All of humanity continues to be irreversibly uplifted by the indefatigable leadership and irrepressible spirit of Nelson Mandela. South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC), as well as all people throughout the world should pause with the greatest of respect while “Madiba” is still alive to express the highest tribute to him for a lifetime of achievement and commitment to worldwide freedom, justice, equality, empowerment and human dignity.
African Americans and all African people in particular are so inspired by the perseverance and bold courageous example of Nelson Mandela who not only helped to lead the dismantlement of apartheid in South Africa, but also he continues today to stand at the age of 93 as a global role model and force for progressive change, moral integrity and equal justice for all. In short, Mandela represents the best wisdom-consciousness for the affirmation of the oneness of humanity. Even after spending 27 years imprisoned unjustly by a brutally vicious apartheid regime, Mandela came out of prison with the strength and insight to lead South Africa nonviolently into a multiracial democracy and a growing emerging world economy.
While we live in a world where millions of people on each continent are crying out louder and louder by the hour for an end to poverty, injustice and inequality, the Mandela leadership example of social transformation that transcends race, ethnicity, tribe, religion and political ideology needs to be highlighted and better understood. In fact, the ANC continues to have a long tradition and legacy of leadership icons who first and foremost strive to represent the interests of the masses of African people who struggle for a better quality of life. It is so sad today that in many other places in the international community some rulers use violence and war to suppress the cries of the masses of the people for freedom, democracy and justice.
The recent news that Mandela was hospitalized should engender our prayers of support and concern for his health, as well as our meditation and reflections on his outstanding legacy of leadership. We are pleased that Mandela was just released from the hospital and is now recovering at home from hernia surgery. South African President Zuma reported that Mandela was stable and resting. Again, our prayers are with him and his family.
Here in the United States, the 2012 national election season appears to be focused on who has the most money in politics over against the best leadership to offer the nation and global community progress on the critical issues. Of course America is not South Africa. That is not the point. The point is that while billions of dollars are being spent to hijack the democratic process in the United States, we should learn valuable lessons from how Mandela and the ANC were guided successfully by principles of inclusive, participatory democracy versus the voter-suppressive moves and exclusivist views of those who want a backwardly divided and regressive future America.
Those of us in Occupy the Dream embrace both the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. and the democratic wisdom of Nelson Mandela. We will soon be in the South to recognize the anniversary of the voting rights struggle in Selma, Ala. with the annual retracing of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma for the march to Montgomery, Ala. that witnessed the horrible consequence of those who would go to any extent to deny the voting rights of Blacks and others. We have come a long way since the original Selma voting rights march in 1965. But we must renew our vigor and commitment to achieve more progress toward making our democracy more equal and just. Income inequality is increasing the ranks of those in poverty. We need a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics in America.
We should work to build a global movement for economic justice and equality. Thank God for Mandela. When we last had the opportunity to meet with him in person in Maputo several years ago, Mandela encouraged us to help increase worldwide awareness that Africa needs empowerment through education, training, employment and economic development. We salute Nelson Mandela for all that he continues to do to make Africa and the world a better place. Let’s also work harder now in America to further transform our society and to make our democracy representative of all of the people. — (NNPA)
I never thought it would get this low. Here we are with the first “Black” president and the first Black attorney general and they move to kill enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.The shock is that they dare do it. The reality is they can’t win at this as this is the law. But still they work to hurt small business per se and Black, Hispanic and Asian business specifically. This sinister action is to promote their socialistic pro union manifesto.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the prize of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and totally supported by people like Whitney Young, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Benjamin Chavis, Julian Bond and legions of other committed heroes. We won and President Lyndon B. Johnson ran the “N….. Bill” (as he off-the-record called it) through. This bill ended institutional discrimination in fact. But the key was to get the bill implemented.
Johnson was distracted with the Vietnam War debacle. It would be his successor, Richard M. Nixon, who began the implementation in 1968. My mentor, Arthur A. Fletcher, was working in the Department of Labor and saw the great opportunity. He implemented the Philadelphia Plan, which brought affirmative action to hiring in federal contracting. The vehicle was Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which stated that if you do business with the federal government or benefit from a federal program you cannot use discriminatory practices in your business interaction. The way to prove that you don’t is to have a formal program of inclusion, such as affirmative action. Some of the labor unions were very racist and they protested to the max. Art had a union/mob contract put on his life and as he integrated federal jobs and contracting across the nation he had to have two secret service agents shadow him for his protection.
The biggest example of the intensity was in Chicago where a direct attempt of mob action against Fletcher was enacted at the Palmer Hotel. A mob made various attempts to break into his room and kill him. He contacted the White House and that led to a call from Nixon to Chicago Mayor Richard “Dick” Daley. The president told the mayor that “if my guy doesn’t arrive in D.C. this evening or is harmed the 101st Airborne will be marching down Michigan Avenue tomorrow morning and take your city over.” The mayor backed the goons off and affirmative action proceeded on.
On the direct contracting front another giant was to emerge, U.S. Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, D-Md. Parren used the bully pulpit of the Chair of the House Small Business Committee and wrote various programs for minority business development with federal dollars. The Small Disadvantaged Business Program (SDB), the 8(a) program, the Disabled Veteran Program, the Disadvantaged Business Program (DBE) at the Department of Transportation and others were implemented by this giant. The number of Black millionaires and new jobs in the Black community created by Congressman Mitchell exceeds all other programs combined. Most of this growth came during the Ronald Reagan Administration.
As we improved and benefited from these programs, adversaries tried to stop the programs. There was the Croson Decision and the Adarand Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which caused a pause in the programs. But the reality of it was that it was the law and all we had to do was strictly abide by the law. We did and the programs proceeded. We still get nuisance lawsuits opposing these programs by entities such as the Associated General Contractors, US Road Builders and a few ultra right wing think tanks. Still, we prevail and move on.
The Black percentage of federal business peaked during the Reagan Administration at six percent of the total. It started to decline during the Clinton Administration but then leveled off and began an upswing during the George W. Bush Administration (HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson was the Most Valuable Player in this up tic). Then, as the Obama Administration moved in, and to the shock of all of us watching, the “rug” was pulled from under us. The new movement was to put unions back into power and eliminate small business, inclusive of minority business, from federal procurement. Today, Black business is at 0.3 percent and falling. It is a direct assault and a disaster. Keep in mind that 70 percent of all jobs are created by small business. This administration is killing small business and that is the reason for Black unemployment to be at record levels.
This administration is killing us and it is time for the Congressional Black Caucus and all Black concerned associations and citizens to say “enough.” This Obama experiment has failed us miserably and a real change is drastically needed. We will get through this but big decisions lay in front of us. — (NNPA)
It may not rank highly in polls of voters’ priorities compared to the jobs and the economy, yet immigration has taken on a central role in the 2012 presidential campaign drama.
Republican presidential debates have been a contest to see who can sound more ferocious toward illegal immigrants. But President Barack Obama can’t afford to enjoy watching his adversaries destroy one another. He’s catching heat from his own base, especially Hispanic voters, for being more punitive than he needs to be.
As a candidate, Obama promised to fix the nation’s immigration system with comprehensive reform — a mixture of, say, secure borders and employer sanctions with a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who properly earn it.
However, as president, facing a fiercely uncooperative congressional Republicans, he has contented himself with a numbers game, racking up record numbers of detentions and deportations.
Since Obama took office, detentions and deportations have totaled more than a million, according to the Department of Homeland Security. That’s rapidly approaching the 1.57 million that President George W. Bush deported in two terms.
In the past decade, detentions and deportations have almost doubled, DHS says in its latest annual report, from 209,000 undocumented immigrants in 2001 to almost 400,000 in the fiscal year that just ended.
Unfortunately, with that increase in detentions and deportations there also have come an increase in forced family separations, a rise in complaints of sexual assault and other brutality in detention centers, and a sharp uptick of outrage from Hispanic voters, including supporters who wanted to believe Obama’s promises to fix the broken immigration system.
Even though the president’s stated deportation policy gives priority to murderers, sex offenders, drug traffickers and other hardened criminals, DHS figures show even more have been detained whose only known crime was their illegal status.
The latest annual DHS report says more than half of all immigrant detainees in the fiscal year 2010 had no criminal records. (Of 387,242 total detainees who were deported, only 168,532 were convicted criminals.) Of those with any criminal history, almost 20 percent were merely for traffic offenses.
One disappointed Obama supporter, Maria de Los Angeles Torres, director of Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, called the policy “shameful” in locking up thousands of men and women whose only crime was their illegal status.
“The deportation policy over the past two years has succeeded in criminalizing hard-working people,” she said in a telephone interview. “This policy, as my mother used to say in Cuba, has a first and last name — and it is Barack Obama.”
Although many Hispanic voters think voting Republican would be “out of the frying pan and into the fire,” said pollster Gary Segura of Latino Decisions in a recent PBS Frontline documentary on immigrant detentions, their disaffection could hurt Obama’s election turnout enough to make a difference in closely contested states.
“He got about 70 percent of the Latino vote in 2008,” Segura said. “But the percentage of Latinos saying that they’re certain to vote for the president for reelection hovers in the mid-40s.”
Politics aside, could Obama handle detentions and deportations in a better way? Yes, say immigration lawyers, who point out a list of alternatives available for a president that don’t require congressional approval.
They include prosecutorial discretion and several forms of temporary and humanitarian relief that can be awarded to individuals or groups that can restore some semblance of due process to a system that deprives detainees of almost all rights that those who are officially arrested and charged would have.
It’s hard to believe that President Obama, a former constitutional law lecturer and grassroots community organizer, would not be aware of these alternatives. Instead, with hostile Republicans in Congress giving him the border blues, he has chosen to look tough — even if it causes new problems for thousands of families on top of the rest of the problems he is trying to solve.
E-mail Clarence Page at cpage(at)tribune.com, or write to him c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.
We declare our right to be respected as human beings and we intend to bring these rights into existence by any means necessary. – Malcolm X
Is there a Black agenda in America? Will a Black agenda help us gain our rights and respect in America? And, if so, what will such an agenda entail and who would best articulate it?
Have you been waiting for some fallout from Black America over President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage? No Black cultural, political or business leader spoke out against Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, save one.Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan responded to Obama’s politically-expedient endorsement of gay marriage calling him “the first president that sanctioned what the scriptures forbid.”
Obama’s presidency has African Americans fawning over notions of “a post-racial society” and a contemporary definition of “marriage.” Clearly, neither champions the societal needs of Black Americans. Although we’re not monolithic there are many things that bind African Americans together: racism, the struggle for equal opportunity, health care and how we are viewed in America and abroad. Because of these inequities, some of us wonder if we don’t need “Black leaders” who will authentically champion our causes.
To make any progress economically, Blacks will need a plan. Blacks who aspire to “the American mainstream” would shudder at the thought, but contemporary Blacks could surely use leadership in the mold Elijah Muhammad exhibited in the 1950s. Before the Civil Rights Movement came about, Muhammad developed the Nation of Islam’s empire of schools in 46 cities, restaurants, stores, a bank, a publishing company and 15,000 acres of farmlands in three states that produced beef, eggs, poultry, milk, fruit and vegetables. The Nation of Islam delivered these products across the country to stores they owned via their own trucks and air transport.
A major example of “Black self-help,” Muhammad built The Nation on principles that “knowledge of self” is vital, “doing for self” is necessary. These principles brought The Nation scorn from both Black and white Americans. Mainstreamers such as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said that Muhammad’s organization was “run by a bunch of thugs organized from prisons and jails and financed … by some Arab group.” Marshall said that Muhammad’s followers were “vicious” and a threat to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state law enforcement agencies.
George Schuyler, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier, wrote in 1959, “Mr. Muhammad may be a rogue and a charlatan, but when anybody can get tens of thousands of Negroes to practice economic solidarity, respect their women, alter their atrocious diet, give up liquor, stop crime, juvenile delinquency and adultery, he is doing more for Negroes’ welfare than any current Negro leader I know.”
The opportunity to be “somebody” was one of Muhammad’s major offerings to men and women who joined the Black Muslims. Mr. Muhammad was one of the few who has been able to combine religion and race with a continuing economic influence. Mr. Muhammad’s concepts came from Marcus Garvey and Booker T. Washington before him.
The African-American society is fragmented these days because of an American government covert initiative called “COINTELPRO.” It was a program designed to divide America’s descendants of slaves. So, it’s not so much that Black leadership is dead, as that our standard notion of it is no longer useful.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad provided a platform of empowerment that taught individuals and families how to tap into the power within. Don’t we need some level of this discipline and dedication in our lives today? Muhammad said, “The slave master is no longer hindering us, we’re hindering ourselves. The slave master has given you all he could give you. … Now get something for yourself.”
We doubt Obama will miss the support of Farrakhan, especially considering his support among Black voters is undiminished by his support of gay marriages. But, some among us realize we need leadership who can act as guides creating a path for themselves and others through uncharted terrain. — (NNPA)
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.
There have been cries from certain segments of the African-American community that President Obama has not done enough for Black people.
Among those voices — perhaps the loudest from Tavis Smiley and Cornel West — were critics all the way from the barbershops and beauty parlors to the pulpits, academia and the highest Black social strata.
Some of that criticism — not the personal beefs of Smiley and West — is deserved. However, much more comes from lack of information about things that have helped African Americans because the White House, rightly so, did not separate and label the legislation as “for Blacks or minorities.”
The current American Jobs Act is such a document. Where there is not any minority specified language, there is a lot of aid for beleaguered Blacks, who at 16.7 percent unemployment are suffering their worst since 1984.
The bill calls for an extension of unemployment insurance for a year for those who have been out of work six months or more, and it’s well known who has the highest percentage of jobless people in their ranks.
This will aid 1.4 million African Americans and their families. Coupled with that will be a tax credit to businesses for hiring those who are long-term unemployed.
The president is also proposing reforms that will create a program tailored to support re-employment for the long-term unemployed by providing training while they look for a job.
By placing rebuilding and revitalization projects in communities hardest hit by foreclosures and retrofitting schools in large urban school districts, the bill should provide more jobs for minorities, women and socially and economically disadvantaged people.
The payroll tax holiday puts $1,000 to $1,500 in the pockets of 20 million working-class, Black people in the next year.
The bill also provides funds for the rehiring of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees, and African Americans make up a healthy percentage of public workers across the nation.
The president also included a summer jobs program that will benefit teens and young people. Unemployment among Black youth is more than 32 percent.
It’s called The American Jobs Act not the African-American Jobs Act. It will help jobless and economically distressed people of all ethnicities — whites more than any — but, most importantly, this bill for all Americans doesn’t bypass those with dark complexions.
The American Jobs Act (AJA) has been presented to the Congress of the United States by President Barack H. Obama. This is another major step forward to get the entire nation to re-focus on implementing solutions to the nation’s unemployment crisis. In particular for Black Americans, the prolonged joblessness problems are causing pain and misery in nearly every community. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, last month’s unemployment rate for Black Americans rose to 16.7 percent, the highest unemployment rate for Black Americans since 1984, while at the same time the unemployment rate for white Americans fell slightly to 8 percent.
Some of us recall that during the administration of President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s, the unemployment rate for Black Americans surged to over 20 percent. The point today is that we have had high unemployment before, but we managed to not let an overall sense of hopelessness and defeatism become a permanent fixture in our consciousness as a people. African-American leaders today should be speaking out in support of the American Jobs Act. President Obama’s recent speech to a joint session of Congress and the subsequent delivery of this important legislative initiative was a remarkable strategic move. What is needed now is public pressure on all members of Congress to get this bill enacted into law as soon as possible.
On the issue of jobs for all Americans, the tea party wing of the Republican Party appears to be leading the rest of the moderate Republicans straight off the cliff of ultra-conservatism into a deep abyss of politically-motivated cynicism and do-nothingness. In other words, there is a clear premeditated motive by those who want to defeat President Obama in 2012 that is glaringly obvious: to prevent Congressional passage of the American Jobs Act in an attempt to politically injure President Obama at the expense of permitting high unemployment to continue.
Annalyn Censky for CNNMoney reported that, “Black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites since the government started tracking the figures in 1972. Economists blame a variety of factors. The Black workforce is younger than the white workforce, lower numbers of Blacks get a college degree and many live in areas of the country that were harder hit by the recession — all things that could lead to a higher unemployment rate.” Of course there are many different other historical and contemporary causes for the fact that Black Americans are the most unemployed in America. Beyond describing the problem, however, we need solutions and we need jobs now. That is why there should be a sense of urgency in both the Black-American and Latino American communities to mobilize support for the American Jobs Act — specifically because this legislation will provide real employment opportunities for our communities.
According to the official White House release on the AJA, the purpose of “the American Jobs Act is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans And it would do so without adding a dime to the deficit.” For Black Americans, many of whom have been underemployed as well as unemployed, the Obama Jobs Act is a welcomed initiative. The American Jobs Act has five components: tax cuts to help America’s small businesses hire and grow; putting workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing America; pathways back to work for Americans looking for jobs; tax relief for every American worker and family; and full funding as part of the President’s long-term deficit reduction plan.
African-American owned businesses will benefit from the passage of the AJA because of the projected millions of dollars in payroll tax cuts. These savings will enable these businesses to in turn hire more employees from our communities. Fifty billion dollars will be spent on new infrastructure jobs for highways, transit, rail and aviation. African- American and other minority contractors will have expanded opportunities to participate in the implementation of the AJA. Thirty-five billion dollars will be available for retention and hiring of teachers, firefighters and other public servants. Twenty-five billion dollars will be available for investing in the modernizations of 35,000 public schools and other infrastructures related to schools across the nation. Hundreds of thousands of youth jobs will be created, and given the fact that Black youth unemployment in some areas of the country exceeds 30 percent, this component of the AJA is vital for our young brothers and sisters who are crying out for an opportunity to be gainfully employed.
President Obama has acted. Now it is our turn to show and express support for the immediate passage of the American Jobs Act by the Congress. This is urgent. Let’s not waiver or be immobilized. It’s time to stand up for the empowerment of our communities. Support the American Jobs Act. — (NNPA)
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is senior advisor for the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and president of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN).
The issue of income inequality in the United States demands our attention and social action. In particular in the African-American community, the economic inequities are so real and institutionalized that we are more and more aware of how the devastating impact of income inequality continues to cause a downward spiral of the quality of life of African Americans and others who are entrapped in the deep mire of poverty, pain and hopelessness. The dream of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is just as relevant today as we move into 2012 as it was back in 1963 at the March on Washington.
King’s dream was the American dream of freedom, justice and equality for all. Yet we all should be reminded that by the beginning of 1968, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. was very concerned and focused on the questions of poverty and systemic economic injustice. The Civil Rights Movement, with the historic coalition between the Black church, organized labor, liberal whites, Latinos, students, peace activists and many others from a diversity of organizations, had reached a transformative stage in its evolution. The time had come to expose and challenge the diabolic connection between racial injustice and economic inequity.
Under King’s leadership the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) boldly called for a “Poor People’s Campaign” to plan a massive “occupation” of Washington, D.C., in 1968 to challenge the prevailing and pervasive stranglehold of economic injustice not only for Black people, for all of “God’s children.” At that time, Rev. Andrew Young was one of King’s most trusted assistants. With respect to the call for the Poor People’s Campaign, Young stated, “We intended to arouse the conscience of the nation around the issues of poverty as we had challenged the nation to reject segregation. We hoped the process of training and mobilization would empower poor people in a new social movement that transcended race.”
Today, in just a few months time since their initial demonstrations, the Occupy Wall Street movement has been successful in staging major non-violent, civil disobedience protests from New York City to Los Angeles and throughout the United States around the issues of income inequality and economic injustice. But beyond the growing number and size of the Occupy Wall Street protests, their greatest accomplishment thus far has been the raising of awareness on a national level about the contradictions of present-day income inequities and injustice.
That is why I am so grateful for the vision and responsible outreach of Russell Simmons, Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, Zach McDaniels, Bishop John R. Bryant, Rev. Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore Sr. and many other Black clergy leaders from across America who have affirmed “Occupy the Dream” to be an ecumenical coalition of church leaders who are joining with the brothers and sisters of the Occupy Wall Street movement to push for economic justice for all in the legacy of the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We are part of the 99 percent who are challenging the 1 percent, who increasingly control the wealth and future prosperity of the nation.
The Black church in America continues to be the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement, and all successful movements for change in this nation in the last 100 years have involved the presence and the visionary activism of the Black church. Now with the increasing poverty, disproportionately high home foreclosure rates and loss of property, unemployment, the lack of the best quality education for our children, absence of good health care delivery, discriminatory and unjust intergenerational incarceration, fiscal crisis for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); deterioration of our communities and business, and a growing sense of despair among millions of our youth, it is imperative that African Americans not wait passively for someone else to speak out and take action for the economic recovery of Black America.
Occupy the Dream is the revitalization and revival of the spirit, consciousness and activism of the Black church community, working in strategic coalitions with others to demand and acquire economic justice and equality. Thank God for the Occupy Wall Street movement and for reminding us of our challenges, responsibilities and opportunities today to make a big sustainable differences in the quality of life in our communities and for all people who cry out for a better way of life. On January 16, 2012, we will be calling on the Black church and other people who believe in freedom, justice and equality to come out and demonstrate with us in front of Federal Reserve Banks across the nation in both a symbolic and substantive visible protest against the growing massive income inequality in America.
Occupy the Dream is about building the “Beloved Community” that King envisioned. King said it best: “Change does not roll on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we much straighten our backs and work for our freedom.” Yes, we must straighten our minds, backs, money, spirits and souls. We have to work for economic justice …We have to work for the empowerment of all people. Occupy the Dream! Stop income inequality. The American Spring is coming in 2012. The freedom train is rolling… Get on board today. Occupy the Dream. — (NNPA)
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is senior advisor for the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and president of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN).
African Americans, especially those who are conscious of how the world has changed during the past 50 years in terms of the progress for African liberation and self-determination, should be more than willing to express gratitude to Fidel Castro because of his outstanding historic and contemporary contributions to the advancement of the interests of African people throughout the world.
I am profoundly aware that my writing about this leader will make some of my brothers and sisters feel a little uncomfortable given the continuing controversies surrounding how America views Castro. But, I think this is the right moment to at least issue a public statement of appreciation to a dedicated comrade in our struggle for freedom, justice and equality while he is still alive.
After I was released from being a political prisoner in my home state of North Carolina in 1979 as a member of the Wilmington 10, I remember what noted author James Baldwin said to me, “When someone is your comrade, you don’t just pretend that he or she is simply not there to be affirmed. After all else, Black people should speak boldly without the mask of apology about who are our real allies are in the context of our long struggle for freedom.” Baldwin’s admonition is still true today.
Look at what just happened to Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the Miami Marlins baseball team, who was made to issue a public apology for daring to utter favorable expressions about Castro. It is a glaring example of how some ethnic groups in America flex the strength of their cultural, economic and political muscle to ensure that their worldview and interests are respected by others. Guillen is a native of Venezuela and told Time magazine that “I respect Fidel Castro.”
As a result of the outcry from the Cuban-American community in south Florida, the Miami Marlins suspended Ozzie Guillen for five games. Subsequently, Guillen held a press conference to express remorse for his comment.
Why are some people so passionate about their dislike for Fidel in 2012? This is a question of history, ideology, geopolitics and economics. But the answer to this question is also an answer involving African and African-American history, culture and the global struggle of African people for equal justice and freedom.
During the Black Power Movement of the 1960s and the “Pan African Movement” of the 1970s and 1980s, Fidel Castro was a major source of support and solidarity for the liberation of Africa from centuries of colonialism, imperialism and neo-colonialism.
Decades ago, Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, Augostinho Neto in Angola, Sam Nujoma in Namibia, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Michael Manley in Jamaica, and W.E.B. Dubois and Malcolm X in America were all in solidarity with Fidel Castro and others about supporting the growing liberation movements in Africa.
Where is our memory today concerning this period of our history as a people? Are we too quick to forget? Do we have historical amnesia? We need to tell our children the truth our struggle here in America, the Caribbean and in Africa. African liberation required a revolution and a protracted struggle. The Cuban Revolution contributed concretely to the revolution and transformation of Africa.
I witnessed first-hand in Angola how Cuban soldiers valiantly and heroically shed their blood and gave their lives along with Angolans, Namibians, South Africans and others to prevent the brutal apartheid regime from taking over all of southern Africa while the administration of President Ronald Reagan orchestrated the avarice game of “constructive engagement” with the minority-ruled white South Africa. The geopolitical structure of Africa was changed irreversibly by the formidable forces of unity between our African and Cuban freedom fighters.
That is why I have no reluctance today whatsoever to say “Thank you” to Fidel Adejandro Castro Ruz for your leadership, sacrifice and contributions to help Africa. You continue to be a beacon of light and inspiration for generations to come who demand freedom and liberation from oppression and imperialism. Long live the spirit and memory of Fidel Castro. — (NNPA)
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, but of choice. Not something to wish for, but to attain.” --William Jennings Bryan
Last week, on a single day, America lost three outstanding visionaries who in their own ways changed the course of history. On Wednesday, October 5th, Steven P. Jobs, 56; Derrick Bell, 80; and Fred Shuttlesworth, 89, all passed away.
Many Americans may not be aware that there were other courageous civil rights foot soldiers who stood with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the sometimes life-threatening struggle for freedom. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was one of the most fearless and effective champions of the movement.
A Birmingham, Alabama minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. Shuttlesworth survived numerous beatings, arrests and attacks and boldly stood up to Birmingham’s infamously brutal public safety commissioner, Eugene “Bull” Connor.
Rev. Shuttlesworth was one of hundreds of peaceful protesters who were viciously attacked by state troopers on “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, as they attempted to cross Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge on their way to Montgomery to petition for African-American voting rights. This incident awakened the conscience of the nation and led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Derrick Bell, the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard Law School, also died last Wednesday. Professor Bell’s provocative “critical race theory,” the study of institutional racism in America, became an intellectual touchstone of the modern civil rights movement. In his many books and law review articles, he courageously challenged the status quo. In 1985, he resigned his Harvard professorship because of his determined fight to bring the diverse perspectives of people of color and women into the School of Law. He once said, “In all my courses, I really have to teach the basic messages of my life ... that the rewards, the satisfactions, are not in being partner or making a million dollars, but in recognizing evils, recognizing injustices and standing up and speaking out about them even in absolutely losing situations where you know it’s not going to bring about any change — that there are intangible rewards to the spirit that make that worthwhile.”
Finally, last Wednesday the nation was saddened by the news of the passing of Steven P. Jobs, the still young co-founder of Apple who embodied the potential of digital technology to change the social and cultural landscape of the world. Jobs’ Apple products — Mac computers, the iPhone, iPod and iPad — have become “must have” tools of modern communication. I suppose it is no surprise that Mac computers are prevalent at National Urban League headquarters in New York as they are in millions of homes and businesses around the world.
Jobs’ genius was not only his technical and marketing expertise, but also his commitment to using the power of digital technology to build a stronger global community.
On behalf of the board and staff and affiliates of the National Urban League, I want to express my gratitude for the visionary leadership of Fred Shuttlesworth, Derrick Bell and Steve Jobs. They will be sorely missed. — (NNPA)
Marc H. Morial is the president and CEO of the National Urban League.
President Obama “slow jams the news”? Is this a nakedly bold pitch for the youth vote or what?
I’m talking about the president’s appearance Tuesday night on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” In front of a live audience at the University of North Carolina, the nation’s commander-in-chief took charge in “slow jamming the news,” an occasional feature on the late-night show.
It consists of reciting some news of the day with anchorman seriousness while backup singers and The Roots, Fallon’s house band, lay down some smooth jazz in the background, punctuated with appropriate repetitions of “baby.”
The stunt posed a risk, even to Obama’s famously cool stagecraft. Many a middle-ager has bombed with lame attempts to sound cool in front of their children and other young’uns. As a parent, I speak from hard-learned experience. But I can get away with it. It is part of my unwritten job description as a parent to embarrass my kid from time to time. Politicians in public aren’t that lucky.
Obama wisely stuck to a familiar script. Speaking to his collegiate audience, he filled his slow jam with applause lines from the stump speech that he was barnstorming to campuses in Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina — three states that he won in 2008 but that appear to be up for grabs now.
His main issue has strong appeal to the hearts and wallets of college students, post-grads and their families: student loans. It also has a new urgency at the moment. Unless Congress acts, the current subsidized rates on new Stafford student loans will expire in July, doubling the rate borrowers pay from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. That difference amounts to an average increase of $1,000 per year per student.
Mellowed by his mood-music background, the president injected the hopelessly stodgy student loan issue with a comical dose of hip and cool:
“Now is not the time,” he said, directly addressing the camera, “to make school more expensive for our young people.”
“Ohhhh, yeah,” Fallon chimed in like Isaac Hayes murmuring sweet nothings into his microphone. “You should listen to the president.”
That’s what the president hopes, especially if it leads to more re-election votes. He needs to rekindle the Yes-We-Can enthusiasm among young voters that propelled him to the Oval Office in 2008. He has a 17 percentage point advantage over his presumptive Republican rival Romney among voters between 18 and 29, according to a nationwide poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. But almost a third in that age group is undecided. Obama has an advantage with under-30 voters that he needs to energize to offset his deficits with older voters, particularly white, blue-collar males.
One wonders how Romney might attempt to reach more millennials, as many are calling the first youngsters to come of age in this century. He could try a David Letterman “Top Ten List,” although that’s already been done. Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried it as Romney’s Republican rival. He did a good job, but his campaign fizzled out anyway.
Romney is better off playing it straight, as when he offered a straightforward response to Obama’s position on student loans that amounted to two words: Me, too.
“I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” he told reporters on Monday in what may be his first major move toward the middle as Republican frontrunner.
That’s a switch from his earlier support of the Republican budget plan proposed last month by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a plan that calls for removing the subsidies that keep Stafford loan rates low.
And Speaker John Boehner appeared to be moving toward the middle, too, as he rushed a mostly party-line vote on a $5.9 billion bill to maintain low interest rates for Stafford loans. But familiar partisan disputes erupted over the measure’s funding. The money would come from a provision of Obama’s health care law for breast cancer screening and other preventive measures. Democrats wanted to fund the bill by cutting oil subsidies.
Take careful notes, students. As the clock ticks away, your student loan rates may well be the prize in Congress’ next big partisan faceoff. Choose your own background music.