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REV. HUGH MORRIS: How long, Talladega?

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Rev. Hugh Morris (2019)

The Rev. Hugh Morris is president of the Talladega County Chapter of the NAACP. 

When I was a teenager in Talladega, there was rarely a fight. 

If there were a fistfight or knife fight, it hardly ever ended in death. When there was a brawl, it only took one adult to break it up. If an adult did that now, that would possibly be the last thing he/she would do. 

There was a time when, if a group of young African-Americans walked down the street, we laughed when white folk would cross the street. Today, most of us cross the street as well. 

95% of young Blacks are harmless, well-mannered, respectful and law-abiding., but it only takes a few bad apples. How long, Black Talladega, are we going to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to these atrocities? 

I say Black Talladega because many murders of our young African-American men and women are perpetrated by the hands of other young Blacks. I am speaking bluntly and boldly because it is time someone tells it like it is. 

When a white person kills a young Black person, there is an uproar of protests from the Black community voicing their anger and contempt that is heard all the way to Montgomery, as well it should be. I am not trying to downplay or overlook the senseless murders of Blacks at the hands of white policemen.

When Black on Black crime occurs, there is a deafening silence that comes over the Black community. Sometimes, we witness the crime and will not say a word. How long, Black Talladega, can we continue to be silent? How can I, as president of the Talladega County NAACP, speak out against white on Black crime and be hypocritically silent when Black on Black crime occurs? 

Our future policemen, doctors, nurses, lawyers, mayors, governors, skilled tradesmen, etc. are being killed on the streets. Why aren't we helping the police to bring these suspects to justice? How can you watch your neighbor’s, your friend's, your relative's child gets gunned down and then you fall into selective amnesia and absolute blindness? 

I am acutely aware that some people are going to perceive this article as a black eye on our community and say negative things about me, but that does not matter now. If this will help save a young Black life, it will be worth it.

Somebody ought to be standing with me on this. It is time we pulled the covers off this darkness that looms over the Black community. 

We need to give our children something to occupy their time -- yes, like swimming pools, parks, ball teams, gyms they can go to after school, etc. But, until we can do something about all these shootings and killings, I do not know of any parent who would feel comfortable sending their child there. 

Let us get together, have a conference call, Zoom meeting or something to come up with something, anything, besides sitting idly by and watching our future fall dead in the streets. 

We can do two things at one time: (1) come together as a community to solve our Black on Black crime, AND (2), continue to protest police brutality and racist police killings. 

When a Black man kills a Black man, it breaks my heart. When a white police officer needlessly kills a Black man and is not held accountable, it breaks my heart and my spirit. It seems we are helpless against that act. They are paid to protect and serve ALL.  So, we can and should pledge to do something about both. Black leaders and residents need to scream just as loudly when we kill our own as when "others" kill us. 

The Rev. Hugh Morris is the president of the Talladega County Chapter of the NAACP.