Too many have sacrificed for us to give up now
Most of the excuses we make up make it hard for our life on this earth. Everything that really matters we make excuses for: excuses why we won’t go to school, why we don’t listen to our parents, why we don’t stay out of trouble, why we end up in jail, why we have a criminal record, why we have felonies.
More excuses: I don’t have a job because I won’t work for less than $10 an hour. I don’t have a job because no one will give me a chance.
If you don’t listen to your parents and drop out of school, your chances of being successful are slim to none without education. In today’s society, you won’t make it. Your next excuse then becomes that’s why you sell drugs and break the law.
Now, to the young men and women that need to hear this, we as a people came from a long line of people who struggled to provide a way for our families from the South to the North. These men and women are now dead and gone.
They took any legal job to take care of us. They would shine shoes, wash dishes, scrub floors and other people’s toilets. They dug ditches and graves. They dug the holes for the outhouses and built the outhouses. They worked in restaurants in the back in the hot kitchens.
They were janitors in most businesses and porters on the train. They took insults each and every day. They were butlers, maids and sharecroppers. They were iron and coal miners.
They worked very hard jobs, and the whole time these men and women were insulted and abused daily based on their color. However, they didn’t give up, they didn’t shut down, and they didn’t sit down.
All across this country these same people took their nickels and dimes and built all these institutions that we have for our people to this day. They built our first schools, colleges and universities, and our churches, too many of which are still here. They built the majority of our first social organizations to help our people such as: The NAACP, The Urban League, The Elks and The Black Shriners just to name a few.
Marcus Garvey, Jr. founded UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) and the Black Star Line (Back-to-Africa Movement), one of the largest mass movements in our African American history.
The Nation of Islam headed by Elijah Muhammad, the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) headed by Martin Luther King, Jr., Operation PUSH headed by Jesse Jackson — all these people built a great foundation for us. We owe them a debt of thanks, and because of their struggle for us — No More Excuses.
We also had great Black business leaders, starting with the late great Dr. Johnson, who opened his medical office on Plymouth Ave. in North Minneapolis. He not only employed us, but also rendered services even when we didn’t have a dime. He donated money to all the social service programs that he could possibly donate to. He was a great teacher and mentor.
The late great A.B. Cashers of Cashers Bar & Lounge in downtown Minneapolis sat on many boards, and just like Dr. Johnson he too donated. I’m sure you all remember Jimmy Fuller, who owned the Cozy Bar, the Filling Station and The Riverview Supper Club. He was always donating to help the community, our community,
Let’s not forget Bro. Cecil Newman, who owned and operated our first and oldest newspapers, the Minneapolis Spokesman and St. Paul Recorder, est. 1937. Newman went on to become president of the Minneapolis Urban League in 1948.
Newman, too, sat on many boards, and anything he could possibly do for our community, he did it. For many years he was the only voice we had to speak to us and about us. To the power that was then, he was our voice. He spoke to the mayor and city council on our behalf.
Let me take a minute and remind you of the legacy of the great Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House that still sits in North Minneapolis. There were restaurants that wouldn’t seat you because you were Black, but Phyllis Wheatley would feed you and gave you a bed when a hotel wouldn’t.
Wheatley had a library for us, theater and dance for us, a charm school and teen club (The Canteen), arts and crafts, Christmas parties, football, baseball, basketball and boxing. Many of us were taught and mentored at Phyllis Wheatley by the director, Mr. Thompson, Mrs. Norman and the late Cozell Breedlove, the late Ray Wells and the late Harry Davis, along with other volunteers will never forget.
Because of them, we tried. Because they cared, we wanted to and did make something of ourselves.
As children, we marched in the Elks/Cato drum and bugle corps. All of this was built by our people for our people, so we can’t set by idly and watch our young throw in the towel and give up and turn to a life of crime, drugs, violence and murder.
We have to say to you, No More Excuses about what you can’t accomplish or do when you have an African American president in office for his second term. No More Excuses about what you can’t do when you have MN Congressman Keith Ellison, State Senators Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden, Rep. Rena Moran, the three Black police chiefs in St. Paul and the Black fire chief in Minneapolis.
And after 79 years, you’re still experiencing Cecil Newman through today’s Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. No More Excuses. Keep fighting, keep pushing — you can do this.
In closing, I love my Black people. I love us when we’re up; I love us when we’re down. I may not love all that we do, but I do love my Black people.
Please look forward to me having another real talk with you real soon.
Spike Moss welcomes reader responses to [email protected].