A Letter to City Officials, Council Members, and Concerned Citizens from Gemale A. Black, President Salisbury-Rowan NAACP

Posted on June 16, 2017

June 14, 2017

Dear City Officials, Council Members, and Concerned Citizens:

♦ In light of the recent disappointing and divisive developments in our City, I’m sending this message to highlight concerns and questions that have been raised over the past three weeks. These concerns were precipitated by the recent decision to not charge the officer in the murder of Ferguson Laurant, the lack of transparency from city officials and the police department, the blatant disrespectful and unsubstantiated narrative that City-wide violence would erupt out of the Black community upon the release of the SBI Report and the disparaging comments directed at the Black community by City officials after people complained.

I would first like to apologize to the family and loved ones of Ferguson Laurant and say that we are extremely displeased with how this sad and sensitive incident has been handled by the City and played out in the media. Little to no respect has been shown to the family or concerned citizens of Salisbury and Rowan County. In the seven months leading up to the decision being rendered, there has been a lack of transparency and a pattern of minimizing and silencing the voices of those seeking information and dialogue.

This community already has a history fueled by racial tension and division, so the actions of City Officials only added to the racial animus. There are communication obstacles and barriers that need to be removed, and City officials have to let go of the defensive mindset if productive conversations are to take place. Personally, I am fed up with the secret meetings, only meeting with select individuals, creating back door deals, circumventing and excluding other pertinent elected Black officials, making decisions that will impact a community without their involvement and the lack of and progressive solutions for our community. As so many others are, I am concerned with the number of unsolved murders including the murder of 7 year old A’yanna Allen whose voice still cries from the dust of the earth as her blood is still on our hands until we have justice for her.

I am not here to point fingers, but where our city officials have failed us we need leadership that is inclusive and reflective of everyone. Where law enforcement has let us down, we need real community policing that gives us a sense of respect and safety for our youth and community. We need to have the assurance that our law enforcement officers are here to protect and serve and not engage in actions that leave us physically harmed or dead. Where our educators failed to educate, we must restore the promise of equal access, a bright future and fair education for all our students. Where our religious leaders have often sat silent and watched or have been complicit in allowing the turmoil to fester and grow in our city, I call for you to engage in your faith to become a stronger voice for the less fortunate.

Booker T. Washington said “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” It is apparent that we have different views and see things through our own personal lens. If we continue to play party politics, remain loyal to the arrogant and divisive history that plays more to the hand of the rich while leaving the poor behind, we will continue to move this City in different directions. This mindset will never work and as long as we continue to compromise our integrity to satisfy a few, we do a disservice to the community as a whole. Let us join each other in turning the tide and bringing peace, unity and healing to our City. If we choose not to, our City will continue to deteriorate. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said it best “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

In spite of the manufactured fear reared over a three week period and the resulting anger by those unfairly disparaged, we stand at a pivotal point to make tremendous progress. My mentor and friend the great Dr. William Barber II said “we can never know the ecstasy of true hope without attending to the tragic realities of the poor and forgotten.” Let us move forward as we set a new course for a greater day in Salisbury- Rowan and ultimately our world.


Gemale A. Black
Salisbury-Rowan NAACP

Forward Together. Not One Step Back.

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