by Reverend Dr. Willie Keaton
“I can’t breathe.” It is time for Charlotte and the rest of America to listen to the dying words of George Floyd and Eric Garner. Let us be clear about George Floyd’s death: this was a public, blatant lynching for all the world to see. The lynching of George Floyd is another reminder in a long list of reminders that African Americans are under attack and being murdered every single day in America. Just four years after the murder of Keith Lamont Scott and our own uprising in Charlotte, the upward mobility crisis continues to impact Black communities.
Wealth must be decolonized and racism must be dismantled in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. We ask for support and share the following actionable items:
1. We call on the Mayor, City Council, County Commissioners of Mecklenburg County, to present a plan to examine and address the decolonizing of wealth and the dismantling of racism in Charlotte. We seek action specifically in the sectors of land, business, and criminal justice. This includes immediate action regarding ongoing gentrification and displacement, an evaluation of policing in the time since the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, and a commitment to engage with the transformative practice of restorative justice.
2. According to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., rioting is the voice of the unheard. There are uprisings in 30 or more cities with the National Guard deployed in 13 states. We call upon the Mayor and County Commissioners to declare racism towards the African American community a State of Emergency.
3. George Floyd died in Minneapolis, a city perceived as progressive while having entrenched systemic racism – Charlotte could be similarly described. Four years ago we learned that the “well of opportunity” in Charlotte runs dry when we ranked 50th out of 50th in upward mobility. We call upon the architects of the Leading on Opportunities initiative to provide an accounting of monies raised and spent on this initiative. Where are we now after four years and millions raised?
4. Charlotte is the second largest banking center in the US, ranked only after New York City. Money flows here, and yet progress for longtime-residents displaced from Brooklyn and other parts of Uptown remains stagnant. We call on the Charlotte banking and corporate business industries to fund in tangible and new ways the decolonizing of wealth and the dismantling of racism in Charlotte. This includes funding and doing the capacity building necessary for African American run non-profit organizations and Black-owned small businesses. We ask that the banking industry in Charlotte provide a public report outlining its plan and success or lack thereof in one year.
5. We recognize the need for marginalized people to have increased access to public officials to shift the focus and pathways of institutionalized power. We call on the ten largest local nonprofits to utilize 20% of their advocacy budgets to lobby specifically on the issues of decolonizing wealth and dismantling racism in Charlotte, and in one year release public reports outlining outcomes and impact on directly affected groups.
6. Financially support Restorative Justice CLT. Restorative Justice CLT is a vital part of the solution for these problems. For the past fourteen months we have been holding listening sessions and building a broad-based coalition of countywide organizations. The Restorative Justice Fund is based on the six priorities established by the Black community during town hall meetings over the past year. The Fund will be used for restorative measures to accelerate upward mobility and healing for disadvantaged African Americans in Charlotte. Designations will include support of restorative measures in the areas of education, faith communities, business, housing (anti-displacement, land values and ownership), criminal justice, and mental health.
Why is this important?
In Charlotte and Mecklenburg County there has been a historical pattern of institutionalized racism, a system enabled by both neglect and ignorance. In just the past three months, these disparities have been unveiled again by COVID-19. Our history, which is often hidden in favor of presenting a Charlotte of the “New South,” shows that the powers who contributed to the neglect continue to control the funding to correct issues they themselves fomented. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., described the white moderate as someone who “paternalistically believes [they] can set the timetable for another man’s freedom,” and who says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.” White and non-Black moderates with the power to make a difference indirectly participate in the physical, spiritual, psychological, and economic death of Black communities by refusing to engage with this history. Furthermore, we believe the institutional power in Charlotte has had its knee on the neck of African Americans tracing from slavery, to the destruction of Brooklyn, to the gentrification of Black and brown communities today. We can no longer stand a system designed to appease, pacify, and bend to white supremacy.
Myers Park Baptist Church has supported this initiative with a $20,000 founding gift. Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Boswell, remarked: “I am so proud that Myers Park Baptist Church is not content to proclaim ‘Black Lives Matter’ or speak for racial justice, but has decided to actively participate in the decolonizing of wealth and the dismantling of racism by redistributing our resources through Restorative Justice CLT. We invite other people of faith and good conscience, churches, denominations, and foundations to join us in making a financial commitment to eliminate white supremacy and restore justice in the city of Charlotte.”
We reaffirm that Black lives matter everywhere and call for accountability and action in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
To get engaged with this work contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please sign our petition, we are aiming for 1000 signatures.
Image by Julian Wan
This Call to Action was inititially signed by:
Restorative Justice CLT & the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice
Rev. Dr. Willie J. Keaton – Co-Chair, Restorative Justice CLT; Justice Organizer, Stan Greenspon
Center; Engagement Chair, Charlotte NAACP
Rabbi Judith Schindler – Co-Chair, Restorative Justice CLT; Director, The Stan Greenspon Center
Dr. Robert Anderson – Restorative Justice CLT; Pastor, St. Paul Community Missionary Baptist Church;
Executive Director, JT Williams Community Development
Reverend Ben Boswell, Senior Minister, Myers Park Baptist Church
Reverend John Cleghorn, Restorative Justice CLT; Pastor, Caldwell Presbyterian Church
Lindsey “Trey” Crumlin, Restorative Justice CLT, Youth Coordinator
Apryl Lewis – Restorative Justice CLT; Co-Founder, Tenant- Organizing Resource Center (TORC)
Minister Corine Mack – Restorative Justice CLT; President, NAACP Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch
Jennifer Moxley, Restorative Justice CLT: Sunshine Media Group, Owner
Deborah Rabinovich – Restorative Justice Project Manager, Stan Greenspon Center
Calvin Simmons –Restorative Justice CLT; Black Men With A Purpose; Advocate, Stan Greenspon Center;
Pastor Reginald Tuggle – Restorative Justice CLT; Pastor, Grier Heights Presbyterian Church
Jason Wolf, Restorative Justice CLT; Founder and Director, The Brooklyn Collective
Reverend Val Rosenquist – Restorative Justice CLT; Pastor, Charlotte First United Methodist Church
About Restorative Justice CLT
Restorative Justice CLT is an emerging organization that seeks to firmly set Charlotte on a path to addressing the persistent opportunity and wealth gaps that stem from a long history of discrimination and injustice in the city. It is housed in Brooklyn in the building which was the heart of Black Wall Street in Charlotte. Restorative Justice CLT is a culmination of a year of grassroots organizing and listening sessions related to the systematic racism and upward mobility related to the dismantling of Brooklyn. Restorative Justice CLT works to enact transparent, accountable, and sustainable projects and processes to reduce the growth and harm of a history of discriminatory practices and policies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The catalyst for this effort, and the benchmark for measuring its success, is the tragic history of displacement in Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood in Second Ward. Restorative Justice CLT strongly believes in the healing and restoration that must occur (in specific communities with cultural competency in mind) to redress the legacy of the tragic and grave injustices done to Black Charlotteans.
Myers Park Baptist Church
Black Men With A Purpose
The Brooklyn Collective
Carolina Jews for Justice
Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice
Charlotte First United Methodist Church
NAACP – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch
Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice
Gracious Hands Transitional Housing for Homeless Women and Children
QC Family Tree
Apryl Lewis, Co-Founder, Tenant- Organizing Resource Center (TORC)
Bishop Tonyia Rawls, Founder/Director, The Freedom Center for Social Justice and Pastor, Sacred Souls UCC
Blair Kitrick, Founder, JayTalking
Brent Scott – Stan Greenspon Center Affordable Housing Advocate
Brittenay Causieestko-Lee, Community Engagement Manager
Calvin Simmons, Black Men With A Purpose
Cantor Shira Lissek
Carrie Nelson – Member St. Peter Catholic Church Social Justice Ministry
Cindy J. Kistenberg, Ph.D., Johnson C. Smith University
Coach Cayme, CEO, Catalyst Global
Deanna Williams, Pathways Center
Deborah Rabinovich, Stan Greenspon Center
Donte Washington, Call to Action, Queens University
Dr. Robert Anderson, Pastor, St. Paul Community Missionary Baptist Church
Dr. Sarah Griffith, Queens University of Charlotte
Dr. Susan McCarter, UNC Charlotte
Dr. Tehia Starker Glass, Anti-Racism in Urban Education Graduate Certificate Program Director, UNC Charlotte
Gia N. Paige, Scholar-Practitioner GAPS Consulting NC
Jameka Whitten, JSW Media Group
Janet Ganoung, Founding Member, Carolina Jews for Justice Greater Charlotte
Jason Wolf, Founder and Director, The Brooklyn Collective
JD Mazuera Arias, former Senior Class President 20’, Alumnus of Queens University of Charlotte
Jeff Ganoung, Founding Member, CJJ Greater Charlotte
Jen Johnson, Vice President, Vice President, Enrollment Management and Marketing, Queens University of Charlotte
Jenn Marts, Ed. D. Director, Wells Fargo Center for Community Engagement Queens University of Charlotte
Jennifer Moxley, Sunshine Media Group, Owner
John Cunningham, President, Black Men With A Purpose
Josiah Daniels, Community Engagement Manager, Charlotte Family Housing
Kirsten Sikkelee, CEO, YWCA Central Carolinas
Lindsey “Trey” Crumlin, Restorative Justice CLT, Youth Coordinator
Minister Corine Mack, President, NAACP Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch
Nadine Ford, Food Advocate, Little Sugar Creek and Druid Hills Community Gardens
Pastor Reginald Tuggle, Pastor, Grier Heights Presbyterian Church
Preston Gibson, NAACP
Rabbi Helene Kornsgold
Rabbi Howard Siegel
Rabbi Judy Schindler, Director, Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice
Ray McKinnon, South Tryon Community UMC
Rev. Amelia Stinson-Wesley, Pastor of Community Engagement, First United Methodist Church Charlotte
Rev. Amy Jacks Dean, Co-Pastor, Park Road Baptist Church
Rev. Ben Boswell, Senior Minister, Myers Park Baptist Church
Rev. Donnie Garris, Antioch Baptist Church, United Missionary Baptist Association
Rev. Dr. Willie Keaton, Pastor, Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church
Rev. Glencie Rhedrick, Co-Chair, Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice
Rev. Greg Jarrell
Rev. Helms Jarrell
Rev. Jan Edmiston
Rev. Joe Clifford
Rev. John Cleghorn, Pastor, Caldwell Presbyterian Church
Rev. Kendal P. Mobley, Th.D., Associate Professor of Religion, Johnson C. Smith University
Rev. Larry Connor, St. Paul Community Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Nina Wynn
Rev. Russ Dean, Co-Pastor, Park Road Baptist Church
Rev. Steve Shoemaker, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Statesville
Rev. Valerie Rosenquist, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Charlotte
Rev. Veronica Cannon; Pastor First Presbyterian Church Waxhaw
Sam Todd, Steering Committee, Carolina Jews for Justice, Greater Charlotte
Sophia Ono-Korkowski, Class of 2020, Queens University of Charlotte
Tara Agnew Harris, member, Myers Park Baptist Church
Tim Nicodemus, The Charlotte Justice Conference
Victoria Ardines, Class of 2021, Queens University of Charlotte
I support this initiative completely!
I am anxious to be involved in creating change in the system white privilege created and now white privilege must correct.
Glad to have you on board. We will be in touch. In the meantime, please sign onto our petition at https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/restorative-justice-clt-call-to-action?share=ee0114a9-a85f-4a77-8900-995662ded7f6&source=rawlink&utm_source=rawlink&fbclid=IwAR0GHjmZoLhehutI0VmfqVjLOKYRLvcYbJHImn_om0LchyXYTbBO8zdf9B4.
Looking for volunteer opportunities. Would like to receive more information.
Licensed to practice law in Virginia. Retired and moved to NC a year ago..
Well said enough is enough.
Great job with your Call to Action. Hopefully, now will be the time to see the Charlotte business leaders and community get behind the call and make the changes to make Charlotte a city we can all be proud to live in.
We need to focus on Black Owned business. Stop letting the Whites, Chinese, Koreans, Arabs and Indians come to our communities and sell us grocery , food ,gas, liquor, cigarettes, and hair products. Start buying from Black Owned business. They come take our money don’t hire us and go back to their own community Rich. They laugh and call it taking candy from a baby!!
Cliff, would you like to join our work towards restorative justice?