*Los Angeles-based civil rights activist and founder/CEO of Project Islamic H.O.P.E., Najee Ali announced that he plans to fill the void left by his late father-in-law, Imam W. D. Muhammed.
Ali said that Project Islamic H.O.P.E. (Helping Oppressed People Everywhere) will take a leadership role by tackling several issues affecting the black community.
“We still don’t have an organization that speaks to our issues,” said Ali. “Project Islamic Hope has decided to step up to the plate and fill the void.”
Ali said he is more than up to the challenge.
“Everything that I have experienced in my life has led me to this moment. I feel I’m well prepared to carry on the burden and obligation that is before me in attempting to keep the indigenous Islamic movement alive,” Ali added.
The civil rights activist said that he has launched two national grass roots initiatives that are designed to return the indigenous Islamic community back to its roots as a social reform movement in the tradition of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. Ali said the organization has chapters in cities across the country and has already selected a national board of directors comprised of a diverse group of young adults from across the nation.
“This new national Islamic movement is going to be led by the youth of Islam,” said Ali.
“We are prepared to carry on the legacy of my (former father-in-law) Imam Muhammed…we’re going to continue the Islamic work he envisioned and expand upon it, by taking Islam back to the streets with social and political activism, being a champion for the people in need, in the spirit of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali,” Ali stated.
Ali said that Project Islamic H.O.P.E. intends to meet with Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, Ben Jealous of the NAACP and Marc Morial of the National Urban League and hopes to work with them to solve black issues.
“We also want to hold President Obama accountable to make sure we have a black agenda for our community,” said Ali.
As for whether he feels black leaders will “come together” to tackle problems in the black community, Ali was optimistic.
“I don’t perceive myself as having a problem working with any black leader. We have a right to agree to disagree when it comes to public policy,” he pointed out.
Ali said that the first issue that will be addressed is an anti-prostitution initiative, which will be held in Los Angeles this year and will be unveiled nationally in August. The new initiative will protest against prostitution and work with social service providers to help provide support and referrals for women who need help to overcome homelessness, domestic violence and substance abuse problems. A town hall meeting is scheduled for the first week in August in Los Angeles, and weekly street outreach is currently underway.
Ali said the second initiative Project Islamic H.O.P.E. plans to address is a national summit between Latino and African American leaders that will be held in Los Angeles this year. The purpose is for the two groups to find a common ground over a host of issues that have found them directly at odds in recent years: jobs, housing, education, healthcare, and gangs.
Project Islamic Hope plans to use Los Angeles as a model and launch similar events, conferences, and programs in Washington, D. C., New York, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, and other areas where Latinos and African Americans reside.
“Project Islamic H.O.P.E. intends to continue to help unify communities across religious and ethnic lines,” stated Ali.
Ali, who was once affiliated with Rev. Sharpton’s National Action Network, also weighed in on the recent Tony Wafford sexual harassment lawsuit, in which the West Coast Director of NAN took a leave of absence this week after losing the suit against former employee Sharon Song Byrd.
“Sharpton has always been a champion of black women, so how could he have someone in his organization charged with sexually harassing black women?” Ali said. “One thing I know is that everybody is outraged. I think Sharpton made the right move.”