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Tyler Perry’s gift to bold minister will help save black lives

Updated: May 9, 2012 10:18AM



I love me some Tyler Perry.

On Friday, Perry closed out Black History Month by donating $98,000 to Project H.O.O.D.

The rooftop campaign, led by the Rev. Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church, began on Nov. 22. The goal was to raise $450,000 needed to buy a boarded-up motel at 6625 S. King Drive, then replace it with a community center.

The publicity stunt was also supposed to focus attention on the city’s deplorable violence.

Brooks had been up on the roof for 94 days. During his self-imposed exile, Brooks managed to raise most of the money needed to purchase the blighted structure.

Although some of Brooks’ peers supported his bodacious effort, others snubbed the crusade.

“The lord didn’t give it to me to go up on the roof to raise money,” is the way one minister put it.

Perry’s hefty contribution, along with $85,000 from an anonymous donor, gave Brooks the victory over the Doubting Thomases.

“When I got the news, I was speechless and just cried like a big baby and even now at this very moment I am overwhelmed with joy because people understand the importance of this cause. We must stop gun violence!” Brooks said in an e-mail.

Perry’s generosity put a positive cap on a black history month that was going out on a sour note here in Chicago.

On Friday, the indictment of Cook County Commissioner William Beavers was splashed across the front pages.

Beavers is an old-school politician. When he was alderman, anyone who wanted anything knew they had to go through him.

But you would think that once a black politician obtained rank in the city’s political power structure, things would get easier for African Americans in the neighborhoods.

But that hasn’t been the case.

I’ve seen grown men shaking in their shoes when they had to go see Beavers.

A flashy pol, Beavers had that same swagger when he moved over to the Cook County Board.

But last week the feds called him out, alleging the former alderman and retired Chicago police officer failed to pay taxes on $226,000 he took from his campaign funds and county expense account.

Beavers fired back, telling reporters he was indicted because he refused to wear a wire against Commissioner John Daley.

“They tried to get to me to become a stool pigeon, and I wouldn’t become a stool pigeon,” Beavers said.

I wouldn’t dismiss Beavers’ claim as nonsense. But his defense reminded me why Brooks went up on the roof in the first place.

Last year Brooks did 10 funerals for black males under the age of 25 who were shot and killed by guns.

The names of these victims never made the newspaper and in many cases, the shooters are still at large.

When police ask questions, the response they usually get from people who are hanging out on the block is a lot like the one Beavers gave reporters.

The “No Snitch” rule doesn’t just exist in the neighborhoods.

Historically, few people have cared so much about the fate of the young people who are harmed by this culture that they were willing to sleep on a roof in the cold to make a point.

Of course, Chicago’s sordid history of corruption and crime wasn’t on Perry’s mind when he went on the Tom Joyner Morning Show to promote his new film, “Good Deeds.”

A listener nominated Brooks to receive a Harley Davidson, the initial prize offered in the contest. But when Perry heard about Brooks’ crusade, he promised to raise the additional funds as well.

Sure it was a promotional stunt.

And not everyone is a big fan of the work Tyler Perry has done, especially when it comes to his character “Madea.”

But it was gratifying to see the man who made his fortune on plays that spoof black culture give back to help save black lives.

Perry’s gift is awesome because it honors the audience that made him what he is today.



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