The murder of Trayvon Martin spawned a national outcry in the African-American community that had not been seen for some time.
Black leaders, community activists, athletes and entertainers from across the country came out in full force, demanded justice for young Trayvon. People marched, held rallies and hosted town-hall meetings; all to ensure that George Zimmerman was brought to justice and held accountable for Trayvon’s murder.
For that moment in time, Black people appeared unified and seemed focused on having a situation that involved someone other than themselves, be a part of their daily conscious.
Sadly, since Trayvon’s death we have seen more and more Black people murdered in this country, with most of those deaths coming at the hands of other Black people.
Community activists and leaders from across the country have been trying to tackle this Black-on-Black violence epidemic head on, and as evidenced by this past Sunday, many of them are headed in the right direction.
This past Sunday, a large crowd of concerned Houstonians gathered together at the request of Houston activist Deric Muhammad, who reached out to hundreds of Houston area churches to take part in a citywide “Stop the Violence Day.”
Muhammad believes that the recent rise of jaw-dropping violence, particularly in inner-city neighborhoods, prompted him to coordinate this call to action; action that he believes can stem the growing tide of violence among young people in this country.
“We believe that our unity is the remedy,” said Muhammad. “We don’t think we should sit idly while our city becomes “the next Chicago” as it relates to violence and murder.”
In coordinating this effort, Muhammad reached out to hundreds of area churches, synagogues and mosques to do their part by preaching a “Stop the Violence” message from their pulpits this past Sunday morning. In addition, Houstonians were asked to flood social media sites with “Stop the Violence” posts, expressing their concern about violent crime in Houston, by using the hash tag #StoptheViolenceinHtown.
Muhammad believes that in order for things to change, all community leaders and members of the faith-based community must come together and have common ground on an issue that impacts each and every one of us.
“We simply told each minister that should preach their normal message from the pulpit,” said Muhammad. “With this initiative, we wanted each of them to just say something about this senseless violence that’s going on in our community. We believe that Houston is slowly becoming as violent as Chicago and we would be foolish to sit back as we approach that level.”
Muhammad challenged young people to go to their places of worship so they could hear the message and also invited them out to attend a “Stop the Violence Day” rally, which was held at the Cuney Homes Housing Projects that afternoon.
Several guest speakers were on hand to share messages of hope and inspiration to the attendees and challenge everyone to think differently about themselves and the violent culture that has been embraced in the community.
Nationally acclaimed gang expert and former gang leader, Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed of Stop the Killing Inc. based in Baton Rouge, La., was the keynote speaker at the rally. Mr. Reed, who appeared on Bishop T.D. Jakes’ new talk show “Mind, Body and Soul” on the same day, discussed the issue of violence in our communities.
He challenged the church to step up and take the lead by going to the people and not operating out of fear.
“We can’t operate out of fear,” said Reed. “Church folks, you can’t say God has called you to reach the people and you function as if you are afraid of the people. Real recognizes real.”
Minister Robert Muhammad challenged attendees to change their way of thinking, in order to see the changes the community needs.
“Pharaoh has already let y’all go, but y’all haven’t let Pharaoh go,” said Robert Muhammad. “Pull up your minds and your pants and better decisions will follow.”
Other attendees at the rally included Durce Muhammad, Stephen Manley, Reginald Gordon, Attorney Warren Fitzgerald, Kofi Taharka, Dazie Williams (son killed last December over some Air Jordan tennis shoes) and many more.
Beyond this initiative, Deric Muhammad will be coordinating future forums and initiatives similar to this. In the meantime, he believes that galvanizing a new generation of leadership is paramount and critical to addressing the issue of violence, as well as other critical issues in the Black community.
“We are looking to identify and train new leadership in our community,” said Muhammad. “It is time and they are ready. I hoped to see good men come together, find common ground, and leave on the same page ready to get to work. That is exactly what I saw.”