I noticed that with the Trayvon Martin case, you saw our “Civil Rights Leaders“, Rev Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Alveda King (niece of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) but other than that, most of the time, you don’t really see them.  So I wondered, “How pro-active are the activists?”

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s was a goal of indescribable magnitude and monumental progression but, it didn’t end there.  At least it shouldn’t have.  Things just started getting measured and/ or graded on a curve.  Anymore, activists focus on human rights and social injustice as oppose to just civil rights.  Civil rights leaders/activists commonly cover a large spectrum of social and/or political issues that effect us today.  A lot of these issues end up being about abortion or gay rights and not race relations, which is still burdening America.  These organizations or individuals are so small or poorly advertised that no one knows or follows them.  Often times they don’t even make themselves known until it’s too late.

Alveda King was seen on the O’Reilly Factor during the course of the Zimmerman trial.   Shannon Bream, subbing in for Bill O’Reilly, asked her what the black community was going to do to reach its people in order to promote change.  All Alveda could say was the message for change was being addressed in the church.  Bill O’Reilly’s initial reaction in his Talking Points segment was that something else should be done because the people who need to hear it are probably not in church.  In the end, the interview did not edify Alveda King at all.

In October 2013,  Rev. Al Sharpton leased an apartment on the west side of Chicago.  This is reminiscent of the Dr. King renting an apartment in Chicago’s west side when Chicago was the hub of the civil rights movement (Chicago Freedom Movement).  Rev. Sharpton said he’s only there to assist local activists and ministers in putting a spotlight on the gun violence issue the city faces.  What I get from that is, 650 people have to die before activists have something to say and subsequently have large conferences & television appearances pertaining to what they are doing.  I will grant you Rev. Sharpton will definitely draw people’s attention but the death toll of the previous year already garnered national media attention. There are 20 cities in the U.S. that are running rampant with violence, namely gun violence.  Why is it that something has to get that kind of coverage before there is a response?  Chicago is known to be one of the toughest cities in the U.S.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said, “Trayvon Martin defines this season. It’s the season where young black men are more likely to be jailed, profiled or unemployed or shot”, he told Here & Now.  Rev. Jackson is the President of The Rainbow PUSH Coalition. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition (RPC) is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change, which is headquartered in Chicago, Il.  Interestingly enough the people they are supposed to defend are suffering from a multitude of issues that Rev. Sharpton was made witness to during one of his conferences in Chicago last year.  These issues that were mentioned are among the issues that the PUSH Coalition identifies themselves as addressing.  I find that quite horrifying that the problem is known. It is on your target list but no action is taken until it’s too late.  The site has a gun control petition, really.  Guess what?  It is already illegal to carry a gun in Illinois unless you belong to an “Alphabet Agency”: FBI, CIA, PD, etc.  The bad guys never cared before.  What are a couple new laws going to do?

As a Leader in America regardless of what you do, you are an activator.  You start things in motion that have that activating effect.  Had these civil rights leaders been as active as they should have been, we could have avoided a lot of these issues and our society could have been farther along as a whole.  However, it seems as though our civil rights leaders are only really present when it is time to get behind the podium.  The need for civil rights leaders has not changed.  If anything, they are needed now more than ever.

Visit for more information on how you can get involved.

Onyx Contributor:  R.L. Knight

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