WWRL -- Sharpton rally -- 9/23/95

Morris Powell:

"Good mornin', family. The 125th Street Vendors Association is still in the process of signing up all the vendors so that we could go out there and challenge this cracker for what's ours. Our market, our consumer market is ours. In the times that we are livin' in, no single black organization, regardless of ideology, can stand alone in these tryin' times we are livin' in. The trials and tribulations of the 125th Street Vendors Association can attest to that. If our association would have spent time networking with other progressive organizations, and also educating our community toward the importance of their vendors, we would have fared much better. We cannot and must not make the same mistake again.

Reverend Al Sharpton was gracious enough to see how important the vendors was to our community. And after -- on October 17th, when they moved us, three days later he had a plan when he challenged 'em with the book law and opened up with the books in front of his office at 70 West 125th Street, and set the city up pretty, and put in a hundred million dollar class action suit. Now, this is what I call helpin' out in the most progressive way that you ever could think of doin'. If it wasn't, I don't know what a -- what woulda happened if we didn't have Al Sharpton. I wish we had one on the West Coast.

The Buy Black Steering Committee got its work cut out for us. We gonna have to sign up all our stores, and we gonna have stop procrastinatin' and get down to the nitty-gritty of signin' up our black stores, because right now they are fallin' like dominoes. Another store went out of business. It was a store that we took people on a shopping spree, in between Fifth Avenue and Lenox Avenue. ...

There was a black-owned tennis-sellin' store that sold just as fine a product in there as any white store on 125th Street. But he went out of business for one reason -- not a landlord, because he was the landlord. He went out of business because other people had refused to buy black. And he see where it's more profitable for him to rent that space than to keep holdin' it up, not makin' no money. He still have another store on Lenox Avenue and 125th Street, Florsheim's I think it is. So he's a little more fortunate than a lot of black people where they has an alien landlord that could manipulate the black businessman out of business like is what gettin' ready to happen at Freddy's.

Freddy's today, we gonna pull a demonstration and a picket at Freddy's today at one P.M., at 272 West 125th Street. They are tryin' to drive Brother Shange out of business. This is the brother here, to my left. He has been in business in this community twenty years. He allow his profits to circulate within the community, he kicks back to the people, he's an operatin' and helpin' his race on a international level. He's helpin' build a village in South Africa and our much-needed poverty-stricken brothers there. And all of a sudden, now, this landlord that is not of our community don't want to renew his lease on December of '95. We say we're not gonna let that happen. Period.

And we say again that they gotta be out of their damn minds -- excuse my language -- they gotta be crazy, because if we stand back and let them drive a black businessman out of business who's helpin' out, and these people don't kick nothin' back or help do nothin' but just sponge and parasite our private dollar, and then they gonna just practically havin' been there over a year and a half, and they gonna drive a man out of business that's stationed here, and we gonna sit back and allow that to happen, that cracker gotta be insane.

So we gonna close him down today, we gonna show him what to expect from us if he don't come to his senses and talk to us about renewin' this brother's lease. If he could forget about ever doin' business anywhere in Harlem, and that goes for the rest of his stores, too. Conway stores, all of them people, that's a whole family. But this store here is called -- Lazarus -- all of them ain't no good. You know, all of them is just like they're rippin' us off, parasitin' 'em, and our politicians don't say a thing about it. It is us that come to the aid of our people."

Reverend Al Sharpton:

"Now, in that light, we are working -- the Buy Black Community Mass Action Network -- has called for withdrawal of support from Freddy's on 125th Street. This man has tried to evict -- not reinforce or not reissue -- a lease to our brother Shange, who has been one of the most active Afro-centric, progressive entrepreneurs in our community. There's no way, as we stood by and watched them run our vendors off 125th Street. But now are going them let run our businesses off 125th street. Especially, a soldier and a warrior, like brother Shange, who has run his record store as long as I can remember, and has always been involved in the struggle. We are asking people to support us by turning their back on Freddy's and by supporting brother Shange in this struggle. And he is going to say something in a few minutes, because I think it is important that we rally behind -- I'm going to give him a couple of minutes right now before we go off the air. Brother Shange? Give him a hand."

Sikhulu Shange:

"Thank you, thank you brother Reverend Al Sharpton and National Network brother Morris, and the community at large. I am very grateful to get your support and you have to remember it is not just for me, it's for us. We are under assault. We have been under assault from day one, when our enemies came to our continent in Africa and stole people, and that's more than a grand larceny -- that you go around the world stealing people, and subjecting them into inhuman conditions.

And today America have a problem, have a problem with the Africans who are living in America: they don't know what to do with them. Because they don't know what to do with themselves. But we have to remember one thing, we do have power in our hands. The moneys which we have in our hands we can make sure that they work for us. We can help other black people to stay in business. All this big corporations which have come to Harlem now, the Duane Reade, Footlockers, the other corporation, they all come here to milk us down and when there is no more money they will leave the community and all those black people who have been in business, they won't be able to get back into business because it takes that much to get into business, and once you are out, you are out for good. So, those of us who are still out here trying to make it, we all try to represent our people, we are tired of insults that we are lazy, we are not able to do anything, It is not true that we are lazy. This man would never have gone around the world to steal us and help him to build this empire, if we were that lazy. No. He have it wrong. He is the one who is lazy, he is the one who can't take the heat, he is the one who always subjects somebody and turn everything against those people of color, the African people, and say: that being black is not beautiful.

Uh-uh. Why does he go out and lay out there and act like he is looking for something, sitting out in the sun, he is trying to make himself look like a human being. Yes, we are the people. We are the people of the sun, and we must work to one thing at this point, which we have power to do, is to work on our economics; at least we have to be in control of our community. Anywhere in this world you go, you find out that everybody in their community, they run the business life. You go to the China town, you go to the Polish town, you to the Jewish town, they all run their businesses.

I had to tell the lawyer for Freddy and Jeff Sutton, I say now you are tampering with something which you will be so sorry, that you open up a can of worms which you can never close any more. I said, you might regard me as a post, but I am a pillar in the community, and you don't go to Bensonhurst and tell the rabbi that he should move aside because the community will run(?) it on you.

I am saying that the people of Harlem and the black people all over the United States were running behind a person who has spent his lifetime for 30 years in the black community, running the business with all the altercation. It is time that we come together, it is time that we fight for what belongs to us. The power we have as a people. The reason why everybody comes to a community because they see that there are people there, and when there are people, there is power. And how do we use our power? We use it for ourself, and if we don't use it for ourself, we are doomed. It is up to us, and thank you brother Reverend Sharpton and the community and we'll see you at the rally at one o'clock and we will be out there, we'll march from here at one o'clock and go over to Freddy and let him know that our people, they have their own way of life. We cannot be dictated by other people who come from somewhere else. We are a proud people. Thank you."

Reverend Al Sharpton:

"Brother Shange. Today at one o'clock, at 272 West 125th Street, will be the picket line. One o'clock today, 272, Freddy's, 272 West 125th Street."

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