Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


#BlackLivesMatter Co-Founder Makes Clear the Movement’s Mission and Efforts

The ways in which Black lives are taken with impunity does not make sense. To be alright with this, and to not be moved to action in stopping this, is to not be human.

Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly accused #BlackLivesMatter members of wanting to tear down the country, and a new report reveals the Department of Homeland Security has been keeping tabs on group members. Co-founder Patrisse Cullors joins HuffPost Live to respond.

Originally aired on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.
(approx. 18 mins.)


“I Don’t Believe Sandy Committed Suicide”: #BlackLivesMatter Co-Founders Speak Out on Sandra Bland

There is no turning this movement back. The current generation of young people are disgusted with the often-blatant demonstration of racism and white supremacy, especially (although certainly not exclusively) as it's manifested in law enforcement interactions with Black women and men throughout the country.

Young people today are creative, expressive and increasingly clear about the more sophisticated ways in which racism masks itself in seemingly race-neutral institutional policies and practices.

The emperor really doesn't wear any clothes, and young people aren't willing to go along with the current racial arrangement.

History is unfolding every day, and we must choose to be a part of the continuing struggle for justice.

The discussion below is from Democracy Now , on Friday, July 24, 2015.

Part 1 -- approx. 22 mins.

As a Movement for Black Lives Convening is set to take place this weekend in Cleveland, we discuss the case of Sandra Bland and many others who have died in the custody of law enforcement with the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Patrisse Cullors is the director of Truth and Reinvestment at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California, and the founder of Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization in Los Angeles fighting for the dignity and power of incarcerated people and their families. Alicia Garza is special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And Opal Tometi is executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Part 2 -- approx. 23 mins.

We continue our conversation with the three women who co-founded Black Lives Matter. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi talk about immigration, LGBTrights and their own personal experiences with hyper-policing. "We think that our actions, our behaviors, our everyday trying-to-get-by, shouldn’t be criminalized," Tometi says. "I’m really looking for an agenda that looks at safety for our communities beyond policing."


Confederate Flag Take Down at the South Carolina State Capitol – #KeepItDown

bree newsome - taking down the confederate flag

Bree Newsome scales flag pole to remove the Confederate flag flying on grounds of South Carolina State Capitol

Below you can watch the video footage taken this morning as creative artist, organizer and activist Bree Newsome takes down the Confederate Battle Flag at the South Carolina State Capitol.

When you watch, also be sure and check out the last 25 seconds... People insisted that only the state legislature could authorize the flag's take down. Fortunately, there are still many people who seek authority from, and ultimately answer to, a higher and more meaningful Source.

This is yet another powerful example of the kind of maladjustment to racism and white supremacy Dr. King consistently reminded us of, and a principle that more and more individuals and groups among our younger generations are breathing new life into.

I'm impressed with Bree Newsome's courageous example, and also appreciative of all the planning and support that had to have gone into this.

A couple of additional photos below the video clip.


Bree Newsome

missing confederate flag


Hezekiah Walker’s “Every Praise”: Toward a Revolutionary Movement to Protect, Heal and Develop Our Communities – A Monday Morning Meditation (on Tuesday)

MMM - Logo 6

Churches shutting down the intersection!

Imagine more church congregations, and their politically and financially connected ministers and pastors, doing this sort of activity today in their respective cities across this country, while simultaneously (re-)connecting the great and moving gospel music tradition to the emerging youth-driven #BlackLivesMatter movement. There's a natural bridge ready for the journey, with the younger generations already mobilizing and organizing consistent and targeted civil disobedience campaigns in cities across the country, all the while drawing upon the tradition of the freedom songs, the SNCC freedom singers, etc.

This would be an inspiring new movement grounded in the vision, advocacy and activism represented in the revolutionary and justice-minded Christ... the Christ figure I grew up learning about in Detroit and that isn't popular to speak of. Indeed, these are also the churches that will have (and for the few who are aligned with this tradition, currently have) their pews filled every single Sunday. Moreover, in this new movement, it wouldn't be about the churches "leading" and "directing" the movement; it would be about the churches fulfilling an extension of their role as a natural information sharing, mobilizing and organizing institution.

Clearly, however, this is the kind of church centered NOT exclusively on individual healing and transformation (and certainly not those focused on individual material comfort and wealth), but on the healing, development and transformation of individuals within the context of - and through their engagement of - the collective society and community. This engagement is deeply rooted in a fundamental disruption and transformation of the power arrangements that influence and shape the collective.

A new power arrangement must then emerge that places the well-being of the collective at the center of human institutions, beginning with those who are most marginalized. And be clear, this requires a worldview very different from that which drives our society today - a worldview in which individualism, conquest, control and all manner of ways of assigning different levels of human value to people predominates. Also be clear that people in positions of power and who control the world's resources, and the processes for distributing the same, are not willing to give this up without a fight. And thus, the increasing social upheaval we see in this country today (and the world as well).

If, in fact, we believe in a God figure or concept that represents the passionate and courageous pursuit of healing, dignity and justice for our people, then the phrase and reference 'Every praise is to our God!' can and should effectively be translated to be 'Every Praise toward the fight for healing, dignity and justice for our people!'.

It might not be as catchy, but it sure does carry with it a tangible and powerful outcome.

The people are ready...


Extra-Judicial Lynchings: White Officer Charged with Murder in Killing of Walter Scott – North Charleston, South Carolina

Many people have now heard about the killing of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday. He was shot and killed by Officer Michael Slager while running away from the officer after a traffic stop on Saturday morning. The officer fired eight shots while watching him run away, striking Scott five times - four of those five shots hitting Scott's back, with one of those hitting his heart.

The initial reports of this shooting repeated the same story line we always hear - suspect turns and begins confrontation with officer; officer fears for safety or life; officer shoots suspect; suspect dies. Fortunately in this case, a video surfaced by a bystander who was mindful enough to record what was happening. The video was shared with the attorney representing the family of Walter Scott, who then turned it over to law enforcement officials.

While we hope this incident ends in some level of justice for the officer, there is no undoing the tragic killing of Walter Scott. We need all officers who consider themselves to be good and community-supporting officers to stand up and stand against the culture that produces this kind of incident. It's clear to me from watching the video - and listening to the usual story line that followed - that this officer felt extremely comfortable shooting and then trying to get away with this. Given the usual outcome of these situations, and the typical way the media rallies around the officer, we can assume that he felt emboldened in his behavior.

The video can be seen online.

The front page of today's local paper, The Post and Courier, appears below.
SC Post and Courier - April 8 2015


Ferguson and the DOJ Report: Racism, Denial and the Triumph of Non-Reason

The recent report of the Department of Justice documenting the racially targeted policies and practices of the Ferguson (Missouri) government operation is one of few opportunities this country gets to look at the inner workings of individual, institutional and structural racism. It's not new information by far, as many of us live with some version of this reality on a daily basis, albeit not all of us with this level of overt intensity. Nonetheless, the unique thing here is that it rarely gets documented with this level of detail.

Unfortunately, if the thinking being expressed by some of the white city residents in this Huffington Post article - and at least one running for elected office no less - is par for the course in terms of the general thought pattern of other whites in Ferguson, then it would seem there's a long road to travel if one hopes to reason with them.

One of the sentiments expressed about the recent DOJ report:

"They tried to go after Officer Wilson,” McGrath said in an interview after the debate on Monday, referring to Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. “When they couldn’t do that, they went after the city."

It gets better:

"I may be a silly old man in all of this, but I don’t think we have a big race issue here,” he said in an interview after the meeting, which was interrupted several times by other white residents who wanted to thank him and offer their support. “We have an issue with that part of town and they’ve been a bad part of town for a long time, sadly."

And better still:

"A lot of the problems with that report is it’s just statistics,” said McGrath. “If you’re the guy pushing the guy to the hall of fame, you’re going to use the statistics that’s going to make him look like the best basketball player ever, and that’s what the report did."

As a trained researcher, I admit that I have a greater appreciation for data and statistics than most. But whether I like them or not is irrelevant. Statistics are numbers that shed light on a particular phenomenon. Whether you like them or not is of no relevance. They are what they are. They can be used for all kinds of purposes, but if they are accurate, then they are accurate. The numbers don't have feelings.  They just exist. And while they don't tell an entire story, they do tell at least a part of the story.

This resident talks about the data, and more specifically the implications of the data, as if this is about a public opinion contest. The data describing the unconstitutional government operation in Ferguson, Missouri show racial discrimination. Not only a racial disparity in outcome, but the combined statistics and other information collected and reported by the DOJ reveal a deliberate targeting and exploitation of African Americans.

The fact that some people don't recognize this is not a matter of differences in opinion. It's a simple refusal - or perhaps an inability, which has different implications altogether - to understand the use of facts in revealing an aspect of reality one doesn't want to agree with.

This thought process, which isn't unusual (think the racialized debates about President Obama by members of Congress), is the real danger of living in a society where elected officials are elected and public policy is shaped based on ideas about the world people want to believe are true, despite evidence to the contrary.

While the DOJ report is helpful in pushing for institutional policy and practice reforms, the work of undoing this deeper kind of ignorance and racist thinking is far harder, but will continue to be necessary, to ensure some level of justice for our people in this country.

Elected officials shape laws, and neither logic nor morality are a given in the process. Every aspect of our work to undo racism and its deep impact on this society must continue.


Michelle Alexander Discussing Implications of Recent Ferguson Report by the DOJ

From Democracy Now, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Part 1:  Michelle Alexander: Ferguson Shows Why Criminal Justice System of "Racial Control" Should Be Undone

The U.S. Justice Department has concluded that the police and city courts in Ferguson, Missouri, routinely engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against African Americans. Despite comprising about 66 percent of the local population, African Americans accounted for 93 percent of arrests, 88 percent of incidents where force was used, 90 percent of citations and 85 percent of traffic stops. The Justice Department, which launched its report after the police killing of Michael Brown, also uncovered at least three municipal Ferguson emails containing racist language or images. "The report does not give me hope. What gives me hope is that people across America are finally waking up," says Michelle Alexander, author of the best-selling book,The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. "There is a system of racial and social control in communities of color across America. … What we see now is that we do have the power to make things change. The question is are we going to transition from protest politics to long-term, strategic movement building?”

Part 2:  Michelle Alexander: Roots of Today’s Mass Incarceration Crisis Date to Slavery, Jim Crow

As the Justice Department sheds new light on the racist criminal justice system in Ferguson, legal scholar Michelle Alexander looks at the historical roots of what she describes as "the new Jim Crow." From mass incarceration to police killings to the drug war, Alexander explores how the crisis is a nationwide issue facing communities of color. "Today we see millions of poor people and folks of color who are trapped, yet again, in a criminal justice system which are treating them like commodities, like people who are easily disposable," Alexander says. "We are not on the right path. … It’s not about making minor reforms and plodding along in the same direction. No, its about mustering the courage to have a major reassessment of where we are as America, reckon with our racial history as well as our present, and build a broad-based movement rooted in the awareness of the dignity and humanity of us all."


Brandon Tate-Brown’s Mother Says ‘There Was No Excuse’ for Philly Police to Shoot Her Son in the Back of His Head

Brandon Tate Brown was killed by a Philadelphia police officer in the early morning hours of December 5, 2014.

The justification police are offering is that Brandon had a gun in his car, and after peacefully getting out of the car when officer's requested, they thought he was moving back toward the car to get it. Both officers involved have reportedly been on the force for less than a year.

The officer who killed Brandon apparently said he feared for his life, even though Brandon was outside of the car, and was not even facing the officer. Moreover, it appears Brandon was shot while on the passenger side of the vehicle, presumably with or next to the other responding officer, although the single shell casing found at the scene suggests the officer who shot him was somewhere near the rear driver side of the vehicle. Yet he said he feared for his life. It always happens that officers get to tell the definitive story, because our dear Black sons and daughters aren't alive to tell theirs.

While it's really painful to read this article, I hope you do, and also that you continue to follow this story. The mother's deep pain comes through clearly. And the sheer love for her son, who she said was as good and as nice a human being as any one of us. Every Black life matters. Every single one.

If you really hear Brandon's story in this article, you can't help but stop and challenge the typical demonization of Brandon in the media, and by police officials. Indeed, most of the other articles about this case continue to revictimize Brandon and his family, focusing on his prior conviction and time served. His mother speaks eloquently and passionately about this, and it seems clear from Brandon's media posts that this was not a fair depiction of the kind of person he was by the time of this tragic shooting.

This madness really has to stop. Communities can't get over this kind of pattern. Nor should any community be expected to.

From the article, and in Tanya Brown's own words...

“What rights do black women and men have in America?” she asked. “That the police can say, ‘Even though his back was to me, I feel threatened.’ They never said my son had a gun in his hand, so I don’t care if there was a gun,” Brown said, her voice rising in anger and pain.

“There was no excuse for this,” she said, her voice booming now. “My oldest child, my firstborn. I have to put away his clothes like he never existed because it hurts too much to look at them. I have a death certificate that says my son no longer exists. And this officer gets to go home and pillow-talk with his significant other and sleep and call it justifiable. It’s not justifiable; it’s disgusting.”


We remember the lives taken away

Every name below belongs to a real person, someone whose life was taken by a police officer between 1999 and 2014. Every one of these individuals belonged to a family, with parents, with children in many cases, and other close relatives who loved them dearly. Each one of these individuals is still loved and missed. Read brief statements about each person here.

Last Saturday, the nation and world listened and watched as the loved ones of several Black men killed in recent years spoke about the need for justice and police accountability. For any of you who are inclined, take a few minutes to say each one of the names below - both women and men who have been killed in recent years. And when you feel like it's getting to be a long and drawn out exercise, think about the family members of each one, and how the idea of "long and drawn out" now takes on a different kind of meaning for them. The process of seeking justice. The realization that their loved ones won't be coming back home for birthdays, for graduations, for marriages. They won't be coming back to offer a smile, to tell one more joke, to offer guidance and wisdom to the young people coming behind them, to console their husbands or wives, to tuck their children into bed at night, or to care for their mothers and fathers as they age. They won't be around to tell stories and reminisce during this coming holiday season, or the next. I hurt for their loss of life, and for the many grieving family members who will never see their loved ones again.

For anyone who so flippantly dismisses any of this loss of life as being 'justified' and somehow not the huge tragedy that it is, I can't help but assume a complete lack of humanity and compassion in that person's heart and spirit. Every one of these losses is a huge tragedy, and one that we should all be outraged about.

The underlying concept of policing and law enforcement, and how the officers in these institutions have come to view specific racial and ethnic communities in this country, appears to be a key part of the problem. Everything from the underlying mission of law enforcement to the face-to-face contact between officers and citizens has to be addressed.

To reiterate that not all police officers are bad is a distraction. The problem is that there are some - however many there are - who are, and that there are few to no accountability mechanisms in place to discourage the corrupt and brutal acts of violence too many officers inflict upon other people.

I agree with the folks I've heard call for felony criminal prosecution of officers who observe or otherwise know about the misconduct and brutality of officers and fail to intervene and/or report it. Some sort of drastic intervention will be needed to turn this historical pattern around.

And until this happens, let us continue to remember each one of these lives that have been taken away from us - and also those many whose names don't appear here.

Let us simultaneously continue to protect the lives of all our loved ones still here...

Gone too soon...

Rumain Brisbon, 34, Phoenix, Ariz.—Dec. 2, 2014

Tamir Rice, 12, Cleveland, Ohio—Nov. 22, 2014

Akai Gurley, 28, Brooklyn, NY—Nov. 20, 2014

Kajieme Powell, 25, St. Louis, Mo.—August 19, 2014

Ezell Ford, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—August 12, 2014

Dante Parker, 36, San Bernardino County, Calif.—August 12, 2014

Michael Brown, 18, Ferguson, Mo.—August 9, 2014

John Crawford III, 22, Beavercreek, Ohio—August 5, 2014

Tyree Woodson, 38, Baltimore, Md.—August 2, 2014

Eric Garner, 43, New York, N.Y.—July 17, 2014

Victor White III, 22, Iberia Parish, La.—March 22, 2014

Yvette Smith, 47, Bastrop, Texas—February 16, 2014

McKenzie Cochran, 25, Southfield, Mich.—January 28, 2014

Jordan Baker, 26, Houston, Texas—January 16, 2014

Andy Lopez, 13, Santa Rosa, Calif.—October 22, 2013

Miriam Carey, 34, Washington, D.C.—October 3, 2013

Jonathan Ferrell, 24, Bradfield Farms, N.C.—September 14, 2013

Carlos Alcis, 43, New York, N.Y.—August 15, 2013

Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., 32, Austin, Texas—July 26, 2013

Deion Fludd, 17, New York, N.Y.—May 5, 2013

Kimani Gray, 16, New York, N.Y.—March 9, 2013

Johnnie Kamahi Warren, 43, Dotham, Ala.—December 10, 2012

Malissa Williams, 30, Cleveland, Ohio—November 29, 2012

Timothy Russell, 43, Cleveland, Ohio—November 29, 2012

Reynaldo Cuevas, 20, New York, N.Y.—September 7, 2012

Chavis Carter, 21, Jonesboro, Ark.—July 29, 2012

Shantel Davis, 23, New York, N.Y.—June 14, 2012

Sharmel Edwards, 49, Las Vegas, Nev.—April 21, 2012

Tamon Robinson, 27, New York, N.Y.—April 18, 2012

Ervin Jefferson, 18, Atlanta, Ga.—March 24, 2012

Kendrec McDade, 19, Pasadena, Calif.—March 24, 2012

Rekia Boyd, 22, Chicago, Ill.—March 21, 2012

Shereese Francis, 30, New York, N.Y.—March 15, 2012

Wendell Allen, 20, New Orleans, La.—March 7, 2012

Nehemiah Dillard, 29, Gainesville, Fla.—March 5, 2012

Dante Price, 25, Dayton, Ohio—March 1, 2012

Raymond Allen, 34, Galveston, Texas—February 27, 2012

Sgt. Manuel Loggins, Jr., 31, Orange County, Calif.—February 7, 2012

Ramarley Graham, 18, New York, N.Y.—February 2, 2012

Kenneth Chamberlain, 68, White Plains, N.Y.—November 19, 2011

Alonzo Ashley, 29, Denver, Colo.—July 18, 2011

Kenneth Harding, 19, San Francisco, Calif.—July 16, 2011

Raheim Brown, 20, Oakland, Calif.—January 22, 2011

Reginald Doucet, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—January 14, 2011

Derrick Jones, 37, Oakland, Calif.—November 8, 2010

Danroy Henry, 20, Thornwood, N.Y.—October 17, 2010

Aiyana Jones, 7, Detroit, Mich.—May 16, 2010

Steven Eugene Washington, 27, Los Angeles, CA—March 20, 2010

Aaron Campbell, 25, Portland, Ore.—January 29, 2010

Kiwane Carrington, 15, Champaign, Ill.—October 9, 2009

Victor Steen, 17, Pensacola, Fla.—October 3, 2009

Shem Walker, 49, New York, N.Y.—July 11, 2009

Oscar Grant, 22, Oakland, Calif.—January 1, 2009

Tarika Wilson, 26, Lima, Ohio—January 4, 2008

DeAunta Terrel Farrow, 12, West Memphis, Ark.—July 22, 2007

Sean Bell, 23, New York, N.Y.—November 25, 2006

Henry Glover, 31, New Orleans, La.—September 2, 2005

Ronald Madison, 40, New Orleans, La.—Sept. 4, 2005

James Brisette, 17, New Orleans, La.—Sept. 4, 2005

Timothy Stansbury, 19, New York, N.Y.—January 24, 2004

Alberta Spruill, 57, New York, N.Y.—May 16, 2003

Ousmane Zongo, 43, New York, N.Y.—May 22, 2003

Orlando Barlow, 28, Las Vegas, Nev.—February 28, 2003

Timothy Thomas, 19, Cincinnati, Ohio—April 7, 2001

Prince Jones, 25, Fairfax County, Va.—Sept. 1, 2000

Ronald Beasley, 36, Dellwood, Mo.—June 12, 2000

Earl Murray, 36, Dellwood, Mo.—June 12, 2000

Patrick Dorismond, 26, New York, NY—March 16, 2000

Malcolm Ferguson, 23, New York, N.Y.—March 1, 2000

Amadou Diallo, 23, New York, N.Y.—Feb. 4, 1999


J. Cole Performing “Be Free”

J. Cole performing his song, Be Free, dedicated to Mike Brown...

"All we want to do is take the chains off... All we want to do is break the chains off... All we want to do is be free!"