, a recently dismissed Black member of the LHA, told The Final Call that he and others have been unjustly targeted by White city-parish president Joey Durel for standing up against the corruption.
“It was a blessing to hear what Minister Robert said because this is a crisis. He (Durel) has been fighting us for five months now. A judge reinstated us and Durel found another reason to dismiss us. We plan to fight this with the fiber of our being,” said Mr. Simmons, who is awaiting a hearing.
“We have a political and accountability battle taking place and this housing issue is serious. Affordable housing for the poor is a great concern so we have to hold people accountable,” District 4 Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux told The Final Call.
Mr. Muhammad rounded out his visit to the city by delivering a morning spiritual message on January 16 at Imani Temple. That evening he was a guest on Community Defender, hosted by Daryl Muhammad of Baton Rouge.
“We know that we’re still in war and I am happy that Minister Robert came to remind us that we’re in war mode. We have to keep improving our communities,” said Khadijah Rashaad, producer of the television show.