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Charles Redd: Just Did It

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Some people talk about helping others while others just do it. Charles Redd was one of those people who just did it. His reputation as a counselor at Fontana High School when I was referred to him back in 1972 was if you want some help, you go to Mr. Redd.

It was 1972 and I was put in charge of the Kaiser Summer Employment Youth Program and I needed some kids of color to employ. Charles Redd became my source to get great kids to employ and some are still employed there today.

During my and Ella Harris’ supervision of the program, Mr. Redd referred over 500 kids for employment. Upon his retirement, he kept right on doing it by serving on the St. Paul AME scholarship committee to see that deserving kids received help to continue their education after graduating from high school.

He would say “Hardy, if I don’t do it, it might not get done. Some body did it for me so I’m obligated to pass my good fortune on to some one else. Hardy, this poor boy from Virginia has had a good life compared to where I came from so God has blessed me so I got to pass it on”.

So like the TV commercial says “Just Do It,” and Mr. Charles Redd was that kind of man. There are many who graduated and are employed today because Charles Redd just did it.

Eye For An Eye Is Not The Way To Go

When I saw the pictures of Americans posing with the Iraqi prisoners flash across my television screen, images flashed back in my head to the days of Whites lynching Blacks in America. I instantly thought of those still photos of gleeful southern Whites taking pride in the destruction and humiliation of others.

Those photos, which have been collected in the book, Without Sanctuary, document a violent and hateful period in our history when these images were even circulated through the US Postal system as postcards, mocking the terror experienced by generations of southern Black Americans.

I later listened to Seymore Herse, a world reknown photo journalist, who said, “the photos remind me of the Third Reich in Germany during World War II. The use of dogs are not in the Army regulations nor are they written in the Geneva Convention agreement signed by the United States and other countries.”

He was commenting on other photos released that showed vicious dogs lunging at naked prisoners, also harkening back to the graphic images of the U.S. civil rights struggle. It is despicable that we would stoop to this level.

However, I have always contended that when our leader uses such inflammatory language as “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “they are the nexus of evil”, “The Geneva Convention does not apply to this conflict”, “Our Constitution does not allow for the detainees to have representation”, “Congress does not have the authority to see certain information”, “You are either with me or against me” , it gives rise to uncontrollable, undisciplined arrogance.

I have even noticed that the news media are using the same language as though the people of Iraq are not human. This to me is how some of our troops are being lured into this type of behavior. I might be able to understand this type of behavior out on the battle field when the enemy is all around, but this is inside the same torture chambers used by Saddam.

Adding fuel to this burning fire, a group claiming to have ties to Al-queda in Iraq has beheaded an American citizen in retaliation to the photos shown around the world. This has created another response by some Americans to retaliate. However, as a Christian nation retaliation is not one of the rules we live by. Seeking justice and playing the role as peacemaker is our greatest strength. “Walking quietly and carrying a big stick” has been our world trademark.

We must seek a collaborative effort with the world community to prevent this “eye for an eye” mentality that comes straight from the Old Testament in the Bible.

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