“In everything, therefore, [a]treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NASB)
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
The proposal pertaining to the Mizell center and the LA Lee YMCA has gotten to the point where it is becoming extremely personal. When I say this, I say it with all due respect. What happened to me on last Friday really shocked me, but I shouldn’t have been surprised because this hold undertakening has been one without inclusion and laced with half-truths.
I was at a funeral repast last Friday, in Melbourne, Florida and received a phone call from a gentleman that I highly respect, one of our elder states-man, a pillar in the community and one of our trailblazers, a promennate senior in our society. When I saw his name on my caller ID, I knew that I had to answer.
What he asked pained and distressed me. He asked me and I quote, “Bobby did you call me senile at the CRA Review Board meeting”? Of course, I was shocked, angry, and filled with disbelief. I had to really bite my tongue before I misrepresented myself as being a respectable man towards my elder. So my response was, “Mr. Cummings, you know me. You’ve known me practically all my life. No, I did not call you senile.”
Now understanding what this call was about, I went on to say, “I did not call you senile, Sonya did not call you senile, Jasmine did not call you senile, Marcia did not call you senile, Dale did not call you senile. As a matter fact Mr. Cummings, if you would be so kind as to who ever told you that- if you were to get that person to meet with us face-to-face – then we can put this thing to rest because it is a lie and this whole situation is splitting our community.”
Then I began to realize that “they” would be those who want to tear down the Mizell Center, relegating our history to a bust out front with pictures on the wall of a building and wreaking havoc on our community. We would be meeting with them in order to put closure to this whole thing.
If “they”, would stoop to this level of lying and tearing up relationships to destroy our community, then what else would they do or what else have they done?
If you were to request the minutes from the last City of Fort Lauderdale Commission meeting to read and analyze, you will see where words spewed from the dais were not truthful but hurtful. The person who spewed those lies at the time appeared to not care about the harm that it would do to the individuals and their families named nor did several other people sitting on the dais object to those misrepresented truths.
Which lends itself for a whole other issue to be discussed and changes to be made. If individuals in leadership would sit on the side of what can clearly destroy our community and not at least object and vote to stop the move and have a community discussion and not a select few who agree to tear down the Mizell Center, then they should not be in leadership. And how do you get those individuals out of position? You vote them out. So this incident has galvanized this community to al-low us to understand and see what’s truly happening. To see what is transpiring behind closed doors and in some in-stances invalidation of the Sunshine Law and in other in-stances allowing people to make a vote who have a vested interest in a project that’s not conducive to what the city leaders and the studies have indicated.
So now as abiding citizens, we have the right to vote them out of office and not allow them to gain any position of authority in any leadership capacity that governs people. Maybe commissioners don’t necessarily want to get into other commissioners’ district business, but when that business is obviously about to destroy the foundation of a community and those leaders do not speak up or out against that individual, then they are just as guilty. Yes, it has become personal, personal to the point that you are willing to allow others to spew lies from the dais that are personal.
When it was stated from the dais that the Shirley family had received CRA dollars for their building and then they put a for sale sign on it, that was hurtful, especially when it was not true. “Neither Jasmin Shirley, Carmen Shirley nor I or any member of my family received CRA funding for any property or project. I am also not the owner of the 720 NW 22 Road property. This property did not utilize any CRA funding whatsoever.”
There is a march planned for Thursday, August 17, 2017 4 p.m. at the City of Fort Lauderdale’s City Hall 100 N. Andrews Ave.
We’re gonna take our position to the streets; we’re gonna take our position to the board of commissioners; we’re gonna take our position as far as we have to – to stop this betrayal and hidden agendas of those who care less for this community. I’m not telling you what somebody told me; I’m telling you what I know.
What else have “they” done to undermined the community and see our history wiped out? “They” will have their hand-picked proponents at the march and commission meetings who were made promises, some even given dollars to support their political campaigns. Some citizens who live in the city of Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority complexes and those who did not, received insinuated threats that if they did not support the tearing down of the Mizell Center, they can no longer use any of the Housing Authority’s meeting facilities.
“They” say that they talk to the ministers who are in agreement. However, the minister of new Hope Baptist Church, who sits right next door to the Mizell center, was not involved in any conversation, was not approached, was not even considered to engage in conversation, and those that were said that they were not presented with all of the facts.
Mr. George Burrows, a noted and documented pillar of this community, wrote a letter to the City Commissioners that stated in part: “Having lived and worked in this community all of my life, as well as operated a business on the Sistrunk corridor for over 68 years, I was somewhat disappointed that no earnest attempt was made to discuss the desire to tear down the Mizell Center with the greater community and not just the YMCA community when rebuilding discussions with the YMCA originally began. I certainly did not know and I remain fairly active in our com-munity. I have asked others who pass by my office on a daily basis, and they, too, were un-a-ware until the Negro Chamber of Commerce brought it to the greater community’s attention last fall.”
So yes, there has been an underhanded effort to make people believe that the community wants this to happen under threats, promises and who knows what else! People might do anything. So we need you, the interested people, who want to know the truth to come out and listen for yourself, participate and see what’s really happening. What would happen to the property when the LA Lee YMCA is torn down? Who will get it? Who will develop it? What happens when you put homes there that the people can’t afford, the people that look like us in that community? What hap-pens: property taxes go up, people have to move out and can’t move back in. Gentrification at its best – please pay attention. We’re not against progress, but we are against the progress that doesn’t include us or progress that removes us.
“Commissioner McKinzie said from the commission dais at the July 11, 2017 meeting that the FTL Negro Chamber of Commerce received CRA funds to rebuild its new office building. It DID NOT ! The building was rebuilt with the chamber’s own funds along with federal CDBG funds. He also said that same night, that some of us(those who oppose tearing down the Mizell Center) that were in the commission meeting audience were present at the brainstorming meeting for the YMCA project – not true. I was invited to a meeting, but it was NOT a brainstorming meeting as they already had secret plans in place before the meeting I was invited to. We were told that they were “considering” a concept to move the Y to the Mizell Center, not tear it down. We discussed the possibility of other community organizations also using the building. We were told no decisions or further plans would be developed without further meetings. As the meeting went on, it was clear that everyone at the table knew about the secret plan except me and one other person that was also invited to the meeting. We would realize we were invited only as pons so that they would later say we were involved – we WERE NOT. The meeting was a sham held only to use us. We were not involved in the planning of this project. I was not invited back to further meetings until they were preparing to present to the CRA advisory board with the secret plan. I told them at that time I would not support the project.”—Sonya Burrows
It is personal when our leaders who have created a pro-gram that honors our citizens who have contributed to the history of this city, and when it’s time to honor them, you make a decision to not put their photos out for others to see; that appears to be personal!