Decade after D.C. sniper: Father, Black economics champion remembered
By Kiah Alexandria Clingman
Trice Edney News Wire
As she looked back, it was the simple things in life that she missed the most about her father. And all she can do now is remember.
“I turned on the news and saw the car. The license plate was blurred but deep down I knew it was my father‘s car. I knew before they even said anything.”
April Bridges was 22 years old when she heard the news that her father had been killed. Her borderline disbelief 10 years later continues to resonate as she thinks of him.
“What stands out most are the long walks we had as a family, the nature hikes and the lunches where we just sat and talked. Those are my fondest memories of him,” April said.
On that fateful day, she had planned to meet with her father at his office. “I could not begin to imagine that we would never see each other again.”
With Ken Bridges being such a family man, his absence as a father and husband took an extraordinary toll on his six children and his wife, Jocelyn. But, Bridges was not just a loss to his family but to the community. In addition to his family, Ken was dedicated to his work for the MATAH Network, an organization dedicated to the economic, spiritual and social progress of Black people. He’d co-founded in MATAH in 1997 with his longtime business partner, Al Wellington.
MATAH dealt with three fundamental aspects of sales: production, marketing and distribution. The “Black Channel,” as it was called, was supported by a foundation of cooperative economics, consciousness-raising, education and a healthy dose of race esteem.
Comprising thousands of members nationwide, MATAH was brought to a screeching halt on Oct. 11, 2002, when Bridges became the eighth of 10 people killed by the “DC Snipers,” John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, who terrorized the Washington, D.C. area for three weeks in the fall of 2002. Muhammad was executed on Nov. 10, 2009 and Malvo was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences in prison without parole.
According to Finalcall.com news, Ken Bridges was “returning home at 9:30 a.m., when a single bullet killed him as he filled his tank at a Fredericksburg, Va. gas station.” Fox News Fact Sheet said, “Bridges’ wife was concerned because he was traveling through the Washington area for this trip.”
Although Ken Bridges was only 53 when he was killed, he left a legacy that remains with his children. The lessons he taught his children will continue to ring in their hearts for a lifetime. April’s most important lesson from her father was “staying passionate and consistent” no matter the circumstances. “He smiled a lot and always said he was doing great, even if things weren’t going so great,” she recalled.
The optimism helped Ken when it came to starting and maintaining his “marketing and distribution organization.”
“Some of our last days together were spent working to expand the MATAH Network and starting what he called the ‘Youth Movement,’” April said.
Not only did Ken Bridges’ work have a positive impact on his family; his influence moved Black people to practice cooperative economics.
“Ken’s legacy continues to be one of helping people pursue their dreams. Although he was killed 10 years ago, the work he did is still producing fruit,” said Ashiki Taylor, an Atlanta businessman and friend of Ken Bridges. “My company and product, Ice Supreme, would not exist today if it were not for Ken Bridges. Not only his inspiration but his insight, his business acumen and his friendship moved me to start my business. His words keep me going even now.”