|Comets from 2000 & 2001 @Chris Ananeh, @Deontae DidIt, Kahlela Goodine, Billy Horton, Shetera Patterson, & Jaaye Person-Lynn about to speak frankly to the 2012 Westchester High School Seniors.|
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
by Jaaye Person-Lynn, Esq.
|We're all growing up and must step up to do what needs to be done.|
At 29 years-old, I am an attorney with a good job, 2 degrees, have traveled to multiple countries on 4 continents and about 30 U.S. states. I go to church most Sundays, closed on my house Nov. 1, 2011, my car is paid off and I hold offices with the local and national Hampton University Alumni Associations. I’ve been told by many a mother with a 20-something daughter I’m a perfect suitor, (unless they wanted tall grand children as I stand at 5’3 ¾). A spiritual, cultured, traveled, educated, social and politically conscious young man is what any parent would want for their daughter. There was just one problem: despite all I had done, all I had seen, all I had accomplished, I still hadn’t grown up.
The last night of my youth was April 3rd, 2012. I spent it with my lady friend and some good friends in a suite at Staples Center. Drinks were flowing, the dessert cart came and filled our collective sweet tooth, Dom Kennedy was on the iHome sound system and we were spending OPM! (Other People’s Money). One of my Westchester High School classmates was turning 30 and we spent a good amount of time discussing how we were going to turn it up at her birthday party that weekend. On top of all that, the Lakers won! Life was great! There was no need to be serious because I was, as Snoop Dogg says in one of his latest songs, “living young and wild and free!” Then, I got to work the next morning.
Sitting in court that morning waiting for proceedings to begin, I checked my FaceBook from my phone. I saw another high school classmate make a post that said something about “R.I.P. Freddie Mac.” I only knew two Freddie Macs: my homeboy and the lender. But, since my homeboy lived such a good life, I knew it wasn’t him. I figured the lender had finally gone under and thought to myself, “maybe Sallie Mae will be next and I can keep my $700 a month for these college loans.” Then I scrolled down and saw another Westchester High School Comet alumni talk about how life is short, then another “R.I.P. Freddie Mac”, then another and another. So I call the holder of all Comet related info, my barber. He hadn’t heard anything, which brought a temporary sigh of relief. Then, I called another Comet Alum that was at the game with me the night before, and she hit me with the news. As the words came out of her mouth, I stood there on the 5th floor of the largest courthouse in the state trying to fight back tears, and I quickly lost that battle, as well as my youth.
It was true, my homeboy, my friend, Freddie Mac, Fredrick Demetrius Martin Jr. was among the dearly departed. Fred, his best friend Joey Hickman and his 8 year-old son “Tre”, AKA Fred Martin III had been clearing out Fred’s grandmother’s garage to make room for a motorcycle. Two gunmen walked up on foot and opened fire. Fred dove on top of his son to save his life, but lost his own in the process. He is our hero. Joey and Tre were hit too, but survived.
Fred and I graduated from Frank D. Parent Middle School, Westchester High School, and both were alumni of HBCUs who came back home. We grew up in the same neighborhood, even being driven to school together by my Mom for some time. This wasn’t supposed to happen to one of us. We did what society told us to do. We have degrees! People with degrees aren’t supposed to be gunned down in the streets, because we were past that. Even more, Fred was never into that life, never. He just loved life, his 8 year-old son, Tre, and his family. I would see him often, always at an event, smiling and having a good time. I truly tried, but I can’t think of one bad memory of Fred.
So, after I made it through the day in court, and gathered myself to go to his mother’s house, I believe it was on that drive that I grew up. Having to face this unimaginable reality, not having any answers to my questions of why, things still needed to be done. The word needed to get out and I helped get the word out. Many of Fred’s friends were asking what they could do, so I helped start a fund for Fred’s children, which now sits at over $15,000 on https://www.wepay.com/donations/mac-martin-kid-s-fund. I pulled on media resources such as my mother, Isidra Person-Lynn, Jasmyne Cannick and Brandon Brooks, who also lived in our neighbor and graduated from Parent Middle School. Brandon is now co-editor of the L.A. Watts Times. They helped get radio, TV and print media to cover the story and our press conference and for a few days it was the top story in LA. Things were happening just from a few hours of applying myself fully to something.
Those shots that hit Fred shattered that plaster and uncovered that hole in my spirit. Now that it was open, I pledged no more temporary fixes or cover ups. But I’m human, and life is a journey. Becoming a man is a process. It’s common knowledge that life is temporary, and though I had friends pass before, this time was different. This time I was brought to tears and compelled to act. This time it hit too close to home! This time, it made me face reality! I’m some months away from 30 years old. All of us who grew up with Fred are. There is no more time to waste. More than ever, my community needs me to play my position and stop doing just enough. Today, I write this as a man. Not because of any material possessions, my age, or any academic or professional accomplishments. As is stated in Sidney Poitier’s autobiography, the measure of a man is how he cares for and provides for his family. My family has been in Los Angeles over 100 years, and this community has become my family. So I write this as a man because since that night I grew up, I have been working for my community in ways I used to only dream of.
Fred was a leader by example. In his final act, he left us with a blueprint of how to be a man. He showed us that it is our duty to sacrifice for those that come after us. We must do what is necessary to make their lives better and broaden their opportunities. Fred didn’t die in vain. He sacrificed himself so those of us like me, who were living and giving just enough, can wake up and realize that we have to give it our all or we are letting our community down. In that moment of heroism, Fred sparked a movement. Trayvon Martin is the national face of that movement, but Fredrick Demetrius Martin Jr. is our local spark. I truly wish I could’ve learned another way, but I thank Fred for what he did for all of the young men and women he touched. Mark my words, Southern California, because of Fred’s sacrifice; you will see the quality of men improve drastically. Like the late great Michael Jackson, I’m starting with the man in the mirror. Thanks Fred!
Atty. Jaaye Person-Lynn works for the L.A. County Public Defender. He can be reached on Twitter @JaayeEsq or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Jaaye Person-Lynn, Esq.
Though the Trayvon Martin Rally that was held at West Angeles Church's North Campus on April 26, 2012 was very well publicized, I had missed the memo.
|Atty Ben Crump for Trayvon Martin's family, Ben Jealous, Nat'l head of the NAACP and more.|
After I read who was to participate, Rev. Sharpton, Rev. Jackson, Trayvon Martin’s family and a host of celebrities, I knew my friend Fred Martin’s tragic story would be taken further and that I would personally leave more inspired to continue the work of finding the killers and reaching our goal of raising $25,000 for Fred’s children at www.wepay.com/donations/mac-martin-kid-s-fund. I did leave inspired, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. (Fred Martin, his best friend Joey Hickman and his 8 year-old son “Tre”, AKA Fred Martin III had been clearing out Fred’s grandmother’s garage to make room for a motorcycle. Two gunmen walked up on foot and opened fire. Fred dove on top of his son to save his life, but lost his own in the process. He is our hero. Joey and Tre were hit too, but survived.)
|Family of Trayvon Martin at West Angeles COGIC in L.A.|
All the speakers were great, on point, motivating and inspiring. Though a few were a bit longer then they needed to be, no one was there grandstanding. But something was missing. Even as I sat on the stage with the speakers and the families, I felt a bit removed from the event. After the rally was over, I thought about it and realized the reason I felt something was missing was because it was a national event and I am a local dude. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking anything away from the event. The Trayvon Martin Foundation is a national foundation and the purpose of the rally was to launch the foundation. It did what it was supposed to do.
Besides the families of the victims, the vast majority of the speakers were not Angelenos and have boarded flights back to wherever they came from. Yes Supervisor Ridley-Thomas was present, yes Councilman Parks was present, yes Najee Ali was present, but none of them addressed the crowd. I’m not suggesting they should have, given it already went long, by 30 plus minutes. I’m just pointing out it didn’t feel like The Empowerment Congress Summits feel. It couldn’t have though. All of the Empowerment Congress organizers are local. You know they will be here tomorrow and the next day.
|Atty. (left) and family of Kendrec McDade. Najee Ali, is to the right.|
What the rally inspired me to do was to seek out more local organizations surrounding the issues of Black men losing their life unjustly. It should not take Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton to speak up for Fred or more recently the unarmed Kendrec McDade, killed by police in Pasadena. They are our friends, brothers, sons, and family. Fred Martin is truly a hometown hero and his hometown needs to speak up and act for him. Then, when our National leaders come to LA, we can pack out the house and we will all feel inspired knowing things will be followed up on.
|Me with members of Fred Martin's family|
Today, I attended the “20 Years Later: A Day of Dialogue” put on by Community Partners. It was very much informational and very much local. There is also the Empowerment Congress, Cease Fire LA, NAACP LA, NAN LA, The Urban League, 100 Black Men of LA and Long Beach, your church, your block club and you! No one should lead our struggle but us. There is a group forming that meets at the Scientology Center led by Brother Tony Mohammed and Pastor Louis Logan on Tuesdays at 6:30pm.
I’m not saying the local organization isn’t there, I’m just saying it needs to be taken to the next level. We don’t need a new organization, we need to work with what we have and max them out until a new need is developed.
I am Fred Martin! I am Anthony Dunn! I am Kendrick McDade! And so are you! Let’s act like it!