A Local Movement for Change

by William P. Muhammad

Rockford, Ill. – Dozens of concerned community members, grassroots activists and brothers from the Nation of Islam’s local study group, marched four miles through violence plagued neighborhoods on the city’s West side, enduring 90 degrees heat on the last day of Ramadan, as a rash of shootings, robberies and home invasions frustrate neighborhood residents, law enforcement and local government officials.

Residents demonstrate against
local crime and violence.
           Desiring to demonstrate that enough is enough, and motivated to inspire others to speak out against what has proven to be yet another year of senseless violence, march co-organizer, Sara Seay, 25, said she used social media as a major vehicle for launching what she hopes will become a continuous movement for change.

“Not only (is there) the rise in crime and violence in our community, but I have a one-year-old daughter and I don’t feel safe taking her to the park. I don’t feel safe going for walks with her, without looking over my shoulder, thinking someone is going to attempt to attack us or someone is going to do a drive-by shooting,” Ms. Seay said. “I originally posted a post on Facebook asking if there were any marches or rallies against violence and, if not, how would I go about starting one,” she said.  

            “I have children, I have foster children and I have also lost five loved ones so far this year due to violence, so this is something very near and dear to my heart,” said Tamica Fricks, 41, a local activist and friend of Ms. Seay, who plans to continue working on the West side to keep anti-violence demonstrations an ongoing activity in the city.  “I want more awareness, I want more information out there for people to know…to make people aware of the violence that is going on, (and) to put them out there to get help,” she said.    

            Student FOI Coordinator, Bro. Henry 3X, one of the persons contacted through social media to help spread word of the rally, said it was the duty of the men of Muhammad’s Study Group of Rockford, not only to participate in the march, but also to become more deeply involved in addressing the internal and external pathologies that ill-affect both Rockford in general and its Black population in particular.

“The beauty of being a student of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, and studying how to love yourself, studying how to have self-value and self-worth, is that the more we love ourselves, and the more we look to the God in ourselves, we automatically command respect,” Bro. Henry said. “It’s very simple, treat others the way you want to be treated. That’s the golden rule. The moment we begin to care about ourselves and do-for-self, and others begin to see that we respect ourselves, they will respect us and that same effort,” he said.  

Prophet Yusef leads marchers
through Rockford's West side.
            Agreeing there is a need to change self-perceptions in order to effect positive change in   Rockford, and to counter the negative behaviors destroying the West side, Prophet Yusef, 72, a retired U.S. Navy sailor, Vietnam combat veteran, and longtime community activist, said marching four miles in 90 degrees heat made an important statement because it showed that the people were serious, speaking with one voice and no longer willing to tolerate destructive behaviors that harm the innocent.

“I wish this could be done every day.” Mr. Yusef said. “Anytime you march, it’s been proven that crime goes down because they see that the people are united. What the children and the young people need is to be taught the knowledge of self. If they know the knowledge of self, they wouldn’t commit a crime,” he said.

            “I think today was very successful, we were able to get Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and all walks of life, to wake up at nine in the morning and march throughout the inner city of Rockford and demonstrate our desire, in 90 degree weather, to call for justice, to call for a stop to the violence and to call for ownership and peace in our community,” Student Minister Yahcolyah Muhammad, the Rockford representative of the Nation of Islam under the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said. “The momentum for 10-10-15 is exciting and we’re trying to keep up pace and catch up with the pace of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who is leading by example. He is tirelessly working, he’s tirelessly going throughout the country; the least we can do is tirelessly work in our cities to spread the message and the momentum for Justice or Else on 10-10-15.”
Have a local story of interest?
Contact Rockford Study Group's Ministry of Information:
Bro. William P. Muhammad

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