Having ended my career as head coach of track and field at Brown University in Providence, R.I., 30 years, I viewed my first video of Minister Louis Farrakhan, titled “The True Meaning of Christmas,” filmed at Temple No. 11 in Boston.
This was my first time visiting a Muslim house of worship known as a mosque. The video revealed the fallacy in Christmas celebrations and the detrimental impact Santa Claus has on Back families, especially children. Money goes out of the Black community in the millions of dollars spent on gifts attributed to a big fat white man called Santa Claus. The beneficiaries of this lie are the same people who commit crimes against the Black community, namely law enforcement, the police (white conservatives) and the criminal justice system and the courts (white liberals). Both entities protect landowners and business owners, who are primarily white liberals.
Some 60 years ago, the most successful action of the Civil Rights Movement began in December of 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This boycott had a profound impact on the bus company, business owners and the city of Montgomery. It changed the dynamics of race relations in that city forever. On the other hand, the monumental March on Washington was primarily for jobs and justice, yet here we are more than 50 years later demanding the same thing.
During the turbulent year of 1968, one of my student athletes, Dewey Hickman, headed a student protest for a Black principal at Boys High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. They boycotted their classes and staged sit-ins in the administrative offices, which led to the appointment of the first Black principal of a New York City high school. Sadly, Dewey made his transition after a lengthy illness on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. He was a graduate of Harvard University after he received academic and athletic honors at Boys High School as president of the Student Council and captain of the track team. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that same year (1968), was planning a protest demonstration in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., while at the same time he was participating in the Black garbage men strike in Memphis, Tenn. This proved to be the pivotal action during the struggle for civil rights, as King was assassinated during the strike on April 4, 1968.
Therefore, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s slogan, “No Justice, No Peace,” is powerful but must be accompanied by Farrakhan’s call, “Justice or Else.” The criminal justice system decided to give no justice, so we must implement action that will result in no peace. Boycotts and strikes have proven to be the most effective and don’t involve violence. My slogan, “Keep Your Eye on the Goal, Not on the Prize,” means we should not settle for money but demand justice. Justice for Trayvon Martin in Sanford Fla.; Eric Garner on Staten Island, N.Y.; Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and, most recently, Laquan McDonald in Chicago means an arrest, indictment, conviction and punishment. This would have a positive impact on the Black community because if police were given a sentence of 20 years to life imprisonment, then this would be a deterrent, in that police would think twice about committing such heinous acts. Boycotts take money from the power structure; marching gives money to the power structure.