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Bernice King Praises Mother's Devotion to MLK

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Article and Photo By Kenya King, Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Daily World –

Perhaps if it were not for Coretta Scott King, there would be marginal remembrance of Dr. Luther King Jr. today. Elder Bernice King, the youngest of the King children, expounded a reminder of that possibility during her keynote address at the Women Who Dare to Dream event honoring women in the Civil Rights Movement.

The event was part of the King Memorial Dedication week activities in Washington, D.C., in August; the dedication ceremony was postponed because of Hurricane Irene. It has been rescheduled for Sunday, Oct. 16, and President Barack Obama will speak at the dedication.

“Where would the world be without women who have dared to dream and women who have sacrificed and women who have often put their own dreams aside that the dreams that lie in the hearts of men might come to pass,” said King. “The greatness of a man is usually because of the woman who walks by his side. This certainly was the case for Coretta Scott King…and we thank God for her laying the groundwork for this day.”

The defining moment of Mrs. King’s efforts was in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, ensuring that Dr King would always be recognized on every third Monday in January.

King explained that although others discouraged Coretta in her efforts, she never waivered and listened to a ‘higher calling.’

“Many told her, in fact, many men told her, ‘stay home and raise your children and let the men do the job,’ said King. “But ladies, thank God that Coretta Scott King heard another voice. A voice that sounded forth from heaven that said “Coretta King I have called you as Ester for such a time as this. You have come into the Kingdom and so go forth in the power of love. Go forth in the power of strength and low I will be with you until the end of your assignment. And so God stood with Coretta Scott King as she married that banner and championed that cause.”

King also shared the story of when her parent’s home was bombed in 1956. Coretta was home with her first born, Yolanda, and Martin was away speaking at a mass meeting concerning the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

“My father said my mother had an amazing calm about her at that time,” said King. When Coretta’s father, Obadiah Scott, came to get Coretta after the bombing, Coretta refused to go. “My mother looked at my grandfather and said, ‘daddy, I’ve got to stay here with Martin.’”

King’s notable preaching skills illuminated as she described how Coretta’s calm and steadfastness remained even in Dr. King’s death. “When he died, she could have been consumed in her grief,” said King. “She could have been overwhelmed in her grief. In fact, she could have been consumed with bitterness and hatred. But no, this courageous woman, this dignified woman, this determined woman, this committed woman, this called and anointed woman decided that she would continue to champion the legacy and the work of Martin Luther King Jr., as she founded the King Center and told us that we need to study the principles, and the techniques and the philosophy of nonviolence. And so in some vain I say to people that Coretta Scott King is really the one who helped to raise a nation while also raising four kids at the same time. She was an awesome woman.”

King also recognized other women in the movement including Dorothy Cotton, who was a part of Dr. King’s executive staff; Doris Crenshaw, who worked with NAACP and Rosa Parks; and Cleo Orange, wife of the late James Orange, a “master organizer and mobilizer” for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

A rare glimpse into what went on in the inner circles of the women in the Civil Rights Movement came to light as King emphasized how those who followed her father were able to adhere to the principles of nonviolence in the face of racism.

“We had training going on behind the scenes. You see the marches and you see the water hoses. You see the demonstrations, but this was a movement that was filled with discipline and training and teaching and simulation,” said King. “They didn’t just turn another cheek. They were doing it because they had it simulated, embodied and modeled by people who showed them how to turn the other cheek. So we thank God for the women who were teaching and training in the fields and in the churches.”

King drew applause when she spoke of Dr. King’s admission that Coretta taught him many things about civil rights. She said that Dr. King was once asked if he researched Coretta’s background before marrying her and educated her on his philosophies.

“And my father said, well it may have been the other way. I think at many points, she educated me. When I met her she was concerned with the same issues as I was…So I must admit I wish I could say to satisfy my masculine ego that I led her down this path, but I must say we went down this path together. She was as actively involved and concerned when we met as she is now.”

King explained that Coretta, also known for her work in the peace movement, had taken a stance against the Vietnam War well before Dr. King did.

“She was perhaps one of the very few people who stood with him during that very difficult time when people misunderstood his stance against the Vietnam War. Many had turned their backs on him … but Coretta Scott King continued to encourage him and applauded him and said she was waiting for the day when he would take a stance because she knew that his moral voice was needed in the peace movement. And so began a glorious journey toward continuing to rid the nation of what he calls the triple evils of poverty, racism and military.”

In an unmistakable biblical reference to John 12:14, King was not remiss to include a spiritual meaning on how Coretta Scott King had the strength to persevere and why Dr. King’s legacy still lives despite his death.

“They did not understand that unless a seed fall into the ground and die it abides alone but if it dies, it produces much fruit. So today the force that they tried to stop has actually become a stronger force, an unstoppable force.

“You may slay a dreamer, but look around y’all and watch what becomes of his dream. There are those that are carrying and embodying that dream. There are those that are continuing that work, and we will, Daddy, continue this movement. Your life will not be in vain. The blood that you shed will not be for naught. We will carry the banner and will continue on. And as you stand overlooking that Potomac [River]. We know that it symbolizes you standing as you looked over the mountaintop and you saw that promised land,” said King.

King said that her mother believed that in order to save the soul of a nation, one “must become its soul.”

“These words spoken by my mother reminds us of the significance and the importance of women to the contribution of every nation on the face of this earth.”

The Women Who Dare to Dream event, held at Walter E. Washington Convention Center, also included a poetry reading by Dr. Mya Angelou, music by India Arie and others, as well as commentary from numerous women in civil rights including Myrlie Evers-Williams, Xernona Clayton and Christine King Farris.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial officially opened for pubic viewing on Aug. 22, 2011. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation postponed several dedication-week activities in light of inclement weather.

For more information about dedication plans, visit www.dedicatethedream.org.

Job Corps Fights High Unemployment with Free Education

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By Ashley N. Johnson, Special to the NNPA from the New Pittsburgh Courier –

Education and employment are two critical issues, especially within the Black community, where African-American students are ranking lower than their counterparts in education and have the highest unemployment rate nationwide. While many are dropping out and others are struggling to go onto college, the Pittsburgh Job Corps program offers low-income youth an alternative to turning to “street life” to survive.

The Job Corps program, which has served young people ages 16-24 for more than 45 years, is a free education and technical career training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor to low-income, underserved youth. There are currently 124 Job Corps programs nationwide.

“We work very carefully to make sure that (our students are trained) in areas where they can get employment. That is the bottom line for us,” said Molly Taleb, Pittsburgh Job Corps deputy center and career development services director. She added that their job is not completed until students have received training certificates or completed a degree and, most importantly, find a job.

With an 87 percent success rate of students finding employment, going on to four-year colleges or universities, or even enlisting in the military, Job Corps is giving Black youths options. Recently, the Pittsburgh students and staff of Job Corps, along with local officials, held an assembly for National Job Corps Commencement Day, which celebrated student success of graduating from the program. Several students gave testimonies of how making the decision to enroll in Job Corps had changed their lives.

According to Taleb, Job Corps began as a program for inner city boys and has grown to accommodate both males and females and allows participants to receive their diploma or GED; to acquire a vocational trade and receive certification; to get a driver’s license; and the program also sponsors more than 500 students to attend Allegheny County or Butler County Community Colleges.

The Pittsburgh center serves approximately 850 students, with participants being approximately 47 percent African-American, approximately 45 percent White, approximately three percent Hispanic and approximately five percent other ethnicities.

Entrance into the program is based on social economic needs and participants must apply through a recruiter and complete the application process. But with entering the program comes responsibility. Taleb said there is a zero tolerance for drugs, alcohol and fighting. She said these are the same expectations that employers would have.

“Students have to want to be here. It is not a lockdown program,” she said. “If forced then it is not going to work.”

Students in the program receive a stipend, housing and clothing allotments, for things such as uniforms for their vocational courses. The Pittsburgh Job Corps offers studies in several technical careers, but specializes in health care, construction and culinary arts, careers where students are more likely to find employment. And in the Job Corps’ college program, they also sponsor a number of majors where students are most likely to find employment. Taleb said that at Job Corps, they are constantly looking at what students are being trained in and where the jobs are.

Along with training, they also offer their students academic and vocational counselors at each college location, in case students need training or etc.

While many institutions are facing financial cuts due to government budget issues, Taleb’s center is no different. She said that money used for equipment has been frozen, but that budget issues are something they take into account every year. With college and university tuition increasing, Taleb said she has not necessarily seen an increase in enrollment into Job Corps.

Republicans Take New Tact to Curtail Legal Abortion in Virginia

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

The Virginia Board of Health passed what were labeled “emergency” regulations Sept. 15 that abortion rights advocates say will effectively shut down the 22 abortion providers in the state.

The rules approved by 12 of the 15 board members will force the clinics to comply with state regulations governing hospitals, if five or more first trimester abortions are performed monthly. The rules also impose architectural design standards that pro-choice advocates say are too costly--and needlessly stringent-- for most clinics to meet.

Under the new rules, clinics must have five-foot-wide hallways, eight-foot wide areas outside procedure rooms, specific numbers of toilets, types of sinks and hospital-like air circulation and electrical wiring. The clinics will also have to provide a parking spot for every bed.

The only dissenting vote came from James Edmondson Jr., an appointee of former Gov. Tim Kaine (D). Edmondson tried unsuccessfully to soften what are likely to be the toughest rules in the nation for abortion clinics. “I think access (for abortion patients) will wind up being at risk in many parts of the state because of this, and that's too bad.”

The new rules won’t make the procedures safer, but will impose costs that will force the clinics to shut down, says Jill Abbey, director of the Richmond Medical Center for Women. “The regulation is unprovoked and over-reaching. They're purely and simply for closing clinics. They're doing a disservice to the women of Virginia,” Abbey told dailypress.com.

Erin Zabel, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Southern Virginia agrees. “There's no medical basis for the regulations,” she said. “First-trimester procedures have virtually no complications. Eye surgeries and dermatology procedures use higher levels of sedation. It's clear that the intent is to put them out of business. Most work out of rented doctor's offices.”

Compliance will be monitored by state officials who, the rules mandate, must have access to any licensed abortion facility and can make unannounced inspection visits.

If approved by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), the rules are to go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.

Are Schools Preparing Black Boys ... For Prison?

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By Starla Muhammad, Staff Writer –

(NNPA) A Chicago mother recently filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education alleging a Chicago Public School security guard handcuffed her young son while he was a student at George Washington Carver Primary School on the city's far south side. In the lawsuit, filed Aug. 29, LaShanda Smith says the guard handcuffed her son March 17, 2010 which resulted in “sustained injuries of a permanent, personal and pecuniary nature.”

According to media reports, Michael A. Carin, the attorney representing Smith says the youngster was among several six and seven year olds that were handcuffed by the guard for allegedly “talking in class”. The students were also allegedly told they would never see their parents again and were going to prison.

In a another incident April 13 of this year in Queens, New York a seven-year-old special education student in first grade was handcuffed and taken by ambulance to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after he reportedly became upset because he did not like the color of an Easter egg he decorated. The school says the child was spitting, would not calm down and was “threatening”.

In New Orleans, Sebastian and Robin Weston were plaintiffs in a 2010 class action lawsuit alleging their then six-year-old son was handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security guard after the boy argued with another student over a chair.

“This must stop now. Our children are not animals and should not be treated this way,” Weston said in a statement.

Are these incidents, in which young Black boys are treated like common criminals in America's schools subconsciously, preparing them instead for life behind bars in the criminal justice system?

“The school system has been transformed into nothing more than a prison preparation industry,” says Umar Abdullah Johnson, president of National Movement to Save Black Boys.

“The job of the school district is to prep the children for prison just like a chef preps his food before he actually cooks it,” Johnson, a nationally certified psychologist, told The Final Call.

“Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education” states Black Male students are punished more severely for similar infractions than their White peers. “They are not given the same opportunities to participate in classes with enriched educational offerings. They are more frequently inappropriately removed from the general education classroom due to misclassifications by the Special Education policies and practices of schools and districts,” says the report.

In Chicago Public Schools, Black boys make up less than 25 percent of the student population but made up 57 percent of expelled students in 2009 according to Catalyst Chicago an online news magazine that reports on urban education. “In Chicago, Black Boys are 51 percent of those suspended at the elementary level,” noted Catalyst Chicago.

Johnson says a false image has been created that suggests Black boys are not interested in being educated, which is not true he argues. The emotional and psychological effects on a six and seven -year-olds from unfair and out-of-control disciplinary action like handcuffing is setting them up for criminality he explains.

“The first thing that type of behavior does is it socializes the boy at a very young age into criminal consciousness. He is nurtured by the school into an understanding that his role in society is that of a criminal,” says Johnson, a Pennsylvania certified school principle, lecturer and motivational coach. These methods and practices of handcuffing young Black boys takes away the stigma, sting and fear of incarceration he adds.

Overly harsh disciplinary policies sets the tone for students to become bored and frustrated with school which leads to increased drop-out rates and in many cases leads to greater involvement in the criminal justice system say youth advocates. Johnson agrees.

“When you put handcuffs on a six or seven year old there's no need for that six or seven-year-old to fear incarceration when they're 17 and 18-years-old,” he says.

Schools are the number one referral source to jail and juvenile hall for Black children and teens. Therefore, Johnson urges parents to meet and establish a relationship with their child's teacher. “Once you meet with a teacher, just the vibration from that teacher - be they Black or White - are going to let you know whether they're there to get a paycheck or whether they're there to teach your child.”

The Psychology of Black Unemployment

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Impact felt deep in the African American psyche

By Cynthia E. Griffin, Special to the NNPA from Our Weekly –

As she watched President Barack Obama lay out his jobs plan for the nation and repeatedly challenge Congress to address the issue immediately, Madelyn Broadus was thinking “finally, somebody is for the people.”

“It seems like for the past 12 years, (the government) is always for corporations and big fat cats. I really feel like he said it right for how we can begin again, the hard-working American people,” explained Broadus, one of the 14 million unemployed people that the president was speaking of during his speech.

A sheet metal worker who specializes in installing heating and air conditioning in commercial and industrial buildings, Broadus has not worked a job since November 2009.

“I went to a five-year apprentice program, and when I was about to come out that’s when the construction industry went flat,” said Broadus, who has existed on unemployment since her last job.

Broadus is not alone as she struggles through long-term unemployment; nor is her situation unique . . . in the Black community.

In fact, a look at employment numbers back to when the United States Department of Labor (DOL) first began segmenting out statistics by race (1972), yields the data that shows the Black unemployment rate has consistently been at least double the national average. In 1982 and 1983, for example, Black unemployment ranged from 17 to 21 percent, while the national rate for that same period ranged from 8.6 to 10.8 percent.

And these numbers, just as today’s 16.7 percent rate for Blacks probably understated the number of jobless, believes sociologist Michael Hodge, Ph.D. He said the numbers do not count those who have just stopped looking.

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics produces a report called U6, which is a broader measure of labor underutilization. For example, in June of last year, the DOL unemployment rate was 15.7 percent in July of 2010 while the U6 rate (which includes the officially unemployed, discouraged workers, the marginally attached who have fallen out of the labor force and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time work) was 23.6 percent.

The historically high Black unemployment rates even prompted researchers at UC Berkeley to develop a Black Employment and Unemployment Data Brief that is published each month, shortly after the labor department releases its unemployment figures.

The idea behind the brief said Steven C. Pitts, Ph.D., a labor policy specialist with the Center for Labor Research and Education is to make it easy for people to access all the numbers when it comes to Black unemployment. Pitts said the labor department puts out the basic numbers, but Berkeley’s data briefs drill deeper to look at various segments within the Black community.

“The Data Brief has been out 16 months now, and I think what it has done is give people a quick way to get the numbers themselves. It has allowed people to talk with some authority about Black unemployment. It’s also been able to expand the conversation around Black unemployment and economic issues.”

Some of that expanded talk has been about the impact on Blacks in public-sector employment, where Pitts said about 20 percent of Black folk work.

The long-term nature of African American unemployment is one of the reasons Hodge believes there are some deeply embedded causes for the problem in the Black community.

“There are some structural issues that are causes of the high rate of Black unemployment,” said the chair of the Morehouse College Department of Sociology. “I don’t want to discount discrimination, because (it) is still a factor in the high unemployment of African Americans, but there are some structural factors at work as well. One of which is education. We have a lower rate of high school completion and college graduation, and that is particularly true among Black men today.”

Hodge said the lower educational attainment is directly tied to a lower rate of employment.

Another structural challenge is the shifting of the U.S. economy away from a manufacturing to a service one. He noted that these were the types of well-paid jobs African American males could get without a college degree.

But the economy’s service-ward shift, combined with off-shore outsourcing, discrimination, and inadequate education have left Blacks, especially men, in the precarious position of not being able to find decent jobs that enable them to support families.

And this definitely has an impact on the entire African American community and contributes in unexplored ways to many of the challenges and ills that are prevalent, believe researchers.

“Black America has always had an alternate vision of work and work opportunities . . . and has had an informal, underground economy that’s always been a factor in their lives,” points out Alford Young Jr., a professor of sociology and African American Studies and chair of the sociology department of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

This alternative work often leads to constant thoughts about how to supplement your income, noted Young.

“This is very much a stressor and provides an interesting spin on the long-standing notion that Black people, particularly lower income folk only live for today . . . and have an inability to think about the long run and are not prepared for delayed gratification,” said Young.

In actuality, the sociologist said these individuals are in almost continual survivor mode.

Young added that in this situation there is a cognitive dissonance when it comes to understanding mainstream work.

“When, for a good portion of your adult life, you exist on the margin, you lose our sense of understanding of the work environment, and what social ties matter most for work,” Young said. Consequently, if they do get a job, in order to preserve their dignity on the job such individuals may take actions that are antithetical to keeping the job.

Hodge, of Morehouse, said the other long-term impacts include an increase in crime, and with more people interacting with the criminal justice system, that means more people accruing a record which exacerbates the problem of obtaining a job.

“You see a decline in the value of the community . . . people are losing their homes. Renters move in, who tend not to take care of homes like homeowners.”

But the impact goes even deeper than that, say researchers.

“We are still gender-oriented . . . . Males are supposed to be the breadwinners. When they can’t perform . . . stress is created in a household,” said Morehouse’s Hodge. This can lead to high rates of divorce and domestic violence.

According to Professor Barbara Carter, Ph.D., at Spelman College, economically unstable Black men are less likely to enter into formal marriages and create stable families.

“The pattern of high male unemployment helps to promote single-female-headed houses with fewer economic resources. (Women earn less than men in part because the ‘gendered’ jobs they occupy typically pay less.)

“Many Black women simply don’t assume that Black men will be able to support them (even if that is still their ideal), and families often socialize their girls to expect to be economically independent. Other women choose to raise their children alone rather than have an official/legal marriage with an economically unstable man,” noted Carter, who is in the Anthropology and Sociology Department at Spelman.

All three researchers also talk about the impact on the psyche of unemployed Blacks, particularly males.

“What you see around you, impacts how you think, and impacts your way of thinking about the world. It creates this cycle that can perpetuate itself; that can be generational and that can be problematic,” said Hodge. “Cornel West, I think, talked about this sense of community hopelessness. And when he talked about that, he talked about how unemployment, no jobs, a low graduation rate and all types of things like this perpetuate this sense of learned hopelessness. And so once that happens, it’s very difficult to pull a community out of that downward cycle.”

And because Black America has not escaped the ethos of work concept that permeates the national psyche, Hodge adds, lack of employment impacts one’s emotional state.

“I’m not going to say that people have less respect, but we react how we are reacted to. When larger society does not treat you well, there is an attitude not so much of lack of respect but of ‘I’ll get mine the only way I can get mine.’”

Young believes the impact is different at the various economic levels.

Many in the lower socioeconomic levels, who live and operate in communities where joblessness is abundant, are often wholly divorced from work and work opportunities.

“For those in the stable working class, they are in a precarious category,” Young said. “There is a lack of comfort and security at work. At one point you focused on how to have your children advance beyond your status, but now the Black middle class has abandoned that notion. Instead now they are struggling to figure out how to retire.”

According to the Los Angeles UCLA Black Worker Center, the demographic of the working class is probably the most invisible in the African American community, and that creates problems when it comes to looking at issues of work and jobs.

For the Black professional class, there is a gender imbalance, which is particularly troubling for women who are interested in connecting in marriage with someone of their same race.

Young also noted that for the professional class, there is a sense of isolation, and that for the lower income there is an emerging concern about how to make sense of a work world that is increasingly more technology-based.

The University of Michigan professor also noted another future impact that is beginning to manifest itself—the “monitoring” of a growing mass of older African Americans who have never been connected to stable employment and now must be incorporated into the conversation about social security, Medicaid and healthcare.

While the state of unemployment in the African American community is extremely challenging, researchers retain their optimism for the future in part because of the past resiliency and creativity of the African American community. That includes “hustling” (whether legitimately or illicitly) to bring in money. They are also optimistic because of actions that new generations of Blacks are taking.

One of those sets of actions is what Hodge sees among the young college students he observes.

“The Black male students I see have a hustle they are trying to create while they are in school. They set up entrepreneurship opportunities for themselves and their colleagues. They do things to promote themselves.”

And they are doing this in large part by harnessing the power of technology, adds Hodge. Their goals, like those of Black entrepreneurs of the past are to give back to the community, partially in the guise of jobs.

On the other end of the spectrum—the mass worker side—are organizations like the Los Angeles UCLA Black Workers Center, which Pitts said are doing much like the legendary A. Phillip Randolph: helping to empower Black workers as a group.

“A. Philip Randolph and the movement of sleeping car porters not only built power—meaning developing leaders such as Ed Nixon who could stand up to employers and make the demands of workers and who knew their individual fate were linked to the collective—but Randolph also was a strategist and used research and analysis to understand the political landscape and the dynamics of the power that he was up against. He made sure that the porters understood the railroad industry and how it worked; that they understood the boss, his values and motivation; he explored what political tools he had to fight with and those that were needed; he knew the political landscape of the Black community and the labor movement and where they were willing to go. All of that led to their success,” said Lola Smallwood-Cuevas of the UCLA Black Worker Center.

“Today Black workers are on their own and in the dark, like so many American workers, and they are struggling in a complex economy overlaid with enormous systems of oppression and greed,” continued Smallwood-Cuevas. “At the Black Worker Center, we believe the organization and development of worker/leaders, community strategic alliances, and smart analysis, strategies as well as an agenda out of the grassroots is what is needed.”

Researchers also believe that what is needed is to take the conversation about Black unemployment well beyond job training and creation and deep into an understanding of the future world of work as well as how to meaningfully connect youth and adults (including the formerly incarcerated) to this new and ever-changing employment landscape.

The Black Worker Center, also believes the discussion needs to include looking at the labor market and repairing the structural policies and procedures that facilitate creation of “bad” jobs and employment inequities.

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