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Baltimore’s Young People Have Tired of the Old Guard Leadership And Want An Influential Voice

Suspect Dies BaltimoreThe standard guard of Black people in distress—the reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and the old civil rights organizations—are relics to the young and angry of Baltimore who believe they push a self-serving, ineffective agenda that bears few tangible results.

This position came to light Thursday night, when Sharpton came in from New York and held what was called an “invitation only” meeting with community leaders that excluded the community.

Rather, Sharpton met at New Shiloh Baptist Church with the presidents of the NAACP and the National Urban League and Baltimore mayor Stephanie Williams-Blake at what was billed as a summit to “support the city of Baltimore” and “improve community-police relations.”

That Sharpton could come into their city and keep the youth out of an important meeting tipped the scales from tact and diplomacy to frustration and disregard.

“I wanted to give my voice,” Shamar Gordon, 17, said to the New York Post after being blocked from the summit at the New Shiloh.

He was among a dozen youths and other residents who were refused entry at the church.

“Reverend Sharpton?” Gordon said, according to The Post. “Al Sharpton (needs) to roll out!”

After a tense hallway discussion, leaders let the group in and a community representative spoke at the end.

But the point was made by Gordon: Younger people, teenagers, want a voice in the aftermath of still another death of a Black man with police involvement. Freddie Gray’s death, suspicious until today, when it was announced it has been ruled a homicide and the officers involved have been charged, has served as a galvanizing force for those not yet 20 who have tired of the customary response by African-American leaders after such a tragedy.

These kids in Baltimore want their anger to be heard and felt. Praying for peace and demanding justice, to them, is a played-out tactic from a bygone era. They would rather yell and break things to truly express the outrage and pain, fear and frustration with these all-too-frequent cases of Black lives taken at the hands of law enforcement.

Sharpton’s and Jackson’s fly-into-town, make-a-speech-and-leave routine does not work for the youth. It’s invasive; Baltimore is their community. Flying in like a hero to save the day offends, especially when calling for discussion about the situation that excludes the community and people most affected. It’s ineffective: Black men continue to get killed while, in most cases, the police officers never even face trial.

The debate will rage forever over the justification of the teenagers and some young people in their early 20s—donning bandanas and masks—ransacking the Baltimore streets the night of Gray’s funeral.

Calling them “thugs and criminals” as President Obama and Mayor Williams-Blake and many others did could be viewed as an unfair characterization. To an outsider, judging from a distance and with the perspective of age, harsh assessment might be the call.

But for these kids, their actions, however controversial, spoke to their pain and fear. They feel disenfranchised and targeted. They feel hopeless. But they care. And good, bad or indifferent, the standard leadership of the old guard just won’t do for them.

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13 thoughts on “Baltimore’s Young People Have Tired of the Old Guard Leadership And Want An Influential Voice

  1. I think young black people have to be their voice and new leaders as an united front. no new black leaders are not coming, these kids have to take over where malcolm x, dr king, coretta king and betty shabazz left off.

  2. How could they leave the youth out when they know how important they were to the Civil Rights Movement. Among the protesters at that time it was the youth who sat at those lunch counters being spat on!

  3. I don't think they would rather "yell and break things" to get their point across or voice their frustration. But I do believe that just as their signs and chants say, "no justice, no peace." If we continuously cannot get justice, even in the face of overwhelmingly evidence, video footage, etc.then the power structures in place will not know peace. If you kill my son for riding a bike, or running from the police, if you stop my husband for a broken tail light and he winds up with 7 bullets in his back and after an "extensive investigation" everyone goes free but my husband is six feet under, someone or some institution is going to pay for that injustice. Now you can do the right thing and indict the killers and actually send them to jail (and I say that because police have been arrested many times but they always get off or they serve very little time) or you get the violence that comes from your injustice and inaction.

  4. Sd Humphrey says:

    THANK GOD! these "young people" are NOT blind! they can see with precision that "the old guard" are failing them. the failure is most prominent and obvious in the FACTS and RESULTS that the murders continue at a rapid pace. no matter the intentions of the old guard they have been unsuccessful in.
    their ability to stop police brutality of the mostly young. riotng IS most definitely equally as wrong and dishonorable as police brutality/murder. two wrongs don't make either right! everyone knows this but until the latter ceases, the former continues to gain in power. as I said, these young people are NOT blind therefore they KNOW that nobody is listening to them or preventing their DEATHS! unless it's dramatic which is what a riot especially is, the youngsters SEE for themselves that they, their plight, their lives remain ignored and dismissed.

    it is totally asinine, ignorant, blind, and out of touch for parents, politicians, presidents, police, religious leaders, media. and others to insist on lumping all of the young into the same category. it doesn't matter whether the category is negative because they are defined as "young or thugs" to dismiss them, it remains an insult, unfair, and unjust. these youngsters DESERVE their futures and are willing to demand that the same is available to/for them.

    this current generation start their lives in ways we didn't have due to technology at much younger ages! that genie can't and won't be put back into the bottle! therefore reality can't be censored and relegated to the sit down, be quiet, and wait manner of living for them. if anyone thinks there is an inability for the young to understand the grown ups CODE of not now—-they are totally incorrect in that assumption. these youngsters are as frustrated, tired, unbowed, and willing to fight as their parents were in their YOUTH in the sixties! either get on board or get out of the way because they will NOT turn back now. NEVER on their watch.

  5. The time for begging for what you want is long over. It's time to create what you want from the trillion dollars we spend every year, outside our community. Black Unity is the solution, is the plan.

  6. This only shows that we are all better off TODAY and those of less fortune (even barely alive) are victims of circumstances of the facts of life. You can say what you want, it remains the cycle of life for man and every creature that lives.

  7. i disagree Sd in the times where the youth have protested they have stood up for the betterment of our people. Two wrongs don't make a right is a mind control tactic, in this case. Destroying any thing in this country that our blood sweat and tears built, not help help to build here built is being expressed is the only right.

  8. Sd Humphrey says:

    Celeste, I don't understand what you're saying. you disagree with what EXACTLY that I said?

  9. Sd Humphrey I disagree with the comparison of the police brutality to the youth uprising, and two wrongs not making a right. Far too many times which was the failure of the "old guard" is that they were held to standards of "right" and "wrong" by a system of morals, traditions and principles not being followed. The police and the system of supremacy and oppression have no standards of right or wrong. Not that our youth ought not however in this case holding them to some standards by saying do not protest, do not break things, we built on our blood sweat and tears, well its is our only right. They benefit from what we have built. We can not continue to overlook that. It is part of the frustration of this generation. I say it is our only right because we have not been credited with any thing except for being "thugs" and other stereotypes.

  10. Chill Real says:

    Yes sir, it is the only way.

  11. Sd Humphrey says:

    Celeste Harrell okay I got it now. I understand what you're saying but I disagree about there being anything actually "right" about the riots. I believe they are a natural reaction to the reality of the situation which should be expected. there is absolutely no way to force people to accept and ignore their pain. BUT being held to standards of right and wrong is REQUIRED in society. anarchy is the result if we abandon these standards as we can obviously determine with the example that's been set by the supposed "good cops". there are NO good cops IMO. good cops would NEVER allow the bad cops to represent them by remaining SILENT. that SILENCE is always pure unadulterated cowardice and selfishness with a complete dishonor to the oath all officers must take. make a choice to become a cop then be a cop that follows and obeys the law in every circumstance. if not, then in reality you are a CRIMINAL with a gun, badge, and power sanctioned by the government.

    in the end, I believe that the youngsters do NOT have to riot to improve conditions or be heard. nor should they riot. I am all for protests, meaning both marching and attention against the injustices that are important to them. there is nothing as powerful in america as boycotting with hard earned dollars. this will require organization and sincerity which to only spend and patronize with people who respect them. youngsters spend a lot of money and can stop to draw attention! I NEVER want the youth placed in the same category as the police by their own actions, thus NO RIOTS! the youth should NOT contribute to the status quo that allows the presentation of lies in the media. the police ARE the real THUGS AND ANIMALS who murder at will without responsibility, accountability, punishment, or humanity. the same cannot be said for the youth unless a lie is being told.

  12. Sd Humphrey It was left up to us a long time ago to have maintained long standing economic boycotts. We did not do our part. What these young people have chosen to do we need to move aside with our standards which I think I must remind you are not our standards. These standards are steeped in white supremacy which mean us no good nor will they ever be right for us.

  13. Black shepherds, Black flock, white God.

    This is a social rights issue, not a religious one. Learn to separate church from reality.

    Your true living leaders are Mumia and Assata; the whole world knows this, except the American Black man.

    Where is the outrage, when these people who actually sacrificed for you to be where you are today, are subjected to this kind of humiliation? Or you are also waiting for white man to tell you, after they are dead, that they were great people?

    Harriet Tubman was right…

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