Dear Black People,
Shame on us for not stepping up to help “Queen Mother” Helen Sinclair.
The 97-year-old community activist and prison chaplain is facing foreclosure on her Bronzeville home that she has lived in since 1927.
Despite Sinclair going public about her plight, the black community has not responded.
It is embarrassing that a GoFundMe page that was set up nearly two months ago to help Sinclair had raised only five bucks as of Tuesday.
I didn’t know about the campaign when I wrote a column last week about the looming foreclosure or I would have mentioned it.
Henry Kersee, one of Sinclair’s colleagues, created the GoFundMe campaign in April after he learned Wells Fargo was threatening Sinclair with foreclosure.
“At this time we have collected $5 towards a $100,000 effort to save and refurbish her home — a museum that houses many treasured artifacts that is falling down around her,” Kersee said in an email.
I know that many of you are going through difficult times, but $5?
That’s just ridiculous.
More than likely, most residents of that building are not African-Americans.
So what’s the problem? Why are we not supporting our own people?
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for support from all readers. For instance, readers contributed more than $24,000 in 10 months to help the parents of 3-year-old Devon Quinn, who was shot while sitting in his father’s car.
So please don’t think I don’t appreciate the generosity of white benefactors.
But what does it say about black people when we don’t support our own?
Sinclair was going into Illinois prisons filled with black men and women long before prison advocacy became popular.
Sinclair’s mother, the Rev. Jessie “Ma” Houston, was a pioneer in prison ministry.
“[Sinclair] is at the penitentiary for the entire black history month. She goes downstate every other weekend, and, at 97, she has no transportation,” Kersee told me.
“I thought the first day the word got out [about the GoFundMe campaign] it would spread like wildfire because of who she is. She deserves better treatment,” he said.
Willie Wilson, the African-American businessman and philanthropist who ran for governor, responded to my May 9 column about Sinclair, and several readers forwarded information they thought Sinclair would find helpful.
Interestingly, a suburban white woman is helping the elderly black woman navigate the court system to fight the foreclosure.
But there has not been an outpouring of support in the black community for this African-American icon.
Obviously, a younger generation might not know who Sinclair is, or what she has contributed to the black community over the years.
But there are scores of community organizations, especially those serving ex-offenders, that are familiar with Sinclair’s work.
When I spoke to the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. last week about Sinclair, he called her an “outstanding community servant,” and promised to call Wells Fargo on her behalf.
But this woman is a fixture at Operation PUSH, and that organization should take the lead in raising money for this cause.
That’s just unfathomable.
“I don’t know why people aren’t contributing, but she is very important to the returning citizens of Illinois,” said Kersee, whose nonprofit organization, Paradigm Group Service Center, serves ex-offenders.
“I pray we can return the same love she has exhibited over the many decades she has advocated on their behalf,” he said.
Amen, brother. Amen.
To donate to this cause, please go to https://www.gofundme.com/stop-foreclosure-of-queens-home