About the Founder – Autobiography

The Autobiographical Foundation of Curtis Everette Gatewood – Enduring the ‘Good Fight’

Min. Curtis E. Gatewood with bullhorn leading a march in his native town of Wadesboro, NC organized by the local NAACP, his brother Leon Gatewood and other caring local leaders hurt by the toll of street violence which at the time claimed the lives of two local young African American males back to back.

Curtis Everette Gatewood, Minister

JUSTICE Ministration  &  SKU Founder

& Community Servant & NAACP Organizer

Humble Beginnings – ‘Know Those Who Labor Among You’

Curtis Everette Gatewood was born the 12th child in a family of 14 children (10 boys and 4 girls), as part of a truly “Holy matrimony” between his loving, morally strict, and Christian parents Rev. Dr. Wade H. Gatewood and Geneva Gaddy Gatewood.

Curtis standing behind his father Rev. Wade H. Gatewood at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Hamlet, NC. Curtis was born during the 51 years Dr. Wade Gatewood pastored there. As a child, during a county-wide vacation bible school written assignment, the class was asked “What would you like to be when you grow up?” 9 year-old Curtis was asked to read his response to the full congregation because he wrote – “I would like to be a great preacher about like my dad.”

Curtis’ concern for people and those who struggle grew out of his closely-knitted family and surroundings to the point where the powerful presence of spiritual and love-wealth within the family was so overwhelming until family members did not grow weary from their own bout with poverty or the lack of financial wealth. “If we were poor from poverty we had so much love from family until we didn’t know we were poor,” said Curtis Gatewood.

Curtis’ loving siblings listed from oldest to youngest included Geneva Estella, Wade Jr., John Anderson,  Clyde Sylvester, Julius Cecil, Evelyn Cynthia, Lillian Emmaline, Joseph Kelly, Aaron, Robert Lewis, Leon, Angela Rachel, and baby Daniel.

Older siblings Geneva, Wade, John (who died at age 18 while Curtis was only 4 years old), Clyde, Julius, Cynthia, and Lillian served similar to a second set of parents to the younger group while Joseph was like the laison sibling who served as a bridge to the generational diversity.

Brothers Wade Jr., Clyde, and Julius served in the U.S. Army during the deadly period of the Vietnam War.  The time any one of the Vietnam Army siblings came home back from a tour of military duty was like a holiday for the family, Curtis said.

“As a child, not knowing anything regarding the poli-tricks and grossly appalling social justice violations relative to the bloodbath known as ‘the Vietnam War,’ I remember growing up so proud to see my brothers in uniform” said  Curtis.  Curtis went on to say, “I just had no idea of what they were going through.  I’m so thankful to God they were able to come home alive and sane.  To God be the Glory for all that he has done.”

Mother – Geneva served as the perfect mother who tirelessly balanced the large family’s needs of nourishment whether the  “food” being served was spiritual, moral, educational, or edible as Daddy Gatewood often traveled throughout the region carrying forward the gospel’s “good news.”

 

Curtis with the his loving mother, Geneva Gaddy Gatewood. Curtis believes he is a combined “Momma’s Boy and Daddy’s Man.” “Our mother is truly one of God’s best angels ever sent to earth,” says Curtis.

Each sibling sister influentially touched Curtis in a different special way.  For example, sibling Geneva is the caring older sister who gave this 12th Gatewood child the name “Curtis Everette;”  Cynthia would play a major role in helping to get Curtis his first job which led to a retail career as a young adult; Lillian would become an exemplary junior high school teacher at the same school and time when Curtis entered Junior High and needed such a positive example and personal counselor; and the latter portion of Curtis’ time at Livingstone College was spent while there with His youngest sister Angela.

A Gatewood Family Photo with parents and their 7 youngest of 14 children. Pictured from left to right are as follows:
Standing – Rev. Wade H. & Geneva Gatewood (parents), Joseph, Aaron, Curtis; Sitting -Robert, Leon, Daniel, and Angela. Interestingly ironic, the photographer had little Curtis to stand with the row of older family members as if it was known, little Curtis was born to “stand.”

The Gatewood Brothers – “the Gospel Jackson 5?”

Curtis’ brother Aaron had much influence over his younger brothers and served as a powerful example of the need to be a leader when necessary, to stand courageously, and challenge wrongdoings of the powers that be.  Despite his small physical body frame – Aaron backed down to no one.

Aaron also led and organized the family’s gospel group called the “Gatewood Brothers.”  The group included brothers Joseph, Aaron, Robert, Leon, Daniel, and Curtis

Near the same time the world was taken by storm during the emergence of The Jackson Five, The Gatewood Brothers similarly wore afros and had a brother at the same ages of each of the Jacksons plus some.

Between gospel performances in churches and when the brothers’ strict Christian parents were asleep or not paying attention, Aaron would teach the Gatewood Brothers the latest Jackson Five hits with Curtis singing lead imitating his idol at the time – Michael Jackson.  While they were not as talented as the Jacksons, Aaron pushed  strict and long rehearsals as if he was Joe Jackson, Jr.

One of the most painful and devastating things to happen to Curtis personally as a youth and to the dreams of The Gatewood Brothers in general is Aaron would die unexpectedly at age 20.  Curtis was 15 years old at the time.  Robert, who was just one year younger than Aaron, occasionally does what he can to call for the Gatewood Brothers to reunite and/or publish a song.

The song below (Don’t Need a New House) was written by Robert, with lead vocals, special arrangements, and production by Curtis and Daniel.

NAACP and the Fight for Justice is in Curtis’ DNA

Two of Curtis’ older brothers – Joseph (President) and Aaron (1st Vice President) were leaders in the local Anson County NAACP Youth Council and would eventually plan a “walk out” and march from the local high school due to an incident  involving a fight between a black and a white student, but only the black student was suspended from school.  Gatewood’s older brothers led in planning and coordinating the direct action as little Curtis became impressed and highly interested but too young to participate.

Meanwhile, Curtis became a 10 year-old card-carrying NAACP member and began checking out library books and choosing to do his assigned book reports on subjects  which featured African American and civil rights heroes.

Curtis had also began observing and experiencing his own metaphoric slaps from the ugly hand of racism in early education.  And at age 15 when receiving his first job as a grocery store stocker and bag boy, young Curtis noticed the Black youth such as himself were never trained on the cash register as the white youth were.  When Curtis spoke up and informed the store manager of his observations, the manager began training Curtis the following week even ahead of the African Americans who had been there years before Curtis was hired.    This taught Curtis and other youth observers early on – “If you speak up you may not always get justice, but if you don’t speak up and silently succumb to injustice then injustice is surely what you will get.”

Curtis-G Has Rhymes

I was born in a family of 16 – we often ate saltines and pork n’ beans – sometime my sandwich had no meat, but God made a way for the family eat – and eventhough the holes in ma shoes would leak – at least I had shoes on ma feet – I wore big clothes that ma big brothas left me – we drunk sugar-water – we didn’t have Pepsi. Ya see ma Mamma and Daddy knew Je-sus; that’s the only way that they could please us.  Ya see l’ve never been high on crack but it’s a fact that I jumped off track but God brought me back!  He made a new me – he’s not through with me, but that God l’m not what I used to be; I’ve been down and I may go down again – but I’m prepared to endure to the end. By Curtis E. Gatewood

While in college at Livingstone, Curtis began finding another niche – writing poetry.  As a campus D.J., Gatewood’s poetry would begin finding its way into raps against his D.J. compeitors and won him the trophy in the “Battle of the D.J.s” competition.

Curtis’ campus D.J. name was “Gate III.”  This name derived from how  Curtis’ arrival on the LC campus came while two other Gatewoods – Robert (Gate I) and Leon (Gate II) were already enrolled.  This however does not consider the fact Sisters Cynthia and Lillian graduated prior to the “three” brothers’ enrollment as Angela and Daniel would also ultimately attend.  Curtis was lucky enough to have his brother Leon as his college roommate during much of their time at Livingstone.  Robert and Leon served as great campus models and leaders.

As Curtis  spiritually and morally evolved he began writing poetry and raps about Christian experience, Black History, and social justice.  Curtis also joined a campus R&B band called “Stone” which provided lessons he would later use as part of his ministrial journey.

As an emerging community servant, minister, and public speaker, Curtis’ art of rhyming and rapping began to find its way of creatively capturing youthful ears as part of speeches and sermons. This allowed Gatewood to expand his base of appeal as he began to capture ears that would hear.   This unique blend of creative activism would eventually help him to win elections as Durham NAACP President (elected in 1994) and win a highly competitive three-way race as NC NAACP State Conference 2nd Vice President in 2005 where the youth-vote played a major role.

Above is Min. Curtis E. Gatewood performing a Black History Rap entitled “We Want Justice.”  Gatewood actually began writing certain lyrics used in this rap decades ago while in college at Livingstone.  This rap and poem also won a “North Carolina Rap Idol Contest” held in Durham in 2014.

Raising the Issue of ‘Racism in Retail’ 

Upon leaving Livingstone College in the early 80s and entering the workforce as a retail manager, Curtis soon became known for raising concerns regarding discrimination and articulating the issue of racism he was witnessing within the retail company where he worked.  

Curtis pointed out a problematic system which generally kept African Americans at bay with the hardest to manage stores in high crime areas yet the lowest paying managerial and retail positions.  Meanwhile white  colleagues were being assigned to manage easy-to-run, higher volume stores with larger staff, larger salaries, inside safe areas such as malls, and being promoted to district manager and other middle and top management positions.  

To the contrary, talented African American store managers like Curtis were basically used as trouble shooters whose jobs were high risk and designed to go in and clean up stores which had been set back by high crime and/or previous acts of mismanagement .

Young retail store manager Curtis Gatewood in his office completing paperwork for the day.

Curtis’ voice in managers’ meetings made his African American colleagues excited and hopeful, but at the same time Curtis was getting the attention of middle management and becoming a target for retaliation.  For example, shortly after speaking against internal forms of ‘retail racism’ at a district manager’s meeting in the D.C. Metropolitan area, Curtis was suddenly terminated.

Curtis who was known for documenting incidents, listing and dating perceived acts of injustices, and outlining other concerns in great detail – complained to the main headquarters regarding the termination and how it came without warning as all work evaluations were excellent.  Curtis proved how the termination was in conflict with personnel policy and was a form of “wrongful retaliatory action. ” The Vice President of the company agreed with Curtis and had him reinstated.

Despite the victory of winning restatement, Gatewood began to realize the retail management hours allowed no time for community engagement and felt his greater purpose for larger community was not being fulfilled.   It is believed Curtis did not realize it at the time, but God was calling upon him to do the work of a social justice ministry.

Curtis meets the Apple of His Eye and the Missing Part of His Heart

Gatewood met the apple of his eye during the time one of his assignments led him to manage a store in a little town called “Oxford, NC.”

While in Oxford, just as the year 1984 was coming to an end, 25 year-old Curtis went to a New Year’s event in neighboring Henderson and met a beautiful woman named Odessa Burnette.

Curtis meets his future wife and soulmate, Odessa Burnette

After graceful dancing, laughter, enjoyment of friendly conversation, sparkling eyes, and feeling the vibes of unsusual connectivity, Curtis jokingly asked Odessa to marry him upon meeting her.  However the “joke” continued to evolve into a serious, loving, meaningful, and inseparable relationship.

Gatewood moves from D.C. area to Durham and Reconnects NAACP roots

Three years would rapidly pass with Odessa and Curtis still connected or as Luther Vandross would put it – “Still  In Love.”  This caused the couple to agree to step out on faith and relocate to Durham in pursuit of a life together.

Curtis and Odessa

Curtis made arrangements to move in temporarily with his generous angd hospitable cousin Wilma, her unbelievably kind and humble husband George Booth, and their fine son Brandon.  Similarly, Odessa would move in with her kind-hearted and supportive aunt and uncle – Tony and Carmen Long.

Curtis Leaves Retail Possibilities to Realize Prophetic Purpose

Curtis felt the drastic cut in pay to accept a new job at the African-American-owned Mechanics & Farmers Bank would be worth getting out of retail, having time to engage in community service, and once and for all put a wedding ring on the finger of that “Meaning of Love…Odessa.”

While living with the Booth family in Durham, Curtis asked his cousin Wilma if she could assist him in finding an NAACP membership application.  Wilma quickly delivered on the request and the rest is history.

Also, “Everyone should remember this date – the ‘Greatest Love of All’ married July 30, 1988 – Curtis and Odessa Gatewood.”  Odessa’s beauty and strength helped to reaffirm Curtis’ true purpose and his need to reestablish his relationship with God  and a high purpose.

Curtis and Odessa Gatewood happily tying the Holy matrimonial knot on July 30, 1988, in Durham, NC

This marriage also blessed Curtis with “the greatest” imaginable stepson or new son – Anthony T. Hawkins.

New baby Desmera Curtise Gatewood born from the lovely martial union of Curtis and Odessa Gatewood celebrates first Christmas pictured in the arms of big brother Anthony Hawkins as dad, Curtis E. Gatewood gives a kiss

During October of 1990, sacred union of Curtis and Odessa would produce the birth of a very beautiful and talented baby girl – Desmera Curtise Gatewood.

Odessa, Desmera Curtise, and Curtis together at Gatewood-Boggan family reunion in Charlotte, NC IN 1992

During January of 1992, Curtis Gatewood would imitate his first community service campaign through a grassroots organization he found known as “The Establishment for Economic Equality, Inc. (EEE).”  EEE and its “Think Ten Times Before You Spend a Dime” points began being featured on front page news headlines.

The iniative further promoted the need for African Americans to become mindful of how “Black dollars were leaving the community on a one way ticket, while other races and nationalities patronized and reinvested in their own communities as dollars would recycle several times over; sponsored Durham’s first Juneteenth; Sponsored “Black Economic” lecturers like Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu; offer a regular financial workshop;  and sponsored a “Save Somalia” campaign to bring dollars and attention to starving children in Africa.

In 1993, after 5 years with M&F Bank, Gatewood is recruited to serve as Business Manager for one of the areas largest Black-owned preschools – Bright World Child Development Centers with owner Wilhelmina C. Bridges.

Curtis Does Initial Sermon In the Most Violent and Drug-Infested Community in Durham

Also in September of 1993 Curtis does his Trial Sermon as a licensed Baptist Minister.  However, rather than following tradition and preaching the initial sermon in the church – Curtis Gatewood arranges a place in the most violent and drug-infested community in Durham.

Months after Curtis’ trial sermon, 2 year-old Shaqunna Atwater is killed by the stray bullet of a drive-by shooting.  Minister Curtis Gatewood, through EEE, responds by spearheading the largest march against street violence in the city’s history when over 1,000 Black males show up.

An Unlikely Candidate – Curtis E. Gatewood Seeks and Wins the Durham NAACP Presidency 

EEE captured the attention of the Durham NAACP President James Black who would ask Curtis if he would consider joining the local Durham NAACP Executive  Committee as Chair of the local NAACP Economic Committee. Gatewood would accept the offer and recruit many of his EEE officers and supporters as part of the Durham NAACP Economic Committee.

The following term, Gatewood would shatter the glass walls of tradition and become the youngest candidate to seek the Durham NAACP presidency.

Despite being told by certain older insiders he was “not ready” and had “no chance” of winning – Gatewood began erecting large “Elect Gatewood Durham NAACP President” signs in various parts of the community and recruited over 120 new grassroots members of the NAACP within weeks to avoid the need to rely solely on his votes to come from older existing members who were more inclined to stay with tradition than change.

A historic number of Durham NAACP members participated in the 1994 local NAACP election.  More than 200 voted; 198 votes were tallied.  The first count was said to be a 94-to-94 tie.  The Durham NAACP election officials ultimately determined Curtis Gatewood lost by 2 votes.

After the election Gatewood began hearing of other voter irregularities. Therefore Gatewood filed for a new election per NAACP guidelines.  The National NAACP ruled in Gatewood’s favor and called for a new election.

In the new rescheduled local NAACP election mandated and monitored by the National NAACP, Curtis Gatewood would narrowly defeat his opponent  in a 95-to-91 victory.

Despite being bashed and publicly persecuted by certain sore losers who claimed a “radical” Curtis Gatewood victory would destroy and divide the local Durham NAACP, under Gatewood’s leadership the branch received the National NAACP Southeast Regional Award for “Highest Membership Increase Percentage;” the North Carolina State Conference “Branch of the Year Award;” Gatewood would receive the “President of the Year Award;”  numerous other community awards; but most important was the conspicuous reengagement of civil rights battles, visibility, victories, and new hope for Durham’s most vulnerable and oppressed citizens.

Former 2nd Vice President of the North Carolina NAACP State Conference 2005-2011

In 2005, at the same time the now nationally known and historic tenure of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II was being elected into the office of the North Carolina NAACP presidency, the Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood was squeezing out a victory within a highly contested three-way race as North Carolina NAACP 2nd Vice President.

Not Running From the Big Fights

Shortly after being elected, Gatewood did not look the other way when a known local Ku Klux Klan leader was charged with “racial intimidation while waving and possessing multiple fire arms”  during a high-speed chase which involved him chasing a young African American couple out of the town of Henderson, NC.

It just so happened the couple was smart enough to lead the klansman to the police station in the neighboring city of Oxford where Gatewood had just relocated from Durham.  After reporting the incident to the NC NAACP, Gatewood was given the green light to lead the efforts to investigate and address the incident.

Despite receiving numerous racists threats, Gatewood endured and refused to be intimidated – planned local press  conferences, mass meetings, a march for justice, and attended every court hearing until the perpetrator was convicted.

Above is one documented example of a flyer accompanied by a letter disseminated to “2,000 White Workers” to produce blatant threats, racial epithets, intimidation, racial hatred,  and dangerous invitations to do harm to Gatewood and others conspicuously involved in the case.

Also during his tenure as 2nd Vice President, Gatewood led a local Black History Month  NAACP Membership Drive coordinated with local ministers in Granville County.  The 30-day campaign generated nearly 80 new members for the local NAACP which had been stagnately “not in good standing” with no more than 10 members for the previous 10 years.

In neighboring Warren County, Gatewood supported an African American city worker who had been wrongfully terminated for pushing a supervisor who first hit him and called him a “nigger.”  Gatewood coordinated meetings and hearings and in other ways challenged the all-White town council until the worker was reinstated.

Statewide Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Coalition Coordinator for NC NAACP 2011 – 2017

Gatewood is best known for his consistent and enduring presence as an organizer for the North Carolina NAACP, Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People’s Coalition, and the Moral Monday movement during Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II’s tenure as NC NAACP President (2005 to 2017).  Barber has referred to Gatewood as “the movement’s Bayard Rustin.”

Gatewood was part of the organizing group of pioneers Barber called together during the 2006 inception of what ultimately became the HKonJ People’s Assembly with over 250 Coalition Partners and a talented organizing team and staff which have collectively worked to mobilized upward 90,000 marchers with Gatewood as “coalition coordinator” and Barber as the visionary convener.

Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood (above) speaks at the 4th Annual HKonJ People’s Assembly in Raleigh, NC during February 2010

Gatewood was appointed by NC NAACP President Barber to serve as the volunteer “HKonJ Mobilization Committee Chair.” From the onset, as “Mobilization Chair,” Gatewood was responsible for organizing and “mobilizing” HKonJ mass turnout. The first mass mobilzation of “thousands” in pursuit of an “HKonJ 14 Point People’s Agenda” would occur on the 2nd Saturday in February 2007.

Curtis E. Gatewood, Statewide HKonJ Coalition Coordinator for the NC NAACP giving instructions to the crowd at the Annual HKonJ People’s Assembly where attendees flood the streets of downtown Raleigh, NC.

Both Barber and Gatewood were elected the in 2005 – Barber as NC NAACP President, Gatewood as NC NAACP 2nd Vice President. Ms. Debra Tyler-Horton, one of many outstanding organizers, would serve as volunteer HKonJ Coordinator for the first four years of the HKonJ Movement beside Barber who led as Convener. Tyler-Horton and Reuben Blackwell would serve as Co-Chairs of the HKonJ Steering Committee.

State Director – “One Nation Working Together” for National NAACP 2010

Meanwhile, in 2010 in conjunction with NC NAACP and National NAACP, Gatewood would be hired as the North Carolina State Coordinator for the National NAACP “One Nation Working Together” march on Washington, D.C. for meaningful Jobs, Education, and Justice on 10.2.10 (October 2, 2010).

“One Nation Working Together” for Jobs, Education, Justice rally in Washington, D.C. held 10/2/10. Gatewood serves as NC State Coordinator

A Major Setback for Curtis and Gatewood Family – Faithful Father, Friend, and Faith Leader Wade Hampton Gatewood Goes to “Home on High”

Not long after celebrating his 70th wedding anniversary and 51st pastoral anniversary, in 2010, Curtis’ father would transition to eternal life beyond earth. The family would allow Curtis the distinct honor yet the humongous challenge of preaching his father and best friend’s funeral. Gatewood’s message regarding “A Charge to Keep,” spoke to both to his and his father’s soul.

The Great Father, Loving Spouse, Gospel Preacher The Rev. Dr. Wade H. Gatewood – “A Charge to Keep!”

Prior to eulogizing his father, months earlier Curtis had the unfortunate task of preaching the funeral of his oldest brother Wade Jr.

This would prove to be a challenging period for Curtis and the Gatewood family.  All of the faith and “trust in the Lord” the Gatewoods were taught as children was being tested.

“Enduring the night of weeping” was a tall order.  However, in this moment of “night,” Dr. Wade H. Gatewood had passed the torch of “a charge to keep” to carry forward toward the “joy” which “comes in the morning” of faith, hope, love,  and victories to come.

State of North Carolina Coordinator for “America’s Journey for Justice” for the National NAACP 2015

Serving as State Director for One Nation Working Together would greatly prepare Curtis as a prime candidate to be later hired in 2011 as the NC NAACP’s full-time Statewide HKonJ Coalition Coordinator. Gatewood would subsequently become the longest serving organizer and staff member under the NC NAACP Barber Administration for the next 6 years in addition to serving as the State Coordinator for the National NAACP-sponsored “America’s Journey for Justice (AJ4J)” in 2015.

Gatewood, State of NC Coordinator for “America’s Journey for Justice,” sponsored by the National NAACP carries a child during the walk across the state. The 30-day march journeyed from Selma, AL to Washington, DC. Gatewood would ultimately march more than 110 miles across North Carolina.

AJ4J was an approximate 30-day NAACP-led march from Selma, AL to Washington, D.C. Gatewood was responsible for organizing the North Carolina leg of the “journey.” Gatewood (known for his unique and sometimes humorous way of leading chants) would ultimately march and chant over 110 miles across the state of NC and also march in segments of VA and D.C. as part of the humbling and historic journey.

Gatewood is First Person Arrested at Moral Monday; Toured Nearly 30 Counties; an Enduring Organizer Toward Helping to Build the “Moral Movement”

Gatewood’s role in Moral-Monday organizing was equally humbling, spiritually revolutionary, and developmentally awesome.

Curtis Gatewood pictured above during Moral Monday while working to keep the crowd organized and uplifted at State Capitol in the absence of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
Curtis E. Gatewood above is in his element at Moral Monday keeping the side street rally organized and enthused as they wait on Moral Monday arrestees to be loaded onto detention buses and chant where they can be seen and heard by NC General Assembly police and other officials.

As NC NAACP President Barber continuously led beyond expectation, Gatewood was the first Moral Monday protester arrested of the eventual more than 1,000 over the course of the year; Gatewood assisted Barber in touring nearly 30 counties across the state during the build up to Moral Monday where Gatewood coordinated and often led local mass meetings to generate statewide support for Moral Monday.

Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood is captured above in a 2013 video with The Real News Network articulating the issues and explaining reasons why Moral Monday deserves the people’s support 

From local radio talk shows like Raleigh-Durham’s “Talk Back” to smaller national media outlets like “The Real News Network,” Gatewood has assisted the NC NAACP President when called upon to articulate the issues and Moral Agenda to further generate unity, support, build or strengthen coalitions, and in other ways assist in connecting  with the rank-and-file to sustain the movement.

Curtis E. Gatewood with Bible engaging Moral Monday supporters during one of its side street rallies which enthusiastically took place after the larger assembly ended

Personally Endured Nearly 30 Civil Disobedience Arrests Beginning in 1993 with the Michael Seagroves Case

Getting arrested for civil disobedience and protesting institutional injustices did not begin at Moral Mondays for Gatewood. He has been arrested nearly 30 times for nonviolent protests beginning in 1993.

Gatewood’s first arrest was during a protest he initiated at the trial of Michael Seagroves, a white male who was charged with the shooting death of 15 year-old Jamal Elliot who was shot in the back four times in Durham, NC.

Seagroves came out shooting as 4 black youth, including Jamal were running away from the Seagroves home. A bullet also grazed the head of a 17 year-old who survived. The youth were said to have broken into Seagroves’ garage but began running once they realized Seagroves was home.

On Dec. 8, 1993, Curtis Gatewood being arrested during his protest at the trial of Michael Seagroves who was charged with shooting to death 15 year-old Jamal Elliott. Elliot was with 4 other Black youth running away from the Seagroves home when he was shot in the back 4 times. A bullet also grazed the head of an 18 year-old who survived.

Michael Seagroves, a white male who was charged with shooting to death 15 year-old Jamal Elliott. Elliot was with 4 other Black youth running away from the Seagroves home when he was shot in the back 4 times. A bullet also grazed the he
Seagroves was acquitted and his case was largely used by legislators who sided with Seagroves and passed legislation known as “The Castle Doctrine” – very similar to today’s controversial “Stand Your Ground Laws.”

Major Action and Victories while President of the Durham Branch of the NAACP 1995 to 2003 

As President of the “Newly Charged” Durham Branch of the NAACP, Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood’s tenure (1995 to 2003) gave new energy and visibility to the local NAACP.  Major victories include  a legal and moral battle with law enforcement whereby a Superior Court decision ruled the local police department’s “drug raid” on the entire Cheek Road Community was “unconstitutional;” the City’s temporary Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) public transportation station was pressured to install public restrooms after the Durham NAACP issued a complaint against the city for not allowing its largely low income and disproportionately Black bus riders access to a restroom; the Durham NAACP established a “Peace in the Streets Committee” which included a community night-watch team.

Led a Near 10-Year Protest Against the Racially Divided Board at Durham Public Schools (1996 to 2005)

However much of Gatewood’s tenure was  focused on an intense battle between the Durham NAACP versus the Durham Public Schools system which led to almost weekly nonviolent protests and arrests at Local School Board Meetings.  The protests centered around the fact that most board decisions were divided along racial lines of a board which had a 4-3 White majority.

The news article above from 2002 speaks of the continuing Durham NAACP protests against the Durham school board and how certain citizens sought the superindent’s resignation after Gatewood’s arrest during his pursuit of justice.

Whether it was the hiring of the Superintendent, the sudden dislocation of popular African Americans principals, or whether it was the racial disparities regarding out of school suspensions and “zero tolerance policies,” the Newly Charged Durham NAACP was fully engaged in battle mode as Gatewood often left the meeting in handcuffs.

The protests and civil disobedience aimed at the Superintendent and Durham Public Schools remained in effect for almost 10 years until the Superintendent resigned in 2005.

13 consecutive hours ministering the Mother Emanuel Church Community in Charleston, SC 

Gatewood and NC NAACP President Barber were being held and waiting to be released from the Wake County jail for protesting at the NC General Assembly when the breaking news of Dylan Roof’s relentlessly evil and racist massacre – the lowdown shooting at point blank range of nine beautiful and loving Christians who were holding Bible study at the Mother Emanuel AMEZ Church in Charleston, SC.

While exhausted and emotionally drained, God chose Gatewood to spend 13 consecutive hours on the ground in front of the Mother Emanuel Church just days immediately following the shooting.

This meant Gatewood was not one of those who were just helicoptered in to do a press conference and leave when the cameras left or when CNN decided these killings were no longer newsworthy.

Curtis Gatewood at prayer meeting with area Charleston ministers at church directly next to Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC on 6/30/15. The service was originally scheduled to be at Mother Emanuel but was relocated to neighboring church where a diverse group of about 150 clergy attended as a show of ministerial recommitment to the true Gospel of Jesus the Christ in memory of the Emanuel 9.

“When I arrived God provided me the heart, ears, and eyes to understand -this is not an opportunity for a press conference – it is an opportunity to heal the broken-hearted; minister to the less fortunate community’s tears, grief, confusion, and need for love, prayer, and consolation. People were still standing in the streets crying. Known gang members were finally showing remorse and chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ and thanking me for being there,” said Gatewood.

Similarly During the Crimes Against Jamal Elliot, Mother Emanuel Church Bible Study Group – a  Consistent Voice For Trayvon Martin and Others Stayed the Course

Gatewood was a historically solid North Carolina voice following the appalling George Zimmerman verdict in July of 2013.  For example, a back porch discussion of unedited thoughts from Gatewood and friends while at the home of best-selling author Dr. Tim Tyson went viral.  Gatewood spoke of how media bias which demonizes Black people during such instances did not relent in vilifing Trayvon Martin even in his wrongful death.   This likely played a role in the ridiculous and unjust acquittal Gatewood said.

Min. Curtis E. Gatewood above speaking at Triangle Rally for Trayvon Martin at the Martin Street Baptist in Raleigh, NC days following the Zimmerman verdict in 2013.

Beginning April of 2016, Gatewood would serve a full year as the NC NAACP Director for Field & Branch Operations, asssisting President Barber in supervising staff and “field operations” as Barber’s charismatic voice and success caused a growing and national demand for his presence beyond the state of NC.

Minister Gatewood began the process of organizing JUSTICE Ministration on May 13, 2017.

Minister Curtis E. Gatewood (center) with family of Akiel Denkins who witnesses say was shot in the back while running away from Raleigh Police. The Raleigh grassroots came together to show their love and demand for justice. Gatewood’s daughter Activist Desmera Curtise Gatewood is pictured left; Denkins mother and family members on right. Curtis Gatewood was one of several compassionate grassroots speakers at a series of events regarding the unjustified shooting.

Prior to working under the Barber Administration of the NC NAACP, Gatewood emerged onto the national stage fighting the over-commercialization of Christmas and it’s financial burden on the poor during the mid 90’s as President of the Durham NAACP.

In an effort to reach new pockets of the community, rather than sticking to the custom of holding all local NAACP meetings in churches, Gatewood began holding the local meetings in public housing centers, homeless shelters, and on street corners during rallies.

Gatewood reemerged on the national scene in 2001 due to his early public opposition to President George W. Bush’s plans to use military force against Afghanistan and Iraq in response to the 911 attacks.

After receiving much public persecution for publicly opposing the war earlyon, Gatewood would later be called to speak at A.N.S.W.E.R. anti war rallies in New York and other peace events and campus teach-ins in other parts of the country.

Many leaders and politicians became more visible in their critique of the Bush wars once both Bush and the wars became more unfavorable in the court of public opinion. But Gatewood did not wait or waiver.

Gatewood was on the less traveled road of facing the blistering persecution, reprimand, ridicule, and even death-threats which came with being part of the few who loudly resisted the unjustifiable, unjust, and deadly plans of war at the time the country united solidly under the banner of the American flag and as Bush enjoyed over 90 percent approval and favorability ratings.

Gatewood is an ordained Baptist minister who sees far beyond the labels of denomination, tradition, and religious affiliation. “I believed God called me beyond a ministrial tradition of ‘saving souls’ of those who may or may not go to hell when they die – God called me to further do all I can to save lives and demand justice and seek mercy for those who are already catching ‘hell’ right here on earth right now,” says Gatewood.

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To donate toward Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood’s JUSTICE Ministry,  you may click on the yellow button below:

You may also donate by making checks payable to “JUSTICE” and mailing it to:
JUSTICE Ministration c/o HOLLA! Post Office Box 88 Wadesboro, NC 28170.

 

 

“I was born in a family of 16 – we often ate saltines and pork n’ beans – sometime my sandwich had no meat, but God made a way for the family eat – and eventhough the holes in ma shoes would leak – at least I had shoes on ma feet – I wore big clothes that ma big brothas left me – we drunk sugar-water – we didn’t have Pepsi. Ya see ma Mamma and Daddy knew Je-sus; that’s the only way that they could please us.  Ya see l’ve never been high on crack but it’s a fact that I jumped off track but God brought me back!  He made a new me – he’s not through with me, but that God l’m not what I used to be; I’ve been down and I may go down again – but I’m prepared to endure to the end.”