by LaTonya Berry
Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe in Highland Park opened its doors to the community for a State of Black Detroit Address on the anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination, this past Saturday, February 21st. Khary Wae Frazier, a Detroit advocate, organized the event to “honor the richness of Detroit’s Black history, Black family, and Black experience.” The address was the first installment in Frazier’s new approach at his “7 O’clock Saturday Stories” series, and featured author and freedom fighter, Yusef Shakur.
The theme of Saturday’s event was “The Writer.” Frazier and Shakur collaborated on the layout of the State of Black Detroit Address and saw it fitting that Shakur was featured, as he has written and published his own story, The Window 2 My Soul: My Transformation from a Zone 8 Thug to a Father and Freedom Fighter.
After the live performances, Shakur took to the mic to express the Black community’s need to build relationships within our own communities. He also expressed the importance of organization and cooperative economics. An interview followed the address with questions from Frazier and the audience.
Shakur opened with a statement that propelled the audience to question who is in charge of our communities. He asked what organizations – such as the NAACP – have done for Detroit in the last 20 years. With the room’s humming silence as a response, Shakur moved forward to compare the Detroit’s Black community to a rat race, “They are throwing cheese out there and we’re fighting each other for a little bit of money.”
Shakur posited that 21st century slaves do exist within us. He said that we have lost our humanity. With these declarations, he said we have a need for “long distance revolutionaries.” He said the lack of these figures stems from “people looking for fame and not change.” Shakur asserted that, “to be Black in America is to be committed to fighting for the Black community.”
One of the first steps to change, Shakur said, is to agree on what we, as a people, are fighting for. He said that we are dealing with a “Messiah complex" - waiting for someone to come save us. “Liberation starts within. We can’t liberate our society unless we liberate ourselves.”
Shakur’s address also expressed the need to teach young people to change their mindsets. He moved that they be taught to love one another, to share with each other, and to commit themselves to the fight. “Our egos are killing us… we need new energy, new life… advocates for a national and global outlook.”
Khary Wae Frazier’s “The 7 O’Clock Saturday Story” series works in conjunction with hiswebsite www.DetroitisDifferent.com – ”a home for artistry and advocacy.” The website hosts his Detroit is Different podcast, which will focus the people and things happening in Detroit. Yusef Shakur’s address and interview will be posted to DetroitisDifferent.com and was made available to stream on iTunes Tuesday, February 24th.
Next month’s “7 O’clock Saturday Stories” series theme will be “The Singer.” Frazier will host an interview with Thornetta Davis, a Rhythm & Blues singer from Detroit. The interview will take place March 28 at 2900 E. Grand Boulevard, followed by a Jazz and Hip Hop Show. For more information on this and other events visit DetroitisDifferent.com.
Watch Shakur's State of Black Detroit Address below.