By Hazel Trice Edney (TriceEdneyWire.com) – A national group of Black clergy, led by former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Chavis, is aiming to reverse the Black unemployment rate by changing the economic mindset of Black people.
“You’d be surprised that a lot of people ask why we are the most unemployed. The say we need jobs,” Chavis said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “But, the truth of the matter is that in order to get jobs, we have to have employers. We need more Black business people to hire Black people. If we are waiting for somebody else to hire us, it’s the consciousness, our mindset has to change. Empowerment means what you do for yourself; not what somebody constantly does for you.
The mission, which is being called “Occupy the Dream”, will start on Monday, Jan. 16 in commemoration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday holiday. On that day preachers, who are part of the “Occupy the Dream” movement, will connect with the well-known “Occupy Wall Street” group to hold protests at Federal Reserve Banks in 10 cities around the nation, Chavis said.
The strategy will be to raise the conscious level of African-Americans starting in church pulpits by spreading the message of income equality, economic justice and empowerment leading up to Jan. 16. “It starts in the pulpit and then we’re going to go to the community at large,” he said.
Then, the ministers will grow and sustain a movement with monthly activities focused on transforming the Black mindset from consumer to owner, he said.
“And so, I see ‘Occupy the Dream’ as first – and to some extent, challenging the mindset of over 40 million Black Americans who various stats show will spend a trillion dollars in 2012. So how is it that we’re spending a trillion dollars on the one hand, but we are the most unemployed on the other hand? Our children are not finishing high school on the other hand. We’re losing homes; we are the most foreclosed on the other hand. That’s a contradiction,” Chavis said. “And so, Occupy the Dream is going to challenge that. That’s something internal in the Black community that we need to face. And the Black preacher is strategically placed to meet these challenges because we meet with the Black community every week.”
The new group has set up a website for more detailed information: www.occupydream.org. It is also on Facebook and Twitter.