Harvey Clark introduced our guest speaker, Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a political rights and social justice activist. He was the youngest person ever elected to hold public office in Arizona, having been elected in 2006, at the age of 19, to serve on the Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board. In 2007, he was the first black person to run for the office of mayor of the city of Phoenix. As an activist, he cut his teeth as a national youth director, chapter president, and national board member for the National Action Network. In 2014, he was the first black person in the city of Phoenix to run for the US Congress. His mission is to, “Keep the Faith.”


“There is a battle for the soul of the civil rights movement in the 21st century,” Maupin told us. “There’s a great deal of frustration and anger and renewed activism, particularly in the African-American community in this country today… People are really struggling with socio-economic issues, race issues, and political issues.” The slogan that has worked its way to the forefront is, “Black lives matter.” “Indeed,” said Maupin, “All lives matter.”


“Most of us in Rotary have been around long enough to have observed the height of the civil rights movement – a movement of people out of the tradition of slavery and Jim Crow, up through the leadership and tradition of Booker T. Washington and others who encouraged people to move beyond the topic of race to educate and empower themselves in order to integrate into the wider society; what Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to as,’the beloved community.’”


“That’s still something that we are lacking in our society today,” asserted Maupin. “But I think that, as time has shifted, so has the onus on which segments of our community that mandate now becomes a burden from the ‘antagonists’ to those who were once referred as ‘victims.’ It’s easy for people to stand up and exclaim, ‘Black lives matter,’ but that’s not civil rights work. Interrupting candidates at a rally or burning down your city or using racist ideologies and expecting those things to be incorporated into policy, is not civil rights activism. There’s a battle for the soul of the civil rights movement today.”


Some individuals who have come up in today’s modern movement are far more aggressive, far more radical, far less patriotic, far less interested in personal accountability and responsibility than in the past. These individuals are calling for a withdrawal from an integrated society to a “new era for African-American leadership;” one that is a population-wide subscription of segregation. “I happen to think we are better together,” said Maupin.


“My focus has been to remind folks that we are all obligated as citizens, as people who are invested financially, emotionally, socially, and spiritually in the well-being of this country. The civil rights movement needs to hear from people of your generation; you have survived one of the most contentious racial periods in the history of our nation. It’s important for the emerging generations to hear from you and to have some perspective put on an era that they don’t understand and they are frustrated about, and that has caused them to do a great deal of harm to the current status of the civil rights movement today.


“The war on poverty, the civil rights act, the things that we’ve seen passed have really been turned into some dangerous legislative panaceas that are not addressing the problems that we’re having. You see expenditures – an incredible amount of tax dollars – going into things like inner city housing, but the bids are awarded according to who gives the best contribution to campaign elections and not a single inner city adult is hired to do the work.


“We were given an opportunity through the work of Dr. King and his contemporaries to have a society where we invest fairly and adequately in what was considered at the time to be a permanent underclass, and we have proven time and time again that when the money, resources, and people in place are working to really advance the cause of what can be described as oppressed or disenfranchised or marginalized people, we see wide successes.


“As much as we need to hear from the Reverend Jacksons and Reverend Sharptons of the world, we still need to hear from people who are outside the inner city to help put things in perspective… that we are better when we function together, united as a people and as a society, that we are stronger as a country when we overcome the issues of race and other issues that divide us.”