- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2016


“We don’t need to march.”

“We don’t need to shoot cops.”

“We need to rise up and stop killing ourselves.”

Those are but a smidgen of the comments Omar Parker, 63, made to me on Monday. Mr. Parker thought he had reached The Washington Post, and when he learned that he was actually speaking with someone at The Washington Times, he said, “fine,” then you need to tell the real story (or “speak truth to power,” as the Quakers originally put it in the 1950s).

Mr. Parker lives in Washington, and he wants the people of Washington to receive his message, embrace his message, spread his message and act accordingly.

He’s worried, and rightly so, about the blacks in Washington, his hometown. Thing is, Mr. Parker isn’t from Washington, D.C. He’s from Washington, North Carolina, hard by not the Potomac River but the Pamlico, a waterway named for Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans.

The city, which is located in Beaufort County, was founded in the 1770s and named for George Washington. So it was the first and is “The Original Washington.” Its population, according to the 2010 census, is about 9,700, and the racial composition is mostly black and Hispanic — and that’s where Mr. Parker and his philosophy come in.

While he may dream in technicolor, he sees life in stark black and white. “We hold positions of power, but all those black people don’t have power, don’t yield power,” he said. “They aren’t doing work in their own communities. The teachers are robbing us [of an education], and the preachers are robbing us [of moral footing]. The black teachers are so happy just to have a job, they don’t even listen to us, listen to activists.”

And then he lowered the boom.

“They’re playing golf like white people,” he continued. “They have a selfish spirit. All of them are in the master’s house.”

Mr. Parker wasn’t referencing only blacks, by the way.

A self-described disciple of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he’s a victim and a visionary, a mentor and a teacher — and a quick look at where Mr. Parker has been explains why he no longer sees various shades of gray. A victim who lost his nonprofit’s real property but they didn’t take his missionary commitments.

Mr. Parker was a standout basketball player in Washington and in Harlem, whose infamy in the 1970s was organized crime and heroin, and Rucker Park, the public rec facility where witty pushers and ballers could ply both trades. We’re talking a time when legends weren’t merely up-and-coming NBA stars, but men were also gangsters like Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas (enough said). After getting caught up, Mr. Parker returned to Washington.

Back home, he’s been hitting the streets with a vengeance, helping and teaching kids the things their moms and dads need to say. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

“We act like we’re scared kids,” said Mr. Parker, an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Ask him about the killing of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, Baton Rouge’s Alton Sterling and the police who have been ambushed in recent days, and he unloads like a preacher in the pulpit on a Sunday morning.

“There’s a real war going on. A real war going on that we can’t see, good and evil. It’s crazier than what it was in the ‘60s,” he said.

And what’s his plan?

“To get money to continue working with these kids. We need to get to them. My cause is me and my people, working with kids coming into this world,” he said.

The name of his 501(c)(3) group is Christian Fellowship Enrichment Organization.

A father of seven children and grandfather of five with one on the way, Mr. Parker sounds anxious, which is understandable since he’s seen a lot and done a lot. He even seems more anxious to grab hold of America’s youths and begin leading them away from danger and devilish enticements than many of our political and civic leaders.

Then again, they get paid, whether it takes them five months or five years to solve a problem. As Mr. Parker sees it, neither the leaders in Washington, North Carolina, nor the ones in Washington, D.C., can solve the downward spiral we’re on.

He says it’s up to us. It’s up to us to acknowledge the pain, especially among young men, and aid in the healing.

“We need to go to work,” Mr. Parker said, speaking literally and figuratively. “[T]hey [white people] don’t know what to do with black people.”

God bless the child.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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