Interview with Ms. Skye Grigsby, lady activist, leader

| November 3, 2015
Skye Grigsby

Skye Grigsby

What the “Justice or Else” Million Man March means to Fort Wayne black men and women

Part one of a three-part series

By Eric D. Hackley

A few weeks ago, as I was leaving Aldi’s on the south side of Fort Wayne, a young lady stopped me and made a kind remark about liking to read my Frost Illustrated column.  Her name is Nicole King.  Nicole then told me that she would be in attendance at the upcoming “Justice of Else” Million Man March.

I said great! Let’s talk and do an interview when you get back. And, you know what? Nicole actually followed through by leaving her number and message at the Frost Illustrated office for me to contact her upon her return.

After a long talk on the phone, she indicated that she may have a time conflict for her to speak in a Fort Wayne history forum that I had previously scheduled. Nicole asked me if she could not attend the forum, could she have another young lady stand in and speak. I said absolutely.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like for you to meet Ms. Skye Grigsby, Fort Wayne lady activist and leader:

ERIC HACKLEY:  Ms. Grigsby, why was it necessary for you to be in attendance at the historic “Justice or Else” Million Man March?

SKYE GRIGSBY: It was necessary for me to be in attendance because I have a daughter at home and a son at home. I felt if I went, I would be able to get knowledge on how to come back to my community and better my community for my kids’ sake.

HACKLEY:  Did you ride on the Fort Wayne bus going to Washington, D.C.?

GRIGSBY: No. I went with a fellow lady whose name is Nicole. Me, her and her kids drove down there, in eight-and-a-half hours.

HACKLEY: When you arrived on the National Mall, have you ever been in an environment like that before?

GRIGSBY: Never! It was liberating! It was just fantastic!  There was so much love in the air. It was…, I don’t know how to describe it in words.  We spent two days in Washington. We went down Friday morning and left on Sunday.

HACKLEY: In addition to the the “Justice of Else” rally, what else did you do or observe in Washington, D.C.?

GRIGSBY: They didn’t really want us going out.  They made sure we knew what our purpose was and that was to go to the March on Capitol Hill that Saturday.  It wasn’t to go down there to party and explore everything. But, we did go out and explore on Sunday.  We wanted to see the Martin Luther King Monument, Capitol Hill and the Lincoln Memorial.

HACKLEY: Could you see and hear everything clearly that was happening on stage?

GRIGSBY: They had big screens set up on the National Mall. The speakers were loud and were actually on Capitol Hill.  So, wherever you walked, you could hear and see a screen.

HACKLEY: What actually did people from Fort Wayne miss by not attending?

GRIGSBY: The understanding that we can do it!  If we all were to come together, we can.  We need to stop letting people tell us that we can’t, that it’s impossible for us.  We have to learn that we are powerful if we come together. We have to stop letting people tell us that we can’t do anything, because we can do anything that we can put our minds to.

HACKLEY:  For decades we have been saying that, but we never get any traction.

GRIGSBY: I think that it’s because we as blacks have lost our knowledge of self. When black people come to tell you something, we say no.  But when a white man comes and says “let’s do this,” were all down for it.  I think we’re so conditioned to be more receptive to white people than we are of our own kind.

HACKLEY: Conditioned how?

GRIGSBY: We go against each other way too much. We fight against each other too much. We don’t support each other. We would rather go and support another’s company. For example, we have nail stylists and artists.  But we’d rather go to an Asian stylist to get our nails done than go to our African American women. I think it’s because we are not used to blacks having their own.  We’re use to other people having theirs and we go support them and not our own.

HACKLEY: For a long time blacks have said this type of slave mentality does not exist. But it sounds like that’s what you’re describing.GRIGSBY:  That’s exactly what I’m describing.  Many feel that black stores charge too much.  But what they fail to understand is the economics of ordering products wholesale that are then sold retail.

HACKLEY:  What is the origin of your mindset?

GRIGSBY:  Reading, I guess. Observing the people around me.

HACKLEY: Did you inherit your fire and spirit from your mom or dad?

GRIGSBY:  No, Sir.  I think I’m the only one in my family actually has this.  They call me the radical in the family. I speak a lot around my family. I feel like, as a black woman, I need to empower the people around me. I have kids. I want my kids to grow up and know self-worth. And, know that it’s okay to go buy from your brother. It’s okay to support your brother. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying don’t support others, but support your own first.

I also think with generations of parents are getting younger and younger, they’re not adequately being taught life skills by their parents. So, they learn from what they see in mass media and social media on how we are divided as women. There are TV shows that show black women in a negative light and don’t show the black woman as being strong at all.

There are musicians calling us “Bs”, THOTS (those hoes out there) and everything else. So, with our generations getting younger and younger and parents not teaching them at home anymore, they’re going to learn from that because that’s what they see and that’s what they’re going to do.  And, our women aren’t teaching our young girls how to respect themselves. So if they don’t know how to respect themselves from home, then when they go out there, they won’t know how a man should respect them.

HACKLEY: Traditionally, some of that responsibility of teaching self-worth would fall upon the pastors.

GRIGSBY: Like I said, a lot of our generations are younger and they’re not going to church anymore. So, I don’t put it on the pastors. We don’t have leaders.  I feel that we don’t have strong fearless leaders like we need.  That’s why I went to the Million Man March to become that fearless, strong leader that my community needs.

HACKLEY: How were you impressed by the Honorable Minister Farrakhan?

GRIGSBY: The words he was speaking were so true.  A lot of people felt that I should not have gone because Farrakhan would be speaking. He did not impose the Nation Of Islam upon us. He just spoke about how he felt about the Black Community.  He felt like, how could we keep asking our oppressors to help us as they want to oppress us?  They’re not going to help us. We have to help ourselves.  We have to get ourselves out of this state that we’re in. So we in the Black Community must come together and lead our generations to greatness.

HACKLEY: Many feel the concept you just expressed is reverse discrimination and ask why don’t you like white people?

GRIGSBY: It is not that we don’t like white people.  Why is that blacks can’t stand together and not be anti-white? That’s just like, we have Chinatown and we don’t say the Chinese are against white people because they stick together. But, we’re the only race that can’t stick together? Why is that?

 

HACKLEY: How would you describe the spirit of young black women?

GRIGSBY: I wouldn’t say that we’re not self-empowered. I do think a lot of us don’t know where to go. We’re just taken back by society sometimes. We don’t know how to move forward with our lives because we’re so negatively viewed.

HACKLEY: It sounds like you’re saying that the adults in your parents and grandparents age group have failed you.

GRIGSBY: I would say so.  I just told my mom that yesterday. I told my mom that her generation didn’t teach us anything. And it’s not just her generation, It’s my generation as well.  We are letting our kids go just like we were let go. We’re not teaching them and that’s why I want to become that fearless leader. I want to become that person in my community that teaches our kids about self-worth, to re-educate as Louis Farrakhan would say. Kids and even adults need to be re-educated.

HACKLEY: History seems to bore a lot of people. Why don’t today’s young people like the subject of history?

GRIGSBY:  We want to forget about it because of the way it’s being taught to our kids.  It’s not fun to them in school.  We’re tired of hearing about the same people.  We need to learn about the “Freedom Riders.”  We need to actually learn what we did and not what they tell us that we did or what we didn’t do.

HACKLEY: That’s awesome.

Any last words of wisdom or insights that you want to share with Fort Wayne blacks because it seems as though we are going to sleep?

GRIGSBY:  We are already asleep!

There are four things that we must start doing:

  1. Build on our homes.  We have to take care of our homes first before we take care of anybody else.  If our home is weak, believe it or not, we are going to be weak to our children and generation;
  2. We need to start getting on local committees.  If we don’t got on committees, how can we expect for them to know what we need and want in our community;
  3. We have to re-educate our children. Our system is not teaching our kids about Black History, and
  4. We have to start eating well. What we feed our stomachs, we feed our minds. If we feed ourselves garbage, then we’re not going to be able to think right. And we have to become conscious.

Visit the link to the video featuring Ms. Skye Grigsby at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWSMvWaDoXE.

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Category: Civil Rights, Community, History, Local, National, People

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 hackonomicstv@gmail.com.

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