Why African Americans Must "Do For Self"

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[Black Star Interview]

Stewart: "The
policy of Stop-and-frisk is just pure

There's so much going on to hinder the young Black
male's growth and development: crime and criminalization; diseases; drug abuse;
racial profiling by the police departments; and, astronomical
unemployment rates. It's important
that we highlight the work of those who strive diligently to help our
young Black men overcome these issues, and become better members of
their communities, and better members of society generally.

recently sat down with Ronald Stewart, Coney Island activist, and
President of Men United For Change, a mentoring group dedicated to
the life and advancement of young Black males.

Black Star News: Mr.
Stewart I'd like to thank you for taking out the time from your busy
schedule to talk to us at Black Star News. Please tell us about some of
the various causes, and organizations that you've worked with throughout
the years.
Ronald Stewart: First I would like to thank you and
Black Star News for allowing me the opportunity to share some of my
thoughts and experiences with your readers. To your first question, I
have been involved with many causes and organizations over the years.
Most recently I've organized Black men for a march and power breakfast
after several shootings in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New

Back in the 1980's when crack cocaine first hit our community, I
helped organize parents against crack to address the crucial issue. We
were successful in getting much attention for the problem, and
establishing programs for those who were addicted to the terrible drug.
In 1996 I was elected as the first Black person to the Community School
Board in District 21, where we raised the levels of academics, and saw
more Black and Hispanic teachers, as well as principals hired. I am now a
member of Community Planning Board 13, and President of Men United For
Change, a mentoring group for young Black and Hispanic males. 
I know that you're very active in the New York City area of Brooklyn,
Coney Island to be exact. Please tell us about some of the things that
you've worked on, and some of the things that you're currently working
on in the Coney Island area. 
RS: I currently reside in Coney Island
where I was raised. I am extremely passionate about the plight of our
young Black males, who society, and sad to say many of our people, seem
to not care about and are afraid to deal with. My organization, Men
United For Change sponsors various activities to address the issues
concerning our young males. We have taken them on a Harlem walk through
to see their people in another space and place. They were taken to a
restaurant where they enjoyed a healthy meal in a refined atmosphere
unlike McDonald's or Burger King. We took them to the National Great
Blacks In Wax Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and we had real
conversations with them about life, education, sex, family and
community. Doing this work with our young Black males makes me feel real
Men United For Change is currently planning a health fair
exclusively for Black males, who are dying early from poor health. These
young men have kidney failure, diabetes, prostate cancer and STDs. I
truly believe that it's important to not only focus on our financial
well-being, but more importantly our physical well-being, because wealth
without health is death. I am also a New York State Parole Officer, and
I work in the Brownsville area of Brooklyn, New York, where there is a
lot of violence, and serious social issues. The residents of Brownsville
are not bad people. They want life and peace just like everybody else,
but oftentimes lack the guidance and knowledge to obtain it. I strive to
give that to them in my work.

BSN: Unemployment for the
country currently stands at 8.2 percent and 13.6 percent for Blacks. How
do you think this affects our families, and communities as a whole? 
Unemployment in this country is at an all time high. There are millions
of people who are out of work. Black people are suffering the worst. At
one time in this country there was enough wealth where every family
could have had what they needed. But those greedy 10% of this society
kept the wealth for themselves, and allowed the masses to suffer. But
there is a solution for Blacks, and that solution is "doing for self",
which the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught me and many others to do.
Black people spend nearly a trillion dollars annually on everything from
hot sauce to automobiles. There is money out there, and creating your
own business is the key.

BSN: Last year the NYPD illegally
stopped-and-frisked a record 685,724 people most of whom were Black or
Latino. What are your thoughts on these astounding figures?  
RS: The
policy of Stop-and-frisk is just pure racism. It addresses the effects
of crime, but it doesn't address the cause. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and
Commissioner Raymond Kelly say that the practice is aimed at getting
guns off of the streets. But in order to find a solution, they should be
focused on pinpointing exactly where the guns are coming from, and how
they get into the hands of our children. This country has the most
sophisticated technology in the world and can find anyone or anything
when they want to. They know where the guns are coming from. When our
children get guns in their hands it gives them a false sense or power,
and with the hate they have for each other, they use the guns on one
another. We want peace in our communities just like the Mayor Bloomberg
says he does, but there is a price we have to pay for peace. 
Now, you've worked very closely with the Honorable Minister Louis
Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam throughout the years. What are some
of the lessons that you've learnt from your work with the Nation that
you're able to use in the work that you do in the community today?  
I came into the Nation of Islam in my teens. I was one of the original
members of the so-called 5% Nation, because at the time we called
ourselves the Nation of Gods & Earths. At the time I joined the
Nation in the 1960's, Minister Louis Farrakhan became the Minister of
Temple No. 7 after the assassination of Malcolm X.
Minister Louis
Farrakhan under the guidance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad raised the
New York mosque to supreme heights. We had the fastest growing mosque
in the Nation: stores, schools, radio programs, houses, we sold
thousands of our Nation's newspaper, and our theology was sound and
firm. After the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's son Wallace took over, the
change had many negative ramifications. This caused Minister Louis
Farrakhan to leave and rebuild the Nation of Islam as he was directed by
his teacher the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I met with Minister
Farrakhan in 1978, and worked very closely with him for nearly 20 years
to achieve this task. I protected him with my life.
There were many
trials and tests, however my experience with the Nation of Islam allowed
me to develop a strong foundation in truth, along with a sound belief
in God and self. I believe I now have supreme patience and discipline.
All of this has given me the confidence to love, and work with my people
in general.

BSN: How can people who're interested in your work and organization get in contact with you?  
I pray that these statements have answered to a degree, the questions
asked. And I would like to thank Black Star News again for allowing me
to share my thoughts and experiences. Those who would like to know more
about my work in the community can contact me via email at
hrspatrol@yahoo.com or via phone at 347-417-1813. I can also be reached
via snail mail at: Men United For Change 2811 West 31st Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11224. I am known as Brother Ron. Thank you.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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