"Most Powerful Pages on the Planet"
November 17, 2008
Volume 1 - No.28
Darwin Campbell, Executive Publisher
A Bi-Weekly Publication
A TALE OF UNCLE TOMS AND TWO FACES
Black Pastors Skew Fight for Racial Equality, Justice in Paris
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
PARIS-The dragging death of Brandon McClelland had unveiled that racial equality and justice in Paris is indeed a tale of a city with two faces.
This diverse monstrosity is represented by two very different paths and viewpoints that divide the Black community and skew the lines of justice and racial equality in Lamar County.
On one hand, several Black pastors support the establishment and its talking heads who claim to represent the “party line” on race relations in Paris, while others are the true “Joe the Civil Rights Workers” fighting a different battle and telling the real story of the injustice, inequality and exposing the troubles beneath the surface in Paris and Lamar County.
“We have open dialog now, so what are we protesting for,” New NAACP Paris Chapter president Rev. James Price said. “Racism is on both sides and to move forward we must come to the table and talk to one another. All are welcome at the table”
Are Black pastors merely playing the role of “Uncle Tom” when it comes to race and justice in Lamar County?
“Uncle Tom” refers to a Black person who is regarded as being humiliatingly subservient or deferential to white people.
McClelland’s death and Lamar County racism and injustice is just one more historical fight for true activists to stand up, be counted and send a strong message Monday, Nov. 17th at the justice rally supporting the McClelland family.
Thousands are expected to attend the massive rally today at the Lamar County Courthouse in Paris, Texas at 12 noon.
A Town hall meeting will follow the gathering at 6 p.m. at the Kingdom Harvest Full Gospel Baptist Church at 210 Bonham St. in Paris.
McClelland is the second African-American Texan that has allegedly been murdered in a James Byrd-like fashion by White men who claimed to be his friends... This year marked the 10the anniversary of Byrd’s death
Two men allegedly ran down McClellan, dragged his body and left him to die on a dark road mutilated, dismembered and abandoned.
Rev. Price is part of the city’s Diversity Task Force - a group opposed to the rally and contending they are working diligently to improve race relations in Paris.
His position is not only echoed by both the Paris chapter the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the local ministerial alliance but also backed in a joint support statement claiming to support and repeat the talking points of Paris officials and emphasize their “unity” and concern over the constant issues of race facing the community.
“We have an open door policy with the DA and talk to him each week,” Price said. “We want change and action and have demanded prosecution to the full extent of the law in this case.”
According to a release, Price, Dr. Jerald Mosley, president of the Paris Ministerial Alliance and Rev. Kenneth Rogers support Paris officials and believe that rallies and demonstrations are unnecessary until open discussions are held on races relations between community and civic leaders.
Their position, words and actions against the Black community on Black justice and race issues are disturbing, according to community civil rights activists.
“Black ministers in Paris ought to be ashamed of themselves,” said Brenda Cherry, Paris Activist and leader of the Concerned Coalition for Racial Equality. “(It) looks like they’ve sold their souls to (Lamar County) District Attorney Gary Young. When they should speak up against injustices, they instead speak out against the few who are willing to stand up for the oppressed.”
Price, Mosley and Rogers have declared open support for Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young - a stand challenging “Joe the Civil Rights Workers” and demanding hard evidence of racism and injustices not only in the McClelland’s case, but also involving the lack of justice for other Blacks in Paris and LamarCounty.
The Black pastors are acting as gatekeepers who support, praise and herald the efforts and progress being made in the community by the city’s Diversity Task Force – a process ongoing without civil rights workers input and have declared full confidence and support for the and what they say is a “fair” criminal justice system in Lamar County.
According to Cherry and other civil rights activists, Black ministers seem to be working the cover up game plan devised by Paris officials to ease the pressure on the city to make changes. It has been reported that the city has lost over $30 million in potential business and revenues because the spotlight has been focused on Lamar County and its racism and equality issues.
“What the Paris chapter of the NAACP and the Ministerial Alliance need to ask themselves is why, if they are “united in their resolve and vigilant in their concern” as they stated, their members feel a need to ask for our assistance rather than theirs?” she said. “The ministers say their churches are the best place to have open discussions, so we invite all local ministers, both black and white to come to the town hall meeting and sit down and have those open discussions.”
Cherry offers proof that Black ministers have been less than enthusiastic in the fight for racial equality, issues involving the Paris Independent School District and Black children and virtually invisible on justice issues that have seen a number of cases involving African-Americans who were not given fair due process and often railroaded through the criminal justice system with tougher penalties and stiffer sentences for crimes than White counterparts.
“I recall in 2003, our organization set up a meeting with the Black Ministers Alliance in Paris trying to get help concerning the issues black children were having in PISD regarding unequal treatment,” she said. “The response from the ministers then was “Black people need to clean up their own houses before they complain about racism and what white folks are doing”.
In 2006, another attempt was made to talk with black ministers in Paris about problems and community issues. On that occasion, the group called on Rev. Kenneth Rogers.
“After two meetings, we were told our next meeting would be at the local civic center. We were given a date and time to show up. We were also told by Rev Rogers he had gotten calls from D.A. Gary Young and Gary Preston from PISD wanting him to meet with them. We showed up at the civic center as requested, but none of the ministers showed up. That was two years ago and we’re still waiting to hear from those ministers.”
Now, in 2008, ministers are still dodging and traveling a different path on race, equality and justice issues.
“We still have a nonstop flow of people coming to us asking for help regarding problems with the school and criminal justice system,” Cherry said. “Many of them say they went to the local NAACP first, but never got a response back. Almost all are members of one or another of the local black churches.”
Meanwhile the two faces continue to show in this struggle and maintain their own plans and solutions.
They contend Cherry and Rev. Fred Stovall are still welcome at the table, but are not willing to listen to the issues of those seeking real justice and equality.
In an e-mail statement to an Irving Civil Rights activist, Diversity member Mary Clark wrote. “We are committed to handling this within our local NAACP and there will be several co-sponsors such as the Diversity Task Force. I am also happy to hear that Brenda Cherry and Rev. Stovall want to participate. We expect very good things from this effort.”
Family, friends and members of the New Black Panther Party, the NAACP and the Nation of Islam and a Christian minister say they have vowed to raise support for the family and do promise a tireless freedom fight that will not end until justice is fairly and equally administered, achieved and applied to every citizen living in the county – with or without the blessing of Paris Black elitist pastors.
Brandon’s death has opened new wounds and left deep scars and many unanswered questions about why in 2008, do African-Americans still have to live with the threat of racism and hate that continues to permeate and bubble up in people, neighborhoods and communities across Texas and the country.
It also demonstrates that the fight for justice and equality are far from over.
Thank God for President-Elect Barack Obama, but there is still much work to do on every hand… even amongst our own Black people.