Malik Rahim honored for fighting racial injustice

From the New Pittsburgh Courier. Article by Rebecca Nuttall, forwarded to by Kimberly Wilder. Excerpt:

With every wave of applause, activist Malik Rahim raised his hand to silence the crowd at the Thomas Merton Awards Dinner held Nov. 12 in the IBEW Hall on the South Side. When he did accept applause, it was not for his words but for the accomplishments of Common Ground Relief Collaborative, a community organization he started in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“I’m not one to really enjoy speaking in front of a large crowd,” Rahim said. “Katrina and our government’s lack of response have forced me to do things I wish was left up to others.”

Community Leaders—From left: Award recipients Carl Redwood, One Hill Association, and Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground Relief stand with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette associate editor, Tony Norman.
Rahim’s accomplishments and lifelong dedication to peace and justice are why he was chosen to receive this year’s Thomas Merton Award.

When Rahim first went to New Orleans he took three other people and $50. Today they have more than 20,000 volunteers and have raised more than $3 million to help close to 180,000 people.

“I truly believe we must never again allow a disaster to turn into a tragedy. No one had to be displaced in New Orleans,” Rahim said. “Let’s find out how this was allowed to happen. We cannot just sweep it under the rug.”

As a former member of the Black Panther Party and Vietnam veteran, Rahim said he is no stranger to violence. However, nothing prepared him for what he was faced with in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

“I never thought I’d be in an America where people trying to escape a disaster would be denied access to a safe community simply because of the color of their skin,” Rahim said. “I never thought I’d see a government give a dusk to dawn, shoot to kill order that only applies to those of African-American decent. It didn’t matter if you was one day or 99-years (old), you was a looter.”

Though many saw this area as one of the most downtrodden, Rahim said it had the highest percentage of African-American homeowners in the nation.

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