Black Generals to Honor Sharpton

By Woody Henderson

During Black History month it is important that we ensure that those who would oppose our rights as American citizens acknowledge that so many of us and our ancestors fought, sacrificed and died in the struggle to insure the United States of America's existence as a free nation. Hariet Tubman, Crispus Attacks, Phyllis Wheatley and countless others fought for the rights of all Americans to enjoy the fruit of life, liberty and justice for all.

From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism, African Americans have again and again proven their patriotism. However, there are certain elements in our society that constantly try to diminish the contributions, importance and patriotism of people of color in general and African American leaders in particular.

It is easy to take something from people if they don't believe what you are taking is theirs. To oppress people, one of the first things is to convince those you want to oppress that they have no rights to that which you don't want them to enjoy.

When Rev. Sharpton and others protest or raise their voices about violations of our constitutional rights, that is a patriotic thing. When we seek equal justice under the law, that is a patriotic thing. There is nothing wrong with being a patriot but there is something wrong with invoking the names of your ancestors and then denying your claim to the very rights they fought and died for.

Over 150 years ago in a speech at a Negro convention in Philadelphia (attended by the likes of Sojourner Truth and Fredrick Douglas), Henry Highland Garnet, the great orator and ally of Denmark Vesey, said to those in attendance and consequently to those of us alive today, who were born in these United States of America and are of African descent, and I quote him. " Forget not that you are native born American citizens, and as such, you are justly entitled to all the rights that are granted to the freest." In that particular part of his speech he was warning us that it is easy for someone to withhold your rights when you won't acknowledge that you have already earned them.

This Saturday February 16, 2002 the National Action Network's radio broadcast, at 10:a.m. on WLIB 1190 and WWRL 1600 on the AM dial, will address among other things patriotism of African Americans and their leaders past and present. During that broadcast General Samuel W. Phillips and General Nathaniel James, recent and current presidents of the 369th Veterans Association, (world famous "Harlem Hellfighters") will present an American Flag to Rev. Al Sharpton. The presentation to Rev. Sharpton by these two great African American generals will be assisted by the Harlem Youth Marines Cadet Corp, who were the only organization invited to represent the entire state of New York in the 1997 Inaugural parade in Washington DC.

This presentation and the flag itself are to honor Rev. Sharpton for his fight for our constitutional rights and his tireless struggle to secure justice for all Americans. That flag will be installed in the House of Justice where it will remain on display at all times. We invite you to attend this rally and broadcast at 1941 Madison Avenue between 125th and 124th streets. We believe your presence at this broadcast and presentation will enhance the significance of the event.

As Roy Wood, that great Black News commentator, used to say "Now run and tell that."


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