Monday, July 14, the National Action Network’s Youth Move opened its doors early to welcome auditions for “Nations Sons.” The play, which paid tribute to our lost brothers Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell, among others, aimed to teach Harlem’s youth and community members about the difficulties of growing up as a Black man in America.
Founded by Ashley Sharpton, the weekly Huddle program, held at the House of Justice in Harlem, featured the reading of “Nation Sons” as part of NAN’s “Art & Culture Night,” hosted by Oliver Pinnix.
“Racism is real,” said fictional character Barack Obama Sr., reminding the audience that even in the face of injustice, you must let go of revenge and learn to forgive.
The play referred to the deaths of Martin and other victims of racial injustice as an “army that cannot be fought.” Their memories are a living force that continues to push and motivate our Black communities.
At Monday night’s Huddle, special guest Tanasia Futrell took the stage at intermission to share her own story of injustice. Cyber-bullied, threatened and facing two criminal charges for self-defense, the teen felt unprotected and unwanted by her school’s administration in North Raleigh, N.C.
“Please, please be careful with Facebook and Twitter,” said Tanasia’s mother, Tamara Young. “They’re no good.”
In response to the family’s situation, NAN’s crisis manager, June Moses, took center stage with an important message for youth, parents and Huddlers alike.
“Know your rights,” said Moses. “I need parents to understand that it is their job to know where they’re sending their child and to know the rules and regulations of that institution.” She affirms that businesses, institutions and any other types of professional environments speak a certain language of codes and regulations. “Learn the language!”
The Huddle, which is available via live stream weekly on nationalactionnetwork.net, is every Monday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 106 W. 145th St., Harlem. Food and refreshments are provided for Huddle attendees.
“I am justice,” chanted the Huddle audience, along with the cast members as they continued the second act of the play. In the dim lights of the mock theater setting, fists pumped into the air. “I am justice!”