As I watched the news and saw the violence that erupted on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, I was hoping with all my heart, that this would be the time when our president would stand up and do the right thing — speak out strongly against such action and thereby lead our country into trying to heal. But it didn’t happen.
At first, President Donald Trump made a warmer-than-lukewarm statement, never calling the situation what it actually was — an act of hate. After much national pressure, on Monday he condemned the white supremacists.
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My heart goes out to the family of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old victim who was killed when James Alex Fields Jr., 20, allegedly drove his Dodge Challenger full speed into the crowd of counter-protesters. He also injured 19 others.
America, this is a sad time in our beloved country. For those of us who have lived through such madness throughout our lives, the same questions come to mind again and again: “How long?” and “When will the hatred that pits brothers against brothers and sisters against sisters end?”
Then, a friend shared a picture with me that was online. It was a photo of a small child — a little girl — who seemed to be no more than 3 years old. She was wearing a tiny version of a KKK uniform — a hooded sheet. I looked at the picture; she was wearing little Mary Jane shoes and what seemed to be lace-trimmed socks. Beneath that robe and hood, she could have been dressed for Sunday school.
The picture gave me the answers to my questions: As long as our babies are being force-fed this destructive diet, the hate will grow up with them and the violence will continue and will eventually destroy our country from within. James Alex Fields Jr. is only 20 — a baby. Yet he was filled with so much hate that it overwhelmed him.
Just before writing this column, I spoke with Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, a gentle man who strives to stir up our “pure” minds about racial injustice and to keep alive the history of how African Americans came to these shores, in the first place.
It seems fitting to me, and to Tinnie too, that on Sunday, the annual observance of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and of its Abolition will be held amidst the turmoil that is taking place in our country. The remembrance will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in Key West at African Cemetery Memorial Monument on Atlantic Boulevard.
“The Key West African Cemetery is one of the few places where Africans who survived the Middle Passage on slave ships, but who were never enslaved, are buried,” Tinnie said.
“This celebration is more important now, than ever, because we see the recurrence of hate popping up here and there. As African Americans, we need to know our collective history better ... this poison has been with us from the time America was founded, but when President Obama was elected, more of it was brought to the surface,” he said.
Concerning Sunday’s observance, Tinnie said it is both solemn and celebratory and an occasion to pause and reflect upon what our ancestors of all nations involved, endured in the Middle Passage. It will also recognize the legacy of the physical, mental and spiritual strength and heroism of all the victims of that “barbaric” time of human trafficking, Tinnie said.
The observance honors the memory of the 295 refugees, mostly children, who were buried at the African Cemetery in 1860, having never recovered from the sufferings incurred during the ocean crossing. The children were among a total of 1,432 captives rescued by the U.S. Navy steamships from three illegal American-owned slave ships bound for Cuba.
According to historians, the Africans were welcomed, housed and provided for by the U.S. marshal and local residents during their 12 weeks of detention while awaiting their return to Africa. Their plight drew national attention and press coverage and significantly heightened the debate that would bring about the Civil War.
Tinnie said, “More and more attention will be coming to the issue of Africans arriving to these shores as we rapidly approach the 50th anniversary [in 2018] of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. That kind of compels us to pause and assess what we have gained and lost in the past 50 years. The fact that we are taking time to remember our history and ancestors is a kind of gain.”
“We lost a human life in Charlottesville,” Tinnie continued, “and we lost all these human lives that mattered in the Middle Passage. Today we are losing children to homicide. We must make sure that all these sacrifices of lives have not been in vain; that we use all these sacrifices to help make a better world.”
Temple to welcome mosque members
Speaking of a better world, mark your calendar for Oct. 16, when Imam Mikal Hamin and members of the community from Masjid Al-Ansar will be the guests at Temple Beth Sholom of Miami Beach.
The idea for the event was born when Temple Beth Sholom members spent time and shared dinner with members of the Muslim community during Ramadan at their mosque in Miami.
The upcoming gathering will be hosted by the PACT (People Acting for Community Together) and the PACT Leadership group of Temple Beth Sholom.
The temple has had a longtime association with PACT, and is a part of the Social Justice Network and PACT, which unites, organizes and trains leaders from diverse congregations, schools and community groups to build a powerful community voice. The group also hold elected officials accountable and works to achieve systemic change.
At the October event, Hamin will share with the audience how the Islamic community understand interfaith work, why the mosque chooses to participate in PACT and some perspectives about Islamic and Jewish relationships in America.
For more information about PACT, the community is invited to join the organization at the annual meeting, which will be on Oct. 23. For more information, contact the temple’s Rabbi Robert Davis, Denis Russ or Jani Singer at the temple office, 305-538-7231. The temple is at 4144 Chase Ave. in Miami Beach.
‘Make a Difference’
The Universal Truth Center for Better Living will continue its teaching on the lesson “Make a Difference with Bold Thinking” on Sunday with the sermon topic “Make a Difference with Bold Sacred Activism.”
Sunday meditation starts a 9:40 a.m., followed by the worship service at 10 a.m. The Rev. Charles Taylor, senior pastor of the church, will preach. The community is invited. The church is at 21310 NW 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens.
Girl Scouts rally
The Girl Scouts is more than a group of girls who gather in front of grocery stores to sell cookies once a year. It is an American institution.
On Sept. 9, Palm Springs United Methodist Church, 5700 W. 12th Ave., Hialeah, will host a Girl Scout rally from 5 to 8 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida Service Unit 42, and is free and offers fun and information for the entire family. Those interested in becoming a scout will be able to register at that time.
The event will include a DJ, marshmallow roasting and s’mores making, arts and crafts, raffles, Build a Bear workshop, and a Home Depot “Kidzone” workshop. Different community resources will have tables available with information about their services.
In addition, the church will have a rummage sale in Fellowship Hall, where the Girl Scouts will be selling hot dogs, drinks and chips.
Call 305-821-3232 for more information.
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