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National Urban League and CBC Call for 'Jobs Surge'

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This week, the National Urban League will join the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in a "jobs surge" hearing on Capitol Hill to listen directly to some of the more than 15 million Americans, a disproportionate number of whom are African American and Hispanic, who are struggling to survive in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Washington's political leaders were quick to respond with drastic "troop surges" when things appeared to be going badly in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For months, the National Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and other civil rights leaders have been calling for a similar "jobs surge," to turn the tide on the unemployment crisis that has been especially damaging to Black America. Unemployment among African Americans is 15.8% and 42% for African American teens as we approach the summer months.

Government must act now because many Americans can no longer wait while Washington drags its feet and offers up lukewarm solutions to this burning crisis. As I have said before, the recently passed $15 billion jobs bill falls woefully short of what is needed to put substantial numbers of Americans back to work. The CBC agrees, and most of its members voted against the measure. We believe that instead of what really amounts to a tax bill that largely benefits small businesses, we need a real jobs bill, containing a combination of direct job creation, workforce training, summer jobs for youth and other strategies that target our hardest hit communities. I carried that message directly to the White House in a February Oval Office meeting with President Obama.

Our communities are reeling from this crisis. That's why I was pleased to accept the CBC's invitation to participate in this week's "jobs surge" hearing.

I have asked citizens who can't attend Wednesday's hearing, to share their Great Recession stories by sending a personal message via email to mystory@iamempowered.com or posting a video on our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/IAmEm poweredVideo. We will try to have as many of your stories heard as possible.

The "Jobs Surge" Congressional hearing occurs one week before the National Urban League takes its relentless push for jobs and empowerment directly to Capitol Hill at our Centennial Legislative Policy Conference. This two-day summit, March 23-25, will provide an opportunity for Urban League officials and volunteers from our more than 100 affiliates to talk directly with Senators and Representatives about the pressing issues affecting the communities we serve - chief among them, the unemployment crisis. During the Conference, we will also release the 2010 edition of our landmark annual publication, The State of Black America.

After 100 years as a leading champion of equal opportunity and empowerment, the National Urban League is more determined than ever to ensure that your voice is heard. To take our empowerment pledge and to find out more, visit www.iamempowered.com.

Marc Morial is president and CEO of fthe National Urban League.

Amidst the Economic Mess New Black Candidates Arise

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Yes, and that is a very blessed thing. The Old Guard seems to be moving slower than ever and the “Party Loyalists” are clamoring for fresh ideas - ideas that they are not receiving from their leadership. The economy is in the tank and all they are concerned with on Capitol Hill is Healthcare.

We had better get involved in business development, deficit reduction, lower costs and taxation. Those are the only things that are going to get us out of our predicament. History will show that as this country teetered on the brink of financial ruin all they could do is hammer out some futuristic Healthcare Plan that makes no sense and will solve nothing.

It is kind of like Nero playing his violin while Rome burned.

In Congressional districts throughout the nation we are seeing new faces challenging those who used to be comfortable candidates. The new breed is challenging them on answers concerning contracting, education, economic development and an end to the housing crisis. The incumbents have to skirmish. We like this. A big surprise came when Congresspersons from everywhere are seeking to be put on the record as probusiness all of a sudden.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is in the Republican Party. There are at least 32 persons vying for Congress this November under the Republican banner.

Wow! There weren’t 32 Black delegates at the last Republican Convention.

Unlike previous Black Republicans like JC Watts, Gary Franks and Ed Brooke who came from predominantly White jurisdictions, these new Black Republicans are jumping into traditional Democratic strongholds like Southside Chicago, Compton/Long Beach, Harlem and other “chocolate districts”.

Times are changing and that is a good thing for all of us.

Of course, this is the first go round for the new Black Republicans and most will probably crash on Election Day but it could mean a good investment for the future. What if 5 of the 32 get elected? That would certainly shake up Congress and the whole political landscape. JC Watts, by himself, mesmerized many with his strong persona and charisma. He single handedly stopped the Republican House from discussing doing away with affirmative action. I remember him saying “until you come up with something better, we are going to leave it alone”. Respectfully, they backed off. Also, so many of these Black farmers are still looking for their settlement money from the lawsuit that was settled back in the 1990’s. JC got all of the Black farmers in his district paid immediately. That’s the kind of leadership the rest of the farmers could use. Maybe more people like JC are coming.

Despite all of the gate keeping at the Democratic National Committee some young up and comers are bursting through. Some career members are just resigning instead of facing the big fight (such as Diane Watson in Los Angeles).

Another thing, the DNC had better put some people of color in high positions the way it used to be or the RNC is going to outshine it. Man! Do we miss the great Ron Brown? Things haven’t been the same since he left us (except for President Obama’s run). There are no Blacks in any kind of powerful position at the DNC and they don’t seem to care. It is as if they are saying “The president is Black what else do you want?” Maybe they are going to find out this November. Meanwhile, the RNC has Michael Steele who is proud of his blackness and is certainly the real boss over there. It is making a difference.

Whatever happens, the new balance of Blackness on both sides of the political landscape should bring more thought and focus on Black economic development. Once we are empowered economically then healthcare, education, etc. will take form. Somehow it has taken us far too long to understand that.

The Obama Administration has blown it. Allowing unions to try and take over our government in a neosocialistic fashion is just plain repulsive to the majority of freedom loving, free enterprise Americans. Those who are actually afraid have justification in that state of mind. Freedom is not free and we are going to have to fight hard to maintain it. Unions have destroyed our schools, jobs, manufacturing prowess and have never opened their doors to construction for Blacks, Hispanics and women. Yet, we have a President who just loves them despite the previous documented facts. Something is wrong and new leaders from both sides are starting to step up - none too soon.

Another big factor in the November elections will be the US Chamber of Commerce. They are going to spend over $200 million on candidates. That is more than the DNC and RNC combined. Get ready, free enterprise will return!

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

CBC Chairwoman Condemns Racist Incidents During Health Care Protests

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Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement in response to racist and inflammatory incidents during yesterday’s health care protests.

“As the House of Representatives is on the cusp of passing historic health care reform, many opponents of progress have resorted to using racist and inflammatory tactics to express their opposition.

“Two weeks after leading a delegation of members of Congress on a civil rights pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama on the 45th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Rep. John Lewis was accosted while walking with two other CBC members on their way to vote on the House floor.

“Congressman Lewis has since remarked that what he encountered yesterday was reminiscent of what he experienced 45 years ago as a young man marching for freedom for all Americans.

“During the same incident, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was spat on by a protester and on a separate occasion a sexual slur at Rep. Barney Frank.

“For a protester to spit on a public official and hurl hateful epithets is wrong, it speaks to a deeper motivation that has nothing to do with the issues at hand. No one should fan the flames of hatred nor tolerate this despicable behavior which draws from one of the ugliest periods of American history.

“In December, members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a ‘Discussion on Race’ to examine the critical role of race in our society; its scientific, historic, legal and socio-cultural role.

"The incidents yesterday are examples of the unfinished business of America. We cannot sweep race and racism under the rug. Our nation needs and deserves a national dialogue on race.”

Letter to the Editor: Vote of the People

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"As a small business owner and concerned citizen, I am tired of our city leaders making decisions without a vote of the people and forcing us to pay. I just recently heard that several local governments in California are trying to take over private electric businesses— often using eminent domain—and are refusing to let local voters have the final say in the decision, because state law doesn’t require it. That's how I started learning about how Proposition 16 establishes clear two-thirds voter approval requirements before local governments can spend public money or incur public debt to go into the local electricity business.”

Think about it right now---- California’s state and local debt exceeds $145 billion! Our annual state budget deficit is $20 billion or more. 12% of Californians are unemployed.

So, why allow city officials the ability to just up and decide that they can vote to run a business and use taxpayers’ money to buy this business.

It’s truly up to us as taxpayers to manage our own lives and businesses so that the future of our children are not overrun with huge government debts, high unemployment, homelessness and much, much more.

Chad Strickland
Small Business Owner
Los Angeles County

High Expectations at Hardy Brown College Prep

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When a school with large numbers of poor and minority students do well on state or national standardized tests, it comes as no surprise to the principal and teachers at that school. That’s because these educators begin their workday with the expectation that their students can and will do the academic work necessary to be successful.

From the first day of school to the last, they assess what knowledge and skills students already have and design learning experiences that will move students to where they should be. They know that some children will take longer than others to master the material. They know that some learn their lessons in ways that differ from those of their classmates.

But, these school leaders and teachers strive to find the right assignments, the best learning materials, and the most appropriate learning environment for their students. The faculties of such schools create opportunities for their children to be successful.

This is the kind of performance that parents in San Bernardino expect from Hardy Brown College Prep, a new school that will open in downtown San Bernardino on August 18, 2010. School founders expect to reach the state’s goal of an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 800 out of 1000 points within five years. That expectation is not a pipedream. Hardy Brown is modeled on a Sacramento charter school, called PS7 that made just that kind of academic progress between 2003 and 2009. PS7 achieved against the odds.

Unfortunately, while such schools are not easy to come by, they do exist. There are 13 elementary and middle schools in California with a numerically significant enrollment of African American students where Black students scored an 800 API or more. PS7, the model for Hardy Brown College Prep, earned an 873 API score in 2009, making it the second highest ranking school in California serving significant numbers of African American children.

We don’t usually hear much about these 13 schools, because much larger numbers of failing schools dominate the news. I visited schools on the list and asked principals how they get such great performance from students. It should be no surprise that students who do well in school do so because they spend quality time at home, in the library or in community study groups with their friends who are equally serious about preparing for their futures. Schooling works best when students and adults act upon their expectations by becoming totally immersed in their education.

But we cannot believe the hype—that it is impossible to do better because of the budget, the contract, the poverty, the neighborhood. We will only see progress when progress is expected, and effort matches our highest ambitions.

There is a predominately African American school in Chicago where, for the past 29 years, 100 percent of graduates have gone on to college. Each morning students at Providence St. Mel School sing a creed. It goes, “we believe in the creation of inspired lives produced by the miracle of hard work. We are not frightened by the challenges of reality, but believe that we can change our conception of this world and our place within in it.”

Beyond wishful thinking, their confidence, efforts, and perseverance match their expectations. And not surprisingly, children flourish.

Rex Fortune is founder of Fortune School of Education and the author of Leadership on Purpose, a study of high performing, high minority, high poverty schools.

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