#Ferguson Activist on Meeting Obama: He Responded Passionately, He Agreed With Many of Our Points
State Sen. Barack Obama and Fr. Michael Pfleger led a protest against the payday loan industry at a Chicago bank demanding the State of Illinois regulate loan businesses in January 2000. (NBC 5 Week of January 3, 2000)
Street activist Philip Agnew from Florida met with Barack Obama this week at the White House. Agnew joined several Ferguson activists for a private meeting with Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Obama agreed with their points and spoke passionately.
The Guardian reported:
On Monday, representatives from a community in active struggle against state sanctioned killing, violence and repression met with the President of the United States of America. Not “civil rights leaders”, not “activists”, not “spokespeople”. This wasn’t a group of “Beltway Blacks”, this wasn’t a delegation of “respectable negroes”, this wasn’t an assemblage of “yes men and women”.
“We” were from Missouri (Ashley Yates, Brittany Packnett, T Dubb-O, Rasheen Aldridge); Ohio (James Hayes); New York (Jose Lopez); and Florida (me). It all happened quickly and, yes, we all were skeptical…
…We told President Obama that we were not the “People’s Spokespeople”. We told him that we had neither the power, positions, nor desires to stop the eruptions in the streets and that they would continue until a radical change happened in this country. We told him that we had no faith in anything, church or state. We told him that the country was on the brink and that nothing short of major capitulations at all levels of the government to the demands of the people could prevent it.
He listened. Intently. He responded passionately. He agreed with many of our points and offered his take on the current State of the Union. He presented the reforms that have dominated the discourse in the hours after our meeting. He cautioned us against demanding too big and stressed gradualism. He counseled us that the wheels of progress turn sluggishly and reminded us of the progress that got us to this point: a room full of black folk in the Oval Office. He asked for our help, harkening back to his organizing days when, in the streets of Chicago, the cries of the people shifted the landscape. We debated on the power of the vote and the lack of faith in the Democratic party.
The movement got this meeting. Unrest earned this invite, and we can’t stop.
20 year-old Ferguson activist Rasheen Aldridge, who met with Barack Obama this week in the White House, was just charged with assaulting a security guard at St. Louis City Hall.