Tawana Speaks at UAM Banquet
Love and support, and renewed interest in Tawana Brawley and the men who are her champions are building in the Black community and beyond.
So when her United African Movement family welcomed Tawana at an event in her and her mother’s honor Friday, August 14, at the Masonic Temple on Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn, she was overwhelmed by their warm, strong embrace. And later, they were overwhelmed by hers.
This was a special reunion at the Temple draped in the flags of African nations and other third world countries. It was a reunion centering on a victor returning from a battlefield, a battlefield where the enemies have the power to become invisible, though you know who they are. Where the foot soldiers are the media-militia, trained in techno-garble.
In 1987, this infantry blasted onto a crime scene in Dutchess County with two dum-dum bullets: “Lie” and “Hoax.” They almost destroyed a family; they succeeded in putting them on the run. You need only secure the tapes of journalist-educator Utrice Leid’s masterful multi-part series over Pacifica Radio- NY (WBAI-99.5 in New York) to discover the word-weapon of choice used by Miss Brawley’s adviser-defenders: “Truth” – the David to her enemy’s Goliath.
So when she smiled, the audience, including the young people – some of the children had not been born when Miss Brawley, was attacked in Dutchess County and apparently left to die – returned the light.
And by the way, has anyone ever told you about Tawana Brawley’s eyes? Have they said anything to you about her spirit? Her intelligence? So much work has been done to paint her as a tart, shrew, bad girl, so that if you believe all of that, you’d hardly know her if you met her in person. We did. The first time we saw her she was surrounded by an army of handsome Black men in dark, elegant suits. Outfitted in a long cream-colored summer evening slip-dress and walking in the midst of her protectors, tall, poised, proud, she was Victory. The heirs of the ancestors do not remain victim too long. We will say this: close-up, Tawana is smart, witty, and up on with what’s going on. She is cool, “an alright sister.” Though the off moments are not spent obsessing over her attackers, we know the scars are deep. She wears no cosmetics to conceal them. You see it in the eyes that absorb everything. She is careful and she is wise. Which brings us to the question that may still haunt you: why doesn’t she speak out? The answer is simple: Tawana has spoken and she continues to speak. As far as the real question – when will she fill us in on all the details? Perhaps you can find the answers in statements she and her father made at the UAM banquet. You can certainly find them in Mr. Maddox’s remarks; they are the same ten years ago as they are today. BG
First, we always have to give thanks and all honor to God. I wanted to thank everyone, every member, every beautiful black face for coming out today. I would like to give all thanks to God because He is the real reason why I am standing here today. All praise is due. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Angels come in all shapes, sizes and colors (with a nod to Ed Garcia’s family and Justin Darrow and family members) and I thank you, every single person, from the bottom of my heart – every beautiful black face who is out here today. And everyone you represent.
My family, my mother, my Aunt Juanita thank you, also. I did want to say a few things if you would let me. As I said in the past, this is not about me. This has happened to hundreds and thousands of black women. Everyday, they are being raped. I have met a few women here tonight who have confided in me. They said they have been raped. They didn’t have the courage to come forward. I didn’t have the courage (at first) to come forward. It just came to me. My mother brought it up. My mother is that strong beautiful black woman who puts herself and her family out there. As my attorney Alton Maddox has said, we were offered a lot of money. I was personally offered a lot of money but I didn’t see the point in talking to the media and putting things out there if nothing was going to be done about it. I don’t see the point of putting this horrible act out in front of the world just for them to point, pick and prod.
A crime was committed against me. A crime was committed against the people. The press has lied to you. They have lied on me. You should be very upset. I am very upset. And I’m tired of it.
Just because it didn’t go exactly in our favor, it’s not over. This is just the beginning. Alton’s got a long way to go. We’ve got a long way to go because we’re not going to stop fighting for justice ’til we get it.
Pagones has been on the news, going around and saying much about nothing like he won and we’re going to sit around and just take it. And he … (Tawana pauses, trying to hold the tears back) … I’m sorry. Excuse me. Sometimes you just get so upset (Recovering) This is a joyous occasion. As I was saying, this isn’t over and we’re not going to stop fighting until we get justice. I want to thank every member of the UAM for this presentation. For this ceremony. For us.
It means so much when you’ve gone 10 years and a lot of the mass public are all up in your face saying , “You lied, You lied.” I say how can you say I lied when I never said anything to you.
I’ve learned much about trust, love, commitment – What a real strong black man is. I see that everyday in my father who stood by us everyday. In Alton Maddox, Rev. AL Sharpton, by all these strong brothers you see on either side of us – the members of the (100 Black Men in Law Enforcement). I see it here but I don’t see it where I am now. I see it when I come too Brooklyn. And I love Brooklyn.
I see it in all of you, and I am so glad that I came up because sometimes you go away, you stay and you lose faith and you don’t think anyone has faith in you, and then you come here and you see all your people, my people. A sister came up to me and said, “I think we’re related – genealogy.” Well, we are all related.
And just because some of us have lost our paths and lost our minds for a minute, everyone comes back around because the truth will always bring you back. The lies keep you away, but the truth will bring you back. And one day it will all come out.
So I’d like to just thank you and God Bless you.