Sa'ad El-Amin left Richmond a year ago with some harsh words and a promise never to live here again. Well, he's quietly returned, though he isn't particularly keen on talking about it.
"Briefly, I'm in and out," he says. "I'm not really settled in any particular place — I'm traveling as needed. … I don't want to discuss me."
The former city councilman, who made a name for himself as a polarizing advocate for black Richmonders, offered a few choice thoughts before moving last year to take a job at a Houston law firm. He told Style that "nothing was going to change the trajectory of neglect and hostility" in Richmond. The city is "backwards," he said, "and it's going to continue going backwards."
El-Amin reappeared on media radar at the end of last month, when he was quoted at length in a Richmond Free Press story regarding a benefit he helped organize for his longtime ally, King Salim Khalfani, the recently ousted executive director of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Khalfani was locked out of his office in February after the state conference elected a new president, Carmen Taylor, of Hampton. Taylor was unreachable for comment. The NAACP, which is typically active during the General Assembly's legislative session, was silent this year while a high-profile debate over Medicaid expansion played out.
The Free Press reports that Taylor "appeared to have run for state president with the goal of eliminating Mr. Khalfani and shutting down the state headquarters."
The event to support Khalfani had three goals, El-Amin says: to recognize Khalfani for his 25 years at the association, express anger at the way he was abruptly fired without warning or severance, and raise money to help him while he looks for new employment.
Khalfani didn't respond to a phone message from Style. El-Amin says the event raised $6,000.