Time to wake up from the Dream and Execute the Mission

Time to wake up from the Dream and Execute the Mission

The “I Have a Dream Speech” was arguably one of the top five speeches ever spoken.  I love performing and experiencing it each time I do it. It just fills my heart and soul as it does for everyone else. No doubt, it has served its purpose for over 50 years.

However, just like the constitution is a living document that can be added to over time with amendments, I believe “I Have a Dream” can and should evolve too. That’s why I wrote “We Have a Mission”. It is an amendment, a direct descendant of “I Have a Dream”. It is targeted at what is needed in 2016 and beyond.

A “Dream” connotes vision and hope, something we desperately needed in 1963. Likewise, a Mission connotes vision and hope too. But, it also adds specificity, goals and requires action on the part of everyone who takes up the mission. I for one feel our community is in desperate need of specific, unifying, short term goals that will enable us to “get unstuck” so to speak.

The last 20-30 years we have just been lingering, resting on the work that MLK and past civil rights leaders did. We haven’t created one unifying goal, with the exception of electing President Obama twice, that we can speak to universally. We have taken up individualism as an art form, when we still know deep down that we are seen and treated in most cases as a group. Sometimes, I think we are the only people who don’t see ourselves as a group. See that we rise and fall together, in most cases.

This is America and individualism is fine and the American way. However, we must realize that our success individually can be multiplied significantly is we used our collective power more effectively.

That is where collective goal setting and action becomes important and essential for our community.

In “Steps to the Promised Land” I listed 4 goals to have a mission for:

  • Stop the school to prison pipeline; reduce jail and prison time
  • Make education the number 1 priority,
  • Reduce violence and murders by 75%
  • Make families whole again

These are not all encompassing, but they are a start. Our first emphasis would be to communicate and agree on these goals as a community. They would/should be the overriding focus that drives us individually and as a community. They should all be measurable. The success of each should be communicated regularly to the group.

It should almost be like the pledge of allegiance. They should be reviewed at our churches, community centers, sports leagues, etc. Every child should know them. Every teenager should know them. Every young adult should know them. We should celebrate our success toward reaching our goals regularly.

The hard part, which shouldn’t be, is agreeing on what are the goals. Those four or a variation of them would be a starting point. I would add one more on economic empowerment, or say, business creation.

Once our goals are set we then establish what I call “gates” or “passage points”. They are measurement points that you don’t pass unless you are on target. If not on target, we establish corrective actions to enact.

The Power of Goals is:

  • Everyone can participate
  • Everyone can take responsibility
  • Everyone can serve the community and themselves
  • We see improvement regularly
  • Success breeds more success
  • It becomes “down” for people to work for something

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I’m Glad He Didn’t Shoot Me

Everyone should make it home every night – Black Men and Police Officers


After my freshman year of college, I returned home to the DC area for summer break. I got a summer job, made some new friends and I met a “Fine” young lady.  We struck up an instant friendship. She was my “Southern Girl” (look up Maze if you don’t know). We hung out together all the time. One night we were out we decided to stop in the park. I’m thinking it was Rock Creek Park (remember the song). We knew we weren’t supposed to be in the park after dark, but did it anyway. We were young and dumb; a combination I’m sure you can identify with.

So we stopped, talked, laughed and played. Suddenly, a bright light illuminated the entire car. Startled and scared, I drove off for a quick second. I looked back and saw it was the police. I stopped.

The policeman, a white officer, followed immediately in his car. I mean he was on me like white on rice, if you know what I mean. He came to the driver’s side of the car. I could see he was scared by the way he approached the car with his hand on his weapon. I rolled my window down and put my hands on the dashboard and was completely still. I told my girl to do the same. He asked for my license, registration and her ID. Then he asked what we were doing. We said; “nothing, just talking”. He asked if we had any drugs or alcohol on us. I quickly said; “no, we didn’t have any drugs or alcohol” in the best respectful voice I could find even though I was shaking on the inside.

He looked at me puzzled, went back to his car and I guess called it in and checked on my license. He came back to the car and proceeded to give me a good talking to or should I say lecture. Then, he simply said, “Son, take her home and then, you get your butt home”. I said, “yes sir” and did exactly that.

I was thinking if it happened today that would probably not be the outcome. The outcome could very well have ended up with me being shot and killed. Now, I would have had some wrong in it, the officer would have had some wrong and people would be debating it for a couple of weeks. There would probably even be some protesting for a few weeks.

But, I’m so glad he didn’t shoot me. If he had shot, I never would have graduated from college. If he had shot, I never would have been commissioned an officer in the US Army. If he had shot, I never would have married. If he had shot, I wouldn’t have two great sons. If he had shot, I never would have been able to hold my parents and brothers and sisters up when my baby brother, Reginald was shot and killed for no apparent reason. That still hurts our souls to this day and it was 26 years ago.  If he had shot, I wouldn’t have two beautiful granddaughters. If he had shot, I never would have made Colonel and retired. If he had shot, I never would have seen my parents reach 80 years old. If he had shot, I never would have lived.

The moral of the story – Everyone should make it home every night; Black Men and Police Officers. 

God Bless the families of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the Orlando victims, the Dallas and Baton Rouge Police Departments and the victims and families of violence throughout this country and the world.

Let’s get this thing right! I’m in, are you?


Thanks for following this series. Please like, share and continue to come back to my site. The support is fuel. For more solutions to the problems we face in our communities, read Steps to the Promised Land.

Starting change is the hardest part. Changing is easy!

Racism: We Have to be Vigilant During These Times

This was written before the horrific Baton Rouge shootings of policemen.

The latest aberrations violence has taken on are the familiar spirits of racism, police brutality and revenge. It is dividing us along those fault lines. For the sake of honesty and brevity, let’s just admit that America has history and knows each of these negative reactions very well. In fact, we were one of the world’s leading experts in its practices. These relics of a time we should have apologized for and resolved are the ugly underbelly that initiates and justifies violence. By not formally apologizing and fully repairing the wrongs these caused we continue to give them life.

But, don’t get it twisted; these are only symptoms that fuel the hate that is violence and death. I mean, you may have the flu, but the symptoms are a runny nose, body aches and fever. You don’t only treat the symptoms, you treat the whole disease. And the disease, the addiction is violence. When you only treat the symptom, it may subside for a while but, sooner or later, the disease (flu) will come back with a vengeance, turn into pneumonia and probably kill you. So let’s stay focused on the disease, the addiction of violence in our recovery plan while we treat the symptoms.

The symptom of racism in America has its natural cousins: poverty, economic inequality, a superiority complex and paternalism. The thoughts that “they” are less worthy or it’s “their” fault preside to make some feel better. And, worst of all, the thoughts that if “they” “progress” then they are taking something from me. So we create this game of cause and effect. This attitude is purveyed constantly over the airwaves making people believe we are inherently different and as long as I and mine are okay, then life is good. Watch out for this message over and over this election cycle.

The problem with this thought process is that the world is interconnected now and events what happen 5000 miles away affect us immediately. And, we haven’t adjusted well. That’s why we see spikes in elicit, dangerous and negative activities in communities all across this county. Like the spike in opiate and methamphetamine use by Middle America. But, we still want to differentiate by saying this drug is different or worse than another drug. This forever keeps the superiority model alive and is costing lives.

Instead of realizing that the ties that bind us together are stronger than the forces that pull us apart we take our frustrations out on what’s different and what we fear for some reason. We arrest and jail black men disproportionately. We take away and limit needed resources. We participate in gerrymandering to dilute the power of entire voting blocks in order to remain in power. We gentrify entire communities in the name of progress.

These actions unfortunately cause those who continue to endure these powerful forces to turn on each other, and in some cases, just quit. You have the rise in high school dropout rates. You have the increase in gang membership which promotes havoc in communities by increasing drug wars, petty crimes and again, violence. On top of this is the extreme economic disparity that continues to persist. Is it any wonder that these communities don’t explode and erupt when there is a perceived unjustified police shooting? The feeling is, with all these other pressures, one should be able to depend upon the government, who they pay for, to show some kind of concern for their well-being.

It’s an ugly, unrelenting, powerfully negative cycle that we have to admit to and change before any progress can be made with race relations.

When I learned computers one of the first lessons was the function of the shift key. If the computer timed out, touching the shift key woke it up. It didn’t do anything to what you had been working on; it just put you back in the same place.

Now, we need a key that does something. We not only need to be awakened, we need to do something. What we really need is the space key. The space key moves us forward. We need to move forward. We need to bring understanding. We need to bring change.

So before we have a full-fledged eruption, I’m calling for calm. It’s time for leadership. Let’s stop the marching. All it’s going to do is lead to violence – the addiction. Someone or some organization that doesn’t really want change is going to provoke it. Let’s be smarter than that this time. This fight is not in the physical realm. We are going to talk this through and this country is going to change. It has no other choice. And, it knows it and wants to change. It just doesn’t know how and where to start. But, inciting violence now could postpone change another 10-20 years. Let’s not be manipulated!

When I was commissioned in the Army I pledged to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic. Violence and racism are domestic enemies and I’m going defend against them both. But, again that doesn’t mean we have to raise arms. We raise minds, we raise spirits, we raise peace, we raise love, we raise togetherness and we will win.

One of my favorite songs is America, The Beautiful by Ray Charles. Man, did he sing that song. My favorite verse is:

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

All this time I was thinking the meaning of shed his grace on thee was for God to bless America above all others.

That’s not what I think it means now.  I looked up the definition of grace and as a verb it means: to do honor or credit to (someone or something) by one’s presence.

Looking at it this way, I think about all the different races, ethnicities and religions that make up America. I think he was saying for us to honor our differences. Our ability to honor our differences is what makes and will keep us great.

To make this point even stronger, the next line says; “crown the hood with brotherhood from sea to shining sea”. So we are supposed to honor our differences and live as brothers and sisters from coast to coast. That is what will make us a stronger nation.

So let’s put the “G” back in race.  Then we will have “GRACE”!



VIOLENCE is our Addiction!

The Hurt is the same. The Blood is the same. So, when do we realize we are the same?

This is the first installment of a 3-part series focused on providing solutions to violence and racism in America. It will run every three days this week. Please come back on join me for the entire series.

Part I


The last three weeks were mind numbing. It started with Orlando, next Baton Rouge, and then St Paul, and Dallas. All total, 60 deaths. That is not even counting Chicago over the 4th of July weekend and the countless other victims of violence, be it domestic or gang or simply, insane; that didn’t make national news. I’ve wrestled with this for long time and I’ve come to the hard conclusion that we are “ADDICTED” to violence! In America, we kill! We kill what we don’t like, we kill what is different, we kill what we don’t agree with, we kill for money, we kill for power, we kill for reputation, we kill what we don’t understand and we kill what we fear. We just kill.

We ask the same question after each incident, why? We try to understand, we want to place each in a category: domestic, gang related, hate, police brutality, terrorism, etc. But, the end result of each is loss of life. Something no other human should have the power to take unless in war (which should be the last resort at all times).

Addiction is a brain disease that is characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. It is a condition that results when a person engages in an activity which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life and health. Those addicted may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.

For America, this is not a new addiction. This addiction was always woven into the fabric of America, even if we don’t want to admit it. It masked itself in several other issues like racism or drugs or family issues, even business, workers’ rights and political initiatives. But, the bottom line is, violence was always riding shotgun in America’s journey. It’s just that with modern technology, it is in our faces immediately, unfiltered and without the ability for us to categories it as “them” over there; that group, those people. Technology is finally making us “Really” look at ourselves in the mirror.

And what do we see? We see that violence is our go to move. It is what we entertain ourselves with and it, along with other barriers is how we keep some kind of distorted order. We now see ourselves in living color daily on breaking news and on cell phone video. Who would have thought something made for talking would force us to see ourselves, finally.  A picture “IS” worth a thousand words. Hopefully, it will force us to seek recovery. It is far past the time we did just that.

So what do we do now?

I can tell you this; we are not going to change this with a heavy hand. Our old way of thinking and acting suggests violence can beat violence. Remember the war on drugs? Did it solve our drug problem? We can’t arrest our way out of it. We can’t jail our way out of it. We can’t deport our way out of it. We can’t build a wall our way out of it. There is only one answer: We have to “Change”! We have to “Love”, “Respect”, “Understand” and be “Just” to find our way out of it.

So what is the first step one must take when an addiction arises and you want recovery? The first step is admitting to oneself that you have a problem. No other person or group or nation can do that for us. America has to admit to itself that we have a violence addiction. Can we do that? How do we do that? How can a nation admit that? With Courage! With Leadership!

Start at our churches. Next are our community and civic organizations. Next are our schools; elementary through college and university. Next are our local governments. Next are media outlets, that includes radio, TV, music and the movie industry. Last, is the Big Boss – our National Government, which should be first.  But, as always, politics will get in the way. It may take another 20 years and countless more deaths before it balks and talks and lobbies and finances and filibusters its way to a solution.

So, the people will have to move first. And, we have to move now in order to save lives and our country. We must demand in this election season that both major parties add significant policies that address our violence addiction. If they don’t, throw them out from the local to the national level. This is the most important and immediate “POWER” step we can take over the next four months. We need an “INTERVENTION”!

Let’s implement a non-violence day once a month in each of these organizations. Talk about it openly, if only for one hour. We need this for the next 12 months at a minimum. That’s one sermon or bible study monthly on non-violence. That’s one meeting monthly to talk about non-violence. That’s one conference call monthly to talk about non-violence. That’s one webinar monthly to talk about non-violence. That’s one radio program monthly to talk about non-violence. Aren’t our lives and our country worth that? That won’t make us weak. It will make us stronger.


Check back next Thursday to hear my thoughts on racism in America. For more solutions to the problems we face in our communities, read Steps to the Promised Land.