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Najee Ali’s Open Letter to Mayor James T. Butts of Inglewood CA Regarding Stevie Wonder

Najee Ali - headface
Najee Ali

*Najee Ali, whether you agree with him or not, is a fighter, akin to a bulldog. Once he goes after something, he usually doesn’t stop until he gets it.

That brings us to today where we find the LA-based activist in a very public dust-up with the mayor of Inglewood, CA: James T. Butts. You see, Ali is lobbying Mayor Butts to highlight Stevie Wonder by naming a street after him or honoring the iconic entertainer in some public way.

Well, for whatever reason, Butts isn’t down with it. Maybe he likes the idea, but because it’s coming from Ali, who he refers to as an “attention seeker who doesn’t live in Inglewood,” he’s hesitant to do it. At least while Wonder is alive, according to Ali. In any event, Ali has written an open letter to Butts about the situation. Read it below.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG SLAMMED FOR CLAIMING THAT BEING GAY IS SIMILAR TO BLACK OPPRESSION

Stevie Wonder & James T Butts
Stevie Wonder and Inglewood, CA Mayor James T. Butts

Mayor Butts under your leadership the City of Inglewood has secured two N.F.L Football teams, it has seen economic growth with major retails stores coming into the city as well.

Being the Mayor of any city must be a challenging job. You have done good work on behalf of the citizens in some areas, in other areas your leadership has been rightly criticized.

No one is above reproach. When fellow activists showed great public disdain for you. I never followed suit. I have always treated you fairly and with respect, which is why I was so shocked at your public criticism on me on your Facebook post responding to me publicly asking that you reconsider naming an honorary street outside of KJLH Radio Station on behalf of its owner the legendary activist, philanthropist and musical genius Stevie Wonder.

These are your exact words posted to my response by you on Facebook:

Najee Ali – You’re very disingenuous.  We have never had a substantive discussion about this topic. Secondly, it’s not your place to advocate or decide such issues. Aren’t you a Los Angeles resident?  Go lobby your mayor and stop tagging me. For the record, I have great respect for Stevie Wonder and grew up with his music. Inglewood will decide when and what is appropriate tribute to this icon.

Mayor Butts, it was several years ago I asked you to consider honoring Wonder, who in my opinion is one of the greatest and humblest human beings to ever walk in the face of the earth. Not only has he blessed humanity with a God-given talent of music his activism and philanthropy which has been demonstrated, known and appreciated nation-wide for decades. If anyone is worthy of an honorary street in Inglewood it’s Wonder. Mayor Butt’s when you responded that you would not consider honoring Wonder in that manner until he died. That look of disbelief on my face was, in reality, I thought you were nuts. I didn’t debate or argue. You’re the Mayor. Whatever you say goes. I said thank you for considering my request and left. There was no need for a substantive conversation you said no.

Najee Ali - Stevie Wonder
Najee Ali – Stevie Wonder

This past Monday I had the honor of being in attendance with Wonder at the Berry Gordy Square dedication in Hollywood which Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell sponsored, an effort spearheaded by Mr. Gordy’s niece, Karla Gordy Bristol, with my assistance. I sat next to Wonder for a spell at the ceremony and spoke to him he was visibly moved with emotion at the honor Gordy was receiving. He even thanked me for helping with it and asked me to call him. As I helped walk him to his car, I was more determined to help honor Wonder. Like Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder should be given his flowers on earth while he’s living opposed to when he’s dead.

That’s why I asked you publicly Mayor Butts to re-consider honoring Wonder in Inglewood outside of KJLH Radio with an honorary street. And why not? I’ve heard you on the KJLH airwaves numerous times over the years responding to and trying to explain yourself in controversial issues you became entangled in, Wonder’s station has also sponsored numerous city events on your behalf. Every time Wonder is at a public event you’re at in Inglewood, you make sure you get a photo-op with him, but you refuse to honor Mr. Wonder while he’s still living.

The fact that I live in Los Angeles and not Inglewood is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard of. I don’t need to live in Inglewood to lobby for Wonder. Stevie Wonder advocated for a holiday for Dr. King and didn’t live in Washington DC. The bottom line is you should serve the people unless you feel like you’re a dictator. Inglewood residents are already responding on social media asking that you honor Stevie Wonder while he’s living. Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said yes immediately in the hallways of Los Angeles City Hall when asked to honor Berry Gordy because he understood the importance of honoring a legend while he’s alive. What a difference in true leadership.

Mayor Butts, you, on the other hand, says Wonder is an icon yet you refuse to treat him as one … choosing instead to possibly honor Wonder only after he dies. I’ve yet to hear anyone in a political office say, “Don’t honor me for my work or service to my community until I’m dead.”

Najee Ali

Director of Project Islamic Hope

www.najeeali.com

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