Project Forward, Citywide Men's only meeting to take place on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at S.H.A.P.E Community Center (3815 Live Oak, Houston, Texas) from 4-6pm
Exclusive Interview with Bro. Deric Muhammad, Project Forward
The name: Project Forward is an interesting concept when speaking of anything pertaining to economic development, violence and Justice. How do we move forward? The way forward for Black men and the Black community as a whole is through our unity. We must recognize that we can no longer wait on others to do for us what we can unify and do for ourselves. We must begin by tearing down the divisive walls among Black leadership, organizations and individuals. We must then get back to the basic principles of community building; such as “Each One Teach One,” Supporting Black Businesses and educating ourselves about the justice system that has, for decades, decimated the ranks of the Black male. However, the first order of our agenda must be to find common ground and unite to stop the killing.
Where are we seeing the need for economic development, justice and a cease in violence? Would you say, worldwide - city wide and/or nationwide? I see the need on every level. Our president is advocating going to war in Syria; which is worldwide. We just witnessed 12 people murdered in the Washington Navy Yard shooting; that was national. And 17-year old Joshua Broussard was stabbed to death recently at Spring High School; that was local. Injustice and poverty is seen on all three levels, as well. There is a saying that “all politics is local.” I believe the same is true for economic development, social justice and addressing senseless violence. We have to start with the violence in our own backyard before we try addressing it in someone else’s. If we can find a remedy in our own backyard then we can share the remedy nationally and internationally. And I would like to add that Black men need not join the military and fly to Syria to stop the violence over there; we have enough in our own community right here. We are looking for a few good men.
What is your specific involvement with project forward? And why was this important enough to you for your agenda? Quite simply, this is something that God put on my heart for my community. I bounced it off of others and found that God had put something similar on their hearts. We began to exchange ideas and we got moving on a plan. It is not about Brother Deric. This was and is a collective effort. I am tired of seeing my people dying in the streets. I am tired of hearing the horrible echoing sound of mothers crying for their children who have been killed senselessly. It is the worst sound I have ever heard on my life. I simply refuse to get used to it. And there are thousands of Black males in this city who have the same spirit. With God’s help we will unite them. We will save lives in the process. I want to spend the next two years focused on this initiative. Lastly, I must say that I was blessed to attend the Million Man March in 1995, called by Minister Louis Farrakhan. If ever I find myself discouraged about the condition of Black men I always go back to the Million Man March for it was a sign of what we can accomplish when we are in unity.
How will this change take place? What are the preliminary steps for implementations programs and reaching those who need to be on board? Our first meeting will be held on September 21st at the SHAPE Community (3815 Live Oak) Center at 4pm. We will lay out the principles that undergird Project Forward and the plan. We have made it very easy to be a part of this initiative. It is not designed to propagate one religion or ideology over another. It must be and will be highly organized. We will use social media and modern technology to recruit and communicate with one another. We will build a “Citywide Brotherhood” this way. You can follow us on Twitter @ProjectFWD or join via our website (which will be up in a matter of days.) Some of the power moves that we will make is a Citywide Stop the Violence Day in October, an economic development forum in November and a Stop the Violence Tour of Houston area schools starting in January. Our initiative is also designed to empower and increase the membership of existing organizations, as well. Those are a few things we have planned for the very near future. These are all “action oriented” agenda items. We are done simply talking.
What will you need from the community to ensure that this project is a success? We need the community, as a whole, to not give up hope on our young men. We need the prayer warriors to go to work. We need Black professionals to join with us and become a mentor to a young brother who is interested in his profession. We need street soldiers to be our eyes and ears to help us bring peace to the streets. We need mothers and grandmothers to sign up their sons for Project Forward. And we need the community to please be patient with us. We did not get in this condition overnight and we won’t get out of it overnight. But, we will get out of it. It is God’s will that we be free.
Is this an ongoing project and if so, what is the lifetime mission? It is an ongoing project. The mission is the unity of Black men and boys in the Houston area. Our agenda is to Stop the Violence, Create Economic Development and stand for Justice. We wish to pump life into existing organizations and create a platform for new and budding young leadership in our community. We wish to lift up the virtues of Each One Teach One, Respect for Life, Supporting Black business, Circulating the Black dollar, Education and organizing for justice. We are going on a two year sprint to see what we can accomplish. At that point we will reassess and continue FORWARD.
With regards to each of the missions, What are the plans to make this a way of life (stop the violence, create economic justice and fight for justice) and not just a fad for a time? We have to brand and market these messages to every segment of our community, especially our youth. They must see themselves in “the struggle.” We want to make a cultural impact that has not been seen in this city before. But I believe that the “one on one” mentoring push for Black boys will be critical. A real mentor affects a person for life. If we can achieve that alone we can change lives one by one. That is our goal. We also want to begin to creatively affect the daily habits of our people. More on that later.
In short term goal of the project, what do you hope to accomplish immediately? We immediately want to begin addressing the self-destructive violence in our community. I believe our voices are louder when white people do us dirty than it is when we do one another dirty. We want to change that. We truly believe that “our unity is our remedy.” So we want to immediately dispel the lie that Black men cannot unite for the common good of our community. We want to set an example of the power of our solidarity for these youngsters that we are trying to tell to pull up their pants. The reality is, if we pull up their minds their pants will follow. But we must first realize that no single individual or organization can do it alone. We must come together and stay together. Thank you.
Thank you Bro. Deric for your time to do this exclusive interview and let us all know what the goals, mission and purpose of this new project is. I thank you for your continued support, as you will always have mine. Thanks for sharing information about this upcoming event and movement.