More African Americans Encouraged to Join Occupy Movement

Khalid Naji | 10/17/2011, 10:18 a.m.

Since the inception of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City on Sept. 17, the effort has spread across the globe. However, while people are protesting in record numbers against the war, the rich and the "system", the African-American community has had a low turnout within the movement.

Even with radio host Michael Baisden, rap mogul Russell Simmons and hip hop star Kayne West lending their support to the movement in New York City, there has still been a glaring lack of African-American presence marching to the beat of the drum.

"African Americans don't see how the marches apply to them," said David Ford, 25, a District resident. "You look around the crowd [and] it's mostly young white people with their iPods and iPads, and they think it's for them."

Meanwhile, the drum beats changed somewhat on Sunday in the nation's capital when activist Dr. Cornel West along with R&B singers Boosty Collins and Raheem Devaughn joined the movement for October 2012 at Freedom Plaza in Northwest, where African Americans turned out enmasse to hear speakers state their concerns on topics that ranged from corporate greed to bringing the troops home.

As West approached the microphone, the crowd erupted in applause. He then spoke of "the oligarchs and plutocrats" controlling the world's wealth, before taking a page from Sly Stone's hit, "Everyday People."

"Everyday people straighten their backs up . . . because folks can't ride your backs unless it's bent," West said.

As the crowd cheered, West also reminded them that an intimate connection needs to be made between corporate greed on Wall Street, the military and in the prison system.

"This Occupy Movement is a holistic movement. We're [also] concerned about corporate greed in the media where we get a truncated discourse between mean spirited Republicans and spineless Democrats," West said. "We want a robust discussion. We want to begin with the poor children [as] 22 percent of children of all colors are living in poverty in the richest nation in the history of the world."

As the marchers made their way from the Plaza to Pennsylvania Ave. to begin their trek to the Supreme Court, Collins was asked to provide encouragement for getting more Africans Americans to join the Occupy movement.

"Maybe not all of us are not here, but maybe the one, the two or three that show up are enough to represent," said Collins, who added that people have sold out. "We went for the almighty dollar, now we got to get a balance," he said. "A lot of people love money but we worship it instead of worshiping God and spirit."

As the crowd approached the court house, protesters who included West and DeVaughan (and who were among more than a dozen people later arrested for defying police orders), made their way onto the steps chanting, "We are the 99 percent."