When you fight for the poor and the voiceless, you take a lot of hits -- not hits from the poor, but hits from those who want to minimize your work. When you seek to expose the truth of the inner city, you expose yourself to violent attacks -- not attacks from gunfire, but attacks from those who don't believe in equality.
Last night, I attended "Honoring Living Legends, Educating 365" -- an event in honor of Minister Farrakhan, Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger.
I went because I know and like Father Pfleger and I haven't heard him speak in a long time. Plus, the mystery behind the event (held at the Regal Theater) forced me to pass up Korean BBQ with friends to visit the southside of Chicago.
At the entrance, Reverend Wright was sitting at a table, signing books. People were lined up to have their copy signed. He was warm and conversational.
Then, Father Pfleger arrived. He greeted me with a big hug. I reminded him of the time we met, when he and Rev. Jackson were arrested for "trespass" on the property of Chuck's Gun Shop. He told me this past year has been his roughest year ever, that he has seen more people struggle than ever before. The pain in his eyes pierced my heart.
Then Minister Farrakhan arrived and we were led into the auditorium. The 3-hour event started with a performance by Shannon Stevenson, a local singer and St. Sabina member. Then, Grammy award winning saxophone artist Kirk Whalum performed. The event ended with a representative from each congregation saying "thank you" to the men for their service. The last person to speak was a witness to the Haiti earthquake; he thanked us for our donation.
That was it -- no words from Farrakhan, Wright or Pfleger.
Contrary to what Bill O'Reilly said, the event was not a "dog-and-pony show." There was no secret political or religious agenda; instead it was a sincere attempt to recognize the three men for their work in the community and for educating our children. Why cannot we thank people for their service to our country? Who else is going to march for the fairness and equality? Like them or not, these men have helped tremendous amounts of people.
We can all agree, America has fallen on rough times. Just because you do not agree with the war, you must still thank our servicemen and women. Just because you do not agree with Farrakhan, Pfleger and Wright, you must still thank them for helping the poor and educating the child from the ghetto who may one day have the cure to your cancer.