By Toure Muhammad Contributing Writer
CHICAGO – Determined to reduce the senseless violence, unemployment and recidivism rate in the Black community, several former and current leaders of youth programs, non—profit organizations from rival street organizations from the south side and west side of Chicago attended a Unity Brunch at Salaam Restaurant to discuss how to work together to stop the violence.
Organizations in attendance included former and current members of the Gangster Disciple Nation, Black Disciple Nation, and the Black P Stone Nation, many whom after spending many years in prison have come home, they said, determined to improve the communities and to promote a vision for a better community advocated by their founders: Larry Hoover, Jeff Fort, and David Barksdale. They joined various community groups all commited to youth advocacy.
Nation of Islam Student Minister Caleb Muhammad organized this Unity Brunch –with the help of others–held August 17 at Salaam Restaurant. The meeting focused on sharing information and offering solutions to the social ills plaguing Black youth and ended with a keynote address by Student Minister Adbullah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s National Prison Reform Minister.
“I have been working with many of these brothers for a while now and they are very concerned and sincere about helping improve our community,” said Bro. Caleb. “I am honored to work with them on behalf of the Nation of Islam and look forward to continuing this effort to promote peace, jobs and opportunity for our community.”
Amongst the delicious food, hugs, and smiles and inside jokes reflecting the long time relationships and respect for each other, there was serious dialogue about the attack on and the plight of Black youth. A common theme shared by many included awareness that locking up Black youth is big business.
“We all are fully aware of the struggles that plagues our community as a whole…. That was never the intent of David Barksdale, myself, Jeff Fort, Larry Hoover and other leaders,” said Dirk “Don Dirk” Acklin, who with David Barksdale, co-founded the Black Disciple Nation.
“So that’s why I now take a stand and speak out against the senseless violence and killings but at the same time, let’s not be naÃ¯ve. The condition of our community is disturbing; record-breaking numbers of unemployment, a failing school system, the lack of funding of various programs that actually could curb some of this violence and uncommitted politicians that care more about their own ambitions and careers,” said Acklin who, also co-founded Developers of a Dream, a non-profit organization focused on helping Black youth avoid the criminal justice system.
Additionally, most of those in the room have launched various advocacy and youth mentoring organizations such as the Almighty Nation of Moorish and Moabites People of America, Developers of a Dream, Roll Call, United X, and the Midwest Coalition to Stop the Violence, Isiah No. 41 Lodge, the North Lawndale Committed Community, and radio host Harold Davis.
“We can make a change if we unite and start hitting these blocks all over the city and talk to our kids. All we have to do is unify. I don’t care who leads the charge as long as we going in the right direction and I don’t care who gets the credit as long as we are get the right results,” said Irving “Ringo” Wright, a board member of the Midwest Coalition who is organizing a United in Peace rally on Sept. 7 at 4540 W. Washington from 11a.m. to 2 p.m.
The brunch ended with Student Minister Abdullah Muhammad who urged them to recognize Allah’s role in the struggle of Black people, to stand on moral principles, constantly strive for righteousness as the foundation of their activities to ensure success and he asked them to unite with the Honorable Louis Farrakhan by supporting the Nation’s 3-Year Economic Program to produce jobs and opportunity.
“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad set up the economic blueprint program in 1965. Why do we keep reinventing wheels when we already have a program sitting in front of us?” asked Bro. Abdullah. “Once we put our money into this national treasury, everything we come up with that we need to do, we will be able to do that,” said Abdullah.