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As we approach the close of 2014, we know that there is much for which we can all be thankful.  We also know, however, that there is much to be concerned about.  We are witness to our nation becoming more diverse and yet we are also witness to our nation coming more divided.   Undeniably, gaps in income equality, access to quality education, healthcare and affordable housing are among the stark indicators that while we have indeed “come this far by faith,” the struggle for equality and justice continues.  Recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson, MO and New York City have touched already raw nerves and sparked mass protests in those communities and beyond for good reason.  Michael Brown and Eric Garner joined an all too long list of African Americans whose lives were lost to violent encounters with law enforcement officials.

The National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW) is enraged by the use of excessive force by law enforcement and the subsequent denial of justice to the Brown, Garner and other families who have faced the same situation.  The organization recognizes the stress that every Black mother, father and/or guardian raising male children feels when stories like that of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice make the evening news.  Sadly, as members we know that those feelings are not limited to a specific event or occurrence. Rather, we live day in and day out with a cold fear as our sons, husbands and fathers leave the house.  That fear will not allow us to go to bed until everyone is accounted and present.  That fear forces us to text and call incessantly when the young men in our lives are out of touch for too long.  That fear grips us when the telephone rings after dark and the Black men in our lives are not in our physical presence.  There is no doubt that this constant stress impacts the physical and mental health and wellbeing of African American women.

Today the words of Fannie Lou Hamer resound loudly as she said “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!”  Noted below is a list of sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, friends—African Americans killed by police in the last 10 years.As chair and vice chairs, we are calling every member of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW) including our 38 national affiliated organizations, 230 community and campus-based sections and every individual member to recommit to the struggle for justice and equality.  There are four things that we can all do right now that can make a difference.

  1. Pray for the Brown, Garner, Rice and other families impacted by police violence.
  2. Participate in local activities that are productive and focused on police reform and accountability.  As a starting point, I encourage you to look at the 10-POINT JUSTICE PLAN developed by the National Urban League.  NCNW endorses this plan and I hope that you will too!  Click Here to download the NUL Plan.
  3. Talk to the young men and women in your family, church and community.  Help them to understand the events that are unfolding and how to properly respond to the environment in which we find ourselves.  This is critically important as we advocate for police reform and accountability of the justice system.  We must also recognize that if we don’t equip our children to deal positively with and survive the realities of the day, no one will!
  4. Share the list of African Americans killed by police violence in the last 10 years—post it on Facebook, ask your pastor for permission to place it as an insert in your church bulletin, etc.  Let us not allow any of these names to be forgotten!
Just over a year ago, our nation observed the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The times are such that we decide that his dream is still THE DREAM, that we refuse to accept the nightmare of police brutality and violence and then, we must struggle on.  Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, civil rights icon and NCNW’s beloved president emerita often said “if the times are not ripe, we have to ripen the times!”  There is no argument that given recent events, the times are ripe.  Now, we must act to facilitate needed reform in law enforcement and our justice system.

Ingrid Saunders Jones, Chair

Thelma T. Daley, Vice Chair
E. Tonya Greenwood, Vice Chair
Hon. Diane Watson, Vice Chair
LaToia A. Jones, Vice Chair Young Adults

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For the list of African Americans killed by
police (1994-2014) click here.

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