March inspires greater activism

Maria Scruggs

Dear Editor,

This past weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on Washington. The “Justice or Else March” brought thousands together once again to hear the call to action from the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, as well as support the millennials who lead the Black Lives Matter movement.

Once again the majority of Minister Farrakhan’s message was timely and relevant, in spite of critics who choose to characterize his messages as divisive. I have not found anyone with whom I agree with 100 percent of the time and that includes the Minister Farrakhan!

I truly believe in the saying: “You don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Much of what Minister Farrakhan proclaims about America’s laws and policies pertaining to social-economic issues facing people of color versus what is practiced is always on point.

The elements of Minister Farrakhan’s message that resonated most with me were his calls for a “unified front of people of different races and religions to bind together, stick together, stand together and most importantly demand together against injustices.”

On both of these fronts, the St. Petersburg NAACP is in step with Minister Farrakhan’s calls to action as evidenced by the millennials represented at the executive level of the local branch, extending to the special recognition of the millennials at the November 15 swearing in ceremony, as well as the positive energy one experiences from the majority of our executive committee members who vary in age, ethnicities, race and gender.

They have shown up and appeared ready for battle at executive committee meetings, general meetings and training.  Battle being defined as adhering to the mission of the NAACP, which is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality and rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. This small cadre of soldiers appears ready!

For too long the efforts to address the socio-economic gap between people of color and their white neighbors and friends within south St. Petersburg has  been glossed over and  simply taken advantage of, given  the lack of a unified and diverse voice exposing these injustices.

Let’s take for example economic development, defined as “the sustained, concerted actions of communities and policymakers that improve the standard of living and economic health of a specific locality.”  An examination of the community redevelopment strategies and initiatives launched in south St. Petersburg since 1982 total in excess an estimated $400 million. Despite of the infusion of millions of city, county, state and federal dollars the unemployment rate for the area designated as the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) has increased between 60 to 100 percent between 2000 and 2012. This is merely one example of the inequities and hypocrisies that Minister Farrakhan has urged communities around the country to take a stand against.

I believe the St. Petersburg Chapter NAACP, in conjunction with many other stakeholders, will proclaim September 3, 2015, (the day the St. Petersburg Chapter of the NAACP was elected into office) the beginning of this community’s willingness to accept the truth that there are a multitude of injustices plaguing this community on a daily basis. By accepting these truths, we mark the beginning of our ability to correct them!

Thank you Minister Farrakhan for your affirmation. The St. Petersburg Branch NAACP is well on its way to addressing and eliminating the social injustices that have plagued our communities of color for far too long!

~ Maria L. Scruggs

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