Conrad Tillard IS Running For City Council


Rev. Conrad Tillard IS Running for City Council:

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
This is part of an indepth interview conducted  with Rev. Conrad Tillard, newly declared candidate for Bedford Stuyvesant's 36 Councilmatic District.The interview took place at Peaches, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, Wednesday, April 24, 2013.

You might say that Conrad Tillard is following the time honored saying of "better late than not at all."  At least that's the word on the street from Brooklynites in Bed Stuy who thought they were facing a three way race for the soon to be vacated seat of Assemblyman turned City Council maven Al  Vann.  The race has now expanded to six since his entry into the fray.  

Al Vann has had the enviable position of living his life in service to his constituency, and now having done an extremely great job, is preparing to step down - though not necessarily walking off into the sunset just yet.   However, he is leaving some mighty big shoes to fill, and some great footsteps to follow  Foot steps Rev. Conrad Tillard feels he is more than capable and prepared to fill.  His opponents are none too happy about this "late entry into the fray."  

Comments/complaints of "why now?" can be heard all over. 
However according to the clergyman and  former Nation of Islam leader, the Minister Conrad Muhammad, of Harlem's Muhammad's Mosque No. 7:  "I watched and waited for the current candidates to come forth with platforms that would really speak to the needs of Brooklyn, Bedford Stuyvesant, education, and the youth.  But there was so much lacking until it was frustrating.  I have been attending all the meetings of relevance to issues that confront Bed Stuy, and they weren't there.  I stood in solidarity with people in the community whose children had been gunned down; who had been raped or robbed; I was at Boys and Girls High school for the hearings on the possible closing of the school.  They just weren't there, or any of the other several hundreds of meetings and events I've participated in over the past few years.  Where have they been, and what is it that they now bring that will really address the issues that face Brooklyn over the long haul?”

He continued with confident solemnity: “I searched my heart; I spoke with the Almighty, and I was told that if it was to get done, I would have to be the one to do it.  I could not wait for someone else to do the job that has yet to be done to make Bed Stuy whole.  And that's why I'm entering; and that's why I will win."

Anybody who knows his or her Bible knows it's not about when you enter, but why.  It's not about whose backing you politically; it's about who the people feel will really work for them; and who has their backs spiritually, mentally, physically and visibly. Conrad Tillard has consistently been that person.  Not just for the past three or four years; but for nearly three decades, since the 80's when he, as a college student, worked with the Reverend Jesse Jackson in his first campaign bid for the Presidency of the US.

"I've cut my teeth on the issues that drive our people, that matter to us most."  Subsequent to Rev. Jackson's defeat in his bid, Tillard signed up with the Nation of Islam, and quickly became the right hand for Min. Louis Farrakhan in helping to reach out to constituents in Central Harlem.  Later he formed an organization CHHANGE, that reached out to the Hip Hop Generation, and got them involved in being more responsible to their community via their votes and support for community organizations.

Not one to be pigeonholed, or put in a box of limitation, Rev. Conrad Tillard, has always put the people first, regardless of the opinions or consequences.  This has made him both popular - someone to be reckoned with - and at times, a target of his detractors.  Since his emphasis has always been on the people, communities, neighborhoods, where the people live, work, worship and play, you're more likely to find him out among the people, interacting, supporting, teaching and participating - whether it's fashionable or not, popular or not.  He is comfortable in his community, whether it's behind the pulpit, in an audience, on a picket line, a panel, dealing with rap and spoken word artists; mediating gang activities, or participating in children's program activities.   

When asked what some of his plans were for the future of Brooklyn's Bed Stuy community, he replied:
I've been working with the communities of Brooklyn and Bed Stuy since coming to New York in 1989; when I first had my radio show on WBLS.  I am more than familiar with the issues confronting Brooklyn,” Wanting to be clear that he has garnered the educational creds to go along with the street credentials, he stated: “I really need to illustrate my educational background.  There are a generation of us who didn't join the nation of Islam from prison, but who were well educated.  I came out of college in Philadelphia; first worked with Rev. Jesse Jackson when he ran for President.  After that, I joined the Nation of Islam and worked as Minister Farrakhan's head of Muhammad's Mosque No. 7 in Harlem.  So we were on college campuses; we were heavy students; we were the crème of the crop; and we joined the nation.”
In fact, Tillard's dedication to the African American community is quite impressive, stemming from his days as an adolescent. He received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, PA. In African American Studies in 1983, at a time when the colleges were all but phasing the department out. and worked with Rev. Jesse Jackson's bid for presidency through 1984. “I was one of the few African Americans studying our history during that time. It was deliberately being phased out of the schools as well as the colleges and the universities. This was before (Henry Louis) Gates and that crew came up with a different version of African American studies, and it was more acceptable – I was really doing the unadulterated research.” Additionally, Tillard posses an MA Divinity from Union Theological Seminary; a ThM from Princeton.” He also has his degree from Harvard Divinity School. Couple that with the 17 years of discipline under the Hon. Louis Farrakhan, and you've got a force to be reckoned with.
He states: “The beautiful thing about life is that I've had exposure to life at a lot of different levels – from the poorest of the poor, to the elite. There are not a lot of people, in terms of the human condition, that I cannot sit down and talk to. I have been in crack houses, in prisons, in populations – not in the waiting rooms, when I go I go into the populations. Gang meetings, but I've also sat down with the elite of society. I've sat in classrooms, I've sat in meetings; and so I really understand life in a broad way. All my life I've been involved in issues of importance and concern to African Americans. People ask how I'm going to attract white voters; I don't think white voters are any different than anyone else. They evaluate people's experience and credentials. And they just want to know that a person can serve. My experience allows me to engage people at every level of life.”
Rev. Tillard may have come “late to the game” by politically correct standards, and might not be part of the established "clubs" but he is just what the doctor ordered for the salvation of Brooklyn.  
One of the hottest topics in BedStuy is the threatened dismantling of Boys and Girls High School, something which Tillard strongly opposes, have recently hosted a hearing for the Education Department and the Bed Stuy Community as to why the current mayor should back off. “I would advocate for the end of mayoral control of our schools. To not give our children a quality education is sentencing them to poverty and jail and death. So it's a form of child abuse. And that's why I will use the bully pulpit. I'm going to get in trouble with some people in City Council, because I'm going tell parents, don't complain about teachers alone; it's a partnership. It's not a baby sitting service. You've got to work with the teachers to make sure your children get an education. My wife and I both work in Bed Stuy. My youngest son goes to school in Bed Stuy – little Barack -- and I spend a lot of time volunteering my time at Boys and Girls High School. The Bedford Academy, and the Community Stakeholders Board. Emma Jordan Simpson and Bryan Favors, and the community and I work together trying to improve the educational standards in District 16. And I am the number one fan of Boys and Girls High School Basketball team. Two years ago, when they won their first state championship, working with Congressman Ed Towns, I made sure that the families had a bus to go up there and celebrate the first state championship ever in the history of Boys and Girls High School. We took two buses up to Albany with the good help of Congressman Ed (Edolphus Towns, D. Brooklyn, US Congress, Ret'd) and I made that happen.” 
Tillard, likewise took a stand when Medgar Evers College faced the threat of dismantling under Pollard, after 20 years of successful progress under former Pres. Edison O. Jackson. He, along with the late, great activist Brother Jitu Weusi, Dr. Brenda Greene, Esmeralda Simmons and yours truly, were part of an ongoing coalition that early on identified the dangers of pollard and the super imposition of CUNY over Medgar Evers University.  He volunteered the use of his Church hall for necessary strategic meetings.
 He advises Brooklyn's voters, from those residents who have been there a life time to the newcomers to consider carefully the impact on the future of the community if they don't carefully scrutinize the candidates for this soon to be vacated seat. . To the youth who have not gotten involved because they don't see the relevance to their lives, he stated emphatically: “WE CAN'T BE GIANTS WITH GRASSHOPPER MENTALITIES! The person who succeeds Al Vann is of major pivotal importance to us all. Everyone takes their cue from that seat. We need visionary strong leadership. That's what I offer; that's who I am.”
Now that you know, what will you do?
Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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