“Justice for Trayvon Martin Rally”: Austin, TX.

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By Robert Lilly | September 1, 2013

In July I was invited to Austin, Texas to participate in a panel discussion about the cross-sections between the injustice of the Florida court’s decision to free George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin and the broad miscarriage of justice as it relates to African Americans in the Criminal Justice system. My experience with the International Socialist Organization who invited me out was amazing. It was powerful from the perspective that, here I was in a room filled with intelligent, informed and committed young men and women. Some of them were young professors from UTA and others college students. The energy was contagious. I immediately found solidarity with them. I told them I was in Abilene, Texas and the kinds of forward and bold leadership that they were exhibiting was rare and although there were many who had expressed emotion and anger over the court theatrics of the George Zimmerman defense team and the media’s portrayal of Trayvon Martin, I doubted there would be ANYONE who would seriously, and in a public way STAND OUT on this issue.{{more}} I told them, despite my interests in this subject, I could not continue to expend my energies in a town that wasn’t willing to stand up for its own dignity. WE’VE HAD POLICE BRUTALITY HERE AND SUSPICIOUS POLICE SHOOTINGS, TOO! REMEMBER Dennis Willis!!!!! The truth has yet to come out!For the sake of fairness, there are always two sides to a story. Unfortunately, we seem to only accept ONE, the official side. The people seldom get heard, their viewpoint is not given media coverage. And those who purport to be the ‘people’s choice’ are seldom quoted on the tough issues. What a tragedy for our children’s sake. I am biding my time.A quick digression: Why did the Israelites roam in the dessert forUnnamed sister Holding a copy of the Socialist Worker. Photo courtesy of Robert Lilly 40 years? The answer to this question is found in the book of Numbers, chapter 14. Read the complete chapter it details the account of the Israelites spying out the land of Canaan. Verse 34, God declares the children of Israel shall wander 40 years in the wilderness, a year for each day the spies were in Canaan. This is simply because of their unbelief in the power of God, which is remarkable, considering all that He had done for them to that point. The period of 40 years was designated for the disbelieving generation to die off so that the new generation could rise up and enter the land. It has been 50 years since the March on Washington and matters have progressively gotten worse for African Americans. We are still faced with the same issues and then some. That is why some of us are saying what King said years ago: “Where do we go from here?” And “Why We Can’t Wait.” Austin, Texas was a breath of fresh air, a relief from a town that seems to be disconnected from the struggles of poor people all over the country who are waking up to the issues of our times. Not only are they awakening from their slumber but, they are getting organized, and with that, taking action. So, I went and participated because I don’t want to get left behind. I have learned from my study that not every black person, supported the efforts of those who struggled for our human/civil rights in years gone by; nor did every white person oppose our freedom movement. However, many did get left behind, their Austinites, as they informed me, and some members of The Peoples Task Force, listening to presentation. Photo courtesy of Robert Lillyviews were out of sink with the moment. These were the ones who urged us to be patient and not to demand equal treatment under the law. They were in fear of losing their farms or being retaliated against by those whites that were in power, which owned damn near everything in the town. And to some degree one can understand that rationale. Yet, we have today a voice that challenges that logic, the voice of Fannie Lou Hamer. She opposed voter suppression and stood, despite the threats, and actual violence that was inflicted upon her person. She stood! And she cried, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!” We must remember her, even now. There were others, among the whites, which twisted scripture and history to justify their wicked ways. Although not scriptural evidence it was such bigotry fed by the like of the infamous Bull Connor who said: “”As I have said on numerous occasions, we are not going to stand for this in Birmingham. And if necessary we will fill the jail full and we don’t care whose toes we step on. I am saying now to these meddlers from out of our city the best thing for them to do is stay out if they don’t want to get slapped in jail.Bro. Robert T. Lilly and Minister Robert L. Muhammad, and members of the F.O.I. Shaking hands and vowing solidarity to the work of organizing and raising the consciousness of our people. Photo courtesy of Robert Lilly Our people of Birmingham are a peaceful people and we never have any trouble here unless some people come into our city looking for trouble. And I’ve never seen anyone yet look for trouble who wasn’t able to find it.” Even then you could see the intersection between the push for change, and the use of a system of punishment designed to push back.Such mentality exists even up to this day, and although it may offend some of you, even here in THIS city of Abilene, Texas. We are not a fair city, people of color still live at the whim of whites and black folk are still afraid to take a stand in defense of their issues. Power is still in the hands of a few and the economic gap is ISO organizers, sitting listening to speeches. Photo courtesy of Robert Lillya gaping crater. Opportunity to advance ones life and excel beyond mediocrity is minimal. Our children are vulnerable because of such dire odds, and as if that was not despairing enough, to top it all off-WE ARE SILENT ON THE ISSUE. No economic visionaries, nor social justice conferences for information go to: http://www.emancipationfellowshipministries.org/We are at a crossroads of sorts, and many people are going to have to choose sides. Either you choose willingly or by force of circumstances. The organizers of the Trayvon Martin Rally for Justice and myself; both of us have chosen to side with those of our past who stood. We will continue to take a stand whether we are supported by the masses or a few. You must, for yourself, see the signs of the times. Don’t think that what is happening elsewhere is a basis for your inaction. As Malcolm said, one day, “The chickens are coming home to roost.”