QUESTION OF THE WEEK: The Muslim community in New York plans to build a mosque near the 9/11 site. How do you feel about this?
Photos and question by Harry Kemp
by theGrio, courtesy of Mark S. Smith, the AP
No need for a rewrite — or a reweave — of the new rug in the Oval Office.
President Barack Obama’s spokes-man said Tuesday the White House was correct to attribute a famous quotation in the rug’s pattern to Martin Luther King Jr., even though the civil rights leader acknowledged being inspired by a 19th-century abolitionist, Thomas Parker.
“It was not us that thought he said it, it was many people that believed — rightly so — that he said it,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
The wheat, cream and blue rug, which debuted in the Oval Office last week, features the presidential seal in the center and quotations from famous Americans around the border.
Describing the rug, a White House statement credited King for these words: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
It’s one of Obama’s favorite King sayings. And no one disputes that King said it exactly that way — perhaps most memorably to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on Aug. 16, 1967.
But Parker’s adherents note the Transcendentalist and Unitarian minister wrote this in his 1853 treatise “Of Justice and the Conscience”: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one … And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
Jamie Stiehm, writing in The Washington Post on Saturday, said crediting King but not Parker “goes beyond the beige.”
“We certainly all learned a lot of important history,” Gibbs said Tuesday. “What King said and what Parker said are not the same thing.”
He also noted neither man’s name is actually on the rug. None of the quotations has names attached.
Washington (AP) — Job openings in the U.S. rose in July after two months of declines, a positive sign that companies could step up hiring in the coming months.
The Labor Department says the number of jobs advertised rose by 6.2 percent to 3.04 million. That’s the highest total since April, when temporary census hiring inflated that month’s figure. Even with the increase, total openings remain far below the 4.4 million that existed in December 2007, when the recession began.
The report, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey (JOLTS), indicates heavy competition for jobs. In July, 4.8 unemployed people, on average, were vying for each opening. That’s an improvement from the peak of 6.3 in November 2009. But it’s far more than the 1.8 unemployed people competing for each opening when the recession began.
The JOLTS report illustrates how much job churn the U.S. economy experiences each month: Companies and government agencies, including the Census Bureau, hired 4.2 million people in July. At the same time, 4.4 million people were laid off, quit or retired that month.
Total hiring remains weak and is down from a monthly total of 5 million people in December 2007. Layoffs, meanwhile, have risen moderately for the past two months but are still at pre-recession levels, the report shows.
“It is the lack of hiring that largely accounts for the ‘recession feeling’ in the job market,” said Henry Mo, an economist at Credit Suisse.
Among industries, education and health services and leisure and hospitality showed the biggest increases in job openings.
The education and health sectors posted 533,000 jobs in July, up from 487,000 the previous month. Restaurants and hotels advertised 310,000 openings, up from 263,000.
by Frederick Cosby, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com
Ignoring an avalanche of criticism from the White House, Justice Department, State Department, an interfaith coalition of religious leaders and the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, the pastor of a small Florida evangelical Christian church says he plans to go forward with his plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11.
Gen. David Petraeus led the cascade of criticism against the Pastor Terry Jones, head of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., saying that the Quran-burning event will produce the perfect recruiting tool for extremists overseas and could hurt U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.
“Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan – and around the world – to inflame public opinion and incite violence,” Petraeus said in an e-mail to the Associated Press.
Jones said he took Petraeus’ words seriously, but vowed to press on with the Quran-burning.
“Instead of us being blamed for what other people will do or might do, why don’t we send a warning to them?” Jones told Sky News. “Why don’t we send a warning to radical Islam and say, don’t do it. If you attack us, if you attack us, we will attack you.”
Jones’ so-called “International Burn a Quran Day” comes amid a heated debate over the proposed construction of a large Islamic center and mosque two blocks from where the World Trade Center’s twin towers stood before two hijacked airliners felled the giant structures on Sept. 11, 2001.
Opponents of the project, called Park51, say its sacrilege and insensitive to survivors of the attack to build the center so close to what they feel is hallowed ground, despite the presence in the area of bars, an off-track betting parlor, a strip club and a small mosque that’s been in the neighborhood before the World Trade Center opened its doors.
Supporters of the project, including President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, argue that the developers have the right under religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution to build the center.
At the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs echoed Petraeus’ sentiments that the Quran-burning could pose a problem for U.S. troops. “Any (type) of activity like that … that puts our troops in harm’s way would be a concern to this administration.”
Attorney General Eric Holder, in a meeting Tuesday with an interfaith group of religious leaders, called Jones’ plan “idiotic and dangerous.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at an Iftar meal at the State Department to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, said she was “heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful act that has come from American religious leaders from all faiths … as well as secular U.S. leaders and opinion makers.”
Earlier in the day, P.J. Crowley, a state department spokesman, called the Quran-burning event “un-American.”
“The pastor says that, you know, he’s contemplating these actions to combat radicalism,” Crowley told reporters. “In fact, these actions, if they take place – we hope they don’t – will actually feed radicalism. As Gen. Petraeus mentioned over the weekend … given social media, they can have at least as powerful an impact as the tragic events and photos Abu Ghraib had.”
Crowley’s sentiments were echoed by a multi-ethnic, multi-racial group of leaders that included Muslims, Jews and Christians. They condemned Jones’ event during a news conference at Washington’s National Press Club.
“This is not the America we all have grown to love and care about,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “We have to stand up for our Muslim brothers and sisters and say ‘This is not okay.”
“This is not America,” added Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington. “America was not built on hate.”
This past Sunday, one of the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement passed from labor to reward.
Jefferson Thomas, one of the “Little Rock Nine” who integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957, the largest high school in Arkansas, died in Columbus, Ohio of pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Thomas and his eight school mates courageously put to the test the federal government’s resolve to enforce a 1954 Supreme Court order outlawing racial segregation in the nation’s public schools.
The Nine’s courage and resolve helped open the nation’s school house doors to greater academic opportunity for generations of African Americans who followed.
Their heroism was finally rewarded in 1999 when President Bill Clinton bestowed upon them Congressional Gold Medals in recognition of the 40th anniversary of their enrollment.
The passing of this giant of “The Movement” is another reminder that the sun is setting increasingly faster on those remaining individuals who put their lives on the line to give us equality and justice not only in the classroom, but life in general.
We the heirs—the beneficiaries—of their sacrifice and courage must keep hope alive and never forget them or the reasons we as African Americans have come this far since those historic days.
Let us resolve here and now to overcome the obstacles still confronting us as a people and make fully real the dream the remaining eight and other Civil Rights greats carried and used as a sword and shield against the dragons of hate and oppression.
The state’s primary elections are next week, Sept. 14. This week’s front-page story on state Rep. Barbara Toles contains our endorsements, making this the second time in the Community Journal’s history that we have endorsed primary election candidates.
We encourage you, our readers, to exercise the most important right one can undertake in a democracy: the right to vote!
There is till time to examine the records of the candidates in both print and electronic media (television and internet) and determine who will best represent your interests in state and national government.
One of the goals of the Civil Rights Movement was winning the right to vote, which was won with the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
We implore you again to vote! If you don’t, then you can’t complain!
I made a mistake last week when I decided to travel to Chicago on Memorial Day to attend the annual African Arts Festival.
I should have gone on Friday, and stayed the entire weekend.
If you’re into Black art, diverse entertainment and endless product tents selling everything from the latest fashion to antique African crafts, the Arts Festival was the place to be.
And even if none of that floats your boat, the festival offered something priceless: the necessary ingredients to rejuvenate your cultural soul.
Some might say the Arts Festival was short on big name entertainers this year. That’s true, but only if you are unfamiliar with the Africentric cultural offerings of groups like Tambours Sans Frontieres, Aniba Hotep and the Sol Collective, or Morikeba Kouyae.
Of course, the African Arts Festival takes a back seat to the R&B and jazz performers who headline at African World Festival, but there were many ‘B’ list talent at the Arts Festival, including Avant and Chicago’s own Chaka Khan.
But the music is but a small part of what draws over 250,000 African Americans to the Chicago festival each year.
You could also criticize the parking situation at the festival. While the Summerfest grounds provide ample parking for African World Festival, the Chicago festival is held at Washington Park, and it’s not unusual for patrons to be forced to park several blocks away.
When it comes to the diversity of and shear number of product booths, Chicago has Milwaukee beat, even if you exclude merchants who usually travel to Milwaukee for our AFW. (One of those merchants told me that while he enjoyed the AFW, he makes far more money at Chicago’s four-day festival.) And of course the Arts Festival is light years ahead of Milwaukee when it comes to art.
What most prominently separates Chicago’s festival from Milwaukee’s is the art. Display after display after display of some of the finest and most intriguing Black art beaconed both the serious collector and the purely inquisitive.
From E. McCrary to Gabriel Ajayi, to my personal favorite, Donavan McLean, you could literally spend an entire day visiting the exhibits of some of Black America’s finest artists. And you could spend another day listening to their artistic motivations; their interpretation of Black life through pencil, paint and various unlikely materials such as wood, record albums and paper.
Black art is about Black life, and the festival provided a tapestry of creation that at times boggled the mind.
Many students and admirers of Black art travel from through out the Midwest solely for the art. It was well worth the journey.
But toss aside those comparisons when it comes to the foundation on which both festivals stand. Both festivals are grounded in African American/African culture, Black unity and pride, and sociopolitical bedrock that transcends economics, religion and educational attainment.
In that respect, African World Festival and the African Arts Festival are strikingly similar. There is an underpinning ambiance at both festivals that pricks the consciousness of participants. Interestingly, the festivals share a similar history, a similar plight and a similar level of community support.
Not by coincidence, the Arts Festival underwent the same financial crisis that all but led to the collapse of our festival three years ago.
Taki Raton, the noted Milwaukee historian and educator who maintains his ties to his native Chicago, told me the Arts Festival faced the possibility of going under last year. Only because the community responded with support, did the festival continue its 20-year run.
Milwaukee’s festival faced a similar fate, and as a result went on a two-year hiatus before returning this year with a single day attendance that equaled the last three-day festival.
Some say this year’s Arts Festival was slightly abbreviated, but from my vantage point it was as large and culturally diverse as it has been in past years.
There were literally blocks of tents offering a variety of goods, cultural items and community services. There was a tent offering a book reading sponsored by Third World Books, and dozens of information tents offering festival patrons with everything from African cooking to health education.
After attending a lecture on healthy eating habits, and another soliciting support signatures for the creation of an African television network, I stopped at a tent where the sponsors were collecting signatures for a concealed carry petition. (Yeah, I signed it after hearing strong arguments for righteous people to protect themselves and their community. It was the first time I’ve seen Black people lobbying for concealed carry.)
Another area hosted a daylong drumming exhibit. From a single beat, drummers, professional and amateur, would join in, adding and expanding the beat.
It was like an impromptu jazz session, although in this case, the infectious drumming continued throughout the day.
Almost as if it were orchestrated, sisters and brothers would amplify the experience through modified African dance. That’s not as strange as it may seem, since the blood of Mother Africa flows though our veins. In many respects, you could see the influence of African dance in every African American dance from the lindy hop to the wobble.
Even brothers and sisters who were ignorant of our roots, found themselves intoxicated by the drumbeats that provided a musical ambiance and backdrop throughout Washington Park. Truly, the heartbeat of Africa transcends time and distance.
Obviously, the worse form of slavery known to mankind, and the resulting efforts to strip from us our religion, culture and language, could not kill the African drumbeat. It may be deeply engrained in our subconscious, but it’s there, and if awakened could spark a cultural metamorphosis.
The Arts Festival, like AWF has become a super large family reunion.
I not only ran into Taki at Washington Park (which is appropriately located next to the famous DuSable Museum), but Judge Russell and Libby Stamper, and Mark Wade, the president of AFW who masterfully orchestrated the return of our festival this year. Mark said he was there to take notes, to converse with organizers and to build bridges between Chicago and Milwaukee.
But there was something offered at the festival that Milwaukee also had in abundance.
Both ethnic festivals provide something for conscientious Black Americans that is absent in our daily lives. Call it a fraternity of brotherhood, a cultural grounding or maybe a spiritual fellowship. It is something I immersed myself in earlier this summer while attending AFW. Years ago I felt it at the Million Man March.
I first encountered it in the jungles of Vietnam, where I never felt alone or in danger because no two Black men ever passed each other without greeting each other. There was a bond among the brothers in Nam that easily transcended uniforms.
It was a unique comradery of spirits, a connectiveness that we absorbed through non-verbal communications. Call it an aura of brotherhood, a family tie, or even a spiritual bond. Whatever you call it, it was evident at the Milwaukee and Chicago festivals.
Throughout the day at the Arts Festival strangers greeted us as if we were their next-door neighbors. They greeted us with the title of brother or sister. They speak to you in a dialect that transcends language.
And you could feel a sense of caring and sharing that made you feel part of a collective. It was a special bond that has transcended the Diaspora, something that links us to the Motherland.
Just as AFW is the ‘meeting place,’ the African Arts Festival is also a gathering of like-minded African Americans, comfortable tugging on our cultural string, united by brotherhood, a common link to the cradle of civilization.
The arts festival was like water to a thirsty man. Except in this case, as with AFW, it is not H2O that quenches our thirst, but brotherhood.
As a seasoned “chalk and black board” teacher and long time staff development consultant in the arena of the African Centered curriculum model, this is actually a difficult article to mentally structure and one that I take no joy in writing. Comments herein noted, however, have to be shared as this treatment contends that we as a Black community dwell in a serious state of denial when it comes to the education and development of our children, Black males in particular.
The research base underscoring the following remarks have been on my radar since at least the previous decade and will now be tapped to shed light on recent findings regarding African American students in cross level educational corridors.
James J. Heckman from the University of Chicago and the American Bar Foundation’s Paul A. LaFontaine in their 2007 discussion paper “American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels” cite in their introduction that high school graduation “is a barometer of the health of American society and the skill level of its future workforce” and that throughout the better half of the 20th century, each new generation of Americans “was more likely to graduate from high school than the preceding one.”
The exact reverse, however, has become quite evident – albeit to this writer quite predictable – in our nation’s Black communities. A 50-state report released mid-August from the Schott Foundation for Public Education came to the alarming conclusion, according to published accounts, that “public education has failed Black male students.”
Titled “Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Educationm” the study reveals that the overall 2007/2008 graduation rate for Black males in the U.S. was only 48 percent.
The account additionally highlights findings that New York state’s graduation rate for Black males is only 25 percent, most alarming when noted in Janet Shan’s August 17 “Hinterland Gazett” net report that New York has the nation’s “highest enrollment of Black students.”
Shan further contends that only 28 percent of the city’s Black male students graduate with diplomas on time and that each year, approximately 100,000 Black male students in New York do not graduate from high school four years hence with their entering freshman class.
Highlights of the report indicate that the five worst performing districts with large Black male student enrollment are New York (28%), Philadelphia (28%), Broward County, Fla. (39%), Chicago (44%), and Nashville, Tenn. (47%).
States with Black male enrollment exceeding 100,000 having the highest graduation rates for Black male students are New Jersey (68%), Maryland (55%), California (54%) and Pennsylvania (53%). Districts with the lowest graduation rates for Black male students are Pinellas County, Florida (21%), Palm Beach County, Florida (22%), Duval County, Florida (23%), Charleston County, S.C. (24%), and Buffalo, N.Y. (25%).
Dade County, Fla., Cleveland and Detroit also record low graduation rates for Black male students, each at 27 percent. Wisconsin during 2007-2008 reported a Black student enrollment of 46,508 with a 50 percent Black male graduation rate, only slightly higher than the national average for our numbers.
“Not only are we in an economic crisis. We are in the throes of an education crisis in the United States that cannot be ignored,” says Shan.
Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone and who also provided the foreword to this report said that the numbers in the Schott Foundation study “form a nightmarish picture, one that is all the more frightening for being both true and long-standing.”
He adds that, “These boys are failing” and contends that it is the responsibility of the adults around them “to turn these trajectories around.” He further positions that “all of us must ensure that we level the playing field for the hundreds of thousands of children who are at risk of continuing the cycle of generational poverty.”
President and CEO of the Schott Foundation, Dr. John H. Jackson observes that, “Currently, the rate at which Black males are being pushed out of school and into the pipeline to prison far exceeds the rate at which they are graduating and reaching high levels of academic achievement.”
And on the college campus, it is not going to get too much better. Justin Pope in a March 30 Associated Press report last year on the 83 federally designated four-year historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) show that only 37% of their Black students finish a degree within six years, four percentage points lower than the national college graduation rate for Black students.
But when clustered statistically within African American male/female comparative domains, the picture is not looking very promising at all for Black males. According to the Pope account, at the 38 HBCUs, fewer than one in four men who started in 2001 had completed a bachelor’s degree by 2007. At Texas Southern, Voorhees, Edward Waters and Miles College as reported, the figure was under 10%.
Black women are outperforming Black men in education notes the AP writing and as our women account for more than 61% of HBCU students and are enjoying unprecedented leadership opportunities, “they also pay a price in everything from one-sided classroom discussions to competition for dates.”
“Most of the so-called ‘Big-Men on Campus’ are women,” and that it is the ladies who “pretty much run the yard,” says Velma Maclin, a student at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis.
On 17 HBCU campuses, the AP account informs us that there are two women for every man, and on a few campuses, the ratio is three-to-one. At North Carolina Central University in Durham for example, the student population is two-thirds women.
And we are not out of the woods yet. There is more. Having canvassed both high school and college, it appears that we in the Black community might have additional challenges emerging for our little ones; yes even from our own babies.
A study in this past May’s issue of Developmental Psychology submits that the majority of Latino kindergartners in American schools have comparable quality social skills to their white middle-class peers and that even “low-income Latino kindergartners” in behavioral demonstrative indicators “are ahead of their Black peers” in social skill development.
In other words, within an educational context, Latino students overall enter school at pre-K and K4 levels with strong “I can sit down in may seat, be still, and respectfully pay attention to my teacher” learning ready skill assets. The report cautions however that these early gains “are likely to soon disappear if they attend low-quality schools and live in low-income neighborhoods.”
In her May 3, 2010 “Education Week” article “Latino Kindergartners’ Social Skills Found Strong,” writer Mary Ann Zehr quotes University of Texas (Austin) associate professor of sociology Robert Crosnoe who conducted previous research on Latinos employing the same national database.
Crosnoe positions that Latino parents “do a great job of getting their children school-ready in a behavioral or socio-emotional sense, even if their academic skills are somewhat lower than those of other children.”
He would add that “we need to make the investment at the start of school when Latino children are eager and enthusiastic and motivated but before the many disadvantages they face – lower quality schools, watered-down curricula–start to chip away at the socio-emotional advantages they brought into school.”
“There is something going on culturally that is protecting Latino children during these early childhood years,” says Linda Espinosa, a recently retired professor of early-childhood education from the University of Missouri in Columbia in the Zehar article.
A challenge facing our Black community is that given the immense negative influence of urban popular culture that parents are imposing upon our babies and the apparent continuing breakdown of the central city community social infrastructure, just how many African American children moving forward are and will be learning ready, as compared to their Latino peers, upon entering the pre-school or K4 classroom?
The enormous frustration facing this writer in the preparation of this story is that the signs, markers, performance trends, and evolving stats leading up to now very visible degenerative Black male graduation statistics, predictably less than desirable college academic performance, and now sub-standard learning readiness levels with our babies, all such accounts have been known by professional African American educational stakeholders, academicians, teachers, principals, and social service providers for over the past two decades stretching back even into the 1980’s.
We know this because for just as long and well from the early 90’s particularly in this paper (MCJ), I have been quoting pertinent available stats in such articles commenting on the respective educational climate of African American students over this span of time.
These markers have been known by our own Black “experts” in the field now for nearly three decades and we have done little to nothing to successfully intervene and turn the tide to avoid the above cited current day outcomes for our Black male students here in 2010. We are indeed responsible for our own decline – not lack of funding, not overcrowded classrooms, not the so-called inferior schools, and not even due to any lack of teacher “diversity training.”
We knew November 5, 2003, for example, that according to a Chicago Tribune newspaper front page headline, “44% of state schools flunk test” and that in that same year as noted during the month of September, writers Sarah Carr and Alan J. Bursuk report the “State graduation rate for Blacks is still last in nation” citing that “for the third year in a row,” Wisconsin has the lowest graduation rate in the country for African American students.
Just quoting from this writer’s own past articles, in the Advancement Project Report (APR) “Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track,” citing the then Chicago public school system of 434,419 students, 29,700 were suspended in the 2002-2003 school year and possibly up to 3,000 students were expelled in the 2003-2004 school year.
Yet another 2004 “Public Education and Black Male Students: A State Report Card” study reveals that at that time, only 41% of Black males in the United States graduated from high school in 2001 through 2002, an indicator 6% lower than the current 2010 Schott Foundation findings. That would be only 4 out of every 10 Black men.
This “Report Card” surfaces the lowest graduation rates for Black males in 20 districts with Black male enrollments of 10,000 or more during the stated period. Cincinnati, for example, had a Black male enrollment of 15,340 with only 19% graduating. Cleveland records a 25,973 Black male enrollment with only 19% Black males graduating.
The Black male enrollment for Milwaukee during this period was 29,893 with only 24% graduating.
So why the alarm now? Why was not a bullhorn blasting then?
Moving forward (or backward) – it still continues. A 2007 “Education Week” report confirms that at least a third of teenagers in America are dropping out of school prior to earning their diplomas and that Detroit at this time “has the worst rate” with fewer than 25 percent of the freshman class graduating four years later.
Further, conclusions addressed by New York Times writer Erik Eckholm in his March 20, 2006 article “Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn,” reinforce the basis for the above noted personal “frustration” where he cites that problems afflicting Black men have been known for decades. Quoting Ronald B. Mincy, professor of social work at Columbia University and editor of “Black Males Left Behind” (2006):
“There’s something very different happening with young Black men, and it is something we can no longer ignore. Over the last two decades, the economy did great and low skilled women, helped by public policy, latched onto it. But young Black men were falling farther back.”
The 1990’s was a “bad decade” for Black men according to Georgetown University economist Harry J. Holzer in the Eckholm article, even though the 90’s “had the best labor market in 30 years.”
And to top it all off, as though the proverbial school bell sounding has not been loud enough, September 24 of this year will be the first anniversary of the death of 16-year-old student Derron Albert, who was killed in mob fashion last year at Chicago’s Fenger High School.
The Chicago based Black Star Project in their Wednesday, September 1 net newsletter reports that 74 youths and children have been killed in Chicago during the eleven months since Derrion Albert died. “Why aren’t the good people of Chicago up in arms?” and “One year later, what had changed?” the headline reads.
The noted summation is that this Black community “decline” – particularly as same relates to the status of Black men – has actually been declining now for well over the past two, perhaps even three decades.
And culturally speaking, I can well enjoin with a multitude of other thinkers who would assert that this decline actually began on the plantation – another treatment for another time!
But when it comes to our children, this writer again wants to borrow from his own writings, pulling from the Lamya Cameron braid cutting incident.
A January 13, article on Lamya titled, “’Please Fight for Me!’ Cries out our children” inspired by words from my good friends Eric Grimes and Butch Slaughter in their book “Why Our Children Hate Us – How Black adults betray Black children.”
The authors share that our children “face particular challenges which often overwhelm their hope. However, the systemic social, educational and economic disadvantages of Black children are being responded to by silence from the Black adult community.
Our children need to see us stand for them and not against them in a world designed for their defeat.”
Taki S. Raton is a school consultant in the African Centered curriculum paradigm and creator of the Milwaukee Blyden Delany Academy school model. He is a writer and lecturer on the national stage detailing African World historiography, urban community issues with emphasis on education, the social development of Black youth and African American male concerns. He can be reached for presentations and consultant arrangements at [email protected]
by Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr.
For State Rep. Barbara Toles it’s all about sticking to the basics when it comes to serving her 17th Assembly District constituents in the state legislature.
Nothing flashy or attention grabbing. The only attention Toles seeks is attention to the issues she brings forth in the form of legislation she introduces on such issues as poverty and Black male unemployment, job creation and improvements in education for Milwaukee public school children.
The legislator did grab some well-earned attention in 2008 when her legislation to end the practice of paying Milwaukee police officers after they had been fired for just cause was signed into law.
Before this change in the law, officers who had been terminated stayed on the payroll until they exhausted their appeals with the Fire and Police Commission.
For some, the process took years and officers collected tens of thousands of dollars in pay and benefits after they had been fired. The City of Milwaukee had paid out over $4.4 million to fired officers since 1990.
Her fight to get the legislation passed—which many observers thought would be impossible—speaks to Tole’s tenacity and willingness to take on the status-quo in order to improve the quality of life for her constituents and the community as a whole.
It’s this type of no nonsense dedication to her district that earns Toles our endorsement for reelection in the upcoming primary on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
She will face off against Michael Erdmann.
Currently, Toles is fighting for minority access to state apprenticeship programs for the skilled trades and construction industry.
In order for Milwaukee to deal with its critical joblessness, Toles said it’s important that the state increase access to the construction industry and skilled trades to minorities and women, noting she rarely sees African Americans and Latinos on construction crews whenever she drives through the community.
Her testimony a few years ago before the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development calling attention to the lack of minority participation in the apprenticeship program led to it being audited for the first time in 17 years. The findings from the audit are expected soon.
Toles said access to good paying jobs allows individuals to take care of themselves and their families.
“I’m focused on getting people out of poverty,” the legislator said in an interview. “You do that by educating them to secure those jobs.”
An opponent of the aborted attempt to change the governance of Milwaukee’s public schools, Toles agrees reform is needed in the state’s largest school district. “Our children need and deserve a good education.”
Toles said she looks forward to working with new MPS Superintendent, Dr. Gregory Thornton to make sure children get the adequate preparation needed to face the challenges of an increasingly high-tech society and world.
The assemblywoman is also focused on making sure the community has access to affordable quality health care.
“People go to the doctor when they’re really sick,” Toles added. “(We need to) educate them to work on prevention, watching their diet and exercising, as well as go to the doctor on a regular basis.”
The legislator pledged to continue working towards finding a dedicated funding source for transportation, especially in Milwaukee County where reductions in funding has seen the discontinuance of some bus routes.
A member of four Assembly committees: Workforce Development (which she chairs), Labor, Ways and Means; Jobs, the Economy and Small Business, Toles takes her job as a lawmaker very seriously.
When she votes on legislation on the floor of the Assembly, her constituents can be assured she has a firm grasp on the details of the bill and what type of impact it will have on her district.
Toles is not the only endorsement we’re making. For the second time in its history, the Community Journal is endorsing candidates during the primary elections taking place throughout the state, especially in the southeastern portion where the concentration of Black votes is highest.
For U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, our choices are crystal clear: incumbents Rep. Gwen Moore and Senator Russ Feingold. The senator doesn’t have a Democratic opponent in the primaries. The senator is awaiting the winner in the Republican primary, which will likely be conservative businessman Ron Johnson.
Moore and Feingold’s leadership on the national scene has always been evident and beneficial to the citizens of Wisconsin. They both deserve another term.
In the governor’s race, our pick is Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who is expected to win easily over Tim John. In our opinion, Barrett has the best chance of defeating the two Republicans running for the office: Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, and former U.S. Rep. and businessman Mark Neumann.
For Lt. Governor our choice is state Sen. Spencer Coggs.
In the legislature, our choices are Leon Young for reelection to the 16th Assembly District seat.
We see the race to replace retiring Polly Williams for the 10th Assembly District seat as a toss up. The candidates in that race—Milwaukee County Supervisor Elizabeth Coggs, Stephanie Findley of AFSCME District Council 48, and Sherman L. Hill, the recently retired executive director of Harambee Ombudsman Project—are all capable. We will leave it up to you, the voters, to make the right decision.
For Milwaukee County Sheriff, David Clarke, Jr. has done a good job as the county’s chief law enforcement officer. Though many observers have been critical of Clarke and his political leanings to the right, he has improved the way both the county jail and House of Correction are run, as well as reining in wasteful spending.
The Sheriff’s department also deserves praise for making the city’s lakefront, especially Bradford Beach—which has experienced a renaissance in the last few years—safer and more accessible.
We believe Clarke should get another four years to continue keeping Milwaukee County safe.
Milwaukee Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton announced a service partnership between Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and City Year Milwaukee on Tuesday at Rogers Street Academy, which is connected to the Don & Sallie Davis Boys & Girls Club, at 1975 S. 24th St.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee is one of MPS’ 21st Century Community Learning Center Partners. City Year Milwaukee is in its first year of serving in six Milwaukee Public Schools as full-time tutors, mentors and role models.
Three of the six schools that City Year Milwaukee will serve – 81st Street Elementary School, Mitchell Elementary School and Rogers Street Academy – are also home to Boys & Girls Clubs. At these schools, City Year and the Boys & Girls Clubs will collaborate in the after-school space to provide educational support and mentoring to students.
Dr. Gregory E. Thornton, MPS Superintendent of Schools, will discuss the school district’s support for the partnership with City Year Milwaukee and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
James L. Clark, President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, and Jason M. Holton, Executive Director of City Year Milwaukee, will detail the service partnership between their two organizations at the press conference. Rogers Street Academy, a K-8 school of 650 students, is located at 2430 West Rogers Street.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee is the oldest and largest youth-serving agency in Milwaukee. It offers after-school and summer programming for children ages 5-18, focusing on those who have major life obstacles, most often poverty.
The Clubs operates 40 sites, which include six primary locations, 32 school sites, Camp Whitcomb/Mason in Hartland and an extension site at the Ethan Allen School for Boys in Wales. Membership to the Clubs is only $5 per year, per child, but no one is ever turned away based on inability to pay.
City Year unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities across the United States, as well as through international affiliates in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England.
MPS is the largest public school district in the State of Wisconsin, with 184 schools serving approximately 82,000 students. Achievement and improvement are guided by the MPS strategic plan, Working Together, Achieving More.
by Harry E. Johnson, President and CEO
Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc.
(BLACK PR WIRE) When the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation first sent out our design competition packages to well over 2500 entrants, we received 1700 submissions from over 52 countries. Students, artists, architects and individuals submitted their ideas about what the Memorial honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King, should look like.
With the support from not just those in this country but from the broad base of those around the world who supported Dr. King’s vision, this Memorial took on an international appeal. We are proud that Dr. King’s message of Democracy, Justice, Hope and Love transcended not only racial barriers but also international barriers.
When we selected the team to build this Memorial we were proud it reflected such a diverse group of individuals and companies. Those selected include women and minority-owned businesses, union and non-union workers as well as a small team of artisans from China.
We are proud of the fact that we have been inclusive of workers from all walks of life– as Dr. King would have wanted in espousing his message of not judging a person by the color of their skin…but by the content of their character. While 95% of the work is being done by American workers, we strongly believe that we should not exclude anyone from working on this project simply because of their religious beliefs, social background or country of origin.
We believe also that this should be the Memorial that the people truly built. Therefore, we have solicited donations not just from corporations but indeed from everyday people who believed in a man who had a vision for justice and equality for all.
I call upon all who believe as I do that while we would like to claim Dr. King as the prized possession of the African American community, or a prized possession of the United States….he was much more, he belongs to the world. This fact could not be more evident than Dr. King’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway in 1964.
America is a better place, indeed the world is a better place because of the vision of this one man.
When the memorial is completed by workers of all genders, hues and religious beliefs, people from all over the world will visit it with pride knowing that Dr. King’s vision included all people.
Memorial Website: www.buildthedream.org