Baltimoreans and members of the Civil Rights Movement nationwide are mourning the death of original “Goon Squad” member, Dr. Homer Eli Favor.
The economist, professor, and civil rights legend succumbed to heart disease at age 88 on June 8, but local and state leaders say his legacy is sure to be timeless.
“There’s a saying that goes ‘There once were giants that walked the Earth.’ He was one of those giants,” said Carl Snowden, who now works in Annapolis as chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee.
Snowden first met Favor as a teenager many years ago with an introduction by the late Congressman Parren J. Mitchell, also a founding member of the Baltimore civil rights group that came to be known as “The Goon Squad.”
Their friendship would span two decades.
“The kind of leadership that he and others of that era represented was a leadership that talked about needing change ‘now,’” said Snowden. “They were not willing to wait or postpone the civil rights that they were entitled to. They fought very hard and made it a front-page issue.”
Snowden said he had a tremendous respect for Favor and the men of that generation, people who, he said, put their words into action.
“They could have done what many people of their economic plight did, which was nothing. Instead, they were cut from a different cloth and felt the need to bring about sure change in America.”
Dr. Ray Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University, described Favor as a perfected blend of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Favor founded the institute in 1978 and was known for executing what he talked about in his writings and on his radio show on WOLB and in television appearances.
“He saw no barriers between himself as a scholar and the community that he advocated for,” said Winbush.
“He merged the tactics of King with those of Malcolm X. It seems that people see that as a dichotomy, but Dr. Favor didn’t. He put together the ideas of self-pride and self-defense with those of building coalitions like Dr. King. Too many of our movements are either one or the other and Dr. Favor and the Goon Squad did both,” Winbush told the AFRO.
“His tactics should be used not only in America but across the world.”
Winbush hosted a February event at the University of Baltimore to honor Favor along with the now two surviving members of the Goon Squad, Lalit H. Gadhia and O. Patrick Scott.
During the event all three men talked about the founding of the Goon Squad in the early 1960s and even went into detail about how the name that stuck after a local journalist used the term to describe the group of African American men becoming notorious for their work in the community and late- night strategizing.
The day gave many new leaders a chance to encounter the city’s living legends who were the architects of desegregation in Gwynn Falls and other places in the area.
“I asked him how he saw young leaders connecting with those of older generations,” said 25-year-old Adam Jackson, a Baltimore native and CEO of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, a local community organization the advocates education and job opportunities for youth of color.
“He said we needed to mentor the younger leaders and put them in positions of power.”
Jackson told the AFRO he believed that “one of the tragedies of Baltimore’s leadership is that we don’t know about people like Dr. Favor until they have passed.”
“They are the ones that laid the groundwork for us and he helped form my perspective of leadership,” he said. “Nothing that we are doing is new and there are no new models- just resources to use and add to the work that they did.”
President of the Maryland State Conference NAACP Gerald Stansbury became familiar with Favor’s work in the late 1960s and when he was a student at Morgan State College.
“He definitely had a major impact on Baltimore,” said Stansbury. “He was such an outspoken man and it seemed like he had no fear.”
“He said what he believed in and during this time it hard because the Civil Rights Act hadn’t even been passed.
“He was definitely in the forefront.”
Funeral Arrangements for Dr. Homer Favor:
Dr. Homer Favor's life will be honored on Thursday, Jun. 20. at Union Baptist Church, 1219 Druid Hill Ave.
A family viewing will take place at 9 a.m., followed by a funeral service at 10 a.m.
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