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Haiti - Support for National Mobilization grows

By Richard B. Muhammad -Editor-in-Chief | Last updated: Jan 26, 2010 - 1:41:02 PM

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Minister Louis Farrakhan
CHICAGO ( - With Haiti struggling, trying to stand but still suffering badly after a major earthquake, a call for a National Mobilization on behalf of the first Black Republic in the western hemisphere found fertile ground in the hearts of professionals, organizational leaders and activists during a recent meeting.

Called by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, and facilitated by Leonard F. Muhammad, Claudette Marie Muhammad and Dr. Conrad Worrill, participants in the quickly called gathering Jan. 20 at the South Shore Cultural Center offered a resounding vote of confidence for a joint effort, led by the Haitian community, to rebuild the country.

Haitian leaders Joseph Champaign, left, speaker Ezili Danto and Lionel Jean Baptiste. Photos:
“That's my blood down there,” said Ezili Dantò, of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, as she took the microphone to speak. “We asked for conscious emergency relief with human rights and dignity and we got 12,000 Marines instead of 12,000 doctors, and they are letting the people die.The Haitian doctors are not let in but also others are not being let in.”

“We want to see Haitian-led, Haitian capacity building in Haiti.We know our traditional enemies are not going to become our friends because of this catastrophe,” she continued in a stirring presentation.

“I can say to you that we need your power, we need your help, and we need you to be sure to stand not with bourgeoisdemocracy because that's what Jean Jacques Dessalines stood against, bourgeois democracy, and for universal freedom where the assets of the country should be equally divided with the people of the country.

“And because we stand for that, the image that we are given is of incompetence, violence and unable to rule ourselves.It is an image that is enforced upon us as you can see when you watch TV, CNN.They will tell you well we think there is going to be a potential of violence.It's potential, well isn't there potential of violence anywhere you go. So they are sending the Marines because of potential violence and they are going to use that in order to take what they have been wanting to take for 200 years,” she said.

‘We are the ones to rebuild Haiti'

The leadership meeting was quickly called but attendance was good with a participants ranging from local pastors and activists to emergency preparedness professionals, nurses, doctors, organizers, law enforcement officers, administrators, media makers, scholars and a top aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley, boxing promoter Roc Newman, radio personality and musician James Mtume, talk radio legend Bob Law and Viola Plummer from the December 12th Movement in New York. Haitian American leaders and members of organizations were also in attendance.

The clear consensus was Blacks and Haitians could not wait for others to save the suffering country, but had to organize and plan for the long-term work of rebuilding and reconstruction.

Min. Farrakhan pledged his support for Haiti and warned again that the devastation seen in the Caribbean nation was a sign of what America would experience.

“All day long, I have been listening and many times, quietly going off and weeping, because this is bigger than Haiti. God has brought it right to our door,” he said.

He stressed the importance of unity and understanding the joint struggle but also pointed out failures in the U.S. response and the cost of failures. “Our people are dying; I can't find peaceful or polite language. They are doing horrible things to our brothers and sisters in Haiti and they think they can hide their wicked hands under a rock,” said the Minister. “Farrakhan is going to call them all out. All I am asking of you when I do this, stand up like men and women and if we are going to die, let's die fighting for the liberation of our people,” he said.

“I am determined now to do what is necessary to make our people aware that this is our chance to redeem ourselves through Haiti and what we do for Haiti,” Min. Farrakhan said.

“We have to mobilize and organize on the humanity, on the humane front, but we also have to mobilize and organize on the political front. We have to be clear we are the only ones who will rebuild Haiti,” said Ms. Plummer, a longtime New York activist. If the enemy can lie, get into Iraq, destroy and rebuild it, a 7.0 earthquake is not too much for them, Ms. Plummer argued.

“Be clear the United States government is in Haiti to recolonize it to own it to shape it in the image of the United States, we can't let that happen,” she said.

Looking at the audience, Leonard F. Muhammad said the turnout was only a sampling of the talent in Chicago and available around the country that would respond to the Minister's call for a coordinated effort to support and rebuild Haiti. The strategy would have to operate on several fronts from politics and public policy to communications, community organizing and collecting supplies and funds for Haiti.

Others who are not here have pledged their support and this is just one city, said Mr. Muhammad. Political leaders in Chicago and wherever Blacks have representation must be part of the National Mobilization, he said. Government has resources and cannot be allowed to not listen to our input or simply not help, Mr. Muhammad added.

“We will take responsibility for our own emergency preparedness because we can't count on anyone,” Dr. Iva Caruthers of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, who shared a document compiled by studying the response to Hurricane Katrina in the United States. There are lessons to be learned and many of the dollars raised never went to Katrina victims, she said.

A chance for U.S. to right past wrongs

There was also a strong signal sent to President Obama that Blacks and Haitian-Americans must be allowed to help. “The vision is a second chance for America to do right when we've done wrong so long,” said Father Michael Pfleger the pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church. “He has an opportunity right now to stand up like Nelson Mandela stood up and say, ‘I'm not going to do what is popular, I am going to do what's right.' Our job is to make him stand up and be the American president he said he would be,” said Father Pfleger.

Rev. Albert Tyson, of Clergy Speaks Interdenominational, called the gathering an opportunity to push forward a movement. “It becomes our opportunity to say we will provide that leadership regardless of what the president does, regardless of what the military does, regardless of what the economic forces do, regardless of what anybody and any other thing has to say or do, we as Black Americans will take responsibility for providing leadership in the world,” said Rev. Tyson. He added in conversations with other Black Episcopalians there was agreement that a joint effort was needed.

“The communication that comes out first of all you don't see any of us.Black faces are not there or you see even those who report to speak for us is speaking with a feeble voice,” said Lionel Jean Baptiste, a Haitian-American councilman in Evanston, Ill., and head of the Haitian Congress, a collective of Haitian groups and organizations. “We are saying number one that part of our demand to the Obama regime is that there should be a Marshall Plan for the long-term reconstruction of the nation.”

“All of the funding should be grants, not IMF loans as IMF has proposed.We also are talking about some of the work that we have to do.We have to be smart because it's not about head to head; it's not a revolver going against a tank.It is trying to maneuver in finding access. Number one our local media, African American, Haitian media have to go in and tell a different story,” he said.

Vance Henry, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Daley, outlined some of the relief supplied by the city. The city is arranging for over 100 grief counselors across the city, a blood drive, a locator for Haitians to access free computers and is sending three fire trucks and ambulances to Haiti. “This is just a beginning,” he said.

Nurses ready, denied opportunity to help

Leslie Curtis, of midwest director of National Nurses United, said 11,000 nurses have been mobilized nationwide but have met resistance, including the restriction that they could only go to Haiti with the American Red Cross.

Leslie Curtis of National Nurses United, left, and Dorothy Muhammad.
“We all know the American Red Cross ain't taking nobody nowhere because they ain't the friends of the people who are hurt in Haiti,” said Ms. Curtis, who said American Airlines and United Airlines had agreed to take the nurses.

“There's an evil plot going on here and it breaks my heart,” she said.

Ms. Curtis appealed to the Nation of Islam for help, saying she was upset with President Obama over the White House requirement that the nurses would have to go with the Red Cross.

Builder Eddie Benoit, from Atlanta, visited post-quake Haiti to get his parents out. He was disheartened by conditions in Port-au-Prince and seeing aid stuck at the airport. “We have to take charge right now of this plan because the plan they have in place is not going to work for the rebuilding of Haiti,” he said. “There is a different agenda in place and I have seen it firsthand.”

The focus coming out of the meeting was stockpiling clothing, other material support and putting money aside until designated and well-vetted charities were named to receive the funds, and to keep pulling people together.

“We have the talent to do whatever we want to do in this country on behalf of Haiti,” said Leonard F. Muhammad.

Related news:

Haiti - Profiting from misery? (FCN, 01-26-2010)

Farrakhan calls for national mobilization for Haitian relief (FCN, 01-19-2010)

Wyclef: Help needed to evacuate people from Port-Au-Prince (FCN, 01-19-2010)

Disaster hits Haiti: Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake (FCN, 01-13-2010)