Recently Defender Education Reporter Laura Onyeneho and I (the Defender’s Associate Editor), appeared as guests on KTSU’s public affairs program “Impact Houston Live.” Part of that program included an exclusive interview with local activist Minister Quanell X who was the subject of a recent Houston Chronicle article that focused on a $386K civil case against him for advocacy services paid for, yet not rendered.
The “Impact Houston Live” co-hosts Reverend Chris Johnson, Marcus Session and Donna Franklin invited me to join them in asking Quanell X questions regarding the allegations while providing him an opportunity to share his side of the story.
Here is the majority of the interview transcript.
Q: Are there any truths to the accusations that you advocated for people and did not deliver on some of those services and promises?
Quanell X: The truth is brother, in fact, there are cases where, when they are brought to me, we are told one thing, and when we begin to investigate and vet those stories thoroughly then we discover that there’s a lot more to the story than what we were told. In a case like that, you cannot give the person what they wish for if they’re not being completely upfront and truthful with you in the beginning. And my duty is to give wise counsel and give wise advice and to give sincere activism where it is justified. But in a case where you realize the truth is not exactly as it was presented to you, you have to move accordingly. I have a moral obligation, not just because you hired my consultant firm to consult and advocate for you. If you are telling me a lie or not giving me all of the facts, I have a duty to only speak that which I know to be true and not to say something that I know from investigative work that is not true. So, there are some cases where people have not been thoroughly pleased, but all I can do is the best I possibly can do for it, but stand on the truth at all times.
Q: What would you say to those who are hearing that you have entered into these contractual agreements and didn’t fully fulfill in good faith your duties to perform?
Quanell X: The only case that there’s a judgment against me on was a default judgment. The case that the Chronicle is referring to in the story for the hundreds of thousands of dollars, is actually a case that I did not go to court on that date because I was in California attending my father’s funeral. And they refused to reset the case when I was at the funeral. That is the case that they’re referencing in that particular story of the $386,000 case. It is not multiple cases. Multiple cases were filed, but what the story does not save or reveal, I won those cases. [And regarding the default judgment], the facts of the case were never even heard nor discussed.
Q: What are the advocacy services you provide, and is there a fee?
Quanell X: Seventy-five percent of all of the cases that I work are for free. Seventy-five percent. But we, in the New Black Panther Nation, we are not allowed, it is against our constitutional bylaws to take state funding, government funding, city funding. We’re not allowed to take any funding from any funding source that’s not Black. And we have to mobilize and organize our own source of funding to survive as a Black organization. We do have a consultant advocacy group that may deal with cases of your child got in trouble at school, your school suspended your child from a campus fight, and we come and advocate to find a peaceful resolution that makes sense, or we will get to charge overturned. It could very well be that there’s a discrimination case on your workforce, in the workplace. We investigate it, and they’re trying to terminate you. But we meet with the heads of that company, and we successfully bring forth a peaceful, successful resolution.
So many times, we have done that. It could very be well, be a man and a woman are going through a divorce and a custody battle, and the lawyers can’t get them to talk. They can’t get them to sit down. They don’t trust lawyers at all. Then, we will sit down with them and mediate the conflict and settle the dispute. So, it’s like conflict resolution also. That’s some of the services that we provide. It could very well be that you have a missing family member and we need to get into the streets, into the highways and the gutters, and the most troubled areas of the city and speak with some of the most dangerous individuals that walk the streets. Then we have to assign specialty brothers who are licensed investigators to get out in the streets and do that work because it is so dangerous.
Those brothers have families to feed, so they are paid to do that work. But remember, 75% of those cases that we take, we are not paid for. But what nobody wants to talk about, dear brothers and sisters, is the time people have brought cases to me and they lied to me and yet major lawsuits were filed on me. Just in 2006, I don’t know if y’all remember the Donald Driver case where Donald Driver, NFL Hall of Fame football player’s father came to me and said the police had beat him and just tortured him, and that criminal acts were committed against him. And I held three press conferences, a town hall meeting and a protest. And only later to learn through video, we were told a completely un-factual story. And then the Houston Police Officers Union filed a million-dollar lawsuit against me that I had to spend my daughter’s college education fund to defend myself.
Nobody wants to talk about when in Third Ward, the young Black girl who alleged she was abducted and raped by several Katrina evacuees. And we went public with that information. And we fought on behalf of that young girl, looking for those perpetrators and put the lives of evacuees in danger. And come to find out, she lied to the community and to us. And then several evacuees filed a lawsuit against me for slander and creating a dangerous environment for evacuees based on that lie. And I had to spend money that I did not have to defend myself against that. Nobody brings those types of stories up, but the Houston Police Officers Union has sued me on three separate occasions because of my advocacy fighting for Black men, in particular, who said they were abused and victimized by law enforcement only later to learn through video that they didn’t give us the total facts or all of the truth. And then I faced that lawsuit by myself because I took the word of the grieving family or the grieving individual.
Q: The Chronicle article is an amalgamation of previous (old) cases. If there are not any new alleged cases of misconduct, then why do you think this article was published now?
Quanell X: This is what I truly believe is the motivation behind this entire hit piece. That’s what it is. It’s a hit piece. It’s an attempt to assassinate and destroy my character and my name. But by God’s grace and his permission, I don’t believe they will be successful. My work will speak for itself, and it always has. What I believe is behind this brother, a month and a half ago, I was asked to go to a meeting by a very close, personal, very well-connected political friend of mine. And he said there’s a group of individuals who wanted to meet with me to discuss a serious matter. I went to that meeting at his home, and in that meeting was some very well-connected, influential political people in the city. Some of them were Black and some were not Black. And when I sat their brother, they were asking me, was I interested in running for a certain, very high-powered political office in city.
I said to them, “I’ve never ran for political office. I’m not a politician. That has never been my desire.” And they said, “We can raise the money to help you lead a successful campaign if you would accept our request that you run for this political office.” I told them that I would think about it and I would pray on it, but I’m not a politician. The very next day when I left that meeting, I started getting phone calls from different individuals saying, “I heard that you’re going to announce soon that you’re going to run for this office.” I said, “I have not accepted that request nor invitation. I’m praying on it.” And that started moving around different circles.
I believe that it’s absolutely why that piece came out, because of the fear that I would perhaps run for a seat that maybe God would bless me to win, because the name ID is there. The resources that I was able to raise is there. The work that I’ve done, you can bear witness to the factual accomplishments that I have done that very, very few activists have done across the country. And the fear of that, that a brother who was not beholden to no political entity nowhere in this city, and I’m not financially controlled by any white philanthropic organization or institution or individual, could possibly win that seat, it was “By no means, can we let this negro even announce that he may do it or choose to do it. We have to stop him before he gets started. So, and I absolutely that’s the motivation behind that piece.
Q: Anybody who has lived in this city knows that when the powers that be have your name on the list, they are not above doing a political hit job on you. Do you believe that this is a case of you being a target of a political hit job?
Quanell X: Oh, no doubt about it. Absolutely. Because when you read the article, that’s old, old information—back in 2017 and 2016. And the craziness about it is that, do you know, I said down with the Houston, Chronicle in 2017 and answer every one of those allegations, and every one of those complaints against me that people did not get the services that they hoped to get. But if you read the contract, it states clearly what my services are and no false promises were ever made based on the contractual obligations you could read. I sat down with them and took every single question that they gave me. And it was a hit. It was a big expose called “Quanell X: Streetfighter.” I did that same story. So why would they turn about five years later and regurgitate the same information like it was something new?
Q: The larger issue no one is talking about is advocacy costs. Yet, people oftentimes, when they hear of sisters or brothers that are at the forefront of fighting for social justice, getting any kind of money, they look at them sideways. If the Anti-Defamation League thinks anyone is negatively impacting the Jewish community, that entity will feel the impact of the ADL. And sure, we have the NAACP and Urban League, but they seem to lack the money and institutional power of the ADL. I’d like to get your thoughts on the importance of advocacy costing and Black people recognizing that.
Quanell X: The NAACP is an historically Black organization that has done tremendous work for Black people. But the NAACP can never do what Black people need a Black activist organization to do. Because the difference between the NAACP and myself, the NAACP takes money from all-white institutions. The NAACP, their banquets, their award ceremony shows are financed by white philanthropic companies and institutions or individuals. So how can you really fight against that white supremist entity in America that’s harming and oppressing Black people if you are taking financial donations from them to survive as an organization? But when you have a Black man like myself and the New Black Panther Nation who refuse to take $1 from any white corporate entity or white philanthropic individual that does not look like us, then we are really free to fight against those powers that be on the behalf of the people. I love the NAACP. I love the Urban League. But they are financially controlled and dominated by white people, not Black communities, not Black individuals.
So how can we expect them to fight for us in the manner that we need if we are not willing as a people to finance the NAACP, finance the Urban League? You never hear about the members of the Jewish community arguing and upset about financing the Anti-Defamation League. You don’t see them arguing about funding white political organizations that fight for white political interests. You don’t see that.
But the problem is, we will go to white lawyers that do absolutely nothing for Black clients and Black families and get them life sentences, and they mortgage their homes, mothers mortgage their retirement to pay for those fees. And yet not one white magazine or newspaper, including the Houston Chronicle, has ever written one article about all of the white lawyers that have <<inaudible>> Black Panthers go broke, paying for defenses and they never got what they paid for. And they never got what they hoped for or expected. Where are the articles on all of the big, rich white boys downtown who have put Black men in prison for life and taken $200,000 or $300,000 from their families?
And I ask all of you all to pray for me, because I’m not going to stop standing for Black people. Because that’s exactly what the enemy wants to do, get rid of me. Because if we’re going to be honest, you cannot have a Quanell X. You cannot have brothers like Gary Monroe. You cannot have brothers like Brother Deric Muhammad. You cannot have brothers like Brother Kofi Taharka, and those type of individuals, if we do not create a financial stream to keep our activists free.
There were times that I have solved homicides that the FBI couldn’t solve, that the Houston Police Department couldn’t solve. And I have found bodies that nobody could find, and I would go home and I didn’t even have a dollar to give my own child for lunch money. Yet, the police officers will get bonuses from the work that I’ve done. They would get awards and promotions from the work that I’ve done. And it was my work that got them their recognition because I solved that case that nobody else solved. But how will you go home and look your child in the face and don’t even have lunch money to give them because everybody thinks that your hired work should be for free and they themselves would never do the work that I do for free on the level that I do it, and as much as I do it. Seven days a week, 365 days a year.
KTSU’s Impact Houston Live can be heard every Saturday morning from 7a.m. to 9a.m. on the Choice, KTSU 90.9 FM.