"If you want to see results, apply pressure. If there is a rock that is sticking out of a waterfall and water constantly drips, drips, drips, on that rock, eventually it will loosen up. If water continues to drip after it loosens, the rock will finally fall....Pressure in even small doses will eventually loosen and topple the biggest rocks, but it must be consistent. You cannot drip today and turn the faucet off tomorrow. You have to keep going." Reverend H.K. Matthews, leader of Pensacola's civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s, from Victory After the Fall (page 78).
Editor's Personal Commentary
This guest blogpost from Cindy Martin is an open call for
individuals and organizations in Pensacola to set aside past personal
grievances, personal agendas, previous organizational frictions,
competing visions of the future, jealousy about who is getting how much
money, and concerns about who will get credit in the newspapers, in
order to strive for the betterment of the Black community in Pensacola
and to demonstrate that a movement dedicated to Black Lives Matter can
be built and be effective in Pensacola.
This essay is not about one person assuming the lead or
being the leader. In modern social movements, there are multiple
leaders, and networks of organizations and groups are in many cases far
more effective in acting quickly to changing circumstances than
bureaucratic organizations, though the latter can certainly be networked
into the movement.
Modern social movements to be effective must have a
vision and a narrative that all participants connect with on a personal
level, a visceral level, on a moral level, and that narrative must be
easily communicated to their membership, the wider community, and the
institutional authorities they interact with. This widely believed and
shared narrative allows for actions to be undertaken in concert or
separately but always with the aim of achieving the same strategic
In modern political warfare, the best narrative wins.
But, that narrative starts with having a common vision, a common
purpose, and a plan for common actions.
Lucinda Martin, a long-time neighborhood activist with a
long list of accomplishments and network hub from her Headz Up Beauty
Salon, needs no introduction. From my personal observations, I have
seen her admired by many for her selfless service to her local community
and dedication to the children of her neighborhood. She is the salt of
the earth that labors on a daily basis not needing recognition and not
seeking the spotlight.
This essay is based on various notes she had written to
herself and others. I had to press her daily for weeks to publish her
notes as an essay.
This essay, a statement that comes straight from her
heart and soul, is brilliant, and is like how she does hair for her
clients. She starts with a vision of how her client's hair should look
at the end of the session and then begins planning how to effect that
change in a person's hairstyle.
A Call for Unity of Vision, Purpose, and Action by Lucinda Martin
On my trip to Selma for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the bridge
crossing we all came together for one common cause. Being led by Rev.
Jesse Jackson from Browns Chapel Church, to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I
had the opportunity to march with people whom I had never seen before;
we marched with our elbows locked and stayed focused with tunnel vision
until we reached our destination. It was an amazing experience! Again, I
believe that we can work together to shift the mindsets and culture of
this entire city and make it less violent. Reverend H.K. Matthews,
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, and their followers were not fearful;
they were young; and, I bet they had no idea that they were going to
I have been living in Pensacola, Florida for 25 years. I thought that
this was a calm military, tourist, and retirement city. I see now that
all of the attention and money are directed towards the rich! I have
not seen a change as far as the crime rate, and poverty rate. Escambia
County has the highest juvenile incarceration rate, and Florida leads
the nation with the highest juvenile incarceration rate. We have a lot
of work to do!
We got to know that God is walking in faith with us and
the different cultures, with different people, and different cities as
we are not alone in our dreams to create a peaceful movement. RELATION
BUILDING IS KEY: we have got to approach this process from a perspective
and a foundation of a relation grounded in God, grounded in truth,
love, compassion and humanity.
What we will be doing will be nothing but great art; an
expression of our lives manifesting in its own truth. We have got to
have active community participation.
That’s how I feel when I am creating a hairstyle on every client that
sits in my chair. Idea first, true and solid, then I/we got to see it
and feel it.
Each one of us are going to have to play the role of
being the Director, Producer, and the Main character of this beautiful
script that were going to write. With God all things are possible! We
are going to have to be thoroughly educated on how to cure this violence
which is spreading like a cancer in Escambia County. We are going to
have to attend training sessions, local and far, and share information
with the many organizations that will be joining us, which means that
everyone will have to take copious notes, and/or have good listening
I cannot emphasize enough that we have got to be excited about what
we are doing. We have to become focused, organized, have the same
vision, all looking in the same direction, and become an unstoppable
force like Niagara Falls which starts as a stream.
is going to take many people to shift the consciousness of Escambia
County. But for an issue of this magnitude and for us to be effective,
we have got to be committed and compassionate.
Our city/county needs to fund these types of
initiatives. Most cities have (T.D.F.) temporary duty funds. Everyone
who has some teeth in this initative that wants to see or be effective
change agents should want to help fund or pay for sponsorship if there
are needs for travel/training. Once our community sees that we are
sticking together like glue, then they will take us serious and when can
get support. If we do not ask, we will never know.
There are many high level American institutes, just to
name one, Harvard University, that has a conference every year where
people get together, think, and collaborate with the world's finest
minds from all over the world to try and produce social change through
building local social movements. Sherry Sykes would have loved for us
to attend the two-day Conference at the Harvard University. Sessions of
the conference can be viewed on YouTube (see Confronting Violence/Radcliffe Institute, four videos).
Sherry Z. Sykes, a career diplomat with the U.S.
Department of State, visited Pensacola on September 15, 2014. On July
4, 2013, she lost her son Omar Sykes who was robbed and killed outside
his Howard University campus in Washington. D.C. She wants to help
shape our city and pave the way for greatness.
The Pensacola Voice
interviewed Sherry Sykes, who had come back to Pensacola at the
invitation of the National Movement for Civil and Human Rights. The
community gathering was held at the Greater Union Baptist Church. The
last two paragraphs of the Pensacola Voice article demonstrate how it is
possible to turn personal tragedy--the loss of a son or daughter to
senseless violence--and turn it into action [emphasis added]:
"Her talk was representative of a mother losing her son to violence and committing herself to making a difference by reaching out to others that have experienced the same pain.
She stated that is her first opportunity to speak with other mothers
who have lost children. Sykes stated, 'I have been in this alone. I
have not had the chance to talk with other mothers that have lost
children. I have been in this a little over a year now trying to figure
this out.' In a later interview with the Pensacola Voice she added,
'This trip was healing for me to meet with these mothers.'"
"The message she said she wants to leave is that violence
is preventable both today and over the long term. She wants to leave a
message of hope. In terms of next steps she stated that she wants to
be responsive to what Pensacola and Escambia County wants her to do for
them. She is willing to bring resources back and provide information as she learns it.
Sykes said, 'There are any number of possibilities that I can provide.
I am here as a servant. If there is something people want me to do I
am happy to follow through!'"
The Pensacola News Journal interviewed Sylvia Sykes before she spoke at the Greater Union Baptist Church community gathering. The Journal reported:
"The goal of her visit is to start a dialogue about what
citizens what their communities to be like and give them so guidance on
how to get there. Sykes said she hopes to meet with parents, children,
church and civic leaders to listen to their concerns and 'amplify their
cry for help.'"
"'We’ll map out a way forward,' Sykes said. 'Change
doesn’t happen in communities until the members of that community put a
concerted effort into it. By concerted effort, I don’t mean just
sitting around and talking about it.'"
Sykes said the ultimate goal of the town hall to figure
out what actions would have the greatest positive impact the local crime
rate and rally local anti-violence resources into one targeted plan of
Out of the three cities in the world she wanted to work
with, we were fortunate to be one of them. She's waiting on us! What
are we waiting on?
With the right core group, focused in the same direction,
we can effect change throughout the entire city. If we can get enough
like minded citizens to give their all for peace, then we will be that
It will not be easy, but we have got to start
somewhere. We, the activists and those who want to become involved have
to be trained on how to shift the culture and the mindsets of the
entire community to make it less violent. We are going to have to have
the eventual collaboration among law enforcement, county officials,
mayors, substance abuse treatment programs, prison ministries,
counselors, hospitals etc.
We definitely have to be focused as a team with a great
amount of organizational and strategic planning. We can make this
happen. We can start with the few people that we have. It does not
take many people to shift the consciousness, culture, and mindsets of
our area because this is a small city.
All we need is enough like minded citizens to give their all for peace, and then we can be an unstoppable force.
To be effective, every team member has got to stay
focused on the cause, have the same vision, purpose and understanding as
a team with a global perspective, and we have to continue to move
forward with an optimistic approach. We are going to have to take very
informative, intense training courses. When we try to shift the culture
of our city, we are going to need a tool chest with the resources to
educate us on how to shape and form our city in a way that we need it to
be, and to educate us as being community activists on how to create
lasting value and a change within our community properly to assist us in
We have to be focused as a team with a great amount of
organizational political industry; we need a tool chest; everyone needs
to gather their tools, get together and educate each other on what we
know to be effective so that we can have the power to shape our city in a
way that it needs to be.
We can shape Pensacola to be like a GEM, if we all have
the same focus, which is curing the violence in our city. We are not
alone in our desire to create a peaceful movement and environment. We
have got to approach this from a multicultural modality approach to
establish a peaceful non-violent community.
We have got to understand and use music, education, and
all forms of cultural communication. This problem exists all over the
nation. All we have to do is see what works in other cities, or see
what programs that we had previously in Escambia County that collapsed
so that we can research and try again. We do not have time to waste!
With much prayer, and we can shape this little city like a
gem. I believe that our city can be the light of the world, and our
little city will shine and be a model to other surrounding areas. We
will be that city on the hill, and we will not be hidden!
What we are trying to do is unprecedented in Pensacola.
We have to endeavor to raise awareness in Escambia County. Yes, I
expect for the devil to come, show up, and show out; this will only be a
test for us to be thankful for the opportunity to show the power of our
We have got our marching orders. Let's get ready, get set, and let's go!
Our country needs to be transformed from the inside out.
Our mission should be profound. We have got to reach the top and bring
as many of our community with us.
We have got to be consistent, motivated, and very meticulous. We have got to collect foot soldiers one by one.
This will definitely be a movement for peace! The sky is
not the limit; beyond the sky are stars and planets. We won't be