As a 51-year old Howard University graduate, former attorney and social activist, it has been interesting learning about Nipsey Hussle, the musician, the advocate and the entrepreneur, on the heels of his most unfortunate death.
Having come up in the L.A. gang culture and espousing less than stellar views on the LGBTQ community, he was flawed, as we all are. He was trying to do better and be better recognizing that life is a marathon, and hence the name of his store in Compton, as some of us are. He is physically, but not spiritually, gone, as we all will be.
Ermias Joseph Asghedom, it seems more appropriate to use his birth name here, is the extension of a movement that started many generations before him, was successful before him and destroyed and renewed before him.
He was the new purveyor of hope for a generation of African Americans, many of whom are unfamiliar with Black Wall Street. The uprising and devastation in 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma was the worst terrorist attack in the United States until 9/11. As an ancestral survivor of African American genocide and a 9/11 survivor, I know what it feels like to move from a state of fear to a state of undeniable hope followed by action.
As this young man is mourned, I am optimistic that his community will follow his lead and pledge to focus on solutions in honor of his legacy. As his forefathers and mothers exhibited well, all progress is attributed to well-planned action.
The answers are in our history starting with the empires, Kings and Queens, from which we come. We carry the legacy of Mansa Musa, the 14th century Malian ruler who is, to date, the richest and most generous human being to have ever lived toppling the Rothchild family, Jeff Bezos, sorry Amazon and even Jay Z and Queen B.
I hope that this tragic loss provokes those of his generation to look beyond this moment in time into the lessons, motivations and successes that provide the foundation for the advancement of African Americans and hence, all Americans. Our ancestors spoke, fought, died, and created the meaning of woke, the awakening of understanding and enthusiasm for change and innovation.
I implore those laying in Nipsey's wake to take time to unwind, study and appreciate the visions and achievements of Robert Abbot, Richard Allen, Marcus Garvey, James Baldwin, Ella Baker, Frederick Douglass, Paul Robeson, Charles Drew, W.E.B. Dubois, Katherine Johnson, Nat Turner, Henrietta Lacks, Malcolm, Martin, Thurgood and so many more.
It is essential that every American is aware of the endless contributions to our country by African Americans so that we can move forward with facts, ideas and solutions. It is time for us to begin the collective conversation that leads to tangible results.
Understanding who we are and where we come from is the baseline for where we're going. It is the substance of the baton Nipsey has passed on to continue this marathon called life. Now, it is our obligation to win!