Activism

Reverend Markel Hutchins: Linking Activism and Ministry

Markel Hutchins

(Photo Credit: WSB TV)

A champion for racial, social and economic justice and product of Morehouse College, Reverend Markel Hutchins serves as a shining progressive example of how postmodern Black preachers should be passionately active in their communities.  Hutchins has not been derelict in his duty to engage in civil and human rights efforts, efforts like those Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X championed. Even when he was in high school, one could see a burgeoning fighter for justice in the making: He led a march against the proliferation of drugs in the neighborhood surrounding his school.  Mr. Hutchins went on to become an ordained Baptist minister, leading Markel Hutchins Ministries.  Although there are laws prohibiting clergymen from being politically engaged in the confines of places of worship, this does not mean they cannot be involved in issues pertaining to social and economic policy affecting their communities, especially outside of their places of worship.  Hutchins certainly understands this.

Reverend Hutchins has an acute awareness of the power and significance of Black preachers’ serious involvement in political, social and economic issues during the Civil Rights Movement.  Black preachers during that period understood how to minister to the comprehensive needs of their congregants.  Yes, it’s one thing to feed one’s members spiritual food; another to feed their social, economic, professional and personal development.  Mr. Hutchins has been highly attentive to the complete needs of those he leads.  By doing this, he helps to further the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Although his leadership and ministry emerged in Atlanta, Georgia, a pivotal site during the Civil Rights Movement, his visionary leadership calls him to fight for justice throughout America.

When Black preachers invest in the communities in which they are situated, those communities become better places to live, work and play.  Unfortunately, too many Black preachers are too concerned about their personal and church’s financial prosperity to involve themselves in essential community development. Numerous pusillanimous Black preachers hide behind their collars and robes instead of tackling challenging and critical issues in their communities, including homelessness, police brutality, unfair labor practices, criminal justice system abuses, and racism, as Reverend Hutchins has done and continues to do.

Ministries not advocating for their communities are purposeless.

Markel Hutchins Ministries has purpose, vision and results.

While we increasingly see, hear and read accounts of preachers involved in corruption, and it’s easy not to support any preacher—which is a product of a burgeoning nihilistic impulse in postmodernism—it’s important to pay tribute to those preachers who are making a remarkable difference in the lives of people and their communities.  This is why we have to give Reverend Markel Hutchins his flowers while he’s living.  Although you may not always agree with his methods and viewpoints, it’s clear this man loves his country deeply enough to hold it accountable to fulfilling its nonpareil ideals—expressed most vividly and eloquently in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  We should demand an America as good as it’s promised, and Hutchins is tireless warrior working to see those utopian founding ideals materialize.

When an individual thinks critically and comprehensively about the work Reverend Markel Hutchins has done and is doing, it becomes transparent why former Atlanta Mayor, Shirley Franklin, the first female mayor of Atlanta and first Black woman of a prominent Southern city, posits that he “will soon be celebrated as one of our nation’s most visible and viable public servants.”

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Effective Mentoring Necessitates Activism

Obama Honors Bush

(Photo Credit: U.S. News)

When one is seriously committed to providing effective mentoring, activism has to be central to how he or she mentors.  Although things you do for your mentee on a one-on-one level is essential, you fail to maximize the outcomes of your mentoring when you don’t become an activist for your mentee.  Don’t simply localize your mentoring efforts; make your efforts as global as possible.  When you passionately advocate for mentoring at the local, state and national level, you can have an impact on public policy, and you can build a larger community of mentors and activists who support your cause(s).

After the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin, we should understand how vital it is to take genuine steps toward protecting our children from those who wish to do them harm.  In no way am I suggesting that Trayvon Martin is dead today because he didn’t have a mentor.  He has excellent and educated parents who love him.  He died because a man desired to kill him.  George Zimmerman and many others perceive the Black male body—no matter the age of that Black body—as a threat.

Our children need to be educated about how racists and others stigmatize and profile them as threats and problems and how they should respond to these realities.  In The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W.E.B. Du Bois asked a powerful question: “How does it feel to be a problem?”  Many Americans see Black boys as not “a problem” but as the “problem.”  Although every child needs to have a mentor in his or her life, it’s not optional for a Black boy to have a mentor in his life—it’s a matter of survival.  For those of us who mentor young children and/or adults, we have to wake this nation up to the importance of mentoring.  We have to bring enough attention at the state and national level so that investing money and resources in support of mentoring efforts becomes a national priority.

On July 16, 2013, at an event honoring former President George H.W. Bush and the 5,000th  recipient of the Daily Points of Light Award, President Obama announced he created a new task force to resolve how federal agencies and private companies could use members of AmeriCorps and similar programs “on some of our most important national priorities: improving schools, recovering from disasters, and mentoring our kids.”  This is certainly positive news.  We cannot, however, let the potential of increasing funding and resources for mentoring stop at the level of a White House task force.  Without public input and activism, especially from those currently involved in mentoring, nothing fruitful may emerge from the work of this task force.  This task force needs to hear from us, and it’s crucial that this task force benefits from our knowledge, ideas, experience and research about mentoring.  When the President of United States is willing to construct a task force dedicating critical attention to mentoring, we cannot squander this valuable opportunity to make supporting mentoring a national priority.

Contact your congressional representatives and share your ideas, knowledge, experiences and research with them about mentoring, and let them know specifically what you want communicated to this newly created White House task force.  Additionally, let your congressional and state representatives know that you desire for them to invest funding in local, state and national programs, organizations, and initiatives committed to mentoring.  If the American people make mentoring a true priority, then their elected official will have no choice but to make it a priority.

Don’t simply continue to mentor the two or three individuals you’re mentoring and never take the crucial step of becoming an activist for them.  Mobilize your community to get involved in mentoring and to demand that local, state and federal policymakers invest in mentoring.  Making substantive investments in mentoring will be one of the best uses of taxpayers’ dollars in American history.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Be an Advocate for Justice

Police Brutality

Love and justice are inextricably linked. You cannot love someone if you’re not willing to advocate for justice for him or her. Justice is what love looks like in public. When things are going on in your community that are not right, you need to take a stand against those things. In order to make change happen, you have to get out and do something that’s going to initiate change. You’re not going to make significant change happen by sitting up in your home hoping that it will materialize. Meaningful change happens when serious efforts are engaged in to make it occur.

As history has demonstrated, African-Americans have suffered from disquieting injustices since they have arrived in America to the present day. We have to do a better job of reporting the injustices we experience throughout the nation. All of the injustices we experience are not going to appear in the mainstream media. We have to, therefore, find ways to have our important narratives heard and read.

Through the power of social media, you can advocate for justice for yourself and others.

Social media presents us with opportunities to have our voices heard. It does not cost an individual anything to use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, and etc. to let a global audience know about injustices that have happened to you, someone you know, and someone you don’t know. More people have to learn they’re not powerless against racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and etc. You can fight against injustice if you would only get up off your butt! One does not have to be rich to defeat injustice.

One person can start a revolution.

Don’t think that your efforts to pursue justice for yourself and others are in vain—they’re not. Organize people around your cause. There’s strength in numbers. When you begin to have people to join your cause, they can start to give you information about individuals and organizations that can help to maximize the power and potential of your efforts. Although it’s vital for you to advocate for justice for yourself and others, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can handle this cause on your own. You need people to assist you in advocating for justice.

If you’re supervisor is treating you unfairly, don’t let him or her continue to be unfair to you. Stand up to him or her! You can get another job. You have to understand that you need to place a value on yourself that’s greater than any job you have and/or will have.

Black people should never allow their White employers to control them. If they allow them to do this, then they’re willingly accepting enslavement. Our ancestors paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free from the manacles and bondage of slavery in all forms. Don’t render their work useless by being a docile body willing to accept enslavement and exploitation. Honor the legacy of our ancestors by fighting for your right to not be dominated by injustice.

Advocating for justice for yourself and others is not a glamorous job, but it is essential work that must be done for the good everyone and for the good of the global community. When you’re fighting against racism, prejudice, discrimination, sexism, and etc., you have to be willing to be in a war against those phenomena for the long haul. You’re not going to conquer those aforementioned phenomena with “microwave advocacy.” In fact, you will only reaffirm their great power.

Don’t sit back and let things happen to you and people in your community that are unfair. Commit yourself to being an advocate for justice. Black people, it’s time for us to stop settling for oppression, depression, estrangement, exploitation, discrimination, and etc. Let’s use our talents, resources, knowledge, and etc. to defeat the many injustices we confront.

Act today! Be an advocate for justice!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison