Oscar Grant’s Family at Howard University

Uncle Bobby speaks of his nephew Oscar Grant's passing, and how it relates to concepts discussed in the "Willie Lynch Letter".

Thursday, September 16th 2010- Washington DC’s Howard University’s freshman dormitory, Charles R. Drew Hall played host to the “People vs. Police” panel discussion about police brutality and what it has done to our community.  The case of Oscar Grant in Oakland, Ca served as the central focus of the discussion, as the Howard University community opened it’s doors to Oscar Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson and vocal leader and Oscar Grant supporter Minister Keith Muhammad.

Minister Keith Muhammad re-accounting the entire Oscar Grant situation.

50-60 students poured into the freshman dormitory lounge and attentively listened as Minister Muhammad eloquently recapped the happenings concerning Oscar Grant; dating back to the fatal morning of New Years 2009. He touched on the candle light vigils, the uprisings by Oakland citizens, and the conduct of the elected officials in our community .  He concluded in bringing this case home: “this happened to Oscar Grant yesterday, and could happen to any one of us tomorrow”.

After a round of applause for the Minister’s oral chronological recap of the Grant case, Minister Muhammad brought forth Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson  to a warm applause as well.

Uncle Bobby spoke of the connection between Oscar Grant’s case and the historical document known as the Willie Lynch letter. He highlighted the portion of the letter that spoke of a slave owner beating a male slave in front of other male slaves so as to make an example out of him. This is what oscar Grant’s death was… an example. On tape for the world to see.

Uncle Bobby did his best to speak progressively about the matter; highlighting the upcoming dates of October 23rd and November 5th. On October 23rd the workers at the port of Oakland will strike in support of Oscar Grant’s cause. The longshoremen  have historically supported communities that have been affected by police brutality, as they too have had a member of their community fall victim due to police brutality. And November 5th is the date that the sentencing for this trial is set.

Uncle Bobby concluded in stating that cases such as the Oscar Grant Case, and nameless other cases that have been caught on tape, need to be used as evidence in the court of law as a tool to combat malpractices by the officers of our communities.

The meeting ended with the attendees compiling an email list for individuals who were interested in writing a letter to the judge in the Oscar Grant case.

As I left and reflected on the night that was, I was a bit preturbed that the turnout was only 50-60 people strong. But,  as the fact that we sat and watched a landmark case that deals with the current state of society on so many levels, race, class, and technology… I realized our success: a mixed class of young African-American students just sat in a room- and hardly a finger texted or tweeted while the guest speakers presented.

Uncle Bobby, Minister Muhammed, and myself all hoped to spread the word about combating police brutality in the lower income communities, and at Howard University, on this night the word was received.

The Grant Station Project

The Grant Station Project.

The Grant Station Project

During an interview with Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums in early July 2010, we discussed the video taped murder of unarmed Oscar Grant at the hands of transit officer Johannes Mehserle, the ensuing protests and uprisings by the people in Oakland, Ca., and the impending trial verdict. I then asked him what he thought of the possibility of renaming Fruitvale Station in the name of Oscar Grant?

“Grant Station”

The Mayor was taken by this question, he told a brief story of his mother’s appreciation of seeing a building named after her son, and connected the story to Grant’s mother, and how renaming Fruitvale Station to Grant Station might bring relief to the family. He then asked if he could have permission to take this idea to the necessary individuals in effort to bring this idea into fruition. Gladly, I said yes.

(Video complements of Youth Radio.)

But the question didn’t stop at Mayor Dellums.

I sat down with music producer Jamon Dru and lyricist Young Gully, we discussed the concept. The two gentlemen told me that they had been constructing an idea of their own: an album inspired by Oscar Grant.

We shook hands and agreed, in the name of the Oscar Grant, we would create an album that would shine a police helicopter sized light on police brutality, the state of the young citizens of Oakland, California, and the death of Oscar Grant.

I sat down with organizers of the Oscar Grant support movement, journalists that have been constantly covering the situation, and I even had the opportunity to speak  with members of Oscar Grant’s family. We discussed everything: I asked about what was said on the platform on the night of Grant’s murder, I asked about what was said in the court room during Mehserle’s trial, and I asked Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby what he would say if he could speak to Oscar now…

This resulted in “The Grant Station Project”, an audio documentation of lyrics, music, and interviews all full of emotion; an ethical response from the people to a blatantly unethical action that took place in our community.

Here is the first single off the Grant Station Project by Gully featuring Yound D, “Grant Station“. It is also available for download if you  click HERE.

But the album isn’t enough. The people want justice served to the fullest extent. The people want Mehserle to receive the maximum sentencing for his crime. The people want this instance to stand as a constant reminder to the officers of our community ,that they have a sworn duty to uphold the well-being of the people.

The question has now turned into a statement: the people want Grant Station.