Believe it or not? God often speaks to us and through us…
To Change The Algorithm You Must Control The Narrative
Pre-Pandemic I had a couple meaningful revelations that proved worthy of the times ahead to be quite relevant.
First, as a veteran advocate and community-minded individual driven to assist veterans and their families with basic quality of life concerns and crises.
Through the vehicle of social media I was led to St. Louis one of America’s most murderous cities.
My fondness for St. Louis is due to my working in St. Louis a few years ago directly in the community and its most troubled neighborhoods and vast disparities. I for a few years have been following James Clark, army veteran and a tremendous Leader and mentor in Black community as well as The Arch City Metropolitan Area.
Mr. Clark’s commitment to Better Family Life is astonishing and very unselfish. I remember he was very close to many successful entertainers who were experiencing incredible success with fame and riches. The Black native St. Louis entertainers and Black sports legends camaraderie is unprecedented. .However, James segued and became vice president of Better Family Life, Inc. (BFL), a social services organization in St. Louis which was, at the time, under the leadership of Malik Ahmed, retired CEO and author “From The Projects To Pyramids.” Of his Life Story an exceptional read of “Taking Black Your Community.”
I was driven to St. Louis for one day on a chilly Monday in February 2020 prior to the pandemic lock down for one life-changing day. I arrived early in the morning as I usually do to watch the amazing metropolitan sensation gradually awaken. I spent most of my day visiting north and south St. Louis, areas I had lived and worked for many years. A very long pleasant and fulfilling day with the energy and diversity I so miss even today.
The evening quickly approached and I managed to arrive as the darkness emerged, temperature dropped and moisture began to fall as cold rain. The rally at Friendship Church was beginning and James Clark, reminiscence of an Army drill sergeant, was leading the community as the hype man. He was to share their heart in song and prayer for a silent march through one of St. Louis’ most deadly and crime-ridden neighborhoods in north St. Louis.
All populations and demographics of young, old, black, and white were walking together with intensity as well as purpose. One message, “Peace Be Still,” in unison and all feeling “enough Is enough.”
Not until we arrived back at Friendship Baptist Church for the event did I really value the worthiness of my attendance and its impact on me. The memory resonates in my mind like it was just yesterday. Within an hour James Clark and an array of prominent community member and some past, present, current elected officials including now St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, who at the time was City Treasurer.
The Police Commissioner and his right-hand officer were there. Fraternities and sororities were very well represented as were clergy. More importantly, to my dismay, was the presence and emotional appearance of the families of victims lost to Violence. I could see the pain in their faces and eyes right now.
The choir sang a song that made the church attendees want to shout their way to healing and peace within themselves. However, that didn’t happen. This was not a church service, strictly a memorial for Peace.
My Heart dropped when a youth who was not quite a teenager addressed us. Struggling to maintain his composure, he said his name, stated he was with his mother when she was murdered and pleaded “stop killing us we want to live”
I like everyone was touched and filled with overwhelming emotion as our tears dropped. I was ready to walk out and run back to Toledo and do something. Consequently, I had no idea that year and the last would be the most deadly in Toledo History.
Unbeknownst to me James Clark was transitioning to Urban League of St. Louis Vice President of the Division of Public Safety and Community Response in time for The Pandemic. James arrived at the Urban League they were boots on the ground leading weekly PPE and community giveaways for over 20 plus weeks with an average support for 3500 families on the weekends in Metropolitan St. Louis and parts of Illinois, and unlike most a sensitivity to veterans and our families. During the Pandemic I have forged a relationship MIchael Patrick McMillian President ,Urban League Of Metropolitan St. Louis via James Clark and James Dennis of Save Our Sons Reentry Program housed at Ferguson Community Empowerment Center….
I will be very transparent and sincere if it were not for Mike and James not sure I would have made it through the Pandemic and some others….. Homicide and Suicide Are Livinf Ghost And Definitely The Devilish Individuals That Fuel Them!!!
I Look Forward to sharing more in the Future on Urban League of St. Louis Michael Patrick McMillian team and my good friend King James Dennis who asked me what I needed? I told him to be in touch with Mike the next day, was in touch and I had been hosted in St. Louis twice in efforts to get support to Stop Violence as well as Deescalation in Toledo ….
Unfortunately, Toledo has yet to willingly hear from me that St. Louis is willing to assist!!!! Black Ghost Downtown Toledo …Meet Me In St. Louis #STLDNOH