The National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black LGBT people, issued a statement in response to the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 9. 2014.
“I speak as a Black mother of a Black toddler boy who will one day grow up and learn that he lives in a nation where his very existence is a threat. As a parent, I will have to instruct him on how to properly conduct himself in front of law enforcement because one perceived wrong motion or non-submissive remark towards a police officer could serve him to be fatal. I will need to teach him about the legacy of Black lives eliminated due to physical and systematic violence that is too often justified by the law itself,â€ states NBJC Executive Director & CEO, Sharon Lettman-Hicks. NBJC’s mission is to end racism and homophobia.
“Like so many in our nation, particularly in Black communities, we at NBJC are beyond saddened and heartbroken that there will not be an indictment in the Michael Brown shooting death. Once again, the life of a Black child has been taken and the process to render justice has failed us. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Brown family as they will never see the criminal and public trial of the officer who shot 12 times at their child and ultimately killed him,â€ she adds.
Lettman-Hicks went on to say that as the implications of the grand jury’s decision continue to settle in and the details of the proceedings come to light, emphasizing that change will only come when we demand it. She made a reference to “Bloody Sundayâ€, nearly 50 years ago, which was about winning a federal act on voting.
On “Bloody Sunday,â€ March 7, 1965, some 600 civil rights marchers for voting rights registration headed out from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, Alabama, only to face a blockade of state troopers and to be driven back by local policemen who attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas, according to various historical accounts. National television coverage of the event triggered national outrage. Two other marches with thousands of protestors led by Martin Luther King Jr. were to follow, the third with federal protection. On August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed.
Now is the time that we must use this injustice to galvanize our communities to take action by non-violently protesting and making our voices heard in this nation, stresses Lettman-Hicks.
“We have to organize and educate the masses on vital issues like police brutality, militarization, criminal justice reform and profiling of all forms. Most importantly, we must use our collective access to the ballot box to elect leaders that will take action to build a more just nation, free of bias and bigotry.â€