Operation HOPE has planned a reception and book signing for Najee Ali, the well-known activist, community organizer, founder and executive director of Project Islamic HOPE.
Ali’s autobiographical work is titled “Raising Hell: A Life of Activism,” and the event will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 at 3721 S. LaBrea Ave.
Ali dates his career of activism from volunteering in the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1988 campaign for the presidency. He has since worked for or with such nationally celebrated figures as President Barack Obama, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, Dick Gregory, John Hope Bryant, Michael Jackson, Congressmember Karen Bass and Imam W.D. Mohammed.
The Gary, Ind., native migrated to South Central Los Angeles in 1975, and he credits his activism with helping to spearhead Sherrice’s Law, which makes it a crime to witness the sexual assault of a minor without reporting it to the police. The law is named after 7-year-old Sherrice Iverson, who was molested and murdered in a Nevada casino by then-17-year-old Jeremy Strohmeyer. Strohmeyer’s friend, David Cash, witnessed part of the assault but never notified authorities. It is considered the first such law named after an African American child in the nation.
Ali’s activism has sparked police reform and gang truces. Calling himself “the people’s champion,” he has been outspoken against racism and various forms of injustice.
Ali’s story entails his own abuse suffered during childhood and adolescence, gang life in South Los Angeles, his experiences through the L.A. civil unrest from the Rodney King verdict, his own incarceration, and his life-changing acceptance of Islam.
The book discusses 18 behind-the-scenes accounts of his activist involvement in Jackson’s campaign, Obama’s senatorial and presidential campaigns, protests against gangsta Rap’s destructive messages, and the fight against police brutality and racial profiling in Southern California.
Along the way, Ali has been involved with such entertainment icons as Jackson and Steve Harvey; civil and social justice activists Dick Gregory, Martin Luther King III, and the Rev. Sharpton; business leaders Magic Johnson, Bryant and Cathy Hughes, and journalists Roland Martin and Tavis Smiley.