Community initiative recommendation from ‘War on Willie Lynch Community Forum’

| July 11, 2014

Bike trails a key issue for community health, well being

By Eric D. Hackley

Eric Hackley

Eric Hackley

Starting out today’s forum is a response from Edward Young. Pay close attention how the broader idea of “Black Unity” evolves and makes sense to be the centerpiece of a movement liberate ourselves from Willie Lynch Slave Mentality, being fat and the notion that no one listens to or cares about your issues.

Edward Young: As far as the community is concerned here in this time frame, what we’re doing now is good. But’ we have to go beyond this.  We’ve got to do some action!  Ms. Brooks, I know you took action when you went down before those folks at city council about the bike trail.  When will you be doing that again because I need to be involved in that.  Because I didn’t know about it.

I knew that Jim Redmond had been going down there to the City Council meetings and talking about the bike trail issue. I also know that sister Diane Rogers actually put together a program about the bike trail.  Now when are we going to do something like this again?  But this time, instead of having about 40 or 50 people, (Linda Brooks interrupts by saying “no, we had about 23”), now we need to get about 400 or 500 people out there, block the streets and ride our bikes in mass and then city officials will get our message. You see, this is an action.  Something that can be put into place.

Community activists James Redmond, Linda Brooks and Ed Young.

Community activists James Redmond, Linda Brooks and Ed Young.

Linda Brooks: I’ve been a runner and race director in this community for over 30 years. Concerning your question of when we are going to do this again, this is something Diane Rogers has been working on for three years concerning “Father’s Fitness.”  The Urban Trails came in to sponsor the “Bike Ride” part.  Also, every year for the past 10 years, under Jonathan Ray’s leadership, the Fort Wayne Urban League has sponsored an “Urban Run – Walk.”  So we plan to implement the “Bike Ride” with the “Urban Run-Walk” because we want to get something put on Hanna Street that is functional, beautiful and will increase property values.

There are a lot of historic homes on Hanna Street where people have taken very good care of their properties and they’re excited about it.

By making Hanna Street an Urban Trail, you will be able to travel to Tillman Park on Tillman road and to Walmart and Menards.  So in actuality, the trail route that we propose would give you a safer, more scenic route from Tillman Park on the South Side to downtown Headwaters Park.

This movement is not just about exercise, it’s about the community as a whole.  It’s about beautifying the community.  Hanna Street needs to be beautiful just like the River Greenway and like the River Front where they’re spending money. But others are deciding this issue for us.  And that’s why we have formed a separate committee.

At the last Fort Wayne City Council meeting, someone came to the City Council table to announce a proposal to spay and neuter cats in the neighborhood and then release them back into the community at a cost to City Council in excess of six-figures.  What does that say concerning how they think about the allocation of funds specific to Black Community enhancement projects?

In addition, we want everyone to come out and support the Urban League on September 13, 2014.  We get support, but we don’t get enough support. This year you can walk or ride your bike. The more people we get to participate, the greater the likelihood that city officials will take notice.

Edward Young:  I’m just recovering from cancer, so I won’t be out there too soon.  I’ve been riding the trails for five years now. This is about health, well being and it shows community connectivity.  It will show that we can pull together to get things accomplished through a concerted effort of the whole community, and not just two or three people.

When it comes to the inner city of Fort Wayne, let’s be realistic about it.  There is no concerted effort by the powers of this city to bring anything to the South Side of Fort Wayne.  Their basic concern is downtown, southwest and north.

Eric Hackley: Whatever the issue, black folks have got to start standing up and being responsive and supportive of black people who address issues that the larger society refuses to address.  Blacks are not currently doing that, according to my evidence.

Jim Redmond:  Concerning the issue of Urban Trails, those of us concerned with the issue meet behind the scene.  We also meet with all the officials in charge of the Urban Trail Project.  They wanted our support to make Anthony into a Trail.  We fought tooth and nail against it. We don’t want Anthony. It’s too busy, plus the railroad tracks.  We are persistent in wanting Hanna Street as a Trail. But the point is, we are working behind the scenes, you just don’t see it. In our meetings, we hash out our differences.

Linda Brooks: The important thing is the politics behind what’s going on. The stimulus that was spent in 2008 or 2009 should have been used for inner city rails. To make a long story short, it comes back to this.  We have to fight for what we want in our community because those in other parts of Fort Wayne had to fight to get their trails. The trails that currently exist on the South Side aren’t functional, they don’t take you anywhere you need to go.

When you look at our Hanna Street proposal, you’ll visually see  that you’re at one point about two blocks from downtown, 2 blocks from Southgate and 2 blocks from Walmart and Menards.

Hackley:  But you still need community support and you need this community support to activate political leadership to grasp and promote your idea.

Redmond:  You won’t get any political support.

Hackley: But what have you done to not only contact your City Councilman, but your County Councilman and other 5th and 6th District businesses, pastors, citizens and other community leaders?

Terry Lymon: Isn’t most of what you’re talking about concerning the 6th District?

Brooks: It covers the 5th and 6th districts and our committee has never been allotted the time to sit at the Fort Wayne City Council table to present our thoughts on this issue. Furthermore, Dawn Richie said the mayor said he was not giving out any legacy money unless he can get four times the investment in return.  Isn’t that right Mr. Redmond?

Redmond:  That’s right.

Brooks: How are cats going to give you four times return on your investment?  I’m going to show you something on this paper. It says right here—G140607.  It talks about cats.  The lady sat down at the City Council table with a representative from Animal Control, and she said it would cost six figures. It was voted on, approved and they hugged and kissed.  But we can only go to the mic every second and fourth Tuesday of the month to ask what’s going on?

Hackley: Perhaps “Money for Cats and not for Blacks” should be your slogan.

Lymon: This trail involves the 5th and 6th District. Why can’t you go to the 5th and 6th District councilmen and ask them to take it to the Council?

Brooks: Well we have. They have been saying they’re going to do something, but that’s lip service.

Hackley:  I think there’s an election coming up in 2015

Young:  But anyway, let’s get back to Willie Lynch.

Hackley: I think there’s no better issue to unite around than wanting to lose weight.

Young: Well the pastors should all want to shed their 501c3 because that’s a lot of weight on their shoulders.  But the thing about it is, in order to get black pastors involved, you have to build a fire under them.  Or take a baseball bat to their heads.  Because that’s the only way they’re going to be involved.  The “Bike Trail” issue has no political motivations behind it.  It has nothing to do with Pastor’s 501c3 and their association with FEMA.  It’s about the community at large.

Hackley: It’s about physical fitness too.

Young:  It’s about fitness and it absorbs emotional stress. I know a lot of us don’t like each other, but we can get involved with this issue as a group.  This is about us as a community. About our children, our mothers and fathers.  It’s about us as a people, doing something together as a people.  It has nothing to do with the religions of man.  It has to do with us taking care of each other and ourselves.

Hackley:  Are we in agreement that we should approach black pastors of Fort Wayne and ask them to physically and verbally support this Black Community galvanizing initiative?

Young:  Sure.

Redmond: That’s wishful thinking, but concerning the Urban Trails issue, we need all the support we can get.  I recently walked in on a secret meeting where I wasn’t supposed to be. On the screen they had 15 projects to enhance existing trails. Later on in the meeting, they had the audacity to ask Linda and I to help police the trail, in other words to clean up the existent trail and I told them no, I won’t do that.  That’s a slap in my face.

Hackley: Let me go on record here and officially say that, I believe that in working with the black clergy.  This Urban Trails issue I feel can be used to create a bridge between people who have become disgruntled with black pastor’s community leadership and the pastors who want to be active in community leadership and direction.  I think this issue can be a unifying nucleus.

Jim, I don’t want to ask you how old you are but, how old are you?

Redmond: I don’t tell my age but, I’m 20 from 100.

Hackley: You’re still riding your bike and in good shape.

Redmond: Right.

Hackley: This bicycle trail will do a lot healthwise for a lot of people.  The longer you live, the longer you can tithe.  So it makes good economic sense for Pastors to be involved in this movement.  I think we can build a campaign around this Urban Trails issue because in trying to galvanize black people brings us full circle with our original intention.  Our original intention was to do what had not been done, for the betterment of the Black Community.  I think Willie Lynch has something to do with or is some way tied to black clergy and we community elders want to exorcise him both out of our mindset and community.

Redmond: Exactly.  I believe the same thing.

Lymon: I think we have to be careful about giving a blanket condemnation of all pastors.  There may be one or two out there who mean well.  Now this is how I feel personally about the problem.  We’ve got a lot of churches out there and a whole bunch of ministers and prayer.  But when you get done praying, where’s the action?  And if there’s no action, I can’t see anything being done.

The God I represent says this. “You have to put yourself in position to be worthy of divine intervention. And the only way you can put yourself in position to be worthy of divine intervention is you have to use what I’ve already given you.” He’s given me X amount of intellectual ability, X amount of physical ability. I have to exhaust those which He has given me intellectually and physically before I can ask him to intercede on my behalf.

So if we’re asking for change, let’s hypothetically take the bike trail for example.  If we’re asking for a bike trail and our action is sit down action, how can you pray and ask God to intercede and help you bring this into existence?  How can you ask God to bring anything into existence for you when he’s already ordained you to bring it into existence yourself.

When you study the Civil Rights Movement, those pastors and their were congregations were active.  When they got done praying, they were involved in some sort to action whether it was imposing something of tying up the government or whatever it was, it was some sort of action and their pastor was involved in it.  Today’s Pastors give a lot of lip service in church.  But I don’t hear any of them saying “lets go downtown”  to talk to the mayor or city councilman.  I see nothing happening but people going to church and praying.  And we know, faith without action is dead, it’s useless.

Hackley: We’ve got a lot of fat people in Fort Wayne who need to lose weight making this is the most perfect issue to galvanize around. Not only does this issue confront obesity, but political apathy and black disunity all encompassed within the original Willie Lynch concept.

The Willie Lynch Slave Mentality ideology is still prevalent today and continues to condition our mindset going back over 440 years. This Urban Trails issue can be used to begin the self-correction of our brainwashed mentality and mindset.

Brooks: If you don’t fight for something, you can’t complain.

Hackley:  In conclusion, we request that all of you reading this article share it with friends and allies of other races within or outside of the 5th and 6th districts.  We also specifically want Blacks to  ask all Black Pastors for their physical and verbal support.

Please send all letters of support to, to Eric Hackley on Facebook or call Linda Brooks at (313) 434-6549.  We will then gather your letters of support and give them to 5th District City Councilman Geoff Paddock and 6th District City Councilman Glynn Hines for them to present on our behalf to City Council.

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Category: Local, Opinion

About the Author ()

Eric Hackley is a veteran independent journalist, television show host and producer focusing largely on history, particularly family history in the black community. His award-winning public access television shows have featured a host of local and national icons. Hackley can be contacted at

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