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Interview with Rev Prather of the NAACP

1 January 2006 No Comment

In this interview with Rev Prather of the NAACP, he talks about the importance of rap music for the youth and the formation of youth identity. He also talks about the history of the NAACP, his visit to South Africa, the recent Hurricanes in the States and other interesting topics. This interview is published exclusively on AG courtesy of Tribal Fusion.  Read on to check out the entire interview…

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am (25) years old and I have a passion for social justice activism and bringing people together for a common good. Additionally, I am a classically trained pianist and native of Atlanta, Georgia. The advocacy work that I do is important to me because I am of the opinion that the world at large and as a whole can be only as strong as its most local community. It is larger than myself and reflective of a much larger purpose. There is I think nothing greater than an idea whose time has come and I shall continue to be committed to transforming that which bis wrong into that which is right, that which is ugly into that which is beautiful and that which is evil into that which is good.

What are the activities of the NAACP and how important is it to the coloured community in the U.S?

The NAACP, founded in 1909 is a social justice advocacy organization. The work that is done through the NAACP is important not only to American’s of African Descent in the United States but our country’s entire fabric and make-up. The NAACP has been called by many the conscience of the nation and has been instrumental in many of the civil rights victory’s over the last 50 years.

What are some of the other organizations that you have committed yourself too?

Just to name a few I am a member of Revive the Vote, Inc., a voter education and advocacy organization; Atlanta Inner Circle, which is a local political organization; the Metropolitan Atlanta Concerned Black Clergy, Inc., which is a local civil rights/social justice organization.

We understand that later on in the course of 2006, you hope to arranging a meeting with Rev Frank Chicane in the office of the President (of S. Africa).  Can you tell us what are some of the issues you would like to discuss with him?

As to date nothing has been confirmed however I would delight in the opportunity to talk about youth involvement in the political process as well as how people with very clear differences can work together for the common good of humanity. While there are other very clear issue’s such as the health care, poverty and other very clear disparages those are two key issues that are very important and dear to my heart.

It is true that you had in fact visited S. Africa several years ago, on a peace effort funded by the D. Eisenhower foundation. What was the aim of this journey?

I visited South Africa in January of 2003, the aim of my journey was to research and study how different people around the world can better work together for the common good. Additionally to create conversation that transcends all boundaries.

Tell us about your experience in South Africa, your meeting with the Moslem community, and the youth.

It was to be sure a life changing experience. One cannot travel to South Africa and remain the same. I met friends whose friendship will last a life time. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with a number of people. The one thing however that disturbed me the most, was the poverty rate and seeing people in such an impoverished state. I was delighted to meet with members of the Moslem community, I have a tremendous respect and reverence for other religions and it is based upon my understanding of my religion, Christianity!

Were there any youth in particular that stood out, any future leaders that could be primed to carry on the great legacy that is S.A?

To be sure Khadija stood out the most because of her sincere commitment to the world at large. I think that in her own right she is not only a future leader but I would submit a present leader.I think that she is a very progressive visionary who has a lot to offer not only South Africa but the world.

There has been talk that you could be a suitable candidate for Presidency in the U.S, in the years to come. Any truth to this?

(Laugh out Loud) No truth to this what so ever! I have no political aspirations at all, however I have worked for a number of Atlanta City Council Members here locally! But I am convinced that my advocacy work is much more effective in my ministry and outside of the confines of any particular political office!

In S. Africa the President has stated several times over that without the Moslem activists in the apartheid era, the struggle against apartheid would not have been won. During a meeting at the A.U, Mbeki refused to let the meeting start unless the Moslem prayer was initiated, this is a far cry from the attitude towards Moslems in the U.S. What is the NAACP public opinion towards the Moslems, Islam and the war on terror?

I think that any relevant religion has some aspect of activism with in it, to this end I would agree with the idea that with Moslem Activist the struggle would not have been won. I do not think that there is a such thing as a “war on terror, or terrorism,” I think that it is at best a facade or smoke screen if you will. I think that the war that we are currently in is unjust and I do not agree with it at all.

President Bush has been the first President since Herbert Hoover to deny a visit to the NAACP during the course of his Presidency. What is the NAACP Opinion towards Bush, and his policies?

My opinion is that it continues to be a slap in the face for our president not to visit the United State’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. I think that it shows his lack of concern for minorities and persons of African descent.

Do you feel that the recent spate of Hurricanes which hit the U.S alerted people to the living conditions of African-American communities and government treatment towards them?

Very Much so, it highlighted in my opinion the plight of every black person in America. It furthermore showed the governments lack of concern, in the way people in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast continue to be treated.

Do you feel that the media used it as an opportunity to degrade the African American community, by portraying them as thieves? Ie: common scene was African-Americans stealing televisions.

Yes, every major network that I saw, highlighted and portrayed the worst.

You expressed a desire to return to South Africa and Africa several times since your last visit, tell us concerns about poverty, Aids, high mortality in Africa and the future.

I have a tremendous Desire to return to South Africa, I have a deep affection for both the poverty rate and the high mortality rate. I additionally think that more can be done globally to help South Africa with the Aids rate as well.

Do you feel that we have adequate means to overcome our difficulties or is a major overhaul required before we can achieve real democracy?

No I don’t think that a major overhaul is required but I think that a real commitment from the elected officials is needed

In the U.S, as in the world, rap and hip hop which initially began in the ghettos is becoming a universal brand of music. The NAACP was right there on the forefront with P.Diddy during his Vote or Die campaign which attempted to get the youth empowered and voting. What is the importance of rap and rappers in today’s society, within the African American culture, and in the formation of youth identity?

I think that rappers are very important because they have the ear of the majority of young people that is a tremendous force. However I think that their influence needs to be garnered in such a manner that it is productive rather than destructive.

In Tanzania, rappers such as Hali Halisi and II Proud use a mixture of Swahili and English to talk about issues affecting the nation and the youth. In Europe, the best rap comes from second generation immigrants such as Majid who have written songs such as My Struggle and Still Burning with universal themes. In the Middle East there are Arabic rappers such as DAM, PR, and Mahmoud, who use their voices to make issues such as occupation, segregation and ethnic cleansing come to the fore.  Do you believe that their themes resonate with the rappers in the U.S or is there a distinct difference between the two?


Powerful rappers such as 4-IZE in the U.S have said that the commercial content of rap is eroding the true power of the music.

To quote: Today whack cats and young punks are perpatratin; playin’ in the game, 4-IZE reverse the hatin’. If you rap, then flow if you suck, I’ll let you know. I work hard not to be no hoe! It’s mad nigga’s that’s hookin’ and prostitutin–pimpin’ and recruitin’–guns, drugs, distribution. It’s huff, This can’t be life–this can’t be right.”–4-IZE

Is this true of America as a whole ând has consumerism become the determining factor in the lives of Americans?

No not all Americans, I think that there are a number of people who hold ethics as a high regard and that consumerism is not a determining factor.

How important and how necessary– is the underground movement of music, poetry, films and literature in the U.S?

Very much important because again it holds the ear of people who have been historically marginalized.

The U.S was voted as having only the 28 free press in the world. Does this come as a surprise?


Finally, tell us your dream for the future.

Wow, that all people will come together for the common good and realize that in our differences there is alot that we have in common. In doing so my dream is that different people can actually appreciate the differences in various cultures and by doing so creating meaningful conversation.

Thank you for the interview. We hope to have a follow up with you after your visit to South Africa. Peace Brother.

*Rev Prather was recently voted one of Atlanta states top 10 youth activists.

Interview conducted by Meshak, Tribal Fusions.

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