#BigThingsThursday is a weekly series of short interviews with people who are doing big things for the community and for the world. If you know someone who's doing big things, let me know: BigThings@LucyKalantari.com.
Meet Devin L. Walker, musician, author, activist, educator, and an incredibly BUSY and dedicated person. When we chatted about what he's been up to, I felt incredibly lazy, and when you read about it below, you'll see why. This guy is doing some stuff!
Q. BIG THINGS begin with an intention, what is yours?
A. I am grateful that early in life, during my college years, I was able to recognize my purpose in life. I learned it while as an active member in the student movement to end racism and discrimination for all people of color. My big intention or purpose is centered on eliminating the contradiction of Africa being the richest continent on earth in terms of natural resources; but her people (i.e., anyone of African descent living on or off the continent) are among the poorest people on earth. This unnatural state was created and is maintained by the current economic and political systems that places profits over people. Therefore, I, as one of the billions of people of African descent, have an obligation to help change this unnatural condition. This is my Big Thing or intention!
Q. How are you fulfilling this intention?
A. Currently, I use my musical skills to help provide children with universal principles of love for self and others, which is the first step toward eradicating exploitation in the world. My show is called, The Uncle Devin Show®, which is an interactive, musical experience for children that uses percussion instruments to cultivate their minds – a dynamic cross between Fat Albert and Schoolhouse Rock. In January, I plan on launching a music and arts organization dedicated to teaching children of color how to deal with and combat racism and other forms of bigotry. Stay tuned!
Also, my upcoming CD, Be Yourself, will teach children to love themselves through fun songs such as, “No Such Thing As Good or Bad Hair,” “See Yourself in the Picture,” and “The Church Usher’s Dance.” For me, music is not an end, but a means to an end.
Outside of music and for practically all my adult life, I have always been in an organization dedicated toward unifying and liberating Africa against exploitation and greed. I was the lead organizer against the closing of the only and last public hospital in Washington, DC (DC General Hospital) and I was a co-creator of a health care initiative entitled, “The People Before Profits Community Healthcare Project,” which was modeled after and inspired by the Cuban Healthcare System. The mission of this project was to elevate ourselves as a people through education and community empowerment by creating a project that will effectively address the healthcare concerns of residents within a five-block radius of a majority African (African-American) community in Northeast, DC, using an alternative healthcare model predicated on people not profit.
An organization I co-founded was the Pan-African Liberation Organization (1990-2006), through which I traveled to Cuba, Panama, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, organizing in solidarity with different oppressed people, as well as working with different organizations in Azania (South Africa), Guinea, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Ireland, El Salvador, India, and the United States. I have also worked in solidarity with the American Indian Movement - International Indian Treaty Council.
I've also written two books that serves as appeals to the black church, where I discuss practical solutions the church can take to help eliminate inequality in the world (www.devinlwalkerbooks.com).
Q. What barriers have you encountered, and how have you dealt with them?
A. The biggest barrier I have encountered is the lack of critical thinking by those who are victims of exploitation. Much too often, many people accept information given to them by the powers that be and they accept it uncritically. Therefore, I learned early in life that it was my responsibility to help people think critically about information that is given to them, whether it be in school, church or other areas of society.
I have dealt with this barrier by conducting painstaking research that ultimately was published in my two books and through various organizations.
Extra: Share a favorite quote that keeps you motivated.
“To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them!” – Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
Wow! Thank you, Devin for your beautiful dedication and the load of inspiration! These are truly big things. For more information on The Uncle Devin Show, visit www.theuncledevinshow.com.
Check out this heart-warming video, "The Church Usher's Dance" bringing back the Soul Train with a twist and some help from the community.