Bo Taylor and other members of Unity One, and MC Hammer (lower right), take shahada on-stage as Shaykh Hisham Kabbani officiates at the International Islamic Unity Conference, on Saturday, August 3rd, 1996.
Big Ship talks avidly about his experiences in prison while Shaykh Hisham Kabbani looks on at Unity One headquarters.
MC Hammer mixes with Muslim brothers and sisters after taking shahada at the nternational Islamic Unity Conference.
Unity One members with Shaykh Hisham and young da'ees at a fund-raiser "Run for Peace in the Streets".
| As-Salaamu Alaykum and greetings to everybody here. It
is a pleasure to be here and to address everybody here who are involved--sincerely
involved--with stopping the violence in our communities throughout the states and
especially the immediate inner cities. A lot of people know MC Hammer the Entertainer,
Performer, the Dancer, but my roots [are] East Oakland, High Street in particular. A lot
of the brothers that were just standing up here, they have been incarcerated in the
Northern Californian penitentiaries. They are familiar with the 415, they are familiar
with Oaktown, they are familiar with the Bay Area. Thats where Im from and
thats where Ive always been a part of, and quite frankly [am] still a part of.
But I choose to represent an answer rather than add to the problem. And there are a lot of
brothers like Bo, in the Unity One effort, who support, even though they by themselves may
not be able to stand up to the challenge of the environment, the challenge of "I have
to be me or I have to be what somebody else wants me to be, or its too late for me. They
support the efforts of a Bo or MC Hammer and others who say "Man we got to stop all
this violence, we have to do something to change our community.
Take a brief of walk with me from the 60s to the 80s, somewhere along the line, the message changed. Early 60s: we were fighting just for the right to vote. People marching, walking.... Unity. I could live next door to Bo, leave my door unlocked, not have to worry about coming home, my house being broken into, something happening to my kids, [in] 1964 or 1965. Im 34 years old, I was born in 62. I have a really good memory, God has blessed me with a really good memory. I watched the things that happened around me ...I watched us go from unity to destruction, self-destruction...68, helicopters flying everywhere...riots...70s Vietnam...76...the gangs started to rise up, as a result of the environment, as a result of the poverty, as a result of lack of education and as a result of a lot of things that were not there for us. What you see today in the African-American, is a soldier that has been able to live through some of us and survive without food on a regular basis, having to hustle, without the same education that the rest of the world is receiving.
The fear that the world has of the African-American Man is a very real fear, and it should be to a certain extent, the next riots that occur, the United States is not prepared for. You sent us all those guns, we have them now, you left us alone, you took the money out of our educational system, you now have a whole bunch of soldiers, frustrated, cant see in the daylight, no daylight, thats why you see MC Hammer at a Muslim Convention.
You find me here, because, I know from my own personal experience, there are Muslims who are out there trying to help, trying to change [things]. Theres other religions in this country, Im not challenging or saying that the other religions are not participating, Im not saying that. Im saying that I see the effort of the Muslim in the streets in the inner city, trying to save lives, trying to help. And Im saying, you guys are not alone. Some of us who are not Muslims, if your goal is peace, if your goal is love, if your goal is unity, then use us--were here! [Crowd: Takbir!!!]
Were not looking for anything else. Im already a celebrity, whats that? Thats nothing. The lights flash, the cameras flash. People know you. But what are you doing to really help? Its not easy, it's not easy. Some celebrities, they get caught up in the lights and the cameras and they start believing the images of themselves on the television. I never believed that, because I kept the guys around me who were still struggling to survive. My partners get out of the penitentiary, they come right to my office. "Hammer can I get a couple of thousand?" "Can I get 500?" " Man I just want to get some cloth, get a car, and get back out there.
It's no secret in Oakland, everybody who knows me [knows] it's no secret, all my friends, my entourage as they used to say, were made up with nothing but ex-cons. Why? My brothers, I could be one of them tomorrow. Put my back against the wall, tell me my kids arent going to eat, watch what you see. Its different. Its easy to sit there and say I wouldnt do that. Get your back against the wall. Im a product of East Oakland, Im a product of High Street. Im not bragging or boasting.
I had a conversation with another of my friends who just got out the penitentiary few weeks ago. Hes here with me in LA right now. And we were talking. On my block alone, we have six friends all in jail for the same thing: Multiple Murders! Not one or two, multiple, multiple murders! Multiple murders! We have a demon that just hovers over our community. He just stays there, he stays there, he get inside of us at any time--he sets that one thing to set us off, the value of life has declined so much, its so easy to kill. We need your help. You need our help. We have to come together. I cant turn my back on the next man, I cant look at somebody else and say [it's] because of their religious affiliation. Because there are people in every religion who are not right, no matter what the religion is. Some people call God, some people call Allah, I want to see the fruit the love, I want to see the love, the love to help the brothers who may not be as fortunate as us.
When Bo spoke today, he spoke sincerely can we not just leave here today [saying], oh that was a nice speech, oh that was nice what he did, that was real heart touching, but hes speaking about getting help, needing support. All of us in here are not struggling, were not all struggling financially. You heard the man say Happy Birthday to his mother. How many people heard him say that and say Oh but I couldnt do nothing for you. No, your sitting on a pocket full of money. The humble man is the man who is supposed to represent love, Allah. The Humble Man. So how come somebody is not humbly gonna pass something to somebody else, they pass it to somebody else, they pass it to Bo so he can say Happy Birthday to his mother.
In the end, it's only us. All of us. We have to help each other, we can stop the violence. Its going to be one step a time. But I seek all of your love and all of your prayers. And Im asking blessings for everybody. Thank you.