Archive for the ‘BLACK LEADERS’ Category
News & Views
News & Views / Social Justice & Activism
JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON:
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton
Fate has a way of forcing razor-sharp turns in our lives, and Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, are dealing with the ultimate challenge. Within a week of the acquittal of the man who pulled the trigger on that rainy Florida evening, and though many would crumble under the weight of despair, they continued to turn their pain into a pointed argument for justice. Vaulted into a national debate over the issues of racial profiling, gun violence and “Stand Your Ground” laws, Martin and Fulton are buoyed by the wave of public empathy and rallies taking place around the country; they gain strength and conviction with each heavy step they take.
The pair agreed to meet with EBONY, along with their attorney and advocate Benjamin L. Crump, on a sweltering morning in New York City, just days after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Ironically, our interview and cover shoot took place in the same hotel suite where a newly elected president Barack Obama stayed at the dawn of his first term in office, and on the same day of his very personal address on race in America. In those remarks, the president poignantly identified with the plight of young African-American men when he stated, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”
But on this day, the room held a different energy. Obama’s post-electoral elation yielded to a family’s desires to make sense of a senseless tragedy. Holding firm to their convictions, they still seek to properly honor the memory of their son and to ensure the survival of all our children.
Read more in the September issue of EBONY
© 2013 EB
Trayvon Martin’s mother: Verdict will ‘not define’ who my son was
Aliyah Frumin // 4:50 PM on 07/26/2013
Speaking at the National Urban League’s conference in Philadelphia, Sybrina Fulton says, “Please use my story. Please use my tragedy to say to yourself we cannot let this happen to anybody else’s child.”
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin, hopes her tragedy will prevent others from having to endure the pain she has gone through.
Fulton made the remarks at the National Urban League’s annual conference on Friday in Philadelphia.
“Please use my story. Please use my tragedy. Please use my broken heart to say to yourself: We cannot let this happen to anybody else’s child,” she told the crowd.
She also said she supports a federal investigation into the case of George Zimmerman, a former volunteer neighborhood watchman who shot and killed Martin in February 2012. He was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter and said he acted in self-defense.
Fulton also spoke about the Trayvon Martin foundation and how she will continue to be an advocate for her son.
“At times I feel like I’m a broken vessel. At times, I don’t’ know if I’m going or coming. But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is using me and God is using my family to make a change, to make a difference,” she said, adding “The verdict is not going to define who Trayvon Martin was. We will define his legacy.”
Watch Fulton’s remarks above.
How the idea of new UPN was mooted – Frederick Fasehun
April 13, 2013 | 12:11 am
Interview, Top Stories
By Ishola Balogun & Florence Amagiya
Like a straight arrow that knows its target and ready to pierce without missing, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, the founder of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), replies his critics on several allegations reported in the dailies recently. As his voice rang heavily through the tape in this interview, the Chairman of the committee for the resuscitation of Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, reveals how the idea of the new UPN was mooted and why he has not involved some stake-holders in the region in the current arrangement.
He says the contract to protect the pipelines in the South-West which he proposed to government has not been awarded and that no amount was quoted. He bares his mind on how Nigeria can end the menace of pipelines vandalisation among other issues. Excerpts.
Recent development sets you against the ACN; as a a stakeholder in the South-West, what is the bone of contention?
Sharma Mao of China once said: ‘Let a thousand flowers blossom’ and because a thousand flowers blossomed in China, it was a good time for China socio-economically and politically. I have no personal differences with any progressive group. I have always been saying that I love Nigeria,but I love my people more. Anybody that says otherwise is a bloody liar. You first love your people and then love your country.
This is because there is no country that is mono-ethnic. All countries have ethnic building blocs. Even our colonial masters, they have Scotland, Wales, Island in Anglo-saxons, but they call it United Kingdom. It is a federation.
There, you have the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. I have nothing against the ACN and I want to believe ACN has nothing against me. But why are we thinking Dr. Fasehun has brought UPN to disorganise the South-West? Did the ACN disorganise the South-West when it came and took the South-West from PDP? It is not right to lie to a big country like this.
I didn’t form the Unity Party of Nigeria for any personal interest; I am not intending to take any elective position; but I see a lot of failures in the system. Nigeria would have been a great country but for the people.And why must you institutionalise lies, bogus propaganda just because we have political differences? For some time now, people have been telling various lies about me just because they are jittery over the resuscitation of the UPN.
This is the party a lot of Nigerians have been waiting for. Do you want the whole South West to sleep and face the same direction? In a polity that is aspiring for democracy, it is not done. People have lied against me saying I have taken hundreds of millions of naira from Jonathan.
I told one person who hinted me about it that I can’t do such a thing. I told him that I am a straight arrow but if anyone still hold the belief that I collected money from Jonathan, then that person should go and collect his own. A few days later, they said I am being sponsored by the PDP to disorganise the South-West with a contract to protect the pipelines in the South-West. One thing is that it is the duty of every citizen to protect the pipelines because it is the economic life-line of the country which has been subjected to indiscriminate bunkering.
On the 20th of November, 2010, OPC sent a proposal to the Federal Government that ‘we are capable of procuring and providing security and surveillance along the pipelines if you give us as a contract. Is Lai Muhammed saying six million members of the OPC don’t qualify for the award of contract from our country; moreso, that we are fighting unemployment?
If we put in about 35,000 people along the pipelines, it is not only the 35,000 persons that will benefit, their families also would benefit. So, why are people criticising Dr. Fasehun even when the federal government has not approved the contract? So, I began to wonder, where did Lai Muhammed get his figures from? I have no apologies to make on that.
But what was the actual figure you quoted in the proposal?
We did not even quote any figure in the proposal. Because we wanted to work for the government, we believed that it is the federal government that will say: ‘okay we will award you this contract; what then is the cost or this is how much we will give you;’ but we have not reached that level of discussion. So, Nigerians should find out from Lai Muhammed where he got his figures from.
You mean you did not quote any figure?
I can show you the proposal, we did not. I don’t know why they are jittery over a new thing that has come to be and that might see the end of what shouldn’t be. Nigeria must change. I thought Lai Muhammed was a friend. I had seen him as a leader but leaders must be role models. So, if Lai becomes a liar, then, it is very unfortunate for the youths of this country because they will see role models as liars and we will see liars as role models. The contract has not been awarded.
Now, how did you come about the resuscitation of UPN, did you carry the Yoruba leaders, elders and other stakeholders along?
I was carried along. South-Westerners in Europe and America got together and said no, Nigeria must be saved from the brink of collapse. They took a decision that a political party that had no smear of bad records and an organisation being viewed with nostalgia is UPN and they would want to resuscitate it. So, to have a new and national party, they pointed at UPN. Having taken that decision, it became the responsibility of finding somebody to limp it, somebody to match the ideals of UPN and they chose me. I was not there, a delegation was sent to me here (his office) and they gave me the news.
I told them that I had sworn not to be in partisan politics because politics is not a sincere game here, but a game of cash-and-carry, a game of the-winner-steals-all, not only the winner takes all and that is why Nigeria is where she is. So, I told them to give me some time to consider it and they said they were to fly back and I insisted I will communicate my decision to them by telephone.
They resolved to wait and they waited. I gave them my words of acceptance the third day, after I have consulted with my own group which agreed that we have been the foot soldiers of these politicians, we have been their tugs, we have been monitoring their lives and that of their children, now we should be part of the politics. It was then I told the delegation that I have considered their request.
How about funding?
I told them I don’t have money to match the Nigerian politics and they assured me that I don’t need to buy an envelope for the organisation. That is why I said I was recruited. I came into the thinking in England and America.
So, it was mooted by Nigerians in the Diaspora?
Yes. They met and decided we should resucitate the party.
What is the stage of its registration now?
We initially got information that INEC was charging N100,000 to buy the form but later we got another conflicting information that it was N1million.
Then a good Samaritan said even if it will cost N1billion, we have to get it. He provided the money and we rushed to the bank and we sent somebody to Abuja. The person got to INEC office and met a lady (name withheld) who put some stumbling block in the way of purchasing the form. I have been told she is a mole there, that she scuttles the ambition of new political parties. Of course she will not be able to do this. I said, no problem, we will re-strategise.
But the following morning, it was splashed in the newspapers that INEC rejects UPN. That is not politicking but a deceit. When I read through the story, people don’t know that children will only fail exam when they have only sat for it. You don’t fail an exam you have not sat for. If she refuses to do her duties, we will go above her because it is our legitimate right.
What is the role of Gen. Adeyinka, Pa Fasanmi and other Afenifere bigwigs in the whole of these?
They are all my political fathers, but have you forgotten that a group of people disorganised the Afenifere. These are the characters that are true leaders of Yoruba, the Ayo Adebanjo, Pa Jakande, Pa Fasoranti, Olaniwuns, the Olu Falaes, Babatopes and the Awolowo family. Before I accepted to be in the leadership of the UPN, I went to the Matriach of the UPN and she prayed for me, and if I had seen Mama, I had seen the Awolowo family. Now, if you involved the others without doing the hatchet job, you will be exposing them to the ridicule of the ACN. I was not going to expose them to such thing, they would have read it in the newspapers, some of them have gotten in touch with me.
The only person among them that I have visited is Jakande; and I know nobody can ridicule Jakande. These characters have a way of destroying leadership, I will not subject the Yoruba leaders to the ridicule of these urchins. I know there have been roots, there have been stems, branches and leaves of the UPN, when the party is registered, I will take the certificate to them and say this is your organisation. And you see, people have been giving their support. There is only one state that has not register its membership with the party and that is Zamfara.
What about the royal fathers?
There are some of our fathers we do not want to involved in politics, like the Ooni, the Alaafin, the Olowo, the Alake, the Awujale and many others. I can swear that I did not mention it to them but it is basically to shield them from partisan politics but the day we are registered, we shall inform them of the new party.
And you hope they will give their blessings?
By the grace of God.
What is your view about the amalgamation of the opposition called APC?
I dont believe in this amalgamation. An amalgam is a mixture of various elements, each component is allowed to maintain its attributes and composition and tendencies. That is why I don’t believe in the merger. Where are the previous mergers we have had in the past? What we need now is sincere leaders and nationalistic patriots that will put us in the path of righteousness.
We will not be nationalistic if we merge political platforms. Manifestos, programmes and ideologies are from the right, left and the centre. So, where have Nigerians found sixty ideologies? When you are given the opportunity to serve your country, it is the greatest opportunity. We are nostalgic about Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Saduana. Where are their international hotels, where are their mansions and monuments, where are their airlines and shipping companies and banks? These are great leaders. PRP founded by Aminu Kano has been woken up, and if NAP by Tunji Braitwait has been resuscitated, we have no fear that UPN will see the light of the day again.
Is it only a resuscitation of name or the ideals of the party as it were those days?
It is not the cap, or the spectacle, but the ideologies that is expressed in the welfarism and social democracy of the people. That is Awoism.
Now, how do you intend to secure the pipelines from the vandals if the contract is awarded?
You’re asking me to reveal my method to the criminals? If OPC is given the opportunity to protect the pipelines,within one year, bunkering, vandalisation will go into history. We have outlined only for the South-West which covers 5,260kilometers radius.We expect the NNPC to give the South-South to MEND; the Volunteer Force and the South East to MASSOB; the Delta area to Anioma 911; the Middle Belt to Middle Belt Congress and even the core North to ACF. We don’t want to continue to be tied to the apron-strings of the politicians as their foot soldiers. ‘Don’t give me fish, teach me how to catch fish’.
How do you intend to combine the two responsibilities should the government award the contract as your UPN sets for politicking?
I have been managing the OPC now for 19years. In that span of time, I must have acquired some management technique and integrity to be able to keep 6million youth together for 19 years. I hope to use that experience. It is nothing but self-discipline and integrity.
Don’t you think people might see OPC in the garb of UPN and vice-versa or how do intend to strike a balance between the two?
OPC is set to defend our people and ensure that justice is done and that is what we will continue to do. Again, we are not going to practice the politics of hostilities, conflicts and confrontations. Certainly not. I have spoken earlier to debunk the lies against OPC and my person. I don’t need billions of naira. We will go on manifesting politics without bitterness and at all levels and to all parties and at every forum.
Based on what the country has witnessed in the last few years, what is your idea of leadership in 2015?
Whoever that emerges as the president must be in charge. He must be able to say no, we won’t give amnesty to those who have killed toddlers, who have burnt churches. Amnesty in the Nigerian context has a definition which was provided by Yar’Adua. You must first submit your arms, veils and come to table. That is why amnesty is succeeding. Some of our leaders unfortunately want a blank cheque to be written in the name of Boko Haram as amnesty.
I have also told the President that those who are seeking for amnesty for Boko Haram must also know where they live, must know their names. It is not proper to just give out money for their representatives to distribute amongst them. They must first answer to the definition of amnesty. Let us also take a look at the records of the dead. Why are you considering amnesty for ghosts without the records of the dead ones. Is it fair?
Going by the reports that Boko Haram members have been traced to Lagos, do you have any fear that these terrorists will invade South West and if you do, what will you do?
I don’t have any fear they will come to Lagos and I don’t believe these rumours making the rounds about Boko Haram in Lagos. They did not go to Alausa, Ikoyi or Victoria Island or the GRAs, they went to Badia. They don’t operate like that. In any case, when security operatives want some money from the government, they scare the government and they begin to panic.
We are Nigerians, we know what is going on. So far, they have limited their operations to the north, because that is their territory. What reason will they advance to the international community for attacking the South-West. Again, you asked a hypothetical question, (long pause) we will not run into the bush. South-Westerners will not run into the bush.
I didn’t say that, but we will not run into the bush. We will defend our territory. I hope you understand that in warfare, every method is right.
US government-funded groups exterminate black people: Randy Short
Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:18PM
Interview with Randy Short
So there is a total assault on us from Planned Parenthood which is a government-funded group that its mission is to exterminate our population and they are funded by the government and like I said, we have something live Depo-Provera which is killing women all over our country; remember Israel just outlawed on January 28 and yet 84 percent of the people … in the United States were black. So it is destroying us; we are being wiped out. He is just one publicized example of what is happening to us in this society.”
An American activist tells Press TV that the government-funded groups and the high rate of discrimination against black people in the United States is destroying them and wiping them out in the society.
People have taken to the streets in Sanford and New York City to mark the first anniversary of the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. On February 26, 2012, the 17-year-old Martin was shot dead by George Zimmerman in Orlando, a suburb of the city of Sanford, Florida. People held a candlelight vigil and a moment of silence in memory of Martin in Sanford on Tuesday. In New York City’s Union Square, people also held a candlelight vigil.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Randy Short, with the Dignity, Human Rights and Peace Organization from Washington, to further discuss the issue. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Now a year on, how far do you think the American public has come in solving its problem of racial profiling specifically ones that have been institutionalized in its law enforcement?
Short: Compare it to America’s advancement in dealing with Iran, considering the Oscar being given for the film ‘Argo’. It is analogous. Noting has changed. The power relationships that allowed this man to be killed and one killed in every 24 to 36 hours since he got shot a year ago.
So in reality, what would change the society? Certainly not the election of Obama who did not deal with it. So nothing has changed. Things are more or less the same. It has opened a season on black people and brown people and it is America. That is what we have been doing for 400 years, either killing or stealing from people of color.
Press TV: How many Trayvon Martins are we going to see before the American public as well as law enforcement injustices wake up and realize what is actually happening and what needs to be done to tackle it?
Short: I will answer it differently from how you have asked me. I am in a campaign to try to get Depo-Provera outlawed. It is a carcinogenic contraceptive that literally kills people and the government still pushes it although they have known it has been deadly since the 70s.
So they have not changed and in fact push it all over the world. So in relationship to the value of the lives of the people of African descendants in this country, I do not think we really matter. We have to make ourselves matter. The time is now for a movement, for self-determination, sovereignty and self-respect and a movement to enforce our human rights.
It will not come from the state and it certainly will not come from the police forces which are nothing but fascistic occupational gangs that terrorize our community.
Press TV: So you are saying that change needs to come from bottom up and that there is no political will per se to bring a change in reality?
Short: You have understood me. The black leadership is either bought off, corrupt, co-opted or behind bars. We need a new movement; we need a Black Spring; we need something that changes.
Our people have been on the lockdown since Martin the King’s assassination. 45 years ago, this April 4 made no substantive moves and the state have been repressing us for at least 50 years to covert actions like COINTELPRO operation marking group. We can go on and on.
So we have got over a million people in jail; drugs brought in here through intelligence agencies; we have got these crazy groups like Alec that made the Stand your Ground Law where they can shoot us all over the country and while this is happening, this gun control is really, if you ask me, a way to take weapons from us to prevent us from defending ourselves.
So there is a total assault on us from Planned Parenthood which is a government-funded group that its mission is to exterminate our population and they are funded by the government and like I said, we have something live Depo-Provera which is killing women all over our country; remember Israel just outlawed on January 28 and yet 84 percent of the people … in the United States were black.
So it is destroying us; we are being wiped out. He is just one publicized example of what is happening to us in this society
James Randall, Stead Family Professor of English
B.S., North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University
M.A., Carnegie Mellon University
Professor Randall’s offerings include courses in African-American and African literature; he also teaches African-American history. He has been a participant in the project of establishing the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa (opening in Cedar Rapids in September 2003)
Interviewed by Living Waters History Makers
Region: Central Iowa
Category: Civil Rights
The store people also didn’t want us there sitting in either, and they would try to do things to force us away like pretend that they were spraying for flies and insects and spray on us on that occasion. Some of the rowdy people in the crowd would threaten us, threaten to fight us in some ways, too. But, we had gone through some training before we actually did that. And so it was overall a very useful experience. — James Randall
James (Samm) Randall, Professor of English and African American Studies at Coe College, taught at Coe from 1969 to 2010. He grew up in Bolton, North Carolina, working in the fields and attending segregated schools. He has studied at North Carolina A&T State University, Carnegie-Mellon University, Indiana University, Washington State University, and he has participated in summer-study programs at other universities over the years. He holds a Master’s degree from Carnegie-Mellon and is a published author. He has also taught African American literature courses at the University of Iowa. His teaching areas include African American Literature, African Literature, American Literature, English Literature, Caribbean Literature, and African American History.
Shawndell: Hello my name is Shawndell Young and it is May 4th, 2009. And today I will be interviewing Professor Randall. So let’s get it started. So where were you born?
James Randall: I was born in North Carolina, a little town called Bolton, which is in the southeastern corner of the state of North Carolina. It’s about twenty miles up from the South Carolina border and about twenty-three miles in from the Atlantic Ocean, in an area that is known as the Green Swamp of North Carolina.
Shawndell: Where is home now?
James Randall: Home is here in Cedar Rapids.
Shawndell: How long have you lived in Cedar Rapids?
James Randall: I’ve lived in Cedar Rapids for forty years. I came here in 1969 to teach at Coe College. And I’ve been here for most of that time, although, I did take a leave at one point. I lived for a few years in Marion and now back in Cedar Rapids. Some years ago, I took a leave for three years and went out to the state of Washington, at Washington State, where I was doing some work at Washington State University.
Shawndell: So what brought you here?
James Randall: I came here to teach literature at Coe. My initial plan was to teach here for one year. So I came up here in 1969, I was going to be here for one year and it turned out that I was here just for one year on that first occasion. Then I went out and spent a year at University of Colorado working out there. And then following year I was invited to come back here to teach at Coe. So I’ve been here since that time.
Shawndell: Moving! So where did you go for school?
James Randall: Well, my school experiences have been varied. My, course my elementary school experience was in Bolton, North Carolina, which was at a sort of an ancient wooden school that had no running water and had outdoor toilets and had no central heating. But something began to happen, I am sure you and people of your generation have studied about the Brown Vs Board of Education school case which of course was finished in 1954. And around that time suddenly North Carolina began refurbishing schools for African Americans-it was a segregated system- because the idea, as I felt at the time and also felt later, was they, what they wanted to try to show that we did have separate but equal facilities. So we suddenly got a new school with central heating, with running water, built out of bricks, most of the, even a cafeteria, most of the amenities that were needed at that time. So I finished that school and then I went to high school, sort of a consolidated high school, also a segregated school for the black students. And I went to high school there and eventually I went to college at North Carolina A & E State University, which at that time was an all black school, too. All the teachers black, all the students black, all the administrators black, and I graduated from that, from that college. This was the college where the modern sit-in movement started. They started there a year before I became a student there. But when I went there, activity was still taking place.
Shawndell: So what did you do for entertainment back then?
James Randall: Well when I was very small. We did, I guess you would call it inexpensive games. We played a lot of stickball. We played softball. We played, when someone got a bicycle; we would ride the bicycle to death. In the winter we would make bows and arrows, and which we called ourselves hunting. And now it might not be considered not the nicest thing to do but our target would be birds which we would hunt and sometimes get and sometimes dress and have them prepared for eating. But, we did other kinds of things, too. One of the things that happened in that area was, we began to work at a very young age and so even small children had certain kinds of farm related jobs to do: hoeing crops, harvesting crops, chores that were assigned to us in a number of ways. So a lot of the summer activity and often after school activity was associated with work. When I was very small even attending my first grades, cotton was still grown in that area and after school we would sometimes pick cotton and turn it in and weigh it and get paid a certain amount, a certain, few cents per pound and so that took a good deal of the activity as well.
Shawndell: How was the Civil Rights Movement helped you and affected you?
James Randall: Well the Civil Rights Movement affected me a great deal. I say sometimes that people of my generation and a little bit after me, we were sort of born in the Civil Rights Movement, born in a civil rights situation. You have to remember that this was strict segregation at that time. And North Carolina was also a strict segregationist state which meant that African Americans did not have equal rights, which also meant that most of the politicians were against democracy for African Americans. So there was a lot of work to be done in order to get some things changed. Civil Rights Movement meant that I went to not equal schools, that our parents didn’t have equal job opportunities, that the state conspired to keep us poor and conspired to keep us not as well educated. We couldn’t attend University of North Carolina, nor Duke University, nor Wake Forrest University, nor North Carolina State for which our tax money supported in a lot of ways. So we were really being done in a very bad way by the authorities at the time. So the Civil Rights Movement meant a lot to me. When we began to get wind of how things were changing and needed to be changed. I mentioned the Brown versus Board of Education case. I remember when the public buses were integrated in North Carolina for the first time, for example. I remember, when of course, I remember, people my age remember, too, the presidential election of 1960, between President Kennedy and the challenger, and the other candidate for the Republicans, Richard Nixon and in the introduction of Civil Rights support becomes more common in the political sphere of things. So it meant a great deal. It meant a lot.
Shawndell: Can you explain what was segregation for the African American person back then?
James Randall: Well, the situation was really based on a Supreme Court case that took place much earlier, in 1896, the so-called Plessy vs Ferguson case, which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was OK as long as there were equal facilities for African Americans-the so-called separate but equal doctrine. And we saw very quickly that things were separate, but they never were equal. Equal facilities were not really provided for and it meant that by law, African Americans got a raw deal from the state government and also from the national government because the national government supported the state governments in their discrimination against us in many ways. And again, education-didn’t have equal education opportunity, for jobs- couldn’t have equal jobs opportunity. In my home county, I couldn’t even go to the county library because it was only for whites. Blacks could not go the county library. And so that’s a blatant example of this discrimination in that way as well, which meant that we couldn’t get certain kinds of jobs, even state jobs we could not get. There were some more menial jobs that were designated for African Americans, but top flight jobs were out of the question at that time. And it meant that therefore, more people were waiting for these changes to occur and we were increasingly aware of them, and that made us more determined to become active, too. And for example the students, the college students who lead and who began the sit-in movement, they were also fed up with a good deal of this activity and they were motivated to do something about it and other students in other places and an increasing number of adults also began to participate directly as well.
Shawndell: So can you describe the role of the African American church back in your day?
James Randell: When I was small, I was involved in church activity especially. My parents were active in the church, especially my father, who was a very active churchman in the AME Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in my hometown. My hometown was very small, about 600 people. But as I think about it there were a lot of churches in that town a lot of African American Churches, maybe seven or eight African American Churches in a very small town. So I participated in Sunday School. When I was very young I became Sunday School secretary, state Sunday School secretary, I guess until I finished high school and went away to college. I remember attending Sunday School conventions that took place yearly. One of my cousins was the pianist. She had a talent for playing piano. And she became the director of the junior choir. So naturally I was a member of junior choir for a number of years as well. There were some other activities that took place, too, some special holiday activities that occurred in the church as well. I remember also some Vacation Bible School experiences began and it was a new idea at the time for our area of the country. But nevertheless, that took place as well.
Shawndell: Have you been involved in any Civil Rights organizations or any like of the NAACP stuff or anything like that?
James Randall: Yes again, because of the area of the country where I lived, practically it couldn’t be avoided just out of natural behavior. But when the sit-in movements began, I was still in high school. And so we decided that, some people in my town decided, that we should participate directly in some of these activates. Well, maybe I was a junior in high school at that time. Our town was so small, that we didn’t have any real facilities to integrate because we just had a little regular General Store. But we did most of our shopping in a town about twenty-five miles away, the town of Wilmington, North Carolina. Most of our big shopping occurred there. So we decided to organize and to join the demonstrations that were taking place in Wilmington. So we organized and we decided that we needed a formal organization. So it was formal organized and I was elected president of the group. So before dinner time each Saturday we would go to Wilmington and we would join in the sit-ins that were taking place in Wilmington. We had some varied experiences there, some not so nice experiences, of course some people in the crowd didn’t want us there. The store people also didn’t want us there sitting in either and they would try to do things to force us away like pretend that they were spraying for flies and insects and spray on us on that occasion. Some of the rowdy people in the crowd would threaten us, threaten to fight us in some ways, too. But, we had gone through some training before we actually did that. And so it was overall a very useful experience. Later in college, I also participated in some civil rights demonstrations. And even after I finished my undergraduate work at North Carolina A&T, I moved to Pittsburgh to attend a college there. And activity was taking place in that city. Even in that northern industrial city, some things needed to be changed there as well. And James King had even later, for example when I went to another university, ____University, and later to Washington State University, one organization that I became involved with was the organization concerned with liberation in South Africa, so in effect, civil rights for South Africa on more of a global scale. And so I think that part of that interest and activity generated in my case early from participating in the sit-ins back in North Carolina.
Shawndell: What would you say is one of your best…like your best accomplishments?
James Randall: Well I think working in education for forty years. I think that, to endure that and still fill enthused about it. And I’ve had some good students who have come through the process. And so I think very, very, very positively on that. Sometimes I hear from former students and they are doing progressive things. And so I count that as one of the best things.
Shawndell: What has been one of your happiest time, memories?
James Randall: Happiest memories. I guess there are some standard ones, such as some of my memories with my wife, with my family, with my North Carolina relatives, with visiting some other places. Living in Colorado was nice for a year. Visiting the West Indies was also good. Taking a trip to Africa was good. And so those are fond memories.
Shawndell: What would you change about the outcome of your life right now?
James Randall: That’s a big question. I’m not sure what I would change about the outcome of my life. I think that in so many ways, of course, life is still being engaged. And so we go through it, and try to do positive things that we can. But sometimes in finagling with the past a little bit it would change so many other things as well. In some ways, I think I would, I would have liked to have been more productive, more steadily at some times. I think I have been relatively productive over time. But maybe if I had gotten, maybe even started earlier, maybe if I had been able to, I don’t know, get though college a couple of years earlier then so much more might have been done. But this is, you know, fantasy. I would like to have traveled in more places than I have. I‘ve done a lot of travel across the states. I would like to have done more world travel.
Shawndell: I also have one more question. You’ve talked about one of your happiest times. Which would be one of your worst times of your life?
James Randall: A very painful time would have been the year 1972. In that year my father died in February; my grandmother died in May; my mother died in September. So within a relatively short period of time, these are the people who have sort of molded me, and that was naturally a painful time not just for me, but for my brothers and sisters as well. So that stands out.
Shawndell: So do you have any questions that you think I have not answered that you think we should know?
James Randall: I suppose we could ramble a long time about a lot of different things. I think that over my years, I’ve seen a lot of positive changes occur in society in general. And now which gives me some, more than just hope, but some belief that things are likely to continue to improve in some positive ways. As a world and as a society we have dirtied our hands with a lot of things. I’m glad to see now that we seem to be more determined to clean up behind ourselves more than we have done in the past, more accountably, than we have done the past. So, I hope that that trend will continue.
Shawndell: Alright, well, thank you for letting me interview you.
James Randall: Alright, thank you.
GOMINA AREGBESOLA IS UPLIFTING YOUTH IN THE STATE OF OSUN,NIGERIA-HE IS TRULY A PEOPL’S GOMINA!-FROM THE GUARDIAN Newspaper,NIGERIAFebruary 3, 2013
FRESH VISAS for youth empowerment, entrepreneurship
Thursday, 31 January 2013 00:00 By ￼
SIREN blaring ambulances, skip eaters in the toe while a state chief executive is sealed!
The natural thing is to do a panoramic view of such a place, look for a possible exit route and possibly beat it. Not even at this time of adverse security challenge in the country.
Just when you are trying to get out of the flux, behold, amid a hail of dust ambulances and compactors came to a halt. One after the other, to the surprise of onlookers, women drivers started alighting from the vehicle and heading straight to the dais to salute Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola.
Indeed, Bimbo Olasoji, a female driver of one of the ambulances started out with the ambition of securing white-collar job in the state having graduated at the Osun State Polytechnic, Iree, with lower credit in Business Administration.
Having sat at home waiting for the elusive job, with hope almost fading, she reluctantly opted to join the then newly created Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), at least, according to her, “to give a semblance of dignity.”
Today, Bimbo, like the others who joined this scheme, has been transformed to a paramedic with a full-time job as driver and caregivers in case of emergency.
When asked what motivated her to venture into a job usually meant for men folks, Bimbo said: “I joined O-ambulance because I have passion for driving and saving lives. Though I did not study health-related course, I have been trained to attend to emergencies.”
“Bimbo is not the only OYES cadet that has been transformed. Abdul-Azeez Yusuf from Egbedore Local Government, hitherto unemployed is today by all standards, an entrepreneur.
Indeed, watch closely the jungle boot when you see a military, paramilitary and voluntary organisations, you are likely to see one made by Yusuf among varieties he is producing. Also, if you see Aregbesola kitted in football jersey for a novelty match, his soccer boot is made in Nigeria, courtesy Yusuf. Reason: He actually presented a customized pair to the governor at the OYES parade on Tuesday.
A part from being an entrepreneur, Yusuf is today training about 20 apprentices and, according to him, if the resources are available, he hopes to accommodate up to 80 or 100 more.
What could be more fulfilling than seeing your baby nurtured to adulthood? This captures the mood of the governor at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Orientation Camp, Ede, when he set aside protocol, sang and danced to the admiration of the cadets dignitaries and other well wishers.
A programme written off by Cynics at inception is today the toast of other governors and even the World Bank could not but commend its replication in other states as antidote to poverty and employment.
The big question, however, is if other state governors could let go N200 million on monthly basis from their security votes to support such programme, what will become of unemployment in Nigeria?
But that has been the forte of Aregbesola in the last two years and he is not relenting, as according to the Chairman, OYES Implementation Committee, Femi Ifaturoti, said another batch of 20, 000 will take their turn in February.
While Governor Aregbesola presided over a colourful programme to mark their engagement, the state government disclosed that no fewer than 18,000 of them had found one form of job or the other to keep them out of the unemployment market.
The Governor, who spoke before a crowd of stakeholders and visitors from the Federal Capital Territory, members of the Course 35 of Command and Staff College, Jaji, and others, observed that the OYES has become the foundation of the development and revolution started two years ago in the state.
Aregbesola said that the scheme has in a short period of time become an astounding success, saying the government has the evidence of its success when the World Bank recommended the scheme for study and adoption by other states for public sector mass job creation and youth engagement.
In an address he titled “We are Simply Unstoppable,” Aregbesola said “We are happy to announce that this effort is already yielding positives fruits in numerous areas where about 18,000 of the cadets passing out today have found permanent job placements.
“At the newly established Oloba Farm, OYES volunteers are engaged in cattle and ram fattening and in the broiler out-grower scheme.”
He disclosed that OYES is a programme like no other, which instead of being a white-collar or blue-collar job scheme, was uniquely conceived and designed to take the youths in the state off the streets, give them an orientation about public service and the need to contribute to the development of their society.
According to him, skill trainings for the cadets were also incorporated which involves partnerships and collaborations with the private sector and academic institutions, such as Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State University, Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Fountain University, Adeleke University and some other private training and development organisations.
The governor said this is why the scheme is a stop-gap scheme to train the youth and imbue them with positive work orientation and ethics such as self-sustenance, resourcefulness, character and competence, and to give them the self-confidence to forge ahead and overcome life’s numerous challenges after they must have spent two years and be ready for disengagement.
Aregbesola continued: “Two years after, we can now proudly say that our dream has been realised. After the orientation and passing out, the cadets were deployed into various areas of public needs such as public works, sanitation monitoring, paramedics, sheriff corps and traffic marshals.
“Along the line, they were also trained in entrepreneurship and in different vocations of their choices so as to give them what it takes to be on their own and be the masters of their own destiny.
“I must also let you know that OYES is not about youth employment alone. It is also about re-inflating the economy of the State.
“Every month, the N200 million allowances paid to the cadets sink into the economy of the State. Our backward integration policy requires that all the uniform, kits and equipment used by OYES be obtained from the markets spread round all the local governments in the State.
“This has created value chain, improved the economy of the State, empowered families and created wealth.”
He described the passing-out parade as a defining moment towards development and progress as the first batch of OYES volunteer cadets disengaged.
He noted that his administration is certain that the cadets are marching onto greatness, self-fulfillment and self-actualisation, adding that they are another testimony to the fact that the march of progress the state embarked upon last two years is unstoppable because it is backed up by vision, passion and action.
At the event on Tuesday were the Governor’s wife, Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola; Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti; Chief of Staff, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola; members of the Executive Council, traditional rulers, religious leaders, leaders and members of various trade organisations and others.
Ifaturoti added that 200 of the cadets had been selected to travel to Germany for a two-year intensive training on agriculture and soil management adding that three others have been trained and participating in the manufacture of the first locally manufactured hydro turbine for generation of electricity under a partnership by UNIDO /NASENI/the state government.
He also said that 74 are currently in Leventis Foundation School for training in modern Agricultural practices while 610 are in OREAP Agriculture training facilities for training in modern agriculture, cultivating farms under a profit- sharing scheme.
He said,“500 are in Odua farmers’ academy for training in modern agricultural practices and 2100 were trained under OYES-TECH public private partnership with RLG to manufacture mobile telephones and laptop computers at their factory currently being set –up and to provide after sales support and services.
“OYES cadets are currently engaged on the largest apiary farm for honeybee production in Africa. 600 are currently engaged in red bricks production under the O- brick partnership and tannery of O’LEADS. 100 are engaged in fish farming through a PPP fish farm at Okuku and other fish farmers.
“182 OYES trained paramedics, 173 are deployed to O-Ambulance scheme and 2 are call-tracking personnel in the Min of Health. 1501 with teaching qualifications are about to be engaged by SUBEB and being posted to primary schools while more than 600 OYES are to be trained and engaged through the state’s Emergency Call Service operations as call operators, emergency service providers and system engineers.
“More than 300 are being supported under a Public Private Partnership driven Farmers Input Supply Shops and 5000 are being supported to provide mobile money, e-payment and allied services through various Schemes adding that more than 10,000 entrepreneurs are undergoing incubation.
Ifaturoti noted that more opportunities abound for the volunteers, who apply diligently adding that successful service in OYES is a demonstration of readiness for greater calling.