Tag Archives: Memorial Tabernacle Church

Will Trayvon Martin’s death be a moment or a movement? Let’s create a community movement!

This weekend, I attended two discussions regarding the Trayvon Martin incident, the problems that African American’s face in our country and how we can overcome them.

[ Yes..this weekend, Black folks were actually meeting. ..everyone was invited though.]

If you have been paying attention, you know that the country, the world, is concerned about Trayvon Martin being shot and killed by a professed neighborhood watch member in Florida.

In reaction, the media and groups across the country have been in discussion about racial profiling, social justice and just how and why in the year 2012 we still have to contend with these issues 40 years after Jim Crow.

One such discussion was held in downtown Oakland, hosted by Top Ten Social, a local organization whose mission “is to push the cultural, artistic and intellectual envelope of Afro-futurist urban expression and create sustainable models through innovative events”..like a Speaker’s Series. On March 31st they dedicated time for the community to come together and to share reflections and strategies on how we should respond to the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

A member of Top Ten Social takes notes on the discussion while a community member speaks.

On Sunday April 1st, I attended a more intimate affair organized by my wonderful friend Tiffany who texted all of her friends asking for discussion and ideas on what we should do. We had a potluck at my church Memorial Tabernacle CHSC ( Christ Holy Sanctified Church) in North Oakland (Easter Services this Sunday at 10:30 am- if you don’t have a church home..:) . This event, though smaller, was a tad bit more structured. Tiffany (who is a master bossy A-type awesome organizer) came with a preset agenda, movie, food and discussion questions.

A Southern Belle - Tiffany. "Isn't she looooovvvelyyyyy???"

At both discussions we all had something to say about the problems. It was, to some, a relief to give voice to fears we have lived with for a long time. What’s obvious is that despite the amount of progress we have made (integration, right to vote, education, etc)..Blacks in America still have a long way to go.

Both discussions also generated a laundry lists of things we can do in reaction from driving down to Florida to petition a state representative, to protests, marches and boycotts, and multi-media campaigns.

I would like to talk about three solutions that came out of the discussions that help to create a community movement, and will make it hard for another Trayvon Martin moment to occur.

Check it out..

Problem: Our children are being maligned, made to believe that they are not good enough and shown that their lives are meaningless.

Solution: We need to love support and cherish our children!

Not just when there is a problem, but constantly. Even before a problem starts. When your baby is born, read to them, nurture them..tell them everyday that they are beautiful, smart and important. If you don’t have children interact with the ones you come across. Ask them how they are doing, smile at them, give them complements. Hug them. If you see a child on the street- don’t look a way and ignore them. Smile and say Hi! Don’t be afraid of them.

Tiffany says: “I ain’t afraid of no child. If they are under 20 years old..I ain’t scared of them. Now if they are over 21 that’s a different story..” *Insert South Carolina cackle*

If we spend more time nurturing our children, our children would love and cherish themselves more. They wouldn’t feel defeated when the world tells them they are nothing…and they would feel like they were capable of accomplishing ANYTHING.

Let’s also stand up for our children by supporting education and community organizations that work specifically with youth.

Oakland: One such group is Young, Gifted and Black. YGB provides cultural support to African American youth by educating them about history through poetry, music, art and movement. Members of YBG performed at the Top Ten Social Discussion and gave a tribute to Trayvon Martin that you can watch below:

Problem: The system seems to be working against us.

Solution: We need to make the system work for us.

I know that there are some cynical Suzie’s out there who feel that “The Man” controls things around here. There is no point in voting when money and greed rules the day. You can’t trust a politician as far as you can throw them..etc, etc.

But we elected Barack Obama! “Well what has he done for me lately?” Folks are unemployed, he’s killing US citizens with unmanned drones, attacking innocent state-supported medical marijuana colleges, AND he wants me to buy insurance? grumble, grumble, doom and gloom.

Some of that is true. But what is also true is that the Justice Department didn’t decide to look into Trayvon Martin’s case until we, the public, raised our voices in complaint. What’s true is that when enough of us are present..and in one accord- we can move mountains.

What’s true is that if you communicate your desires, by voting AND by attending town hall meetings, city council meetings and the like, you can take part in change. Barack Obama is one man. He can’t do this alone and he shouldn’t have to. We should take responsibility and be the change that we want to see!

We tend to react to things instead of being present from the very beginning. We reacted to Troy Davis too late. We are reacting again..to Trayvon Martin’s death, rather than the passage of a law that made his death possible. We should have been there from the beginning, when the law was introduced and shut it down.

The difference between us and “The Man” is that “The Man” participates in the system and makes it work for them from the beginning and doesn’t just ‘give up’ when things don’t seem to go their way. We need to do the same.

Oakland: an opportunity is presenting itself. Wednesday at 6 pm is the Community Police Review Board meeting, at City Hall. On discussion is “100 Block” program and the increase in crime outside of the “100 Blocks”. Gotta concern? You had better be there to make sure your concern is addressed. I can BET “The Man” will be there. We should be there too.

Problem: We don’t have a sense of community.

Solution: Get to know, love, respect and protect thy neighbor and thy hood.

Do you know your neighbor? Do you know their name? Would you go next door to borrow a cup of sugar? If you get locked out of your home, could you go to your neighbor for help? Would you trust your neighbor to babysit your child? If your car gets stolen from your driveway, would your neighbor see it and tell you? If you are screaming outside of your home because you are being assaulted would your neighbor come out to help?

If your neighbor saw you getting attacked would they report it to the police? Or does “Snitches get stitches” hold them back?

What if things were different? What if we trusted enough in our community to not let a few dictate what happens?

You can’t build community and trust without building relationships. A relationship starts with you. If you don’t know your neighbor, go next door and say hi. Bring over a cup of sugar. Exchange emergency contact info or talk about a plan in case of an earthquake, fire, flood, tornado or crazy person with a gun.

That’s just the beginning. From there you can start looking at your neighborhood and what you can do to help it. You can have block parties, and clean up days and all sorts of civic wonderfulness. Wonderfulness that is worth being protected and fought for.

As a community member at the Top 10 Social discussion stated: “We don’t have to travel across the country to Florida to make a difference, we can make a difference here at home.” We can take our communities back. It just takes us working together. That work begins and ends with us.


Soledad O’Brien had a national town hall “Beyond Trayvon: Race and Justice in America” that aired on CNN this past Saturday. Roland Martin said “This is the conundrum, will Trayvon Martin’s death be a moment or a movement”

I don’t know if we are going to see the kind of political movement like that of the 60’s.. but I think what we can all do is create a movement of community change that can be just as powerful.

We’ve lost our village. Lets bring the village back!


What do you think? Do you think we can bring back our village? Do you know your neighbor? If you heard someone outside screaming for help..would you go out to help them? Be honest!


Filed under Advocacy

Happy Birthday to Stephen King

How could you not like a guy who uses THIS as his profile pic?

No not that Stephen King who gives me the willies.  I can’t fool with him. I’m talking about another writer with a great sense of humor, Ulysses Stephen King II, Pastor of Memorial Tabernacle Church in North Oakland California. July 23, 2011, Pastor Stephen King turned __ years old, and this is my special ode to him.

A little background to put this post into context. I don’t feel like I truly was a believer in Jesus Christ until I came to Memorial Tabernacle. My mother did her duty and raised us in Church as much as she could since we moved around a lot. She swears up and down that I enjoyed attending church in Portland when I was young, but I don’t remember it. When I was a teen, attending church wasn’t enforced (and yes we are supposed to make that decision at 12 to continue), but I didn’t.   When I was in college, I didn’t go to church. I didn’t feel it was necessary. I knew God was out there and he was watching over me. He knew my heart.

Memorial Tabernacle Church, Oakland. See that little cross sticking out from the roof. It glows red at night. It used to scare me.

However, I was encouraged by an ex to start attending Memorial Tabernacle, and slowly but surely it became my church home. It was a long process. I used to sit in the back. I would arrive late and leave early. And apparently I wrote on a comment card that I could teach Pastor King a few things about The Bible. (I refuse to remember this.)

Anyway, the small family atmosphere of the church and the leadership of Pastor Stephen King has kept me a member for over 8 years.

Why do I like my Pastor so much? I have a list! Peep this..

1.  He’s just a man who loves to serve God.

If you check out our church website. you might search for a bio for Pastor King. You won’t find one. On the postcards we pass out, there isn’t a picture of Pastor King. He doesn’t have entourage. He doesn’t have a huge house, or expensive car.  He doesn’t boast about himself, attend events promoting himself, or make anything involving the church or representing the church, about him.  He is our shepherd and makes it his business to teach and preach the word of God. That’s it.  The only thing he asks of us members is to bring more members, so that he can bring more people to Christ.

2. He is spiritually led.

He is a Bible scholar. Every sermon, Bible study, church meeting, choir practice, prayer is led by the Holy Spirit. If I ask him a question involving Christianity, he’s probably prayed over it and studied the Word, before giving me an answer.  Ask him for advice, it will probably be from God. Sometimes you will hear something you don’t want to hear..but sometimes, God will tell you something you don’t want to hear. Pastor King is His messenger. Don’t be confused, now!

3. He’s approachable.

Are you your Pastor’s Facebook friend (1 of 80, not 8,000)? Can you send him a text message and he will answer you back? (Do you even know your Pastor’s cell phone number?).  Can you go to the movies with your Pastor? Do you share books from his library? (I still have one of your books, Pastor..I think..) Do you feel comfortable sharing whatever is on your heart with your Pastor?  I DO!!

4. He supports my efforts.

I coordinate the Health Ministry Program at Memorial Tabernacle. When I heard of an opportunity to get grant funding for a program to encourage healthy eating and physical activity within the church and asked my Pastor if I could apply for it, he didn’t blink an eye. When the program asks that he preach about health topics on the pulpit and participate in Health events, he happily cooperated.

I am in no way shape or form a model Christian, however I am a visible member of the church because he lets me serve in a way that fits my own personal gifts and the needs of the church. He supports my efforts to grow in Christ, along with everyone else who is a member.

Another Facebook Photo. I'm thinking Pastor was a little like Huey when he was younger.

5. He’s funny ..and has a sense of Humor.

The man is hilarious and appreciates good humor.

How can you not like a man who enjoys The Boondocks?

I’d continue..but I gotta get ready for church!!  Memorial Tabernacle Church : Morning Worship Services, every Sunday 10:30 am. You should come by and check this awesome man of God out!

I should probably include a bible passage in here (Yes, I am a work in progress). Below is an excerpt from a letter from Paul to a church in Colossae.   I am sure Pastor King feels this in his heart for members at Memorial Tabernacle. Well here is my prayer for you Pastor King. Especially in bold. 🙂  Happy Birthday!!

Colossians: 9-12
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Share with me friends! What do you appreciate about your Pastor and/or church? Even if you don’t go to church, what helps you to feel spiritual?

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Filed under Hallelujah, Love