A+ R A-

More Commentary

President Barack H. Obama's Strong Leadership

E-mail Print PDF

By Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., NNPA Columnist –

Be careful on what you pray for, because God will answer your prayers. Millions of African Americans and others prayed for a President of the United States who would lead America in a more just and fair direction both domestically and internationally. Many believed two years ago that the world would never witness a Black man and woman in the White House.

Unless we are too quick to forget, prior to November 2008, the U.S. economy, world image, and national social divisions were all in pretty bad shape after eight years of failed leadership from President George W. Bush. Today as we approach the mid-term 2010 elections across the United States, it is very important for us not to lose our memory or sense of perspective.

This is also certainly not the time to become complacent or to take the importance of voting for granted.

Yes, the vast majority of African Americans are proud of the leadership and progress that has already been accomplished by President Barack H. Obama. Once again, the vital role of the Black Press reemerges on the national scene.

Most of the established media in the U.S. thrives off of cynicism and negative media coverage. We believe in objective reporting and constructive criticism. Yet, the problem is there appears to be more subjective criticism of President Obama than is warranted after only two years in office.

We pause, therefore, to salute the excellent and thorough broadcast of the Tom Joyner Morning Show that featured President Obama live on Friday, September 10, 2010. Joyner’s skilled interview of the President exemplified the best of the Black Press tradition of providing timely and crucial information to the African American and other communities who demand more objective truth in the media. Most of all, what was clear from that broadcast was the outstanding leadership of President Obama on a number of key issues critical to improving the quality of life of African Americans.

The leadership of a president is not to be judged solely by media coverage or by sheer popularity. Presidential leadership should be judged by how well a president leads the nation forward, not backward.

In 2010, even with the persistent economic and unemployment challenges, the U.S. under Obama’s leadership has moved in a forward, progressive manner in terms of foreign and domestic policies.

It goes without saying that we understand that the President of the United States has the responsibility to act and lead in behalf of all the people of the U.S. One of the reasons why we attest to President Obama’s strength as a national and world leader is that while he has held the office with high dignity and integrity, and has well represented all of the people in the U.S., he has not forgotten about the Black American community in terms of public policies, budget allocations, and other governmental actions.

During the Tom Joyner Morning Show interview, President Obama in summary stated, “What we’ve been trying to do is build a new foundation for economic growth and prosperity in our communities… Now, what we hve done over the course of two years is laid the foundation. Put in place some key reforms… I mentioned health care reform. That’s going to mean millions of African Americans and Hispanics and people of every stripe across the country who did not have health care… now are going to have health care. Number two in terms of one of the keys that we’ve always talked about in terms of job growth - long term - is education. We have done more to reform education in our communities in the last two years than had been done in the previous 20 years, and that’s at every level K-12...

But it goes all the way up to higher education, where HBCUs are getting $850 million dollars over the next 10 years… So, no we’re not where we need to be. But at least we’re moving forward, and what we can’t start doing is moving backwards.”

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is a national civil rights leader, Senior Advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and President of the Education Online Services Corporation.

Why We Are Marching on October 2nd

E-mail Print PDF

The past two years have been marked by major progress despite massive challenges, and a worrying resurgence of far-right activity, urging massive resistance to our momentum. We must keep pushing forward. We have come too far to let ourselves be turned back now.

Together with our allies in the civil and human rights community, the NAACP and our allies have advanced an agenda that has successfully increased rights for women at work, expanded healthcare coverage to tens of millions of Americans, cut the sentencing disparity between crack and powder by more than 80 percent, saved more that 150,000 teacher's jobs, and created more than 3 million more jobs throughout the economy.

At the same time, we know 8 million American jobs have been lost and not replaced, more than 2.5 million Americans have lost their homes and 5 million are at high risk of losing their homes, schools are closing at unprecedented rates, and Americans continue to be imprisoned at an alarming rate. In each case, people of color are generally worse off, and black Americans are bearing an especially high portion of the burden.

Despite having such evidence of what we can accomplish together, we have seen voter participation rates plummet--from Shelby County, Tennessee to Alameda County, California.

This has been especially true amongst Black Americans.

Simultaneously, far-right extremists have found their way back into the nation's political discourse and helped reenergize a retrograde agenda that includes attacks on every pillar of our civil rights protections from the Voting Rights Act to the Civil Rights Act to the 14th Amendment itself.

Now is the time to get everyone off the sidelines and back on to the battlefield.

We must be bold and aggressive in turning this situation around and we cannot remain quiet in the face of such clear and imminent danger. Our faith tradition teaches us to run and not get weary, walk and not faint.

We have made great progress and many strides, but we must press forward because our work is not simply for us-but for the future of our children and their children.

The history of the NAACP and our allies has always called on us, in the face of disparity, injustice, and rising hate to build big diverse coalitions that dream bold dreams and win big victories. Mobilization is our core value.

Building big coalitions to fundamentally push America forward has always been our guiding principle.

We did it when we fought the rampart lynching of the south, when we desegregated the military, when we dismantled Jim Crow, passed the Voting Rights Act, and when we made health care reform a reality for 32 million Americans. All of these victories were won because we worked to build large and diverse coalitions, and dared to dream big victories. Today is no different.

This is why we are building a broad coalition of ONE NATION Working Together.

A coalition that will work to bring America together and put America back to work-for its most precious resource- it's people.

Alaska will be there. Alabama will be there. New York will be there.

North Carolina will be there. Texas will be there. California will be there. And we need you and your members there in unprecedented numbers too.

This effort is unifying the civil and human rights community, student activists, faith communities, immigration activists, small business leaders, and labor activists behind a common agenda for increasing opportunity in America, by:

--Increasing job creation --

Defending and enforcing civil rights protections, including ending racial profiling --Increasing support for public education from pre-K to post-college

--Increasing access to credit for small businesses and bankruptcy protection for homeowners --

Ensuring every worker has a voice on the job --And fixing our nation's broken immigration system.

Fighting for educational equality, equal protection under the law, good jobs, economic empowerment and labor rights all are central core values of our work in the past, present, and will continue to be the cornerstone surely in the future.

Bringing attention to dispariites is a key mandate of our constitution.

This why we must mobilize. This is why we must hold on to victories and press forward with hope.

This mobilization on 10-2-10 will wake up our communities; make visible our unity, resolve, and majority; re-energize every activist who joins us; and change the national discourse in ways that will remind our neighbors that the 2010 election matters.

This mobilization will set the stage for turning out our neighbors on 11-2-10.

It will pay dividends in expanding and empowering our base of volunteers for voter mobilization.

This mobilization will make real progress possible beyond 2010. It will ensure our agenda is empowered in the next Congress (as it was in this one) by allies who came together and made their demands known BEFORE the election.

This mobilization will celebrate our victories, celebrate the power of collective unity to promote change and call on our friends and allies from across this great nation to fight with us until our agenda is fully in line with reality---one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for ALL.

We and our allies are STILL the majority of voters in this country.

The forces of hope that ushered in change has not disappeared, it has simply gone back to the couch. So let us wake our neighbors up, turn our neighbors out to the polls, and keep making real progress happen for our communities and all Americans.

One Nation. One Dream. One Nation Working Together For All Americans.

For information on how to get on the bus with us go to NAACP.org or onenationworkingtogether.org

Why Black Communities Can't Settle for Small Education Reforms

E-mail Print PDF

By Dr. John H. Jackson, NNPA Special Correspondent –

Several weeks ago the Schott Foundation released "Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education". The report revealed that the overall graduation rate (2007-2008) for Black males in the U.S. was only 47 percent. Taken alone this statistic is alarming. Coupled with the fact that two-thirds of all new jobs will require some level of college attainment and the correlation between education attainment and a communities’ economic base, access to healthcare, civic participation and incarceration rate—the statistic is dangerous.

While the numbers in the Schott 2010 report are new, few should be shocked as in 2008 the Schott Foundation highlighted the fact that the Black male graduation rate was only 48 percent nationally. Many articles have been written discussing how these statistics project a bleak future for Black males and our nation. However, we cannot get so wrapped up with projecting the future that we lose sight of the impact of failed federal and state systems on Black males and youth when they do not provide learning opportunities to all students.

For example, New York City, which enrolls the largest number of Black males in the nation, graduated fewer than 29 percent of its Black male students on-time and college ready.

Chicago, which enrolls the second largest number of Black male students only graduated 44 percent on-time.

None can separate New York’s nor Chicago’s graduation rate with the fact that TODAY, in New York City, 50 percent of Black males are unemployed.

TODAY, in Chicago Black males are disproportionately involved in shootings and are the victims of homicides.

During one June Chicago weekend alone, more than 52 people were shot—reports indicated that the majority of the shootings were youth gang related.

These education and social factors indicate that Black communities, churches, businesses and families are in trouble TODAY and can neither wait in the future to take action to change the trajectory.

Unfortunately, as urban and rural Black communities are losing thousands of young people per year the majority of solutions put forward by officials can only save hundreds in a given community. The main discussion today has been to give these communities more access to charters or individual academies---when every indication is that even if all charters were high quality (which is not the case) creating enough of these schools to address the depth of today’s reality is virtually impossible.

For example, Chicago’s, Urban Prep Academy, an all boys academy where 100 percent of the 107 graduates are going to college is often cited when officials discuss solutions to the problem. While Urban Prep’s accomplishment is to be lauded, offering the school’s existence, or other charters, as a model for systemic change is insufficient.

Even if the city replicated Urban Prep ten times, the graduation rate for Black males in Chicago would only be impacted slightly.

According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, in 2009 the fastest-growing charter system was in New York City with 22 percent growth.

Yet, charters in New York City only educate 2 percent (21,000) of New York City's one million-plus students. These school-by-school solutions are inadequate for depth of the challenge. High minority and high poverty communities and their youth have been neglected for so many decades that they need solutions that impact thousands not hundreds.

It’s time for faith institutions, grassroots advocates, parents and progressive elected officials to call for large-scale systemic reforms that we know work. For example:

- Guarantee all students access to high quality early education ensuring that they are literate by 3rd grade - as only 13 percent of Black 8th Grade students are proficient in 8th Grade reading. - Provide all students who are 10-15 percentage points below the proficiency rate an Individualized Student Recovery Plan—which provides each student the academic supports, mentoring and health supports needed to provide students an opportunity to learn. If states can pay for probationary officers for Black males surely they can employ mentors for them.

- Call for states to develop an "Opportunity to Learn" plan that outlines how the state plans to reduce the inter-district and intra-district disparities in access to early education, highly effective teachers, college bound curricula and equitable instructional resources over the next five years. The Plan should be costed out to plot the long term state and federal investments needed to protect every child’s civil right to an opportunity to learn.

Many of these requests will likely be met with the question: How can we afford to do this in this economic climate?

The Black community TODAY is uniquely positioned to respond to that question. We Can’t afford not to! Dr. Jackson is president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education

Steve Cooley's Coded Statements Against Kamala Harris

E-mail Print PDF

A week ago at the California Republican Party Convention in San Diego, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley said some outrageous things about his opponent in the California Attorney’s Race – San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.

Steve Cooley called Kamala Harris, who is running to be the first African American Attorney General in California’s history, a “radical” and a “tremendous threat to public safety.” If she wins in November, Kamala Harris would be the first African American statewide elected official in California in 31 years.

Steve Cooley went on to say that he “would be very happy to stop her aspirations at an early point in her career. There's just too much at stake."

In this year’s political climate, we’re hearing more and more of these kinds of attacks. Pandering to their extremist base, some candidates from the right are stooping to a level of “code” that we haven’t seen in years.

Their agenda is to attack President Barack Obama and try to stop candidates of color in their tracks. All the while, they refuse to repudiate those elements among their supporters, some of them truly dangerous radicals, who carry signs portraying the President of the United States as a monkey, as Hitler, or worse.

Steve Cooley calls Kamala Harris a radical but he doesn’t take issue with her record. As San Francisco’s first African American District Attorney, Harris has been an innovator in law enforcement, creating early intervention programs like her “Back on Track” program that has lowered recidivism among nonviolent offenders from more than 50% to less than 10%. She’s tough as nails when it comes to violent crime, increasing public safety and raising conviction rates to their highest point in 15 years, including doubling the conviction rate for gun violence.

Harris is working with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute predatory lenders and people who commit mortgage fraud.

And she launched one of the first environmental justice prosecution teams in the country -- Steve Cooley shut down L.A.’s environmental unit.

Cooley, the Republican Party nominee for California Attorney General, says if he is elected, he will join Republican Attorneys General from across the Southern United States who have filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the historic health care reform law championed by President Obama and passed by Congress earlier this year. Cooley and the Southern state Republicans claim the new law violates “state’s rights”.

We’ve heard that argument before – for years “states’ rights” was the rallying cry for segregationists attempting to block federal civil rights laws.

Assemblymember Sandre Swanson (D-Alameda) is Chairman of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

Chasing Glenn Beck

E-mail Print PDF

I never thought it would have gone this low so fast. On the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech the major civil rights groups or should we now say “human rights” groups coalescing together not to celebrate the anniversary but to protest a white cable television icon’s celebration of the event. Something is very strange about this. It is like there is no agenda any longer for our human rights groups from an African-American perspective. They are now fighting for immigrants, gays and lesbians and ex-offenders regardless of their color. Direct action for African- Americans is fading fast and that is not a good thing.

Just why are they upset with Glenn Beck? I believe it is because of his criticism of President Barack Obama. It seems that President Obama’s administration can fend for itself but these groups feel it is their duty to defend the honor and reputation of this publicly elected official. What it has come to is Democrats versus Republicans even though these groups are 501©3 organizations which are supposed to be nonpartisan.

The truth is they are terribly partisan to a fault. In essence, former civil rights groups are now human rights groups terribly influenced by the labor movement (unions) and hopelessly directed by the Democratic Party. They represent the Democrat Machine not the people. Please be aware of this fact.

Beck is a very interesting person. He first started his television career on the liberal CNN. From there he transitioned to the conservative Fox News and “blew up” with his tirades and accusations of the liberal camps.

He became the pride and glory of the conservative movement and many credit him with the start of the Tea Party Movement. He is unashamed of his ultra conservatism and will call out anybody in much detail and doctorial fashion. To the surprise of many he has lately been applauding Black history and many of the little known heroes of Black history.

He is actually on a campaign to show all of the contributions of our leaders in the making of America. It is admirable and you must give him his due praise. That is, if you are not on a mission to counter whatever he says as opposed to weighing his words as he speaks them. From my Black viewpoint Mr. Beck has been on the “1” in discussing the contributions of Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and many others.

So why are these human rights Democratic groups bashing him? Could it be the money they receive from the DNC that is doing it? Probably, it is reported that the Department of Education is giving one organizer $1.5 million to talk about education with Secretary Arne Duncan, who attended the protest rally by the way.

I went on the Glenn Beck show last December after a series of regrets. I finally relented just to see what would happen. We talked about the racist innuendos of California Senator Barbara Boxer and the discrimination by construction unions in employment and contracting. The professionalism of his staff was very impressive. More than that, they were quite diverse with Blacks interacting at the management level. My wife and I must admit that the professionalism of his staff is probably better than that of any other talk show host. Glenn Beck knows what he is doing and his ratings are the second highest in cable television.

The Lincoln Memorial event he produced on the anniversary date of the I Have a Dream speech (August 28) is not a coincidence. His recent campaign to promote Black history falls right in line with this event. It was here that he made clear that “one man can change the world” over and over throughout the ceremony. As a student of Dr. King and a direct benefactor of his work, I am impressed and appreciative of what Glenn Beck is doing.

No one else thought of it. The human rights groups’ reaction was knee jerk as they were caught sleeping. They had no plans whatsoever to honor the anniversary. It was reactionary and on demand from the Democratic National Committee. It is so tough to be an organization when you have a “boss” telling you what to do. As my grandmother would say, “they were like chickens with their heads cut off”. They were running and ranting with no distinct purpose. Mr. Beck with his 500,000+ followers had an agenda and mission. They accomplished it.

Glenn Beck is now touting that his movement is going back to the roots of conservatism. “We were the first ones to shout freedom for everyone and we are reclaiming that”. He flipped the script and the traditional colored groups took the bait.

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

Page 73 of 91