Civil rights group refocuses mission one yr after Floyd’s demise | Native Information

It’s been almost a year since the local BLM: HAAIR group first made their community buzz when they gathered with their fists raised on the corner of the lawn of the Walker County Courthouse in downtown Huntsville and sang the now iconic words : “I can’t breathe. ”

Prominent figures from the Jules and Mustapha Williams movement weren’t exactly sure what they were getting into, but they were sure what they stood for as they vowed to stay there every week until racism was eradicated in Huntsville.

“It was a whirlwind of a year,” said Mustapha. “We got a lot of support and we got a lot of bad things because we were on the corner.”

Like most movements, many waited for the group and brothers to tire and lay their ground on the courthouse lawn. Whether it’s discouragement to nihilism or the diminished hype of opportunists chasing the temporary clout of a hashtag, the group has shrunk from a gathering of hundreds to a core group per week. However, their impact and efforts should never be underestimated as poor.

With the brothers as the only black men on the front lines fighting for the cause, they have kept their promise and dutifully stood their ground, even though the ultimate goal has certainly changed for them.

Now, as they ponder their dreams of extermination, they laugh together at their naivety after a challenging year and the realization that the possibility that Walker County is an unbiased utopia can never materialize in this life.

“It seems really crazy to me because we were so wild then that we said, ‘We’re going to fight for change,’ and then we saw what was actually going on in Huntsville and we said, ‘Wait, this is it It’s going to be a little difficult, ”said Mustapha.

BLM: HAAIR was set up as a separate grassroots group, unrelated to the national organization, as a quick response to the murder of George Floyd a year ago. Originally serving as a call to justice, their weekly gatherings have evolved into a community representation stance while serving as a beacon of hope for Walker County’s marginalized populations and a watchful eye on local law enforcement agencies. The roots are deep in South Texas, however, and change, for better or for worse, is never easily accepted.

“We’ve been watching the community over the past year to see how they actually think and work, and we’ve seen that there are a lot of people out here who are full of hatred and don’t want things to change. Said Mustapha. “You say Black Lives Matter, and that’s the minute people start hating you.”

The duo say that racism and prejudice are very much alive and well in Huntsville, from the antagonistic behaviors that threaten even BLM: HAAIR’s youngest members, aged just six, to the battle in the Commissioner’s Court to remove the Confederate Memorial at Walker County Courthouse.

“I don’t like it when people say you just wanted to go to protests against Black Lives Matter because you want to look good, it doesn’t look good for anyone, they want to kill us for it,” said Jules. “This is not about being heroic, but about doing what we are all supposed to do.”

However, the hatred, threats and disappointing losses have never, if ever, discouraged the group’s members, fueling their efforts and forcing the group to re-analyze how they will more effectively combat prejudice in Huntsville.

“In the beginning, the mission for me was to have conversations with people, to educate them, but when you’re in Huntsville you grow by what you go through,” said BLM: HAAIR President Nia Williams. “What we’ve been through over the past year has really revealed a lot of things about the depth of racism and supremacy in Huntsville, and how it is impossible to change people’s minds and educate them if they don’t want to change. I think that’s a big thing that we had to learn: people just get stuck and want to get stuck. You can’t talk to a wall, you can’t uproot anything that goes that deep unless the people themselves are willing to listen, do the job and just change. Many people are not yet able at this point. Instead of focusing on what is unfortunately not up for grabs, move elsewhere and go where you can help. You train whoever you can. “

“This type of work is tedious, it moves slowly, but it is necessary and I see big changes that would matter to me. I see it in the way we have been able to improve individual life in the queer, black and brown communities, ”said Eli Bivens, Vice President of HAAIR.

“If you only stand on the corner twice a week and are present in the community, especially in the black community, people feel safe and have a feeling of having someone to look at,” said Jules. “The Huntsville community knows there is a Black Lives Matter group here, so if there are problems in the community, they can bring them to us.”

The trust that BLM: HAAIR has built in minority communities was most recently demonstrated in the case of Larry Davis, a black man in Huntsville, who was videotaped by a viewer who appears to have been the victim of alleged police brutality. Through community funding and advocacy, they were able to cover his bond and help him get medical care while helping him tell his story.

“People feel they have no voice, people who are not the ‘majority’. We feel like we can’t say anything, that we just have to go and you don’t have to. You don’t have to water down your existence to soothe other people’s jacked attitudes and mindsets, ”said Nia. “This is a group where we feel that we can help and give people a space where they can feel like they are expressing themselves, expressing themselves and feeling really and really visible.”

“Lonely,” “isolating,” and “depressing” are the three most common words used in a series of interviews to describe life as a strange young person or person of color in Huntsville.

“It shows in the way we appeared before the commissioner’s court. We weren’t really wanted there, the commissioners spent as little time as possible addressing our concerns and then belittling them and dismissing them, “said Bivens. “It’s certainly not a welcoming environment … If you want people to stay, you definitely need to make some more inclusive proactive decisions that appeal to young people who stay and live here because most people want out as soon as possible and.” i don’t blame her it’s not an easy place to live. “

“I think, for the change in Huntsville for the better, it would have to come from within, basically from the local government, the city council, they would have to change and shake up the power structure of Walker County Thing, ”said Mustapha.

Now they are focusing on registering voters and pushing the black population to vote. They urge them to apply for positions in the commissioner’s court, city council, school board, and anywhere they can influence the changes they want to see.

The group is also working to build community funding as a resource for Huntsville so they can continue to support cases like Larry Davis and feed and dress underserved toys and toys donated to families for Christmas.

“I think there is this misunderstanding that it seems and seems that there is this group that came out of nowhere, it is not. We’re friends, we’re neighbors, we’re people whose ancestors are actually buried in Walker County, ”said BLM: HAAIR MP Crystal Brown.

“It’s nice to see that the younger generations sit like children in their parents’ cars, drive past and also say“ Black Lives Matter ”so that they can see in their city that Black Lives Matter is present here. That means they will be us as they get older, and that will continue the cycle of positivity and the fight against discrimination and inequality in the world and in Huntsville, “Mustapha said.

Just like Huntsville’s Hey You! Group that was inspired decades ago in the civil rights era, as long as discrimination and inequality persist, there will always be a group to fight it because, as Jules says of the famous American civil rights activist Medgar Everes, “You can kill people, but you can’t kill ideas “

Comments are closed.