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Soledad O’Brien Becomes a New Anchor for CNN

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By Brian Carter, Staff Writer
Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel –

One of the top Black news reporters has her own program, which will address various news and issues.

On Jan. 2, Soledad O’Brien’s new program aired on CNN entitled, “Starting Point.” Her new show fills in the 7-9 a.m. slot left after the demise of the American Morning Block. CNN has referred to the shows as being a “conversational ensemble” with O’Brien at the center.

This change comes after CNN announced in late October that it was revamping its morning lineup, with O’Brien and former MSNBC anchor, Ashleigh Banfield were named to be among the anchors of a new early programming schedule.

Former “American Morning” anchor O’Brien, who co-hosted from 2003-2007, was recruited back to mornings for the second shift–just in time for the Jan. 3rd Iowa caucuses. According to Broadcasting & Cable, O’Brien will report live from Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 2 and 3.

A graduate of Harvard University, O’Brien is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She began her career as an associate producer and news writer at the then NBC affiliate WBZ-TV in Boston. She would work long hours as a local reporter and bureau chief for NBC affiliate KRON in San Francisco.

She later joined NBC in 1991 in New York where she worked as a field producer for Nightly News and TODAY. O’Brien came to CNN, where she anchored the network’s Weekend Today since July 1999. At CNN, O’Brien would earn numerous awards and accolades for groundbreaking coverage and reports.

She became co-anchor of CNN’s flagship morning program, American Morning in July 2003. There she covered world-changing events like Hurricane Katrina, Southeast and Thailand Tsunamis, and the 2005 London terrorist attacks. She earned the George Foster Peabody Award for her Katrina coverage and the Alfred I. DuPont Award for her coverage of the tsunami. Other accolades include the Gracie Allen Award in 2007 on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, a NAACP President’s Award, also in 2007, for her humanitarian efforts and journalistic excellence. In 2008, she received the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Goodermote Humanitarian Award for her reports on Katrina and the Southeast Asia tsunami and was the first recipient of the Soledad O’Brien Freedom’s Voice Award from Morehouse School of Medicine for promoting social change. O’Brien was also awarded the Brotherhood Crusade Pioneer African American Achievement Award by the Brotherhood Crusade in 2009.

One of her most recent projects was Black in America 2, which was a four-hour documentary that focused on successful community leaders who improved quality of life for African Americans.

O’Brien’s Black in America in 2008 revealed that state of Blacks 40 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. She has also reported for the CNN documentary Words That Changed a Nation, which featured never-before-seen footage of Dr. King’s private writings and notes, and her investigation of his assassination. Her project, Children of the Storm and One Crime at a Time documentaries have shown her dedication to stories coming out of New Orleans.

What are Blacks to do About Ron Paul?

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By William Reed, NNPA Columnist –

Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) has come under fire over allegations that a newsletter he edited years ago contained racist commentary. The old geezer is being punk’d by people Black voters really should be leery of instead of quoting. Publicizing of comments published in the 1980s and 1990s reeks as a the latest agenda to mis-educate Black voters. To charge Paul with “racism” is misleading.

Ron Paul is far from being a foe of Black Americans. He is to be admired as a man of principles and a comrade in foiling America’s imperialists and the war crowd that probably were sources of the racially-charged commentaries. In contrast to what has turned up, if Blacks look a little closer they’d see that Paul’s political positions are in line with those preached and practiced by Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK’s position on foreign policy was vastly more similar to Paul’s than it is to any other presidential candidate.

Paul is hardly the racist that the mainstream media would have Blacks believe him to be. Blacks have more in common with Paul’s opposition to America’s penchant for imperialistic wars and absurd rationalities behind them like “Manifest Destiny” and “American Exceptionalism” than with President Obama.

Think about it, Paul has been on the national scene for 30 years. He has been labeled “conservative”, “Constitutionalist” and “libertarian”, but never “racist.” Much of Paul’s opposition comes from fear in some pro-Israel circles that Paul reflects an ascendant faction that has little use for a foreign policy so tilted toward Israel. Paul is not “a mainstream man” and the only candidate seeking to change the status quo in America. A medical doctor, Paul advocates ending the drug war and fixing a biased court system that unfairly targets and punishes minorities.

Paul may have made enough people mad enough to punk him, but Blacks have to be discerning in knowing what his actual views toward us are. Over the years Paul’s positions have remained clear and transparent. He hasn’t wavered in his voting or policy ideals. What candidate can you name that is more serious on fiscal matters? Paul wants to get rid of many federal agencies and would like to audit and perhaps abolish the Federal Reserve Bank. Paul advocates an end to the death penalty and, as president, plans to bring all military troops home.

People tied to the military/industrial complex loathe Paul the most. He labels their banter against Iran “warmongering” and states: “In all wars minorities suffer the most. So I hope that they join me in this position … against the war in Iraq… and the war on drugs.” What other candidates will stand up and say “I will pardon … everybody convicted for non-violent drug acts and drug crimes. This is where the real discrimination is … the judicial system … that I’m attacking.”

Paul brings a breath of honesty and accountability to the 2012 presidential races. Blacks of all political stripes would benefit from an honest debate during this season about campaign finance reform, military spending, torture of enemy combatants, immigration, the Federal Reserve, free trade agreements, gay marriage and prison sentences for drug use Paul’s candidacy brings about. In his opposition to American imperialism, Paul provides a certain appeal to people who see through the lies fuelling the Bush/Obama foreign policy: using the American military on behalf of the banks and multinationals. An unbridled military industrial complex is against the interest of any thinking American, and many voters are starting to rethink America’s foreign policy. For these views, Paul has growing appeal among Americans and is being “played”; as he’s portrayed as a racist on racist mediums.

As the primaries play out, look at Paul for practical political positions that help our nation. Black voters should move beyond the newsletters in judging Paul. Try judging his efforts to end a “war on drugs” that has contributed to the mass incarceration of the poor and people of color, you’ll find him far from racist and quite progressive.

 

National Headlines Took Center Stage in 2011

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By Eric Mayes, Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune –

From sex scandals to revolutions and natural disasters, the top ten national and international stories of 2011 had it all. The Tribune compiled a synopsis of its top ten stories.

9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden killed by U.S.

A Navy SEAL team shot and killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden on May 1 at his hideout in Pakistan. He’d been the world’s most-wanted terrorist for nearly a decade, ever since a team of his al-Qaida followers carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The manhunt ended with a nighttime assault by a helicopter-borne special operations squad on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden was shot dead by one of the raiders, and within hours his body was buried at sea.

Penn State sex abuse scandal topples Joe Pa

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 12-year period. He has been charged with 52 counts related to the abuse and is currently free on bail.

The scandal rocked the university, leading to the firing of iconic coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier. Both men were fired by the board of trustees on Nov. 9.

Paterno led the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 seasons and had amassed 409 career victories — a Division I record. His dismissal led to riots in State College, as students protested his removal.

Sandusky, 67, who since 1977 headed up a charity for trouble children called the Second Mile, has maintained his innocence.

Occupy Wall Street spread inequity protests to more than 200 cities worldwide

Demonstrators first gathered Sept. 17, in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district to protest against social and economic inequality, high unemployment, greed, as well as corruption, and the undue influence of corporations — particularly from the financial services sector — on government. Under the slogan “We are the 99 percent,” the protests in New York City have sparked similar protests and movements around the world.

Arab Spring spreads across the Middle East

A wave of protests rolled across the Middle East, leading to revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, and civil war in Libya. In addition, there was major civil unrest in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen along with protests in Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Oman.

Demonstrators shared frustration at growing economic inequity in all of those countries and well as oppressive regimes. The most famous of the protests took place in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Tens of thousands of protestors forced out dictator Hosni Mubarak with largely peaceful demonstrations.

Boxing legend Joe Frazier dies

Former Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier died from liver cancer at 67 on Nov. 7.

Born in Beaufort, South Carolina, and long a fixture in Philadelphia, Frazier became the only American fighter to win a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Turning pro, he beat Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in 1971, the first man to do so. But, Frazier held the title for just four fights.

The two men battled it out three times, twice in the heart of New York City and once in the morning in a steamy arena in the Philippines in an epic battle dubbed “the Thrilla in Manila.” They went 41 rounds together. Neither gave an inch, and both gave it their all.

In their last fight in Manila in 1975, they traded punches with a fervor that seemed unimaginable among heavyweights. Frazier gave as good as he got for 14 rounds, then had to be held back by trainer Eddie Futch as he tried to go out for the final round, unable to see.

In the end, the two sworn enemies forgave each other. Both are members of the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Black Republican Herman Cain flames out as possible Republican nominee

Pizza mogul Herman Cain, briefly considered the likely Republican nominee for president, dropped out of the campaign on Dec. 4, as charges of sexual impropriety grew.

In his announcement, Cain said he decided to drop out to avoid news coverage that was hurtful to his family.

His decision came five days after an Atlanta-area woman claimed she and Cain had an affair for more than a decade, a claim that followed several allegations of sexual harassment against the Georgia businessman.

The businessman had surged in polls until news surfaced in late October that he had been accused of sexual harassment by two women during his time as president of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

Casey Anthony declared innocent in death of her daughter

The Florida mom on trial for killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2008 was acquitted July 5 after the jury deliberated for 11 hours. The 25-year-old had been charged with first-degree murder, which could have brought the death penalty if she had been convicted.

Instead, she was convicted of only four counts of lying to investigators looking into the June 2008 disappearance of her daughter Caylee. The tot’s body was found in the woods six months later and a medical examiner was never able to determine how she died.

Jailed since August 2008, Anthony was sentenced to four years but left jail July 17 for time served.

Steve Jobs, Apple founder dies

Apple founder, technological and business guru Steve Jobs died Oct. 5 at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer. He had been fighting the disease since 2004.

Jobs’ death created a huge outpouring of emotion with mourners who lauded him as a visionary and turned Apple stores across the country into impromptu memorials.

Earthquake strikes Japan

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan on March 11, triggering a deadly tsunami that washed far inland, swamping towns, sweeping away a train and sparking massive fires, including one at a major nuclear plant.

The quake ultimately claimed nearly 20,000 lives and caused an estimated $218 billion in damage. The tsunami triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, after waves knocked out the cooling system at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing it to spew radiation that turned up in local produce. About 100,000 people evacuated from the area have not returned to their homes. Traces of radioactive materials linked to the accident were detected as far away as Massachusetts.

The offshore quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time at a depth of 24 kilometers about 125 kilometers off the coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, U.S. representative from Arizona

Forty-one-year-old Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot on Jan. 8 while meeting with constituents in Tucson, Ariz. Six people were killed and 13 wounded in the attack, including the lawmaker and members of her staff. Giffords was shot by Jared Loughner, who was quickly captured and imprisoned while being evaluated to determine if was mentally incapable of participating in his defense.

It took more than seven months for her recovery. She returned to Congress on Aug. 1.

Get Elected and Get Paid

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Special to the NNPA from the Florida Courier –

About 47 percent of Congress, or 250 current members of Congress, are millionaires, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics of lawmakers’ personal financial disclosure forms covering calendar year 2010. The Center’s analysis is based on the median values of lawmakers’ disclosed assets and liabilities.

That lofty financial status is enjoyed by only about one percent of Americans.

"The vast majority of members of Congress are quite comfortable, financially, while many of their own constituents suffer from economic hardships," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

"It’s no surprise that so many people grumble about lawmakers being out-of-touch," Krumholz continued. "Few Americans enjoy the same financial cushion maintained by most members of Congress – or the same access to market-altering information that could yield personal financial gains."

On the whole, elected officials in the U.S. Senate enjoy cushier bank accounts and portfolios than their counterparts in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2010, the year of the most recently released financial data, the estimated median net worth of a current U.S. senator stood at an average of $2.63 million, according to the Center’s research.

Despite the global economic meltdown in 2008 and sluggish recovery, that’s up about 11 percent from an estimated median net worth of about $2.38 million in 2009, according to the Center’s analysis. And it’s up about 16 percent from a median estimated net worth of $2.27 million in 2008.

Party doesn’t matter

Fully 37 Senate Democrats and 30 Senate Republicans reported an average net worth in excess of $1 million in 2010, according to the Center’s analysis. The same was true of 110 House Republicans and 73 House Democrats.

The median estimated net worth among Senate Republicans was $2.43 million, and the median net worth among members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate was $2.69 million, by the Center’s tally.

Meanwhile, in the House, the median estimated net worth of a GOP House member was $834,250 in 2010, according to the Center’s research, compared to a median net worth of $635,500 among House Democrats.

The median estimated net worth among House members, overall, stood at $756,765 in 2010. That’s up about 17 percent compared to the median net worth of $645,500 among House members in 2008, but down about 1 percent compared to 2009, when House members posted a median estimated net worth of $765,010, according to the Center’s analysis.

Broad ranges

When members of Congress file these annual reports, they are allowed to list the value of their assets and liabilities in broad ranges. The Center for Responsive Politics determines the minimum and maximum possible values for each asset and liability for every member of Congress and then calculates each lawmaker’s average estimated net worth.

Sometimes millions of dollars separate a lawmaker’s minimum estimated worth from his or her maximum estimated wealth. That said, members of Congress might be more financially well off than they seem. The annual filings do not include the values of government retirement accounts, personal property – such as cars or artwork – or any non-income-generating property, such as their primary residences.

Moreover, because of the forms’ broad ranges for assets and liabilities, it’s impossible to know whether some members of Congress are in the black or in the red.

Issa on top

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) ranks as the wealthiest member of the 112th Congress, according to the Center’s analysis of 2010 financial disclosures. Issa’s minimum estimated net worth in 2010 was $195 million, while his maximum estimated net worth was more than $700 million. That gives Issa an average net worth of $448 million.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) ranks as the wealthiest House Democrat. Polis, who has spent about $7 million of his own money on his campaigns since 2007, has an average estimated net worth of $143 million.

No. 2 is Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas, $380 million), followed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass., $232 million), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va., $193 million) and Sen. Herb Kohl, the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team (D-Wis., $174 million).

Hastings at bottom

The net worth of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is below zero. Her maximum net worth is a negative $15,000, while her minimum net worth is a negative $50,000.

A similar predicament afflicts Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), Steve Fincher (R-Tenn.) and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.).

Notably, Hastings, whose minimum estimated net worth is $7.3 million in debt and whose maximum estimated net worth is $2.1 million in debt, ranks as the poorest member of Congress, by the Center’s tally.

None of the 43 Congressional Black Caucus legislators appear in the top 100 wealthiest federal lawmakers. The richest, Rep. Al Green of Texas, has an average net worth of approximately $4.5 million – No. 104 on the list.

The average net worth of CBC members is $411,179 – well below the congressional average of $7.4 million.

Lobbied investors

The most popular company in which members of Congress were invested in 2010 was General Electric, a company that spent more than $39 million on federal lobbying that year and ranked as the No. 3 top spender on lobbying.

Seventy-five different current members of Congress held stock in GE in 2010, according to the Center’s research. Collectively, these holdings were worth at least $3.6 million.

2011: More Trying Times for Black America

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By Starla Muhammad, Staff Writer
Special to the NNPA from the Final Call –

(FinalCall.com) - For Black people 2011 reinforced the glaring reality that no matter who occupies the White House, overall conditions of the masses in the Black community do not change and in many cases, it worsens. Even for the Black family living in the White House, 2011 further revealed even they were not immune to being disrespected, stereotyped and attacked.

For events and news stories affecting Black men, women and children, this year bears witness to the insight given by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that no man or woman can rise above the condition of his or her people.

What lessons did Black America learn this past year and what did 2011 say about the state of Black America? The economy, health, crime, international events and politics took center stage this year yielding mixed results according to a cross section of Black activists, analysts, leaders and commentators.

“Things have not gotten better for Black folks,” Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University finance professor, author and creator of yourblackworld.com told The Final Call.

“I think that our spirit of independence grows every year. We are learning how to create our own jobs or at least we now understand that’s going to be the solution and that really looking for state or government sanctioned solutions is only going to take us so far,” says Dr. Watkins.

“You can’t do a whole lot better than having a Black president and we found that our suffering actually increased under a Black president relative to what it was before,” adds Dr. Watkins.

Despite the grim statistics, Dr. Watkins says 2011 was overall a good year for Black people because “we are always looking forward because we are survivors.”

Dr. Watkins says Blacks have become increasingly more astute politically since the election of President Obama but channeling it into effective organizing has still fallen short.

“You really can’t think of too many scenarios this year in which we actually organized toward a purpose and achieved our goals. You saw some of it happen maybe with the Troy Davis execution but that really wasn’t as much of a Black thing as it was a liberal kind of human rights sort of thing that happened to correlate with African American interests,” says Dr. Watkins.

“I think that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to organizing effectively but I think in terms of learning how to think for ourselves, I think we made a lot of progress,” he adds.

The Black community faced “everything” in 2011 says veteran, award-winning journalist Bev Smith. “We faced every kind of critical problem a community can face, from illness to crime. But I think it would be the combination of crime and unemployment that are the two issues that have not thoroughly in my opinion been addressed by leadership across this country if there is any leadership,” Ms. Smith told The Final Call.

She was hard pressed to find positive highlights for the year. “You can always look for positive things in our African American community. You can look for young people that are graduating from high school and going to college. You can look for the three out of five young African American men who are not going to jail who are not committing crimes. But the impact of the others who are, is so severe on the community as a whole that there is no portion of our community that isn’t affected by it,” says Ms. Smith.

One of the factors blamed for the disproportionate numbers of Black teens and young adults caught up in crime was unemployment which hit this group particularly hard. In some parts of the county, the unemployment rate for Black teens was anywhere from 40 to 50 percent.

For Black adults the picture was not much brighter with the average unemployment rate hovering at or above 16 percent most of the year well above the national average for Whites.

“Our Black community has been suffering from unemployment from the first four years of the Bush administration. Now the country’s talking about unemployment but our numbers are triple those of the average person in America. So, was there anything good to report? I’m usually optimistic and I usually can say there’s something good coming out of everything but I don’t see it in 2011. I see us more disenfranchised, disorganized, not committed to each other, more selfish than ever before,” says Ms. Smith.

As President Barack H. Obama enters campaign mode for the upcoming 2012 presidential election, the euphoria and optimism felt by the many voters that helped sweep him into office three years ago has turned to skepticism and frustration. For Blacks, 95 percent who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 this year left little to smile about.

The median wealth of White households is 20 times that of Black households and the average median hourly wage for Black men working full-time is $14.90 per hour compared to $20.84 for White men, according to reports released this year.

Individual families were not the only ones experiencing a rocky year. Even the nation’s oldest civil rights organization was faced with challenges. Hilary O. Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy for the NAACP, says the good thing about 2011 is that Black people were able to hold on.

“After a slew of victories from 2009 through the end of 2010, 2011 began on a really challenging note…this year was tough,” admits Mr. Shelton, referring to trying to move aspects of the NAACP agenda through Congress and to the president for signature.

The 2010 mid-term elections saw the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives change from Democrat to Republican.

“The toughness was we’ve lost a good friend as the speaker of the House that helped us move our agenda through. And unfortunately the person that replaced her was someone that was strongly opposed to much of the agenda that we were trying to continue to get through as well as many of the victories that we had accomplished in the 111th Congress which ran from 2009 to 2010,” Mr. Shelton told The Final Call.

There was an immediate move in January 2011 in the House to try and rollback the Affordable Care Act that afforded millions of Americans health care coverage, says Mr. Shelton. The move to repeal the act was halted in the Senate so it is still in effect. “It’s still there and now we’re working to get more African Americans registered to be covered by the Affordable Care Act. When we started this fight, 47 million Americans had no health care insurance and over 30 percent of those are African Americans,” notes Mr. Shelton.

The fight keeping health insurance for millions of uninsured was one of many battles the NAACP waged during the year.

International events also impacted Blacks in America, according to Chicago-based activist Pat Hill. The Obama administration’s military intervention in Africa, especially Libya was of great concern to many activists and the killing of Col. Muammar Gadhafi was pivotal, she says.

“His (President Obama’s) wars have been focused on the continent and so I think unwittingly we don’t realize the effect it’s having…the economic situation is really a bi-product of the wars because war is very expensive,” argues the long-time activist and former Chicago police officer.

Ms. Hill says prices for everyday items have increased and much needed services have been cut, impacting the Black community. “The money to pay for the wars has come from somewhere else and you can look at the cost of living just all around, how expensive everything has gotten and it is a direct impact of the wars,” says Ms. Hill.

“People act as though this crisis is happening in a vacuum. There’s a cost for everything. It’s almost like we’ve accepted being in a war but not understanding the economic impact that it has on a society, on a country, on a people. And so if that were eliminated, you would be surprised as the money flows and the jobs come back,” she says.

While some pundits still contend having a Black family as the first family of the United States the past three years points to a “post-racial” society, 2011 ends pointing out even the president and first lady cannot escape the racial animus that continues to permeate the very fabric of the world’s most powerful nation.

Congressman Jim Stensenbrener (R-Wisc.) was recently overheard making inappropriate remarks about First Lady Michelle Obama’s backside, harkening back to the days when White slavemasters commented on the physique of Black slaves as they stood on the auction block prior to being sold off.

In a separate incident, former Tea Party political candidate Jules Manson was visited by the Secret Service after reportedly calling for the assassination of President Obama and his “monkey children” on his Facebook page as reported by the New York Daily News.

Incidents like these show racism is still a virus in society even in 2011 Rev. Marcia L. Dyson told The Final Call. “I think we haven’t come as far in race relationships. Electing a Black man for president is about choosing one Black man but it has nothing to do with how they really may think about African Americans in general,” says the ordained minister and lecturer.

“Obviously if a non-Black said it, they still have a fixation on the Black female body, something that they can no longer have as chattel. So since you can’t lock it down in iron you can try to throw straws at it. But Michelle Obama is a fierce Black woman from the South Side of Chicago and has more grace to even be insulted by the ignorance of a few in America,” says Rev. Dyson when asked about the comments made by Rep. Stensenbrener.

Individual organizations are working to improve the conditions in the Black community but the organizational skills and unity demonstrated by these same groups working together is lacking and has to change next year, says Ms. Smith.

“There are people individually working themselves crazy trying to help. One of is course Ben Jealous from the NAACP, the other one is Mark Morial from the Urban League. They’re all working but they’re all working within their own group…they’re working to get things done but unfortunately we do not have the grassroots organization that we had in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and into the middle of the ’90s, we just don’t have it,” says Ms. Smith who challenged churches and other religious organizations to become more involved in collectively solving problems.

Ms. Smith added that the critical analysis of issues raised by Minister Louis Farrakhan at the 2011 anniversary of the Million Man March in Philadelphia is needed. “Are the leaders more concerned with their own agenda than they are with the agenda of the African American community? I don’t know. The community has to answer that question. My answer is I think we’ve become very selfish as Black leaders and we don’t have the commitment of the leaders in the past,” says Ms. Smith.

In his address, Min. Farrakhan reminded the audience that the success of the historic Million Man March in 1995 was because of courageous religious and political leaders and various groups that rose above their differences to make it a success. The Minister said the same level of unity and commitment among Black leadership is required today.

“What is our call today? It is for us to rise above the things that we differ about, because the future of our people depends upon our ability to mobilize for action to bring about the results that we’ve been begging others for, which will never come to us! We have got to do it ourselves! And if we don’t have the mind and the spirit to bring ourselves out of the condition that we are in, then we deserve whatever chastisement Allah will bring upon us for our refusal to accept our responsibility,” Min. Farrakhan told the audience Oct. 9.

Rev. Dyson says as Black Americans head into another year, the upcoming 2012 presidential election is time to once again become actively engaged in the workings of the political process.

“I hope that we become better citizens in 2012 and not so much choose a man or a woman but to choose the issues into which we will fight for to make sure once the elected official is in office that the things that are relevant to us, that we let them know who is the boss,” says Dr. Dyson.

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