Pioneering Change Leader Merchon Green with devotte Sergio Mota
ON 5.9.2017 MS. MERCHON GREEN, THE FOUNDER OF “PIONEERING CHANGE,” A NEW MOVEMENT TO ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF THE RESIDENTS OF GIFFORD, FL, INTRODUCED HER INITIATIVE TO THE THE INDIAN RIVER COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS.
Gifford has a rich African American history.
However, violent crime, on a scale from 1 (low crime) to 100, is 63. Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The US average is 31.1. (Source: Sperling’s Best Places.)
In 2015, 31.3% of Gifford residents had income below the poverty level. (Source: City-Data.com.)
Ms. Green began her articulate and impassioned presentation by informing the commissioners that Pioneering Change is a “community action organization” started right after the death of Alteria Woods. “It lit a fire under us after her death but Pioneering Change was not started solely for that incident.”
(Alteria Woods was a 21-year-old woman who was killed during a March shootout amid a SWAT raid at her Gifford home, reports CBS affiliate WPEC.
Police were targeting Alteria Woods’ boyfriend and his father during the raid that left Woods dead and a deputy wounded.
Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar said Woods was an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire, but also said her boyfriend, 23-year-old Andrew Coffee IV, used her as a shield during the shootout.)
Ms. Green indicated that Pioneering Change has four goals:
- Unify our community
- Make our citizens self-sufficient by becoming their intermediary
- Provide resolutions for issues plaguing our community, and
- Create future leaders.
Ms. Green, who grew up in Gifford, whose parents live in Gifford, who lives in Gifford and who received a full scholarship to Florida State University and then a law degree from Southern University Law Center in Louisiana, walks door to door with her devotees to meet every neighbor and introduce themselves and their new community action group.
“Sometimes we need to knock on a door three separate times to visit with the neighbor and get their attention. We are the Jehovah’s Witness of Gifford.
We want to know people’s concerns and if they feel they have a voice. We want to get people not normally involved, involved.
We look at a person while you dialog with that person.
We are a catalyst for change. We are not trying to be their voice, but give a voice to them.
We tell people who do not feel respected and don’t matter that yes, you do matter.”
At a Pioneering Change community meeting on May 8, 2017, there were over 60 people in attendance.
Ms. Green concluded her remarks addressing the County Commissioners saying, “We are working for positive change and would love it if every one of you would support us in this movement.”
At that, County Commission Chairman Joe Flesher said that he had had several previous discussions with Ms. Green and “I did clearly indicate that it’s (Pioneering Change) got great intentions; I did remind you about the relationship we have with the Progressive League, as well as the N.A.A.C.P and many many community leaders that have existed for many many years and we have been able to move things forward significantly with that relationship.
I also look forward to a relationship with your group as well, however, I don’t believe it is the right timing, (Emphasis added) with again, you said, you know, this was also spawned from the recent events including the unfortunate loss of Terry Woods and some of the proposed discussion would have evolved back to that scenario, that discussion, that open active investigation and with the Sheriff, as well…that’s not to say this is not a well intentioned or good intentioned community group looking for positive change, and I look forward to working with you on that accord, but not on the rails of any of the open active investigations…”
For a video of Ms. Green’s presentation and her interaction with Commissioner please click this link.
Later in her interaction with Commissioner Fletcher Ms. Green said: “There is still a divide. Things have not changed. It its baffling how any negativity could derive from such a positive idea and movement.”
Ms. Green posted the above link on her Facebook page and has received 54 comments, 77 shares and 3,500 views.
Here are just two of the comments:
“Just watched this again. And I am floored by how negative he was. He basically was telling you that the Gifford community is doing good with the two organizations they have, be happy with that. Yet, there are a million organizations started by white people for any and everything. So why does Gifford have to be okay with the two “longstanding?” Not to mention, he doesn’t live in Gifford (although he represents Gifford) and doesn’t even care to speak to the people in Gifford. Way to keep your cool Green, he was determined to discredit Pioneering Change but you stood your ground.”
“Then to talk about emotions, mostly ALL of the groups originated from emotions. Tired of women’s suffrage…..a group was started. Tired of injustice…..ACLU was started. Sick of wrongful convictions…….Innocence Project was started. He should’ve just stopped while he was ahead.”
At the conclusion of the session, Mr. Freddie Woolfork, Public Relations Director of the Gifford Youth Achievement Center addressed the County Commissioners.
“There is a new group that is coming about. We don’t feel that’s a threat or divide. I’m so really happy to see young people with this new group coming together to fight for justice, fairness and equity in our community.”
So why might Commissioner Flesher regret he missed an opportunity not to embrace “Pioneering Change?”
Because ironically, three days later, the National Board of the N.A.A.C.P. voted to dismiss the organization’s president, Cornell William Brooks, after only three years, pledging a “systemwide refresh” at the nation’s largest and most storied civil rights group. (Source: New York Times.)
According to a N.A.A.C.P. statement, “In the coming months, our leadership will embark on a listening tour, for the first time in our history (Emphasis added). It is clear that Americans of all genders and ages, from all of the corners of all 50 states, have been aching to be understood, to be seen – and now, they are demanding to be heard. We want to meet those demands, and in doing so, ensure that we are harnessing the energy and voice of our grassroots membership as we pursue transformational change.”
Ms. Green and Pioneering Change is a game changer. Maybe the N.A.A.C.P. was influenced by her! Commissioner Flesher is going to be left behind, wishing he had been the game changer.
Merchon Green: “We look at a person while you dialog with that person.”