Some of the key founders and participants in the BVSJ initial movement were: John Carter, Orunde Takuma, Larry Smith, Larry Myers, Percell Grey, Mustafa Randolph, Philip Jay Jones, Ayana Ajanaku, Steve Williams, Rev. Herbert Daughtry and others. Only a few of these members were at the original founding meeting.
BVSJ evolved from many people within our community, plus national and inter- national activists. After a couple of months of processing procedures, meet-ings, discussions and defining our purpose, we finally named ourselves and had an election for officers. On or about April 1978 I was elected Chairman of Black Veterans for Social Justice by the overwhelming participants. Some of the key founders and participants in the BVSJ initial movement were: John Carter, Orunde Takuma, Larry Smith, Larry Myers, Percell Grey, Mustafa Randolph, Philip Jay Jones, Ayana Ajanaku, Steve Williams, Rev. Herbert Daughtry and others. Only a few of these members were at the original founding meeting. At that time I was in college and working in the schools work-study program counseling and helping Vietnam Veterans get into college. On April 18th, 1979 we became incorporated in New York State. We were very clear at this time of what our mission was: To oppose the oppressive and insensitive policies of this government and public. We would do this by organizing veterans to be self-empowered, a force for social change and community development. It seemed contradictory that veterans, as a special loyal population, had served this country and given there all but were receiving some of the most inhumane and harsh treatment from this society. The police had killed Peter Funches, a Vietnam Veteran. The public was calling Vietnam Veterans baby killers: the Veterans Administration was denying help and compensation to Agent Orange and mentally ill veterans: the government was paying little or no attention to the veterans’ cry for redress and compensation for their ills, As the elected leader of BVSJ, I had no reservations in questioning my ability of moving this organization forward. (See Amsterdam News article dated, Nov. 5-11, 2009) I was a student activist: I had been a military activist. I was the Brooklyn Chair of the African Liberation Committee as well as Co-Chair of the Political Committee for the National Black United Front. I served as Vice Chair to bring Medgar Evers College into fruition. I also had the honor of representing progressive people from America at the funeral of Dr. Kwame N’krumah in Guinea and Ghana as the guest of each government. My confidence and training came from such notables as Queen Mother Moore and her sister Mother Langley, Jitu Weusi, my brother, Sam Pinn, AI Vann, Rev. Daughtry and many others like -Dr~Betty Shabazz and Safiya Bandele. I knew that if I followed the established principles success was eminent. 1. Treat people the way you like to be treated. 2. Learn from the people and share the information. 3. Be consistent and determined. 4. Think and use creative approaches. 5. Work toward unity of our people – one family. 6. Establish productive and collective work for all. 7. View each person as family and share resources. 8. Charity begins at home – support your brothers and sisters and community. 9. Have faith in our people and the righteousness of our struggles. Today Black Vets is alive, nationally known, well respected and still dedicated more than ever to its mission. My continued thought while we were building BVSJ was how to make sure this unique organization, which rose from our community consciousness and struggles, is solidly planted as an institute for multi-service of our veterans and community. We must maintain the life, energy, resources and wisdom of BVSJ to propagate the work many began and continues with overwhelming support from our people and community. The transition in BVSJ was seamless. BVSJ is in excellent hands. In moving on and forward, I am very happy. Aside from dealing with several serious medical problems I can truly say I am Blessed! I wish to thank all for this wonderful recognition, my family, friends, staff, workers, supporters, Boys High Guys, mentors, BVSJ leaders, Board of Direc- tors and founders for their collective spirit and participation in guiding me and this organization forward. My cry has been “Forward ever, backward never!” Kwame N’krumah If there is praise for BVSJ’s work and myself, then it goes to you and the Creator. All mistakes have been mine.