Brother Washington Muhammad and The Rise of CSRN

By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter

In the heart of Toledo, Ohio, a beacon of hope shines brightly amidst the challenges faced by the Black community. Founded in 2014 by Brother Washington Muhammad, the Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo (CSRN) emerged as a response to the cries for justice echoing after the tragic events surrounding Michael Brown’s death in Missouri, in which the police officer was not prosecuted. CSRN is more than just a reaction; it’s a proactive force for positive change, a guiding light in the fight for social justice.

Here in the Glass City, CSRN stands at the gateway, diligently crafting a narrative of empowerment for the Black community. Through peaceful protests following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, they showcased the power of collective action, transforming pain into purpose.

“I’m a proud born and bred Ohioan through and through,” says Brother Washington.

“CSRN of Toledo strives to be a grassroots, boots on the ground organization, embodying the spirit of action and solidarity.”

Their network’s impact extends beyond our city streets. With podcast programming, community events and awards ceremonies, CSRN celebrates the unsung heroes within our midst. Like shining stars in the night sky, these ordinary individuals illuminate the path towards un-ordinary progress, reminding us that positivity thrives even in the darkest of times.

At the heart of the Community Solidarity Response Network lies a commitment to intergenerational continuity. They nurture the seeds of change, encouraging the next generation to embrace their responsibility in shaping a brighter future. In a world often overshadowed by negativity, they offer a sanctuary of hope, where the voices of the marginalized are not just heard but amplified.

Washington Muhammad and Jodie Summers at the podcast

Jodie Summers is not just the treasurer for CSRN; he’s a passionate poet and spoken word artist whose words resonate with the heartbeats of the community. With each verse, he weaves a tapestry of resilience and empowerment, inspiring others to rise up and claim their voices. As a vital member of CSRN, Jodie brings his creative energy to the forefront, using poetry as a tool for social change and collective healing

Julian Mack is another dedicated member of CSRN, with a fiery commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. For Julian, activism isn’t just a choice; it’s a necessity—a vital component of survival in a world rife with systemic injustices. Believing in the power of collective action, he tirelessly advocates for equality and justice, urging others to join the fight for liberation.

At the heart of CSRN’s mission lies a commitment to nurturing self-esteem, particularly within our underserved communities. In a recent podcast episode, Mack read an excerpt by feminist author Bell Hooks. In her insightful work, We Real Cool: Black Men & Masculinity, Hooks challenges the notion that salvation for Black men lies solely in external achievements. Instead, she urges readers all to look within, recognizing ourselves as the source of their own well-being.

“We must take ownership of our destiny and rely on ourselves, rather than waiting for others to care for the Black community, ” shares Brother Muhammad.

In a world where fear and frustration often silence marginalized voices, CSRN provides a platform for expression and empowerment. Through poetry, music, and dance, they celebrate Black life, cultivating spaces where children can play without fear and youth can express themselves without judgment.

In today’s world, mental health is increasingly recognized as a revolutionary frontier for Black people, yet CSRN’s emphasis on self-esteem is more crucial than ever. CSRN fosters an environment where individuals can cultivate personal integrity and self-acceptance, serving as a foundation upon which a strong sense of self-worth can be built.

“Much of my career has been dedicated to the field of professional mental health and substance abuse, where I strive to make a positive impact and offer support to those in need of healing and recovery,” says Brother Muhammad.

Self-acceptance is another radical act of defiance against societal norms that seek to diminish the worth and beauty of Black bodies and minds. Embracing one’s identity, flaws and strengths fosters a sense of belonging and self-worth, empowering Black individuals to resist internalized oppression and embrace their unique identities unapologetically. In a society that often perpetuates self-doubt and insecurity among Black people, self-acceptance becomes an act of rebellion, reclaiming agency and dignity.

For many the journey towards reclaiming lost self-esteem is not without its challenges. Many people within our Black communities, despite outward success, grapple with feelings of low self-esteem, stemming from a sense of powerlessness and victimhood. CSRN recognizes the importance of confronting past traumas and systemic injustices, empowering individuals to challenge negative stereotypes and redefine their self-worth.

Personal integrity and living purposefully are not just abstract concepts; they are essential pillars of empowerment for all Black individuals. Personal integrity forms the foundation of one’s character, guiding actions and decisions with honesty and moral principles. For Black people navigating a world rife with stereotypes and systemic barriers, personal integrity serves as a compass, guiding them towards authenticity and ethical behavior in the face of adversity.

Washington Muhammad – at podium – explains the reasons for raising the Pan African flag during Black Histoy Month

CSRN also celebrates Juneteenth and their annual Black Lives Matter Day together serving as a poignant reminder of the resilience and unity within Toledo’s Black community. Through themes like Black Unity & Black Love, they foster a sense of belonging, honoring the contributions of every member, shining a spotlight on the unsung heroes, while ensuring their stories are not lost in the noise of indifference.

But CSRN’s work is not confined to celebrations; it’s a journey towards justice. They also engage with local government officials, ensuring that the voices of our black community are not only heard but actively considered in policy-making decisions. By honoring those lost to police violence and advocating for systemic change, they stand as a beacon of resistance against injustice.

“By empowering ourselves and taking action, we can build a stronger, more resilient future for generations to come,” says Brother Washington.

Through a variety of initiatives, including spoken word sessions, soulful gatherings, and community events, they create spaces where Black voices can thrive and self-expression is celebrated. By promoting local businesses and uplifting cultural traditions, CSRN fosters a sense of belonging and pride within our community.

In a symbolic gesture honoring Black History Month, the Pan-African flag was proudly raised in front of One Government Center. Among those gathered for the occasion were Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, representatives from the NAACP Toledo, members of the Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo, the Board of Lucas County Commissioners, several Toledo City Council members and state Sen. Paula Hicks-Hudson. The event served as a poignant reminder of the significance of Black culture in Toledo. The Pan-African Flag, also called the Black Liberation Flag, was created in 1920 by the Universal Negro Improvement Association and was designed by Marcus Garvey.

“It’s vital to recognize the intersections of our journeys within the Black community, and to uplift and empower each other to engage actively in social justice, faith, and every avenue that leads us towards collective liberation and equity,” says Brother Washington.

While CSRN has no religious affiliations, it embraces the peaceful principles of Kwanzaa and fosters an environment where positive values from various faiths intertwine harmoniously.

It is clear that CSRN’s impact extends far beyond individual empowerment; it’s about collective strength and solidarity. By engaging with local governments, advocating for policy change, and honoring those lost to police violence, they amplify the voices of the marginalized and demand justice for all.

In this world where systemic inequalities persist, CSRN serves as a change maker, illuminating the path towards a more equitable future. In the journey towards justice, every voice matters and CSRN and Brother Washington Muhammad hope to help create a world where all individuals are valued, respected and empowered to thrive.


Follow CSRN of Toledo @ Solidarity Response Network of Toledo & @