I took a hiatus from my blog last month to vacation in the ATL or Atlanta, Ga. Had a great time!
I’m back! This month, I’m deviating from my usual topic about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to discuss the Montgomery, Ala., brawl at Riverfront Park that went viral last month. The brawl sparked much-needed conversation among Black people across most media outlets.
Hello, I’m Johnicon George Sr., owner of Icon Connects, LLC. Welcome to the Real Social Change Blog.
I viewed the video while I was in Atlanta. It was a pivotal and proud moment in the lives of many Black Americans to see a glorious resurrection of “Black Unity.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a recap. The brawl started when a group of White people docked their pontoon boat in a space reserved for the city’s riverboat, the Harriott II. Over a loudspeaker, for more than 45 minutes, the group was asked to move their boat. They refused, yelling racial slurs as the Black co-captain of the Harriott II, Dameion Pickett, confronted them and attempted to move the vessel.
The heated conversation between Pickett and one of the men persisted, as seen in the video. Suddenly, another White man from the pontoon boat ran up to Pickett, striking him. The co-captain removed his cap, tossing it in the air, defending himself. It was on.
Rather than being a fair one-on-one fight, other White men joined in, punching Pickett, and kicking him while he was on the ground.
Without hesitation, Black men rushed to Pickett’s rescue, fighting the men. A 16-year-old, dubbed “Black Aquaman,” jumped into the Alabama River, which holds significant Black History. He swam from the Riverboat to the aid of his coworker.
That’s not all. When White women from the boat group joined the fight, Black women followed suit, fighting them.
The courageous men and women who came to the rescue of co-captain Picket - who was only doing his job - should spark the Unity Flame in all Black America. Had they not come to his defense, this man may have lost his life to the mob of White men and women.
No, I don’t condone violence. I condone self-defense.
Growing up, my mother would tell my seven siblings and me, “Don’t pick a fight. But if someone picks a fight with you, you better defend yourself.” She also said, “If one of you gets double teamed, all of you get into the fight.” I won’t share what would have happened had we not followed the rules.
It’s ironic that two hours before the brawl, Black women, attending a spiritual and healing conference, walked in procession to the Riverfront. They carried a bouquet of flowers and incense to commemorate a “Blessings of the Ancestors” ceremony.
The site of the brawl is the exact spot where enslaved and chained Black people were transported on the Alabama River and unloaded at the dock. They were crammed in warehouses and later placed on the auction block for sale.
Here’s another piece of history. Between 1808 and 1860, the enslaved population had increased from 40,000 to 435,000, making Montgomery one of the largest slave-trading communities in the country.
At the Riverfront, the Black women tossed flower petals into the water and burned incense, paying respect and reverence to the ancestors. They thanked them for their blood, sweat, and tears.
I deeply desire that the overwhelming Black support for the co-captain ignites the fuse of Black Unity, especially among our young people, that has burned out in our community.
In 1963, thousands of Black students in Birmingham, Alabama, were attacked by ferocious police dogs and blasted with water hoses as they walked peacefully out of their classrooms to protest segregation. Sixty years later, a 16-year-old swam across the Alabama River to fight alongside his co-captain.
As our youth become increasingly detached from our history, struggles, and culture, the leadership and courage shown by this young man and the youth in 1963 ought to be a lesson for our young people about what they can accomplish to move us forward.
However, it will take our entire community to unify and unite on politics, economics, education, home ownership, and reparations, which creates the Black Agenda in America.
In the hit song “Glory” from the 2014 movie “Selma,” rapper, actor, and activist Common put it this way: “No one can win the war individually. It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people's energy.”
This same energy should also flow into other areas, considering the dismantling of Affirmative Action and articles about DEI possibly following suit.
No doubt, Jim and Jane Crow segregation and Willie Lynch have effectively divided our community. It’s time for us to form a united Black front, nevertheless.
At the recent March on Washington 60th anniversary, one of the speakers, Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church and newly appointed president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition succeeding Rev. Jesse Jackson, said in his speech, “Let’s use the lessons from the Slama in Bama. We’re going to throw up the cap signal and fight back” in all areas.
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See you next month!