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Sonny Carson--A Servant to the Community
By: Kwesi Driskell

Sonny Carson a community activist whose life was the subject of a Hollywood motion picture passed away on Friday December 20, 2002. Carson was youth gang member, and convicted criminal. However in Malcolm X’s fashion he turned away from crime and became a dedicated community servant.

Robert Sonny Carson Jr. was born on May 20, 1929, in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Sonny was the oldest of his 5 siblings. His son Lumumba Carson is a hip-hop artist, and part of the X-Clan rap group.

When Sonny was three years old, he and his family moved from Orangeburg, South Carolina to Brooklyn, New York. As a kid he went through the New York City primary and secondary schools. He graduated from Alexander Hamilton high school.

In his teenage years, Sonny was a member of a gang called the Lords. After his high school graduation Sonny joined the United States Army. In the service he was a wartime paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne during the Korean War.

Sonny did a lot of positive things to improve the community however he wasn’t always a good guy. In 1974 Sonny was arrested on murder, attempted murder and kidnapping charges. Although he was acquitted of the murder charges, he was sentenced to seven years for kidnapping. At the time he was filming the movie of his autobiography, “The Education of Sonny Carson.”

Because Sonny knew about the racial inequalities in his community he set out for change. The Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill Brownsville areas were places where Sonny fought over community power of control schools. He was a founding board member of the oldest community development corporation (CDC) in America, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. He was also one of the founders of Medgar Evers College {CUNY}.

Sonny was a phenomenal event organizer. He was specifically good in organizing rallies for justice and equality regarding police brutality. He was mad at the thought of economic exploitation. As a result he made commercial boycotts for the advancement of consumer services for the community. He created the Black Men’s Movement Against Crack a group dedicated to fighting drugs. He was a part of the protest of the reburial of the African ancestors in the African Burial Ground.


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