‘Raising Hell’ documents Gary native’s activism
January 30, 2013 1:38PM
"Raising Hell: A Life of Activism" is written by Najee Ali, a former Gary resident and 1981 graduate of West Side High School.
Najee Ali chuckled after I called him a hothead.
“Well, I am from G.I.” I laughed and replied that he could not use that as an excuse.
I sat across from him and a mutual friend, Kwabena Sakidi Jijaga Rasuli, inside a conference room at the Kennedy Branch of the Gary Public Library Jan. 28 for an impromptu book signing.
Ali’s written a memoir entitled “Raising Hell: A Life of Activism.” The book signing was last minute as Ali returned home from Los Angeles for personal reasons.
At Rasuli’s request, the get-together was held.
“I will return to my hometown in the near future to host a book signing here,” Ali said, “and to do more activism in the community.”
I jokingly referred to Ali as a hothead after reading a section in one of the book’s chapters. He tells the story of while working part-time for the Los Angeles Clippers, his temper emerged and he was in a physical confrontation with a white male who ordered him to leave a Clippers practice session March 28, 1988.
Unbeknownst to Ali at the time, the man was then Clippers vice-president Andy Roeser. To find out the outcome of the confrontation you will have to get the book. The story is part of chapter two.
“Raising Hell” is not a book about being a hell-raiser in the negative sense. The book tells the story of a Gary boy named Ronald Todd Eskew, who grew up in the Delaney projects, went through personal hell and was a trouble-maker at first for the wrong reasons.
After graduating from West Side High School in 1981, he continued making bad decisions until a two-year stint in prison and converting to Islam changed his ways. He became a hell-raiser for the community and to right the wrongs done to others.
Ali’s activism is documented in 18 chapters, from work for the presidential campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson to Barack Obama. Ali also protested community injustices in South Central L.A.
His most recent protest, through his organization Project Islamic Hope, was aimed at the “Django Unchained” slave action figures sold after the release of the film.
Ali said he enjoyed the film but could not support the commercialization of the dolls, which have been taken off the market.
“Raising Hell: A Life of Activism” is available on amazon.com as an eBook. You can reach him at www.facebook.com/NajeeLAactivist or @najeeali on Twitter.