Op/Ed By Howard Eagle –
Something big, really, really big is about to happen in Rochester on February 17, 2018. We plan to turn out at least one thousand people at the historic Central Church of Christ (101 S. Plymouth Ave — across the street from the Public Safety Building). We are asking people to arrive no later than 1 p.m. — at which time we plan to march from the church to the downtown Liberty Pole. How did this develop, and what is the purpose?
One of our community’s most distinguished elders, a local and national civil and human rights legend and icon, a man who some of us refer to as the sage, Minister Franklin D. Florence Sr., has called us together to develop a united community response and demand for an apology regarding Donald Trump’s ongoing hateful, racist, rhetoric and policies, the latter of which are causing devastatingly-negative affects on the lives of millions of poor people of color in particular, as well as poor people in general.
Minister Florence called us together a few weeks ago, on Jan. 18. We have continued to hold weekly strategy sessions at the historic FIGHT Village campus and housing complex each Thursday. Since the time of the initial meeting, which drew about 25 people, our numbers have more than tripled.
During the the initial meeting, Minister Florence noted that he didn’t necessarily have a “grand plan,” but said “the magic comes when you put people together who want to do the same thing for the same reason.”
He also noted that he feels “it’s important for us here in Frederick Douglass City to have our voices out there with the rest of the nation. Our spiritual beliefs demand that we must stand against evil. In this case, not only should we stand together against hatred and racism, but we should demand an apology. This is not something small. This is a matter of the man who is supposedly the leader of the free-world dishonoring the humanity of millions. The spirit of righteous indignation must be tapped into. It’s important for us not to be fearful and intimidated by people in power — nationally or locally. It’s up to us to stay vigilant. Just think about all of the evil comments and actions Trump has engaged in since he’s been in the White House. He has done this in the face of massive resistance. Just think about what people like him would probably do if there was no resistance. Trump is doing more damage than we can possibly repair or get over in a few years. We can not allow people like him to insult our humanity and define who we are. So the idea and purpose of us coming together is to develop a community response, and demand an apology to African people, and other people of color at home and abroad regarding recent, and ongoing racist statements by the hateful man who calls himself the leader of the free world. It is time to speak out about Trump’s ongoing, racist rhetoric, and racist policy decisions, which are negatively impacting people of color across the United States and the world, including here in Rochester. A prime example is what happened to former Rochester resident Reginald Castel, who ‘the United States government flew to Haiti in shackles, leaving him on an island he had not seen since he was 8 years old’ ( https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/09/29/immigration-reform-rochester-man-deported-haiti/709630001/ ). This has to stop.”
Our next and last strategy session (before the march and rally) is Thursday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. @ FIGHT Village Community room, 186 Ward St. We are also holding a poster/placard/protest-sign-making activity at the same location on Friday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. Please feel free to join us, and help spread the word.