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From the Superbowl to the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus: Two Memorable Weekends

February 24, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Part One

On the weekend of February 4-7, 2016, we, my son, Herb, Jr, and, my daughter, Dawn, took a jet plane to Santa Clara, California for the 50th Annual Superbowl. On the following weekend, I drove to Albany, NY for the 45th Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus. Before I relate the memorable events of the two weekends, there were two important events which I attended.

On Thursday, February 4, 2016, from 3pm-5:30pm, I attended a program called “Building Bridges Across Boundaries” in observance of Word Interfaith Harmony Week. It was held at the United Nations. I was accompanied by my daughter, Ms. Sharon Daughtry, the Executive Director of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA); and, Ms. Cindy Similien-Johnson, a staff member of DBNA.

The sponsoring organizations were United African Congress, Give Them A Hand Foundation, Nusantara Foundation, Buddhists’ Light International Association, and the International Association of Applied Psychology in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia, Permanent Mission of Jamaica, and the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations.

Representatives from the sponsoring organizations in addition to UN Ambassadors, Representatives, and religious leaders, gave remarks emphasizing the imperative for unity in the fight against diseases, especially Ebola. Mr. Eric Edwards, who has accumulated an extensive collection of African artifacts, also made remarks. In addition, there was a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Milton Allimadi of Black Star News.

The goals expressed by the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week are to:
-realize peace and harmony in the world:
-achieve sustainable development in the 2030 Agenda
-response and recovery in Global health emergencies (i.e.Ebola)

Later that evening, I attended the First Annual Benefit Dinner sponsored by the Amadou Diallo Foundation. It was held at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem, NY. Being in the Alhambra for this occasion brought back many memories. Walking inside the Alhambra was like walking the corridors of history. It is being refurbished, and, hopefully, it will bring back some of the glory that was Harlem.

Moreover, Mr. Amadou Diallo was the young West African who was killed by four police officers in his vestibule in 1999.They riddled the narrow enclosure with 41 bullets, in what the late Mr. Johnnie Cochran called “a death chamber.” The officers were acquitted as their Defense team succeeded in having the trial move to Albany, NY.

The program included Former Mayor David Dinkins, the Chairman; Former Governor David Patterson; Councilman Charles Barron; Mrs. Kadiatou Diallo; and, Rev. Al Sharpton. In addition to speakers, there was a panel discussion, “The Ebb and Flow: Finding a Solution.” I was asked to do the Opening Prayer, after which I introduced Mr. Patterson, who, as always, recited many innocent citizens who have been killed by the police.

Rev. Sharpton recounted the history of his involvement in the Amadou Diallo case and the first time he met Mrs. Diallo. He described his trip to Conakry, New Guinea for the burial ceremony. He related how the Diallo movement was created in which 1,000 people were arrested for protesting the killing of Mr. Diallo.

He mentioned that Mr. Barron and I gave him the idea of the daily arrests. The fact of the matter is, we, Rev. Sharpton and I, were returning from a rally in Albany, NY. As we drove along the highway, I said to him that the people are ready for daily civil disobedience. In the late 1980s, I had coordinated the daily civil disobedience related to the Free South Africa-Free Mandela Movement. Randall Robinson, Congressman Walter Fauntroy, and Effi Barry were arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. It had ignited a movement that swept across the country.

Thousands of people, including VIPs of every description, movie stars, and activists, were eagerly submitting themselves for arrests. In my mind, I found this lesson: When an issue infuriates the people, they will make any sacrifice to express their outrage.

Rev. Sharpton immediately endorsed the idea, and we began the discussion where it should be held. First, we thought it should be held at the court in the Bronx. We rejected that idea because we did not want to be guilty of influencing the jury. We thought we had an “open and shut” case.

Rev. Sharpton later came up with the idea that it should be held at One Police Plaza. We both agreed. The next day, we were arrested at Wall Street. The daily civil disobedience started a week later.

As I reflected on the Diallo Scholarship Program, I thought of our scholarship programs. Randolph Evans, 15, was killed by the police in 1976. In I 977, the jury pretty much acquitted Officer Robert Torsney. We vowed that we would never let the memory of Randolph die. Thus, we created the Randolph Evans Scholarship Program in which we have been giving at least $1000 each to10 college-bound students since 1979. Brent Duncan, 18, was killed by convicted members of our community six years ago. We have given scholarships of $1000 to college-bound students since 2011.

I can’t help but wonder what happens to the parents who receive millions of dollars and offer scholarships. How is the money invested? In the cases where we started scholarships, there was no State money. We had to find other ways to raise the scholarship money.

I have often wondered: “Why, in the cases where parents have received millions of dollars, no parent has ever offered any kind of remuneration to our organization or church?” Please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that we were seeking anything but justice, and using the grief and pain to empower the community.

I do wonder why no parent has ever said, “I know that your family, church, and you have expended a lot of time, energy, and resources in helping us to achieve justice and the compensation we have received. Here’s a contribution to your church or organization that will enable you to be more effective in helping others.”

Perhaps, there may have been a misunderstanding that we or our organizations were paid by others to do the work that we did. We were never funded to do our activist or advocacy work. Looking back, I’m kind of glad that there has never been any donation. No one can ever accuse me of receiving anything for the service we rendered. I know that there have been allegations that we have received monies, but they were totally untrue.

Likewise with Black politicos and all of the political friends we have helped through the years. Our organizations have never received any sizeable grants. The Randolph Evans Scholarship have received pittance from a couple of elected officials. Many years ago, the daycare center received a pittance from a certain elected official.

Again, I am glad because no one can ever accuse me of political remuneration for my efforts. It would not have been wrong. You support political people because you want their support. I will continue to support Black politicos because I believe the issue is bigger than me. It’s about our people. If they are doing good for the people, that’s good! There’s always the symbolism of having a Black face in office.

… to be continued.