When unarmed teen Mike Brown was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., there was an international outcry demanding justice for Mike, and people like him. After the unjustified fatal shootings of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, etc etc, people everywhere were looking for a way to express their hurt, to express their pain, and to show their solidarity. Ray Mills and his good friend Londrelle Hall found a particularly unique and admirable way to channel their feelings about the death of Mike Brown. These two Atlanta natives and founders of “Run For Justice” made the decision to run from Atlanta, GA to Ferguson, Mo., until they reached the destination where Mike Brown had been slain.
In light of the recent findings by the Department of Justice, deeming the Ferguson Police Department corrupt, as well as the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”, which many know as the March on Selma, I thought it appropriate to talk to one of our generation’s Freedom Fighters. Though, during our interview, he didn’t give me the impression that he thought of himself in that way, in my mind, and in the minds of many others, he has certainly made a major contribution to our nation’s history, and our continued struggle for equality and social justice.
Check out my interview with Ray Mills below:
KarmaJonez What was this experience like? Did you ever think about giving up?
It was a couple of times it crossed my mind. I asked ‘Why am I putting myself through this?’ At the time, we were going through states with heavy snow, sleet, rain. So when you’re out there doing it, your’e just thinking ‘This is insane. What am I doing?’ But I understood in the back of my head, the purpose of why were doing it. That kept me going. Getting up in the morning knowing that we were going to have to run 30 to 35 miles that day.
KarmaJonez Did you encounter any negativity along the way?
When were traveling through North Georgia, we didn’t get served at a particular restaurant. They wouldn’t serve us food. We also experienced that in Kentucky. When were going through Tennessee, people would ride by and say derogatory things to us. It wasn’t all positive. We remained positive. And we got a lot of positivity when we arrived in Ferguson. But leading up to it, we didn’t get a whole lot of people who really understood what we were doing and why we were doing it. It was an eye opener. I’m 29, so I never really felt discrimination like that. When it happens to you directly, it’s a real eye opener.
KarmaJonez Explain the feeling when you arrived in Ferguson?
My friend, who is like my brother, Londrelle, it was very emotional for him. We show our emotions in different ways. But it was very emotional for me, just knowing that I could have been Mike Brown. Any African American male could have been Mike Brown. So to travel all that way for someone we didn’t even know, it was very overwhelming.
KarmaJonez What do you think Black Youth needs most in this day and age?
Guidance. We need leadership. We need to stop having so many followers. We need leaders like they had in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s with the Martin Luther Kings and the Malcolm X’s, etc. I’m not seeing enough leaders. Our young people aren’t trendsetters, they’re trend followers. Whatever the newest trend may be, they’re going to go with it. Whether it’s smoking, or molly, or whatever. You can still be cool and live positive. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. I don’t knock it, I just don’t do it. A lot of the people we consider leaders now are trend followers.
KarmaJonez What’s next for you guys?
A lot! We have the anniversary of Selma. We’ve been doing pop up runs in different cities. We’ve gotten a lot of support. We’re working on a book that we’ll be releasing this Summer. Basically telling about our journey, and our lives. A lot of people still don’t understand our lives. They know what we’ve done, but people don’t really know us an individuals. So the book will tell about how we came together to come up with this idea, and where we look to go in the future.
KarmaJonez What are your thoughts on the DOJ findings in Ferguson:
That’s new to the world, but it’s not new to me. I’ve been a part of the justice system before run for justice, so I’ve seen the corruption. I know it’s there. This is just one instance where somebody got caught. But it’s happening all over. That’s how they generate their revenue. It happens all over. They just got caught because an incident blew up on their watch. I would go so far as to say that’s happening in most departments nationwide. It’s sad, and I’m happy it’s come out. But I believe this has been happening forever.
(Ray Mills on left; Londrelle on right)
Make sure you follow Ray and Londrelle on IG at @RayMills and @Londrelle
Also, check out Ray’s NonProfit, Flawed Inc.!
And don’t forget to fight for justice and equality every singe day. Ray and Londrelle