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How Black is Herman Cain?

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(NNPA) A lot of people are quick to disclaim presidential candidate Herman Cain as a natural Black or African American simply because of his conservative, pro-business views. It really puzzles me how people think political persuasion identifies your race. The founder of the Republican Party, Frederick Douglas, was indeed Black. The “Father of Black Economic Empowerment”, Booker T. Washington, was also very much Black. Republican President Richard M. Nixon got 38% of the Black vote –yes, they were really Black. Let’s take a good look at Herman Cain and determine if there is anything to dispel his Black appearance.

Mr. Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 13, 1945. These were serious Jim Crow times in a very segregated South. His mother was a cleaning woman and domestic worker – just like my mother. His father was born on a farm and worked as a barber, janitor and as a chauffeur. These were humble Black roots for Mr. Cain but they were also proud roots. His forefathers were slaves – just like mine.

His family (parents and brother) soon moved to Atlanta and settled initially in The Bluff area. His father’s proudest moment came when he and his wife saved enough money to buy their first home in Collier Heights . Herman grew up in the Black side of Atlanta never doubting his blackness and pure African American roots. He graduated from Archer public school in 1963 and proudly began his matriculation through Morehouse College . He graduated from this Black institution in 1968. He soon married his wife Gloria who recently graduated from another renown Black institution, Morris Brown College . Her career includes being a teacher and librarian.

His family (wife, son and daughter) have lived a productive life in Atlanta and never forgetting that they are indeed descendents of the African American experience in America , replete with slavery, struggle, discrimination and obstacles not sustained by any other people on earth. They know it but still they rise! Much of their strength is gathered in their membership in Antioch Baptist Church right there in inner city Atlanta . Mrs. Cain sings in the choir while Herman is one of the associate ministers. He has been a member of the church since he was ten years old. Antioch is part of the National Baptist Convention, USA . It doesn’t get any blacker than that.

His bachelor’s degree at Morehouse was in mathematics and he began his career as a ballistics analyst for the U.S. Department of Navy (civilian GS schedule). While working there he went through a graduate program in computer science at Purdue University and received his master’s degree. He then leveraged his master’s degree to begin his corporate career starting with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta as a computer systems analyst. Ironically, one of the chauffeur jobs his father had was for the President of Coca Cola – only in America !

His other corporate experience would be of many accomplishments with Pillsbury where he had key management positions with their Burger King subsidiary and then with its Godfather’s Pizza subsidiary. It was here where he began his notoriety as his successes at both places became legendary. Never, not once, did this child of the Jim Crow South forget his roots. Eventually, he and a group of investors bought Godfather’s from Pillsbury and it became more successful. He moved to Omaha, NE where it was based. This shocked the business world. This newly established magnate was Black and would never let you mistake him for anything else. Herman Cain – strong, proud and black to the “bone”- his story continues.

Herman learned much about banking by becoming the Deputy Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and eventually became the Chairman. He has also done a stint as CEO of the mighty National Restaurant Association which gave him experience with lobbying in Washington, DC and an understanding of politics at the national level. After that he moved back to Atlanta . This career is phenomenal. The frosting on the cake is that it belongs to a proud Black man.

I first heard Herman Cain speak in 1989. A Black social service group I belonged to at the time, International Frontiers, was having its annual convention in Omaha, NE. They proudly introduced him as the Godfather of Black Business in Omaha . He wore that mantel proudly and spoke to us about Black economic empowerment via self-determination (just like Booker T. Washington). I became impressed then and that hasn’t changed since.

Herman Cain is now running for President of the United States . If elected, he will be the first president to come from African American (descendents of slaves) heritage. The first to grow up in and during the Jim Crow South. The first to be a graduate of an HBCU and a lifelong member of a black Baptist church. Is Herman Cain black? He is black to the “bone”. It doesn’t get blacker!

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Social Security is Vital for African-American Families

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By A. Barry Rand, Special to the NNPA from the Capital Outlook –

In these days of high unemployment and growing financial insecurity, the last thing African-American families need is a serious threat to the only guaranteed, lifelong source of income the majority of our families count on. It took too many years and too much blood, sweat and tears for African-American families to secure a place among America’s middle class.

I’m talking about the current threat to one of the most successful programs in U.S. history – Social Security. Social Security is much more important to African Americans than many realize. Social Security has become a prime target of many in Congress for cuts to pay the nation’s bills. Today, serious cuts in Social Security benefits are being considered by the so-called congressional “Super Committee.” These are benefits that African Americans have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

The “debt-ceiling” bill Congress passed in August charged 12 members of Congress with recommending additional measures to help reduce the federal deficit. They are due to report recommendations for further budget cuts to the full Congress next month.

There are those who speak of Social Security benefits as if they are something you don’t deserve. You are not entitled to Social Security benefits simply by turning age 65. Nor are Social Security benefits some sort of “handout.” You’ve earned your Social Security benefits. They are based on a lifetime of payroll contributions from your years of work.

We must never let our elected leaders forget the beneficial impact Social Security has had on the quality of life for African Americans, beginning with reduced poverty and better health. And most importantly, we must make sure they recognize the vital role of Social Security in building and sustaining the African-American middle class.

According to a report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commissioned by AARP earlier this year, Social Security benefits are the only source of income for two out of five African-American retiree households that receive benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, more than half of unmarried African-American Social Security beneficiaries and nearly one of every three married couples rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their retirement income.

In short, Social Security is all that stands between millions of African Americans and poverty in old age. And the vast majority of middle-income African Americans count Social Security as their largest source of income in retirement.

Social Security also provides valuable survivors’ and disability benefits. African Americans are more likely to receive both survivor benefits and disability benefits than white workers, and these benefits are a significant source of income for African-American families.

A study by the National Urban League Institute for Opportunity and Equality found that African-American children are almost four times more likely to be lifted out of poverty by Social Security benefits than white children.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

We cannot afford to be silent about protecting our Social Security benefits. By speaking out, we can help preserve earned Social Security benefits for African Americans for generations to come.

A. Barry Rand is Chief Executive Officer of AARP.

Electrified Fences and Herman Cain's Sense of 'Humor'

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(NNPA) I don't know about you but I have about had it with Herman Cain. I never agreed with his politics but the more that I see him perform in front of white audiences the more it feels like a political minstrel show. His sense of so-called humor, including his bizarre ad that ends with cigarette smoke being blown into the camera, has reached the level of insulting.

The particular "joke" that sticks in my craw, however, is his comment concerning the putting up of an electrified fence across our southern border in order to stop immigrants from crossing illegally into the USA. When pushed about this comment--that not a few people took quite seriously--he claimed that it was a joke. A joke? It starts to remind me of action on the streets where someone talks about someone else's mother but keeps a smile on their face. A joke, Mr. Cain?

What is so funny about people attempting to escape desperate and oppressive situations? Nearly a century ago, many of the ancestors of today's African American population took dramatic and dangerous steps to escape the vicious oppression and lawlessness we faced in the Jim Crow South. Hundreds of thousands began the trek north, facing death and torture along the way. The ruling elite in the South wanted African Americans to remain in the South serving a subordinate role. As World War I hit, industry in the North desperately needed labor, much the way that various industries in today's USA have looked for cheap labor. They encouraged African Americans to migrate to fill these roles in cities like East St. Louis, Illinois; Chicago; Detroit; Youngstown; and Pittsburgh. As these masses of migrants moved into these cities they were met with the most intense push back coming from white workers who saw the African American migrants as people who had arrived to steal their jobs and undermine their living standards. Rather than focusing on the way that big business was playing off white workers against blacks, these whites did everything they could to chase our ancestors out. The bloody Red Summer of 1919 with the race riots that mirrored a mini-civil war was one example.

I keep wondering whether Mr. Cain thinks that, perhaps, an electrified fence should have been put around the South to keep migrants penned in like animals? I keep wondering whether Mr. Cain is ignorant enough to not understand that the migration from Latin America and the Caribbean is directly related to the domineering policies of the USA towards these countries and the resulting underdevelopment?

A joke, Mr. Cain? Perhaps he would do better reading a little history. Sometimes, as my father would say, it is better to remain silent and to be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. He is the co-author of Solidarity Divided and can be reached at papaq54@hotmail.com.

Botswana: A Well Kept Secret

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(NNPA) There are 54 nations comprising the continent of Africa. We look at these nations, too often, as all the same – third world striving to enter the second world. South Africa is an exception as it, in total economic terms, is first world. The problem here is that the wealth is greatly weighted to a distinct minority of the population and that is by race, i.e. white. Slums, violence and hopelessness are as prevalent in South Africa as they are in the lowest rung of nations that endure wholesale poverty. Last week, I was in for a revelation. We took a Trade Mission to Botswana and found a modern nation with a solid middle class and beautiful neighborhoods. It is time for the rest of the world to look at Botswana as something special.

How did Botswana get it right? Perhaps the major event is a consistent democracy and good governance. This nation gained its independence in 1966 and has not had one day of political unrest or manipulation. Prior to that it was a “British colony” by choice. Yes, they asked Britain to take it in. Not because they wanted to be colonized but they had a big fear of invasion/annexation by South Africa, Namibia, Angola or Zimbabwe –all of which borders the nation. Being part of the British Empire was insurance for the time being. Early in the 1960’s there was a significant finding under the surface of the land of the nation. Botswana, as it turns out, has been blessed with diamonds. They have diamonds by the billions of annual dollars and for many decades to come. Wisely, and quickly, they set themselves free from the guidance of Britain and became its own “boss”.

Today, the diamond industry accounts for 50% of the national revenue of the nation. Their good governance allows them to invest this revenue into the lives of its people. There is free education through four years of college for everyone. The medical delivery system is offered to all as a right not a privilege. Their infrastructure is more advanced than most nations on the continent. I must admit that their asphalt roads seem superior to ours. The structure of their downtown buildings would rival any U.S. city. The proper management of their natural resources has brought many blessings to the whole nation not just to a few Swiss bank accounts owned by corrupted officials.

We had the opportunity to visit the richest diamond mine in the world, the Jwaneng Diamond Mine. It was absolutely awesome. The biggest highlight was meeting the General Manager of the mine. He was a well educated and articulate brother. That’s right – the world’s richest diamond mine is managed by a child of Africa. The majority of the staff was also indigenous Africans. The nation has a joint-venture with DeBeer’s Diamonds (South African firm). It seems to be working out for both. One of the participants of our Trade Mission was Signet Diamonds (Kay’s Jewelers, Jared, etc.). I believe they were convinced at the end of our trip that they must put a significant office in Botswana and concentrate their new efforts in this fantastic nation. Remember, the majority of all diamonds in the United States come from Botswana and most of us don’t know that.

Another natural resource the nation has is the natural beauty of its women. We heard about this but couldn’t imagine until we journeyed. All the men on the mission had sore necks from looking at all the Lena Horne/Halle Berry types walking here and there. My wife and I are now kidding our sons that they must first visit Botswana before they decide on a wife (mother of our grandchildren). In recent years, Botswana has provided two Miss Universe’s and many in the final selections.

Most important to us is the fact that Botswana has a great inventory of entrepreneurs. The banks are lending and there is an ample amount of quasi government/private investment and technical assistance resources for the growing businesses. The Bank of Botswana suggested that we establish a Holding Company made up of firms wishing to do business in Botswana and listing the company on the Botswana Stock Exchange. We are making plans for that.

The Chamber of Commerce of Botswana, BOCCIM, opened its arms to us and we are now working on a Memorandum of Understanding. Our entrepreneurs and theirs will have a living process of interaction, joint venturing and doing business in both nations from here on out. Together we will grow from this. Before we left, one of our participants had already established a joint venture with one of BOCCIM’s members. Let it be known, that if you want to do international business COME TO BOTSWANA.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Letter to the Editor: City Manager Responds to Editorial

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The Black Voice News recently published a commentary critical of the City of Moreno Valley’s efforts to fund infrastructure improvements in the “City Center” area of our community. The commentary opined that the City Council “voted to push through a proposal to improve the value of 200 acres of land owned by developer Iddo Benzeevi by shifting $75 million of the city’s street improvement funds to improve street for a large medical complex on his undeveloped land.”

I appreciate the opportunity to address the opinions stated in the commentary.

Yes, the City is committing a total of approximately $75 million for the following infrastructure improvements:

• New ramps and bridge: Nason/State Route 60 interchange ($30 million)

• New southerly ramps: Moreno Beach/State Route 60 interchange and construction of the connection of Eucalyptus to Moreno Beach ($10 million)

• Cactus Avenue widening from Nason to Lasselle and Nason extension to Iris ($20 million)

• Ultimate improvements on Nason from Eucalyptus to Cactus ($15 million)

We are not shifting all $75 million from street maintenance projects in order to fund these improvements, as was implied in the commentary. In fact, nearly half of these funds were planned long ago for Nason and Moreno Beach interchange projects. Interchange projects take years of design and approvals prior to construction and Nason is currently under construction. Moreno Beach is currently being designed and is scheduled for bid for construction in June 2012. All of the projects noted above have been included in the City’s capital Improvement Program and Traffic Circulation Plan for years.

Moreno Valley adopted a medical overlay planning zone in this area over 4 years ago with a vision to develop a medical and health services corridor serving Moreno Valley and the region. Essentially, the City wanted to capitalize on the presence of the Riverside County Regional Medical Center and Kaiser Community Hospital, the emergence of Moreno Valley College with its emphasis on allied health services, and the planned UCR School of Medicine to bring quality health care and jobs to the region.

In February of this year, as City Manager I asked developer Iddo Benzeevi to reconsider the land use for 200 acres of his Aqua Bella housing development to advance the City’s medical overlay concept.

In just a matter of a few weeks, conceptual plans were prepared by the developer depicting a wellness campus with medical offices, retail stores, a hotel, office space, and classrooms.

The Black Voice News commentary was critical that the developer would benefit from Moreno Valley’s capital investments. I don’t disagree with that statement, but it must also be noted that other entities that will benefit include Kaiser, RCRMC, Moreno Valley College and other properties located in what is essentially the geographical center of Moreno Valley. More importantly, Moreno Valley residents will benefit as all of the following will be vastly improved: emergency vehicle access; access to the expanding Auto Mall and the shopping opportunities at Stoneridge Towne Centre and the Moreno Beach Plaza; residents’ commutes will become significantly safer and shorter. Additionally, the safety of the residents and shoppers that use Nason, Cactus, and the freeway interchanges will improve.

In the past capital improvement projects have been spread out by Council District, however through this commitment of funding we are concentrating these expenditures in one District to solve traffic problems experienced by all our residents. This strategic capital investment makes sense for all residents, as half of Moreno Valley’s top 20 sales tax producers are situated in this area of the community. Committing funds to preserve and increase this revenue, which goes into the General Fund and pays for citywide services such as public safety, is particularly critical for our community as we have seen our revenues tumble.

The medical corridor is a key element in an aggressive economic development action plan focused on creating much-needed jobs. With an unemployment rate of 16%, Moreno Valley cannot continue to wait around for development to bring the jobs. Strategically investing capital improvement funds in this critical area is our best opportunity to do so.

Henry T. Garcia is the City Manager of Moreno Valley

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