YAM President questions future of America
By Chinta Strausberg
To commemorate the 46th death anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mack Julion, president of Saint Sabinaâ€™s Youth Adult Ministry (YAM) Friday showed a film of the life and legacy of the fallen leader ending with questions about the status of the civil rights movement and the lack of interest by the youth.
Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16th) was among those who watched the film shown in the McMahon Hall at Saint Sabina. She explained that back in the 1960â€™s many of the parents were domestics who feared losing their jobs if they participated in the Civil Rights movement.
â€œSo, if it were not for the youth who filled up the jails facing water hoses and the dogs, we would not be sitting here today witnessing Barack Obama as the first African American president,â€ Collins said.
â€œAs to how we reconnect with our youth and still the importance of their engagement in the processâ€¦there is so much apathy out there,â€ she said. Collins said unemployment among black males is 89 percent and between the ages of 19 and 24. â€œEducation,â€ she said is key.
Born in McComb, Mississippi, Senator Collins said she remembers the white and colored signs on the water fountains. â€œIâ€™ve had the exposure to racism that shapes our experiences. Many of our youth,â€ she said have not seen the vestiges of racism.
Julion said there has been a moral breakdown in todayâ€™s generation for they were never taught to love themselves including their moral values. â€œSomewhere along the line, moral droppedâ€ he said has been replaced by â€œhate spewing out into the streets, crime, violence and the type of music and videoâ€ that demoralizes women and blacks.
Asked if the reason for so much apathy among young and older people can be attributed to the killing of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. King, Julion said, â€œAmerica was founded on violence, founded on bloodshedâ€ pointing to the murders of the Kennedyâ€™s, King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Trayvon Martin, Julion said, â€œThis is what Americaâ€™s principles are.
â€œIt is very hard to trust a system that has that history and not just bloodshed on American soil but abroadâ€¦,â€ Julion said. Saying he cannot speak for his generation and Julion is around 28, he said younger people â€œdonâ€™t trust America at all.
â€œThe 2008 election may have been the last timeâ€ they were able to trust, he said explaining with the election of Obama â€œthey thought he was it but they didnâ€™t see the trickle down effect. Violence is stillâ€ going on and poverty prevails. â€œI am not sure that trust of Americaâ€™s systemâ€ will ever be restored.
Father Michael Pfleger said, â€œAny fight for justice be it the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movementâ€¦a conviction and righteousness and courageâ€ are key today in seeking fairness.
Having just left a press conference at 116th and Halsted given by Pam Bosley, the mother of 18-year-old Terrell Bosley who was killed outside of is church eight-years ago â€œalmost at the same exact time Dr. King was killed 46-years ago, Father Pfleger said, â€œThis continuance of violence is no better than it was in 1968.â€
â€œIf we are going to change things we have to stop accepting less than. I think we believe things were better than they wereâ€¦. People are still dying,â€ said Pfleger pointing to last weekâ€™s statistics that showed 33 people were shot and 5 killed in 6 days.
â€œYou walk down some of our streetsâ€ like Marshfieldâ€¦You walk down some blocks and it looks like a third world country. Some people go through garbage cans outside of my window. Things are not good. Things are horrible. People are dying. People are drugged up, sexed up to try to escape the realities of life right now, this weekend.
â€œWe have to stop accepting conditions that are evil and unjust and get mad about it,â€ said Pfleger. â€œWeâ€™ve lost our fightâ€¦our courage. We need to use our faith to fight with and to stop accepting less than what God promised us to beâ€¦.â€
Saying Dr. King had convictions, Pfleger said that is why he spoke against the Vietnam War and why he went back to Birmingham when his friends told him not to. King, he said, â€œsat in a basement just like this in 1955 with less people who are here right nowâ€¦when his family and his dad told him not to do that.â€ King, he said, had convictions and principles, which â€œkept him and drove him.â€
â€œWe got to get back to individuals driven by principles and not by greed, success or popularity,â€ said Pfleger. â€œI think we got to get angryâ€¦and get principles for what is right. Is it possible to follow Jesus and be silentâ€¦â€?
Overall, the group felt this generation has a lot of work to do if Dr. Kingâ€™s dream of equality, fairness and social justice will prevail.