Get Involved to Bring Change, Blacks Told : Race relations: Now that Rodney G. King federal civil rights trial is over, panel tries to plot a course for African-Americans wondering, ‘Where do we go from here?’
The black community in Orange County should get more involved in sparking change and pushing for social, economic and religious equality following the verdicts of four Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King, a panel of African-American leaders said Saturday.
“The verdicts are over and the decision has been made,” said Pastor Isaac L. Patrick, who organized the forum at the Gospel Light Church of God in Christ in Santa Ana. “My concern is: Where do we go from here?”
Patrick’s question drew similar, passionate responses from the 10 panelists who attended the discussion titled: “The Verdict Versus the Vision.” About 2% of the population in Orange County is black. An audience of about 50 heard the panelists give suggestions on how to bring about change.
“Violence is not going to solve our problems,” said Todd Bell, an Orange County deputy marshal and member of the panel. But economic boycotts might help, he said.
“We need to do whatever it takes to get the respect of this nation for African-American people,” Bell said.
Panelist Judy Sampson, an Orange County educator, said black parents need to play a greater role in their children’s education.
“We have to take an active part in ensuring that they get a good education, not a mis-education or a lack of education,” she said. “The bottom line is it’s up to us.”
Sampson added that it is important for parents to review their children’s curriculum and make sure that black culture is being represented in the school material.
Joyce Jordan, the publisher of a monthly events calender called the The Black Orange, told the audience that blacks need to support one another, especially in the business community. She said blacks should patronize black businesses and black businesses should employ black youths.
“We can’t support our own if we are not supported,” she said. “Commitment is critical.”
Pastor Randy Jordan, her husband and co-publisher of the The Black Orange, said blacks need to encourage more leadership, particularly within the churches. He also criticized some religious leaders in the white community for not preaching unity and equity among the races.
“Racism crosses the boundaries of Christianity,” he said. “There is black and white Christianity in this country.”
Randy Jordan said “black pastors have got to start having the courage to stand up and teach their congregations what has to be known. I think we are the ones to mend Christianity in this country.”
Many of the panelists’ comments during the two-hour discussion drew applause and cheers. Several of the panelists reflected on recent verdicts in the trial of the four LAPD officers, saying that justice was not done in the case because two of the officers were acquitted.
A couple of the panelists said the King incident was not a rare occurrence and exemplified the social inequities that black people face every day.
“The Rodney King incident reminds me of so many things that have happened to blacks in the past,” panelist Beverly Chandler, a San Diego educator, said. “To me, it was like a Ku Klux Klan lynching and the trial only convicted the guy who knocked the chair down and guy who pulled the rope. The other people standing around looking in the white sheets were not convicted.”
Sampson told the audience that videotaped images of King’s beating should forever be etched in their minds.
“We must not forget that it happened,” she said. “Yes, we must move on and come up with some positive methods as we as a people so we can ensure a better life for our children. . . . But this was not an isolated incident.”
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