Returning to an old order after 30 years

A retreat for Black leaders to plan actions to enable Whites to feel safe


What horn will midnight hear? The Calvary bugler sounding retreat from battle? Gabriel’s trumpet leading the Halleluiah chorus? The morning wake-up horn calling retreat members to begin discussions for addressing violence in the community?

History reveals good and bad leaders and shepherds, and the shifts that occur from heroic sacrifices to keep eyes on the prize (as during slave and Jim Crow days), to becoming paid bureaucrats of “solution organizations” that “look the other way” to maintain the status quo.

Today’s “leadership” (Black or White, government or corporate, foundation or church, traditional Black or White helper associations and leagues), have retreated into a “wish” world at the expense of the “is” world. Meetings and mission statements not addressing Nellie Stone Johnson’s “Big 3” (no education, no jobs, no housing), won’t enable people to become qualified, independent, and active partners with employers, investors, planners, and money dispensers of government and nonprofit programs.

Where are good shepherds of integrity? Why so many bad shepherds, allowing flocks to be shorn or devoured?

The meeting I attended in North Minneapolis at Shiloh Church, May 17, 2014, addressed the upsurge and spike in violence, guns and the bad people using them to terrorize the community, illustrating our crossroads’ choice: continue going in status quo circles or develop straight paths to positive goals. Young people at the May 17 meeting spoke with great eloquence and vision, offering recommendations dealing with the violence they face and fear.

The problem? Lack of ears. A panel of elders to hear them and offer guidance was mostly absent. It was a moving, emotional moment. Yet few leaders attended. Just V.J. Smith of MAD DADS, Ferone Brown, Rev. Yates, and community activists Jerome Copeland and Alfred Flowers. The absent leaders missed the compelling and serious questions raised.

Do the directions being given to “elite leaders,” Black and White, from powerful White political, corporate, and nonprofit figures include being “for show and status quo containment,” but not real action solutions? For the first time in 30 years Blacks are to convene a retreat. By our publication time, a planning committee will have met to determine who would be the retreat’s King Fish.

Forty thousand dollars cash has allegedly been promised to pay for the “adult” retreat. Powerful elected officials are concerned that the Black leadership they helped elect and fund are not in the control Whites want, so they can feel they can sleep and rest in safety and comfort. How can they, if they don’t also have the young people who stood and gave testimony at Shiloh’s Missionary Church on May 17?

We urge invitations go to young voices so the absent good shepherds can listen firsthand to the cries that come from the fear that grips the African American community, especially in neighborhoods with gangs. Will the retreat be a running away from the past and future, or a thoughtful pause to discern how to learn from the past and present in order to create paths to the future all can travel in safety?

How will “faith patrols” on our city streets bring order to control the chaos terrorizing and wounding African Americans and other communities of color? Are you as troubled as I am that young people that came to a holy tabernacle of the community on the 17th day of May, in the year of our Lord 2014, to give testimony, were not heard by those who meet in secret retreat to develop plans that will make the master feel his plantation will be safe once again but not for those in the field?

Stay tuned.


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