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Activist, Scholar Manning Marable Dies at 60

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By Cyril Josh Barker, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –

Famed African-American studies scholar Manning Marable has died. Marable served as director of the Institute for African-American Studies at Columbia University, which he founded. He was 60.

Marable was famous for his progressive political views and writings penning more than 10 books. He was working on his latest work, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, set for publication a few days after his death.

Active in the political movement, Marable was elected chair of the Movement for the Democratic Society, sat on the board of the Hip Hop Summit Network, and was a member of the New York Legislature's Amistad Commission.

Battling recent health problems, he had suffered from lung disease causing him to get a lung transplant last summer. Last month Marable was hospitalized for pneumonia.

Maynard Jackson Exhibit Opens at Atlanta University Center

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By Sherri Banks, Special to the NNPA from The Atlanta Voice –

ATLANTA – Hundreds of dignitaries and guests attended a reception in the Atlanta University Center recently to honor the city's first Black mayor and launch an exhibit to display artifacts from his years in political and community activism.

The exhibit, called "The People's Mayor: Maynard Jackson and the Politics of Transformation," was unveiled at the Robert W. Woodruff Library last week on what would have been Maynard Jackson's 73rd birthday.

The traveling exhibition and the Maynard Jackson Mayoral Administrative Records collection "offer insight into the fascinating and complex political life of one the country's most impressive leaders," organizers say.

The exhibit explores Jackson's rise to prominence as the first African-American mayor in a major Southern city, and features 560 boxes of photographs, documents, and artifacts spanning 1968 to 1994.

Also presented are speeches, news clippings, proclamations, and campaign material from Jackson's terms as mayor and vice mayor.

"Maynard Jackson engineered a new future for the city and its citizens," said Loretta Parham, CEO and library director.

"Announcing the opening of the collection is truly a celebratory event for the library.

"We're honored to be the custodians of Jackson's administrative records and excited to make the collection available to the public for research," she added. "The traveling exhibition is also impressive, and visitors to the exhibition will find it to be not only educational but also quite engaging."

Noteworthy items in the collection include materials related to:

•The development of MARTA and Hartsfield International Airport (later renamed Hartsfield-Jackson in his honor)

•The Atlanta Child Murders

•The creation of Neighborhood Planning Units

•The city's winning bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympics

Attending last week's ceremony, current Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed called Jackson "a man of excellence who shattered race barriers."

Reed also recalled Jackson's commitment to mentoring others, saying that many successful politicians, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders owe their success to Jackson's support – him included.

Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president at the Coca-Cola Company, said Jackson was committed to those he mentored, but held them to high standards.

"He had exacting professional standards," she said, "and to succeed with him as mentor meant that one could succeed anywhere."

Sherryle Puryear, who worked with Jackson in investment banking, recalled that he was a stickler for grammar, both the spoken and written.

"He used to call me Rambo because he admired my determination to produce excellence," she said.

Former Mayor Shirley Franklin, a protégé of Jackson's, also attended last week's event, honoring the man who mentored her and inspired her to become the city's first female mayor and the first Black female mayor of a major Southern city.

Another former mayor, Andrew Young, appeared in a video in which he said his own mayoral candidacy began after he accepted an invitation from Jackson to meet and discuss politics. Young accepted Jackson's challenge to run for office and went on to serve two terms as mayor.

Jackson was elected mayor of Atlanta in 1973 and became the city's youngest mayor at age 35. Re-elected in 1977, he could not run for a third consecutive term, but returned years later for a third term, winning in 1989.

His greatest legacy is widely considered to be in municipal affirmative action programs that set the standard for American cities, especially those with Black majorities.

He also guided the expansion of Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport and fought to ensure that bBlack-owned companies got a piece of the pie at every level.

Jackson suffered a heart attack in 2003 and died at age 65.

Georgia Lottery Boycott Still 'on the table,' Activist Says

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By Stan Washington, Special to the NNPA from The Atlanta Voice –

A coalition of civil rights organizations and community groups are still considering their options – including a boycott of the Georgia Lottery in response to the recent changes in the HOPE Scholarship program, according to a coalition member.

"There were many options that were put on the table, a boycott of the lottery was one of them," said Rev. Dr. Richard Cobble, president of the Concerned Black Clergy (CBC). "We are still examining them all at this time."

Other than the boycott, Cobble would not say what were the other options are being considered.

"We haven't publicized those options until we can agree on them and present a unified front," he said.

The threat of a possible boycott came from state NAACP President Edward DuBose after Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 326 calling for sweeping changes in the HOPE program. The bill, fast-tracked through the General Assembly, contained tough new requirements to receive the HOPE Scholarship, which is funded by the lottery.

The landmark changes, which go into effect this fall, include:

* Only so-called Zell Miller scholars – valedictorians, salutatorians, and students who graduate with at least a 3.7 GPA and a 1200 SAT score or 26 ACT score – will get all tuition covered at public colleges in Georgia.

* Students who graduate with at least a 3.0 GPA will receive HOPE dollars, but the amount will vary from year to year, depending on lottery proceeds.

* The amount for students who qualify and are attending private colleges in Georgia will see their scholarship drop from $4,000 to $3,600. The Zell Miller Scholars will receive the full $4,000.

* Funding for books, fees, and remedial courses is being eliminated.

Critics say the changes will hurt mostly poor, rural, and minority students who attend school systems that are not as well funded as the metro Atlanta suburban school districts.

"It is mainly the poor who play the lottery that funds the HOPE program," Cobble said, "and those changes will hurt them the most."

Clark Atlanta University Provost Dr. Joseph Silver said he understands why the state needs to keep the HOPE program solvent, but doesn't understand efforts to balance the program "on the backs of the very students who need it."

"The data shows that the upper income families do not support the lottery, but it is the lower income people who do and now they will not be among the benefactors of it," Silver said.

"The upper income families have many other options of finding funding for their children to go to college," he added.

Even under the original guidelines, retaining students has become tougher during the recession for four-year institutions like Clark Atlanta, where 90 percent of their students are on some form of financial aid, Silver said.

"Most of our students who leave our institution leave due to financial reasons and not academic ones," he said. "This will put an extra burden on them to find the resources to replace HOPE funds."

Census Numbers Challenged in New York

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By Cyril Josh Barker, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –

Census numbers released last week for New York City have elected officials asking questions and challenging the results.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, New York City currently has 8.175 million people. However, City Hall estimated the number to be about 8.4 million.

The city’s Black population saw a two percent decrease while the White population grew 0.6 percent. Asians saw the highest spike in population, with a 13 percent increase, especially in Brooklyn. The Hispanic population grew by 8.1 percent.

Breaking the numbers down by borough, Staten Island’s population grew the most during the last 10 years with 5.6 percent, Manhattan grew 3.5 percent, the Bronx saw a 3.9 percent increase, and Brooklyn grew by 1.5 percent.

Probably the most questionable numbers come from Queens, which only saw an increase in population of 0.1 percent in the last 10 years, equivalent to only 1,300 people.

Regarding those numbers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others say that there was a miscount. Officials are looking to challenge the numbers to prove that they are higher so the city can get its fair share of financial resources. The mayor believes that there were errors in getting the census results for Queens and Brooklyn.

“Our administration has been looking at the census numbers nonstop since they were released last Thursday,” said Bloomberg. “And now we can say we plan to formally challenge the census results of our city under the Count Question Resolution process established by the Census Bureau.”

As a result of the census, New York State stands to lose two representatives on Capitol Hill. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said that the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t know how to court urban populations and that the city was shortchanged.

“These numbers are baffling,” he said. “If you believe them on their face, New York City added only a little more than 160,000 new residents in the last decade—a decade that any New Yorker from any part of the city could tell you saw tremendous growth in both Manhattan and the outer boroughs.”

Many elected officials are concerned about the recent budget cuts looming in government. Rep. Charles Rangel said that challenging the census is needed to make sure every community gets the money they are entitled to receive.

He said, “An accurate census count is so key to not just getting federal funding, but giving community businesses and nonprofits, the kind of demographic data they can use to attract new clients and provide services to residents.”

Census results and challenges have also prompted elected officials to take things into their own hands. Next week State Sen. John Sampson is creating a new taskforce to ensure that his conference’s commitment to redistricting reform is followed. The taskforce will undertake a statewide public outreach campaign to educate people on the redistricting process in hopes to get people interested in the census challenging process.

“Census figures have a direct impact on the services we guarantee all New Yorkers—any undercount in our state’s population could seriously jeopardize much-needed federal funding for schools, hospitals and transportation, among other vital services.

“Meanwhile in upstate, the population decline underscores the need for a comprehensive economic development plan to stimulate job growth,” Sampson said.

In Queens, State Sen. Shirley Huntley said that her district saw a decrease by 4,000 residents and that the data “astounded” her. She claims that there was an increase in people living in Queens.

“It is quite evident that there are more people living in particular areas that were undercounted by the Census Bureau,” she said. “It is important we gather accurate information. These findings should be investigated for their legitimacy because of the importance of receiving federal funding based on population and demographic data."

Blacks Failing the Grade in Military Testing

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Blacks More Likely to Flunk Entry Standard

By Sommer Brokaw, Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post –

The achievement gap is affecting not only African-Americans’ college and career goals on the civilian side, but also their ability to join and move up in the military.

The Education Trust, a Washington-based education research and advocacy organization, released the report “Shut Out of the Military: Today’s High School Education Doesn’t Mean You’re Ready for the Army” last December.

The report is based on a sample of 350,000 high school graduates from 2004-09 who took the Army’s Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test that assesses candidates’ aptitude for enlistment. Four subgroups make up the test: math knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, and paragraph comprehension.

According to the national report, 23 percent of test takers failed to achieve at least 31 out of 99 percentile score - the minimum qualifying score. More than twice as many Blacks as White applicants failed to qualify. Those that do often have lower scores, which could exclude them from higher-level training.

Other branches such as the Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard have higher qualifying scores. Those scoring 50 and higher on the AFQT are eligible for Army incentive programs like college repayment programs and the Army College Fund, a monetary incentive that increases the value of the G.I. Bill benefits.

In N.C., 35.7 percent of 4,824 Black applicants are ineligible based on ASVAB scores compared to 15.3 percent of 6,450 white applicants.

“The fact that they’ve met the graduation requirements of high school, four years of English, three years of math, at least two years of science and social studies but can’t pass this test is disappointing,” said Christina Theokas, director of research at The Education Trust. “That suggests to me our high schools need to think differently about how they’re preparing kids, the rigor of classes, and courses for students to be prepared for that option in the military. A lot of people think that the military is an open access employer for them, that it’s that second chance, but the military is a selective employer.”

End-of-grade and end-of-course tests in N.C. public schools also show an academic gap between Black and White students. In 2008-09, 43.6 percent of Blacks in grades three to eight passed the EOG math and reading tests compared to 76.7 percent of Whites.

“I think we see those gaps in the National Assessment of Education Progress or state standardized achievement tests,” Theokas said. “We’re seeing it reflected here as well with national scores or across most states, you see those disparities jumping out at you.”

The Education Trust study defies the myth that academically unprepared students can always find a place to shape up in the military. Staff Sgt. Desmont Upchurch, a California military recruiter and Durham native, said Blacks and other minorities are hardest hit by perpetuating this myth because they are mostly likely to fail the test.

He added he would like to set up a tutoring program in Durham Public Schools to tutor young minorities who are failing the test at disproportionate rates, because they are missing out on what the military has to offer like college tuition assistance.

Eileen Lainez, office of the assistant secretary of defense at the Department of Defense, said in an emailed response that recruiting is always a challenge. Entrance standards are stringent, and just 25 percent of American youth qualify for enlistment in the military.

“We should not lose sight of the fact that, although the overall youth population is large, a relatively small proportion of American youth is qualified to enlist,” said Dr. Curtis Gilroy, director of accession policy for the Department of Defense in a 2009 statement to the House Armed Services Committee. “It is an unfortunate fact that much of the contemporary youth population is currently ineligible to serve.

“For example, about 35 percent are medically disqualified (with obesity a large contributing factor), 18 percent have problems with drugs or alcohol, 5 percent have some level of criminal misbehavior, 6 percent have more dependents than can reliably be accommodated in the early career, and 9 percent are in the lowest aptitude category. Another 10 percent are qualified but are attending college. That leaves fewer than 5 million – or about 15 percent of the roughly 31 million youth ages 17-24 – who are available to recruit.”

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