5A OPINIONS/ The Charlotte Post Thursday, February 9, 2006 Remembering Domestic violence Visioning the Coretta King a growing trend future for New “Oh, that looks so good; where did you get it?” a question posed to me by Ms. Coretta Scott King, referring to a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich that I was eating as she This editorial, which appeared last week, is being re-published due to omissions created from the editing process. Brooklyn The Super Bowl is the ultimate rivalry. Team against team. Fan and her husband, Dr. Martin L. King Jr., entered a small room in the back of a black restaurant in Montgomery, versus fan. The majority of the time the competition is friendly. Revitalization of Ala., in late November, 1963. But hidden in many households across America, some argue that After directing her to the front of the restaurant where I there is an adverse phenomenon that coincides with the game. Some national reports suggest that incidents of domestic vio- Northwest Charlotte will had purchased it, she proceeded to order one for herself. Yes, this small point is very significant, as we remember the life of this great lady, a lence increase during major sporting events, espe- cially on Super Bowl Sunday. A Google search boost neighborhoods reveals articles that claim that calls to domestic Sir Isaac Newton once wrote, “If I have seen further very “gifted,” talented, intelligent, spiritu- violence shelters jump by 40 precent on Super than other men it is because I have stood on the ally committed and God-given “soul mate” Bowl Sunday. However, others suggest that link- shoulders of giants.” for the greatest black leader of the 20th ing the Super Bowl to domestic violence is a des- Everyone associated with the New Brooklyn century. perate publicity ploy to gain attention for the prob- Initiative Visioning plan process for the Upper West And the bottom line, in this context, is lem. End (those neighborhoods bordering that Coretta King was no ordinary house- In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, the statis- Beatties Ford Road from Oaklawn GYASI wife or bystander in our old struggle for ERICA tics support the theory that there is an increase Avenue to Sunset Road), can relate to black liberation; for she was in the forefront FOLUKE BRYANT in domestic violence incidents over Super Bowl Newton’s sentiment. of this struggle, even before marrying Dr. weekend, according to Addie Rohrman with the The New Brooklyn ideal stems from King, often walking-marching-meeting along with her CMPD Family Services Division. Rohrman is a domestic violence a series of planning documents going husband in pursuit of our elusive goal of racial-social jus- counselor who scanned domestic violence reports for the weekends back nearly two decades that gave tice. before the Super Bowl, Super Bowl weekend, and the weekend some loose definition to what the As I distinctly recall that evening in late November, KELLY M. Beatties Ford Road corridor might 1963, a small group, between 12 and 18 par- after for 2004 (XXXVIII) and 2005 (XXXIX). She found a slight ALEXANDER look like in a hazy future. The best ticipants, were conducting a strategy session increase in conjunction with the Super Bowl. Rohrman adds that domestic violence calls typically increase over weekends and holi- and most recent of these documents, following a convention of the Montgomery days in general. the 2001 Historic West End Urban Vision Plan, Improvement Association-formerly the Whether the link between abuse and this athletic event is fact or focused primarily on the area from I-77 Montgomery NAACP that had been legally fiction, the undeniable truth is domestic violence is an increasing to a few blocks north of Johnson C. banished in that racist-terrorist state— and dangerous trend. The results are deadly, and therefore, it Smith University. During a 2003 where Dr. King and I had spoken to plenary must be addressed. Solutions will remain elusive until the “dirty meeting of neighborhood association sessions on successive days. And this strate- little secret” in many American homes gets a higher profile. leadership in City Council District 2, gy session was called to devise better ways C. King According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic convened under the auspices of City to eradicate segregation, including obtaining Violence, 65 people in the state were killed as a result of domestic Councilman James Mitchell, those employment for blacks in city government, violence in 2005. plans served as background for infor- where no blacks were employed, except at the janitorial A 3 year old girl was drowned by her stepfather. A man took his Mitchell mation being presented by various city level. last breath after being shot by his wife. A woman was stabbed to government departments. Clearly Moreover, as I recall, there was no black policemen or death by her boyfriend on an Indian reservation. The cases reveal Charlotte was progressing into the future with firemen employed, either in Montgomery or throughout no one is immune, regardless of age, race, ethnic group, or income mixed-use developments, cutting edge transportation most of the old South during those bygone days; for blatant level. projects and rising property values; everywhere or undisguised racism was the “order of the day” down Domestic disturbance calls to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police except along the Beatties Ford Road corridor. South and, in more “sophisticated” (disguised) manner, in have increased 26 percent since 2001. Sadly, victims in our area Councilman Mitchell and I talked during the the North or “up South.” struggle to find help. Last year, 258 women and children were breaks about this problem, which seemed particular- To reiterate, Coretta King was a full participant in this turned away from the Shelter for Battered Women because there ly acute along the Upper West End. Other conversa- strategy session, offering ideas or suggestions like the rest were too few beds. Officials at the Mecklenburg County Jail call tions followed. In 2004 the conversations crystallized of us. Moreover, I distinctly recall that during this meeting, domestic abuse an epidemic. into the New Brooklyn Initiative, a collaboration of I became somewhat impatient, after perceiving that the Melissa Mummert counsels inmates at the facility. She says at neighborhood groups/activists, community develop- group had reached a consensus from these discussions, yet least 80 percent of the people incarcerated have either witnessed ment corporations active in the Upper West End, reli- the conversations continued. Therefore, I began writing, violence in the home, been a victim of it, or the perpetrator. Over gious institutions and business. The first project of on my lap under the table, a summary of this perceived a lifetime, the trauma is magnified. the Initiative is the development of a vision plan for consensus, later obtaining the attention of the group to “Sometimes it starts in childhood, add in incest, and rape… and the Upper West End. The effort is being funded read it. And Dr. King, among others present, nodded his they have never had help. Why does it take someone coming to jail through a city matching grant and contributions from head in strong approval of this summary, that was used as to get help?” Mummert asks. Jail officials developed an innovative stakeholders. The first community meeting of this our press release the following day. program requiring inmates to attend courses that raise awareness process was held at Reeder Memorial Baptist Church Indeed, while Dr. King was mostly reticent during this about domestic violence. It includes attending group counseling in late 2005. meeting, he finally “opened up,” telling us of ongoing ter- sessions. In a recent session, female inmates shared experiences Zoning petitions already before the Planning rorist threats on his life, including one telephone caller that brought them to tears. I have changed their names in this Commission are harbingers of change. Three hun- who said, “Boy, we got the big one now (referring to article to protect their privacy. Angela cried and her hands trem- dred ten acres located along Beatties Ford Road are President Kennedy’s death about a week earlier) and nig- bled as she remembered thinking she was going to die during a being considered for a Pedestrian Overlay District. ger you know that you will be next.” And then-the most beating from her teenage son. Paula sobbed while describing how CATS projects a street car running up Beatties Ford memorable or spiritual of all lines - Dr. King said, “I have her young children repeatedly watched the abuse, and begged her Road right through the middle of this area by 2015 or a standard answer for all of them. It does not matter to me husband to stop hitting her. so. Another zoning petition calls for 83 acres South of how long I live, it is how well I live that matters.” Amen! An inmate who I’ll call Sheila had a different story. She’s a black St. Paul Street to be rezoned to accommodate neigh- Yes, these great, profoundly spiritual words, like the female who is 18 years old. She described lesbian relationships borhood business, single and multi family residential. Cosmic Christ, are very much alive within me today. where she manipulated, threatened and abused her girlfriends to A singly family (R8) petition is pending for acreage Additionally, Coretta King also has spoken and written gain control. She called it “training” them. Sheila says, “Until I south of Botany Street. many words that should help to sustain all of us who are took this class, I never looked at what I was doing as domestic vio- Change is coming. The New Brooklyn Vision Plan committed seriously to this very protracted, often exhaust- lence because they are female and I am female.” The course helps is a way for you to indicate how you see the future of ing, struggle for racial justice in America. participants realize that domestic abuse can be physical, mental, the Upper West End. For example, she has reminded us: “There is no problem emotional or even financial when the perpetrator controls a vic- KELLY M. ALEXANDER JR. is chair, New Brooklyn that we can’t solve if we can corral our resources behind it. tim’s job or money. It also teaches them how to find solutions and Initiative and president of University Park Neighborhood That means people, that means money, that means the healing. Association. good will and cooperation of a large segment of the people.” And clearly, these words and many others, still ring true Officials with the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission today, although it is very difficult, as usual, to find enough people, across ethnic lines, who are sufficiently committed believe the jail program is innovative and effective. A commission representative appointed by Governor Easley plans to lobby legis- Zoning petitions spiritually to give of themselves to “community,” beyond lators to expand the program statewide. So why should people narrow self-interest or personal greed. who aren’t involved in abusive relationships care? The issue heavily influences community economics and safety. already before the As another great lady from Alabama, Ms. Helen Keller— physically blind, very spiritual and white—once affirmed (paraphrasing”), “People who are willing to give of them- Mecklenburg County will spend approximately 2.4 million to help domestic violence victims in 2006. The CDC records more Planning Commission selves to others are not found in great numbers anywhere, than 2 million claims a year in health care costs helping those as they are preoccupied with their own self-serving inter- affected by partner violence. Also, children exposed to domestic violence have increased risk for emotional and behavioral prob- are harbingers of ests.” But Ms. Keller, like Coretta King, also understood that “many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification lems. These children attend schools and interact with and affect other children. Consultant Carol Morris offered numerous sug- change. …The New gestions to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners after but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Amen, and may the Great Spirit of our Creator continue to inspire us a review of the county’s domestic violence service system. One rec- Brooklyn Vision Plan through the lives of spiritually committed women and men ommendation is that the county should develop and promote a everywhere in our quest for liberation, as we build the Kingdom of God, “on earth, as in heaven.” “Zero Tolerance” campaign to get tough on this unacceptable social problem. is a way for you to You can view the full report and proposal on the county website GYASI A. FOLUKE, MA, DD, a non-traditional Minister, is an author-lecturer-consultant, part-time CEO of The Kushite Institute listed under the commission meeting notes dated January 18, indicate how you see for Wholistic Development and former adjunct university instructor, 2006. If local leaders and citizens rally around this idea the same nonprofit CEO and retired Air Force officer. way sports fans rally around their favorite teams, marked progress will be made before the next big game. And, we’ll all be the future of the better for it. ERICA BRYANT is a morning anchor at WSOC-TV (channel 9). Upper West End.
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