In this new day and age, activism stands in the front of many social and political issues. For the past five to six years, #BlackLivesMatter has been in every newsprint headline and was the most searched topic on Google in 2015.
Black Lives Matter activists organized rallies to protest against a system that keeps senselessly slaying African-American citizens and never getting consequences for their actions. African-Americans want their lives taken seriously because no deserves to live in fear, especially, from the people who are supposed to protect the common good.
Prominent African-American leaders have been banding together for decades to empower their communities and fight for justice and their rights. Between the early 1950’s and the late 1960’s, the Civil Rights Movement reached its peak and protesters (black and white) battled against segregation and discrimination. African-Americans in those days wanted to exercise their human rights including, right-to-vote, desegregated public schools, and have equal employment opportunities.
Then the 1970’s came along which birth the Black Panther Party Movement (BBP) in Oakland, California. These protagonists strive against police brutality, child hunger, and lack of community resources. During those times, the Black Panthers just wanted to keep their brothers and sisters safe. Also, the BBP provided the African-American community with family resources such as the Free Breakfast for Children program, after school programs, and neighborhood health clinics. This movement inspired the nation, so various states created their location of the BBP.
In recent times, six college-educated men joined forces to use some the attributes that these honorable movements had and created something that is far bigger than them. Their names are Bryce “Int’l Hay Sús” Fluellen, Ephriam “Dephkhan” Vives, Uzo Nwadugbo, Royce Hughes, Cory, and Kimani Elliott. All their ages are between 23 and 26 years old. These men come from various backgrounds all over the Bay Area, and each of them brings something new and fresh to the table. On a day-to-day basis, these men are active in their community from mentoring children to providing a helping hand for those in need.
Earlier this year in February, on a random day Cory stumbled upon an award-winning BBP documentary called The Black Panther Party: Vanguard of the Revolution, directed by filmmaker Stanley Nelson Jr. and presented by PBS. The documentary gives vivid details about the BPP timeline and the history behind the film. After watching the movie, Cory felt so inspired that he had to share it with his childhood friend Hay Sús. While watching the movie, an idea sparked inside Hay Sús’ mind that he needed to commence an organization or movement that ensures to advance African-Americans.
“This spoke to me so much I had to show it to Hay’Sus. The things that The Black Panther Party did and endured was a true inspiration to us. And we will do our best to resemble that virtue,” said Cory
Days laters, Hay Sús contacted his closest friends to assemble and brainstorm more ideas. In the beginning, it was ten people a part of the process but weeks went by, and Hay Sús ended up with five other committed African-American men who have the same vision. As time passed, Hay Sús remembers having conversations with his godfather Jermal Dangerfield about the conditions of Black America, while attending Howard University.
Mr. Dangerfield consistently expresses to Hay Sús that he should understand the world from a Black man’s perspective. He said that Black men should always know their place, power, history, and responsibilities in this world.
“My godfather truly wanted me to see the world as a “black neighborhood”. He wanted me to regularly think about giving back to my community,” said Hay Sús. “So the term “black neighborhood” stuck with me and now it’s the name of our movement. The Black Neighborhood!”
Subsequently, Royce created the logo by drawing something that represented community and family. The logo is a stick-figured roof and wall surrounding the movement’s name “The Black Neighborhood” (TBN), which makes it resemble a house. The simplicity of the logo gives the brand a relatable feel to it. It exhibits that African-Americans are not perfect, but if they put in the time and effort into positivity, they can build a thriving neighborhood.
“I wanted to draw something that was simple and relatable. I’m really proud of what I created because the logo came out engaging and playful,” said Royce.
Hay Sús wanted to start gaining experience in assisting families so he gathered two of friends (Royce and Uzo) and searched for outreach and service opportunities. Their first event as a movement was Feed My Sheep at The People’s Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland.
A lady by the name of Ms. Faye hosts Feed My Sheep, a food and clothes drive, once a month for Oakland neighborhoods from the donations of Alameda Food Bank. Each event TBN helps serve over 200 families every third Saturday of the month. And since they began in February, they have satisfied over 1,000 households in Oakland.
“I really love what I do. Not many can say that. I knew that helping families in need were my purpose in life. It is selfish and a sin to not give to those who don’t have, Everyone need helps, nobody does it all on their own,” said Ms. Faye.
Since starting TBN five months ago, organizations have been reaching out to use these men services or just to show love. Bentley High School, Roots Community Health Center, and Oakland Home Grown — just to name a few of the organizations who wanted to work with TBN. These organizations work closely with African-American communities so that they can have resources to create a better life for future generations.
“We noticed that our vision was starting to make sense, once, other organizations recognized our efforts,” said Uzo.
Two months ago, East Bay Express did a featured story on Hay’Sus and how he uses his musical platform to promote TBN (Rapper Int’l Hay Sús Seeks to Unify ‘The Black Neighborhood’ written by Nastia Voynovskaya). Also, the Hella Black podcast presented by the Afrikan Black Coalition interviewed TBN about a month ago, speaking about what is the future looking like for TBN.
Even through all of the recognition, every movement or organization has its difficulties. These men described the complications of managing a campaign and how people can get caught up with the advantages and not improving on the disadvantages. It is detrimental to a brand or organization if everyone is not on the same page. Here are some the issues that TBN deal with: scheduling, hidden agendas, delegating tasks, and outside personnel understanding the dream.
“People always look at us as this “cool group of Black men” but they do not see what goes on behind the scenes. Every TBN member is putting their personal time and effort into this project,” said Dephkhan. “So we do not just let anyone join because there is a process. We have to see consistency, preparedness, and reliability before anyone joins TBN.”
Now that these six men have a plan, all they have to do is follow through with execution. Their plan is to become a well-established non-profit organization within the next five years, supplying African-American families with an array of resources. But at the moment they are learning as they come along. These young men are setting a real example for the younger generation.
“We want to resemble a human resources headquarters for Black people. That way we can reach out to thousands or even millions of families and provide them with a great service,” said Kimani. “Honestly, we just want to give back to the community what it gave to us.”
Their goal is to turn TBN in a system of success and teaching African-Americans how to invest in themselves and their neighborhoods. The TBN website should be available by the end of August or September.
Through all the odds that set against these men; they still decided to stand and fight for their cause. There isn’t anything that can break these men mindset because they are on a mission, and they have received nothing but love and support from the community. The surprising factor of TBN is that these gentlemen could be selfish or out partying with friends, but they decided to do a good deed that will push the culture forward in the long run. When it all comes down to it, these men are taking advantage of the tools that are in front of them and redefining what it means to be Black Millennials.
If you want to get involve with their cause here is the contact information:
Founder: Bryce “Int’l Hay Sús” Fluellen
Twitter or Instagram: @haysus510