Memorial services for community activist Brother Atiim, aka Earl Lyn Ferguson Jr., were conducted Friday afternoon, Feb. 4 at Brooklyn’s Lawrence Woodward Funeral Home (1 Troy Ave.), moderated by his nephew and pastor, the Rev. Father Caleb Buchannan.
Drummers set the tone prior to Sister Santina Payton conducting an “African ancestral libation ritual.” She opened by quoting the legendary Last Poets, “Blessed are those who struggle, oppression is worse than the grave, it’s better to die for a noble cause than to live as a slave,” prior to explaining the purpose of libations.
“A soldier doesn’t die, when they leave here, they begin a new task. Every level demands a new you,” she urged before thanking “his biological family for sharing him with us.”
Born at Harlem’s Sister of Cabrini Hospital March 2, 1947, he transitioned January 17, 2022. Rasheem Allah, who traces their history back to the 1980s, acknowledged Atiim’s wife of 54 years, Tiombe, and children before stating: “I learned so much from my elders throughout the years and I knew that eventually I would be doing what they did. It’s just that it’s so sudden.”
Some speakers noted how Atiim, along with Sonny Abubadika Carson and Ali Lamont Jr., utilized their Committee To Honor Black Heroes office at Brooklyn’s Restoration Plaza to help provide fatherly wisdom for them when they were youths.
“For Brooklyn, we lost a major piece,” Brother Kwaku said. “If you look around in this room, we are family, and Atiim touched each one of us. He was a superhero. The work continues. He helped a lot of people throughout the years. Brooklyn’s gonna miss you. The youths knew they had somebody protecting them.”
December 12th Movement’s first lady, Viola Plummer stated, “Atiim knew there were no other issues other than, ‘We have to fight to win!’ I know your hearts are broken, but we still have a war to win.”
Mitch Pendelton, Bed Stuy Boxing Gym, said, “Atiim was instrumental in making the gym a reality. I don’t have no tears right now because it’s a time for joy. He did his work. He could’ve sold out, but he didn’t, he stayed here with us. In order for Atiim to live on, we must continue doing the work.”
Mention was made of Atiim contributed to preserving the African Burial Ground in lower-Manhattan during the 1990s, as well as being instrumental in 1989’s “Day of Outrage” when more than 5,000 people shut down the Brooklyn Bridge in protest of 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins’ racial murder in Bensonhurst.
The Rev. Townsley recalled Atiim assisting the International Afrikan Arts Festival and School of Common Sense: “We now hope that he’s able to do, from the land of the ancestors, all the work that he must do.”
Brother Tarik Haskins thanked Atiim’s family before saying, “Atiim was about us reclaiming ourselves as African people; he was a brave and intelligent Black man who took on the name Atiim. I’m going to miss him. He was more than family. Power to the people.”
Atiim mentored many area youths into adulthood. Presiding Bishop Lamar Whitehead-Miller noted being one: “He was honorable and did the work he was supposed to do.”
Assemblywoman Latrice Walker indicated how Atiim was able to orchestrate a campaign plan for her, before saying, “I was a daughter from another mother and father. One of the greatest privileges I’ve had is to sit at this man’s feet, and just listen and watch. Some fathers you get by birth, and others adopt you as one of their own.”
She offered a Proclamation to Atiim’s family.
Atiim’s close comrade, Ali Lamont Jr., paid his respects remotely.
Atiim’s son, Sean, concluded by noting, “I was his mini me,” prior to reading the obituary.