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Say His Name Victor McElhaney, 21, was a son of Oakland, California, slain near the campus of the University of Southern California. But he was all our son. A murdered American son in a mounting national toll.

“America doesn’t have a murder problem. America—black and white America—has a heart problem.”
Victor McElhaney, 21, a student at the University of Southern California, where he was studying jazz percussion, was fatally shot in Los Angeles on March 10, according to police, during a robbery outside a liquor store near campus.

By John W. Fountain

VICTOR MCELHANEY. SAY HIS NAME. We should all know his name. Say his name: Victor McElhaney… He was not a statistic. Not just another headline soon to be discarded from memory amid the so-called breaking news on the morning after. Not just another young black male slain. Not a nameless, faceless murdered brother claimed by the homicidal swell that leaves far too many black mothers to wail in an endless sea of the blood and tears of murdered black men that flows from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea. Say his name: Victor McElhaney… He was not a son of Chicago but a son of Oakland, California. And yet, we should all know his name. Victor, 21, was fatally shot in Los Angeles on March 10, during a robbery outside a liquor store near the campus of the University of Southern California, where he was studying jazz percussion. His mother, Lynette Gibson McElhaney, an Oakland city councilwoman, is a longtime outspoken activist against violence.

It was during a visit a few years ago to my friend Pastor Zachary E. Carey’s True Vine Ministries, where the McElhaney’s are members, and where Victor grew up playing drums, that I witnessed firsthand their fervor and fight. I stood with the church on the city’s streets where they have marched each Saturday for years to bring attention to the scourge called murder.

And yet, here we are. No clear and easy solutions. No end in sight. Only a trail of blood and tears, and senseless slayings that steal even sons of promise by an evil that is no respecter of persons and that runs rampant, particularly in black communities. Chicago—my hometown, where once upon a time I was the Chicago Tribune’s chief crime reporter—stands as a microcosm of our collective seismic sorrow.

We lift our eyes to the hills as they run with a river of salty tears. From whence cometh our help?

It will not come from politicians and assorted poverty pimps whose allegiance is to the powers that be. It will not come from the church, which has lost her prophetic zeal, her voice and purpose. A mostly impotent church that sits fat and mum each Sunday about this catastrophe from which none of Black America is immune. A church that pushes prosperity doctrine, faith conferences and annual church convocations and congresses while the corpses of our sons—and daughters—lie in the streets.

A church that builds multi-million-dollar so-called worship centers topped with grand glowing crosses and sky-piercing spires while it largely has placed on the backburner the building up of temples of flesh and blood and heart and soul. A church that too often ignores the creation of “community,” healing, peace, love and hope and wholeness in neighborhoods they occupy and where gunfire, murder and mayhem reign. A church that has forgotten her first love though a faithful remnant cries in the wilderness—working, praying, fighting, still hoping for change to come. From whence cometh our help?

Our help will not be from some coming Messiah (Barack Obama did not save us), or by prayer alone. Not by sitting on our hands. And yet, I pray: Lord, hear our cry. Say his name...

(Caption: Victor McElhaney, 21, a native of Oakland, California, with his parents Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Clarence McElhaney)

Not a California problem. Not just a Chicago problem. An American Problem.

Created By
John W. Fountain
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