Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick Hit -- Jesse Jackson, go...take a nap

Jesse Jackson holding court in the center of the madness with families at Burr Oak.

So after unearthing even more human remains on the grounds, Burr Oak Cemetery has been formally declared a crime scene and for the time being shut down. My own father was one of many people who went out to Burr Oak in the rain on Friday, sat in a line of cars down 127th Street and was ultimately turned away. To date my family and I still have absolutely no information about the condition of our relatives' graves and probably won't for the forseeable future.

After failing to receive any assistance calling the 800 number or the local number set up by the Cook County Sheriff's Office, I sent an email to the address they set up ( and got this response:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the investigation at Burr Oak
Cemetery. Everyone who sends an email will receive a personal
response, but we ask for your patience, as the requests have been
overwhelming. Thank you.

Now comes word today that Cook County Sheriff's will be processing paperwork at Eisenhower High School near the cemetery and that Jesse Jackson is leading some kind of prayer vigil for the families at the burial grounds today. Several friends called or texted to tell me about it and ask if I was going. My answer is a resounding "no."

Already I've grown weary of Black grief being publicly exploited during the course of this story. I can't take one more family member -- usually a Black woman -- on TV wailing about this. Let's face it -- our emotion makes great TV. And the thought of Jesse Jackson, once again, capitalizing on that grief is too much.

I don't know about anybody else but between being quoted everywhere and showing up at the Michael Jackson memorials in L.A. AND Gary, Indiana AND showing up behind Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart at nearly every stand up about Burr Oak, I've had just about enough of Jesse.

Haven't you?

The last thing we need right now is more spectacle. The last thing we need right now is rhyming and rhetoric.

We need less public grief and more answers. Less wailing and more strategy. I can pray and grieve privately -- and I have. I don't need Jesse Jackson's help with that. Jackson's Rainbow PUSH has helped families with filling out paperwork about family members buried at Burr Oak -- which, frankly, is the responsibility of the Cook County Sheriff's Department and what's left of Burr Oak's front office.

My faith informs that we come from the earth and to the earth we shall return. My faith informs me that my loved ones are not "there" in Burr Oak, but are with the Lord. I believe that and take solace in it.

But that doesn't mean that the people responsible for this unconscionable betrayal of the public's trust (and it goes far beyond the four who have been charged) shouldn't be held accountable legally, ethically and financially for what they have done. I don't want a public prayer vigil -- I want action.

It's been revealed that Illinois lacks tough regulations for cemeteries and the state has little regulatory oversight by law -- which ought to quiet critics who've tried to blame family members for "not visiting" Burr Oak often enough to do something about the lack of maintenance and oversight. Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes has just now started proceedings to revoke the trust fund license of Burr Oak's Phoenix-based owner, Perpetua Holdings.

If Jesse Jackson insists on being involved in the Burr Oak tragedy I hope he uses his influence to organize families to advocate state legislators for stronger laws on Illinois cemeteries. Help families sort out exactly what their rights are civilly and criminally as it relates to this case.

He doesn't have to hold court at a presser or a public "vigil" surrounded by news cameras for ANY of that to happen.

But I bet he will.

Still seeking justice,


  1. Amen. You said it and gracefully. Praying for you and your family.

  2. The Lighthouse Church of All NationsJuly 13, 2009 at 9:57 AM

    Blessings to you and thank you for sharing your heart with everyone -- as a brief side note, it was our church that hosted the Prayer Vigil yesterday. Rev. Jackson aside, when we received the call from his office, we agreed to host it in order to provide a place of rest and comfort for the families - many of which are members of our church family. Please do know that The Lighthouse Church stands ready to assist in any way we can. Blessings & Love to all.

  3. @Tracy -- Thank you!

    @Lighthouse Church -- thanks for stopping by and for your heartfelt words of comfort. We need prayer but we need to organize and act as well.