Being Proactive: Project Forward's "Stop the Violence Day" inspires communities to step up in Houston

by Brother Jesse Muhammad

When discussing violence in the Black community, Houston is no different than any other city in America. Yes, there are frequent murders and all other forms of crimes being committed. I don't need to waste paragraphs telling you the negative statistics. You can Google that for yourself.

However, I wanted to share some great news about a recent solution-oriented effort that occurred on Sunday, Oct. 27 in our city. Have you heard of Project FORWARD? It's a Black male initiative spearheaded by community servant Deric Muhammad, a member of the Nation of Islam's Muhammad Mosque No. 45.

Project FORWARD is a platform for Black males to unite as a brotherhood and address issues. Along with brotherhood, it's core principles are unity, respect for life, integrity, confidence, knowledge, economic development, family, justice and mentorship. Yes, they are focused on making Each One Teach One the "in thing" again in the community.

The first Project FORWARD meeting was held Sept. 21 at the SHAPE Community Center, also known as the "United Nations of the 'Hood." Let's be honest: Most of our gatherings are long on chatter and short on measurable results. We tend to get caught up in the emotional energy of a feel good session and once we leave, within 24 hours, that spirit dies away as quickly as our intentions to take action.

That cycle has to be reversed and Project FORWARD took a step in the right direction with some follow up action to keep their word regarding a desire to host a citywide "Stop The Violence Day." A little over a month later, it was concrete reality.

Many pastors preached a Stop the Violence message from their pulpits that Sunday morning and 
Houstonians were asked to flood social media with Stop the Violence posts expressing their concern about violent crime in our city using the hashtag #StoptheViolenceinHtown.

The morning activities culminated into an afternoon rally held in the Cuney Homes Housing Projects in Third Ward. The featured speaker was
 nationally acclaimed gang expert, former gang leader, Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed of Stop the Killing Inc. based in Baton Rouge, La.

"I can't be a hypocrite and say God got me on a mission and then be afraid to go out among His people," said Reed. "Jesus was in the streets trying to wake the people up. Why we not in the streets?..We need strongness right now. We have to stop this violence."

"It's more easier to make a fool out of you than to convince you that you are being made a fool out of," he added. "You're too worried about how people are looking at you and you are not looking at your own self."

Other presenters included Durce Muhammad, Dazie Williams, Reginald Gordon, Judge Warren Muhammad, and Student Minister Robert Muhammad. All were consistently encouraging young men in particular to become agents of change in their community instead destroyers of it.

"What is your idea or understanding to be a slave? When you are engaged in crime you put the shackles of slavery back on your feet," said Judge Muhammad.

Gordon said, " My life is committed to working with young people. If we are willing to get into this cause we better be willing to die for what we believe in."

"Don't let anybody tell you Black Leaders are not addressing violence in the streets," urged Minister Muhammad. "Yes, we must stop the violence and we must know why we must stop. We must love one another." He also delved into the critical need for Muhammad's Economic Blueprint to solve the ills of the community.

Deric Muhammad closed out the rally with everyone in a close-knit circle. "We're sick of the senseless violence. The time is ripe to take action," he said. "We're going to take this around the city...Let's Go back to Each One Teach One!

On Nov. 2, Project FORWARD held its next meeting at the SHAPE to chart the next moves to fulfill the promises made on Stop the Violence Day to ensure it doesn't die off.

What can you do? Get involved by choice, not by force. Don't wait for something to happen. Act as if it already has...Be ProActive!

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