"A Call to Oneness" was what 20,000 men we called too on Sunday June 1, 2008. I have lived in St. Louis, Missouri for over 10 years and I have never seen that many black men gathered together for one purpose.
The Call to Oneness was initatied as a call for Black Men in and around the St. Louis Metropolitan Area to "take back our streets" for our young black men. The City of St. Louis has had the highest murder rate (per capita) in the United States. It has been stated that 1 out of every 3 black men in the State of Missouri is destined for incarceration. This is an atrocity as it costs the state of Missouri more to incarcerate someone that it would to provide them one full year tuition in a State University, but where is the "Hope"? Our youth (black youth) do not see much hope in the City of St. Louis; homeless rate increasing, jobs decreasing, cost of living rising out of control and not enough suitable role models to choose from. Where are the youth to turn to for help, hope and happiness? Can they turn to their parents?
The working class has become the "working poor". Where do these young people turn for help; they turn to the streets; they turn to each other, kids raising themselves and relying on the role models of other "youth" who are the drug dealers, gang bangers, etc. They see those kids with money in their pockets and strive to be like them. They have "pipe dreams" of becoming rappers, singers, sports stars, movie stars, but do not have the goal of striving for an education. We will not begin to talk about "Education" or the lack there of in the St. Louis Public School district or the Hazelwood, Normandy School district for that matter. "Kids" see the only way out as a life of crime and violence and one of the main reasons is the lack of a "Black Male Role Model" in their lives.
On Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm over 20,000 Black Men began a March in the City of St. Louis to reclaim the streets of St. Louis. To let the youth and the community know that we (Black Men) do care and are trying to proactively do something about it.
While marching down the streets of St. Louis we all roared out "ONE...ONE...ONE..." to signify that we are ONE people in solidarity to be ONE for our youth, united against violence but most of all UNITED IN HOPE for our youth.
As I marched down the streets I was overcome with joy and love for these brothers. Men from all walks of life, wealthy, middle class, and unemployed; the Blue Collar, White Collar and the "NO COLLAR" black man was represneted. Baptist, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and more, were all united together for one purpose; to reclaim the streets of St. Louis!
Women lined the sidewalks encouraging and cheering us on throughout the mile and a half route, shouting "Thank you beautiful Black Men...WE LOVE YOU....THANK YOU... WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!" There were women on the sidewalks in total tears of joy at this overwhelming site of unity.
My hope and prayer for this day was and continues to be, Hope, Peace and Joy to this community that has gone through so much. That people will unite in the spirit of Oneness. We must stand up and fight for our young people because they are our future and we must be willing to continue to sacrafice for them to have a chance at life. I do this so my child will not have to suffer and will have the chance at a better life than I. That she might experience the FULLNESS of the American Dream, while knowing that as a Child of God she will always have the Spirit of Christ within her...a Spirit of Truth, Love and Joy, to be givin to others and not kept inside.
Peace be with you....