HIP-HOP ACTIVIST DAVID BANNER speaks outside the Kingsley Center in East Liberty, Sept. 24. (Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)
‘I just want you to…think’
The last words from hip-hop rapper/activist David Banner that he asked the assembled crowd on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 24, outside the Kingsley Center in East Liberty to repeat were, “My name is David Banner; I don’t care what you think about me, I just want you to…think.”
Think…about all of the things you can accomplish if you set your mind to it.
Think…about all of the money you’re wasting on vices and save that money to better your financial future.
Think…about how people are planning to do things in the Black community that won’t be beneficial for the Black community.
Think…about how you’re going to raise your children to be the best they can be.
Banner, who came to fame with mainstream songs “Get Like Me,” “Like a Pimp,” “Play” and others, has spent the last decade or so crisscrossing the country to educate the Black community on everything from the importance of voting, to the importance of uplifting each other. He has visited schools, prisons, community centers—pretty much any and everywhere that he can spread his message.
DAVID BANNER WITH GABRIELLE WALKER AND STANFORD LYONS (PHOTOS BY ROB TAYLOR JR.)
Banner, sporting a 1 Hood Media hoodie, told the Pittsburghers that if each family in a Black neighborhood saved $100 per month, as opposed to spending it on something frivolous or unnecessary, there would be hundreds of thousands of dollars available to that community per year which can be spent by employing others to act as a de facto security service for the community. For starters, that would provide some jobs in the community.
“Sometimes we see the plight in our neighborhood and we think it’s too hard (to overcome it),” Banner said.
Banner then discussed how he’s been to Pittsburgh numerous times, and he can see the gentrification happening. But he doesn’t think it’s over.
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“Everybody has a plan for your neighborhood but you, in most cases,” Banner said, as the crowd reacted in agreement. “And the neighborhood that you live in wasn’t your original neighborhood, it was the only neighborhood that they would let our people go to, and then they gonna come take that, too? I believe that the story of Jesus was not about Jesus coming back to save you; it was showing you that you could be God on Earth, too. ‘I’m going to come down and show you how to bear your own cross.’ These neighborhoods are our crosses, these children are our crosses.”
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Banner’s visit to Pittsburgh was part of 1 Hood Media’s “People, Politics and Power” series of events that are held throughout the year. On a nice day to be outside, people were able to get information on voting, meet candidates such as Democratic nominee for House District 24 La’Tasha D. Mayes, help from the Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office with getting certain criminal records expunged, free food, and a basketball tournament, which was held inside Kingsley. A DJ spun records outside keeping people moving, too.
“Think about all the responsibilities of all the Black people and people who were assisting Black people in the ‘60s,” Banner, the Mississippi native, said. “Imagine if that was a pitcher of water, all the sacrifices our families made. That has been poured out…so when are we (in the present) going to make some sacrifices so our children will have some water to drink out of? It’s our responsibility to make some sacrifices so something different can happen. Pittsburgh, something is happening here and I hope Black people will be a part of it.”
DAVID BANNER AND MAYOR ED GAINEY
Pittsburgh mayor Ed Gainey was also in attendance, and he was right on message with Banner.
“When you look at the definition of Black or African American, the definition should be, ‘the people of transformation and overcoming,’ because since we landed here in this thing called America, all we did was build the economy that they made money on, all we did was transcend the law that they said we couldn’t do. All we did was continue to overcome everything that they put in front of us, and if our kids understood the power of where we came from, they wouldn’t want to be thugs and gangsters, they would want to be kings and queens.”
DAVID BANNER, THIRD FROM RIGHT, WITH MEMBERS OF 1 HOOD MEDIA. (PHOTOS BY ROB TAYLOR JR.)