On Black Friday, I co-hosted a radio program with my friend, Melody Spann Cooper, the President of WVON, a black talk station. We were having fun, cutting up but the mood changed when she said we have to take a call from Pastor Corey Brooks. He was calling to update us on his living on the roof. Pastor Corey is the pastor of New Beginning Church on Chicago's south side. This year he has buried ten young black men under the age of 25. He is sick and tired of the violence in the black community and has declared enough.
Immediately across the street from the church is a vacant boarded up hotel. Crimes festers there, particularly drugs and prostitution. Brooks wants to buy the property, tear it down, and rebuild it to house after-schools programs and small businesses and to teach entrepreneurship. He wants a Starbucks in the neighborhood. The building is an eyesore and Brooks would turn the community around with this venture.
Pastor Brooks is living on top of the building. He has anchored a tent and looks down on the real estate he wants to develop. The building is on 66th and King Drive and vacant for over a year. It is a disgrace. He is a one man Occupy. He is on the rooftop to raise enough money to purchase the property, which will help to stop the killings, because he will provide constructive activity to the neighborhood youth.
He needs $450,000. To date he has raised $30,000. Rev. T. D. Jakes sent him $5,000.
Brooks points out that on Black Friday in one single day America spent $52 billion dollars. At the rate he is going he surmises that he will be on top of the roof for 84 more days, or until President's Day in February. He likes the symbolism.
Brooks encourages visitors. I visited him in his penthouse surroundings. He is outdoors and comfortable with a tent, books, and a computer. He is fasting. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called him. He is visited by the Mayor's office daily.
I want the Occupy people to come and occupy King Drive on Chicago's South Side. They could camp on the grounds of the old hotel. This south side street, named after Martin Luther King, sits in a community where the bottom of the 99% live.
Pastor Brooks is solution oriented. We are watching violence in the black community in epidemic proportions. On the daily news it is common to see a teen killed at school, on the bus, in front of his home. One recent death was of a young man, preparing to go off to school, Harvard no less, and was killed at the going away party.
Pastor Brooks is blogging about his daily experiences and why his protest is important. I hope the national media will cover this story. I hope black men will join him. I hope Occupy Chicago will visit with him.
Winter is coming and Rev. Brooks needs to come off the roof.
Visit with him or sent him a donation during this holiday season at Project H.O.O.D.
Follow Hermene Hartman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Hermene Hartman