Arcadia University will host a panel discussion with Cornel West, a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual, and Molefi Asante, an African-American scholar, historian and philosopher. The event takes place on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the Commons Great Room.
The panel discussion, “Who Is Responsible for Healing In Our Communities in Post-Modern Times?” will be moderated by Attorney Michael Coard, and includes Arthur C. Evans, the Philadelphia Commissioner for Behavioral Health, and Ama Mazama, a professor and linguist.
Register for the event online (http://west-asante.eventbrite.com) for a discounted rate ($20) or pay at the door ($25). For additional information contact Cecil A. Hankins, The Ark of Philadelphia, (215) 843-4673, or the BMDS hotline 215-572-8510. The event is free for Arcadia University students, faculty and staff with ID.
The event is sponsored by The Ark of Philadelphia, the Molefi Kete Asante Institute, the Black Male Development Symposium and Arcadia University’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice
Wanton criminality. Systemic unemployment. Obsolete education and a dearth of social programming. The problems facing the inner-city, African-American community, particularly its men, are manifold and in many cases generational, and tonight’s panel discussion, “The Crisis Facing Black Men in Our Communities” could go a long way toward identifying the causes of these problems, while hopefully proposing a few answers.
Community activist Paul “Earthquake” Moore certainly believes so, and he will make several suggestions during this evening’s presentation, “The Crisis Facing Black Men in Our Communities.” The free program begins at 6 p.m. at Myers Recreation Center, 58th and Chester Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia.
Moore will join activist and lawyer Michael Coard, author and organizer Nathaniel Lee and Universal Negro Improvement Association Minister of Education Khabyr Hadas.
“The focus is on the violence in our communities, and what the solutions are. We are going to be talking about families talking to one another and getting along with one another,” Moore said. “We want to take a holistic view. But we will also talk about crimes in our community, the robbing, shooting and stealing.”
Moore, the former boxer and current president of the Southwest Community Development Corporation, has long been an in-your-face activist who isn’t afraid to confront issues — or people — head on.
Over the years, Moore has drawn attention to the many quality-of-life issues plaguing Southwest Philly. He fought back against thugs who spray-painted racist slurs and epithets on several houses, and he has repeatedly pointed out the sad reality of the “stop snitchin’” mantra often adhered to in crime-ridden neighborhoods.
“That’s a ghetto mentality,” Moore said of the often-quoted threat and rule of thumb that seemingly has a grip on inner-city neighborhoods. “And we’re going to talk about that, because when the family breaks down, it’s usually because the man isn’t working. This can lead to crime.
“This goes all the way back to slavery,” Moore continued. “And [criminality] has become entrenched in the Black community since the 1800s.”
Coard, who is also a spokesman for Avenging The Ancestors Coalition — ATAC — aggress with Moore’s assessment, but isn’t so quick to throw the problem at the feet of the young Black men committing the crimes.
“When it comes to the crisis facing the Black community or the crisis facing Black men, the best analogy I can use is ‘Frankenstein,’ because that’s how society is looking at them,” Coard said. “But if you know the real history of Frankenstein, the monster was not Frankenstein, because he was nameless — the real monster was the guy who created him, Baron Von Frankenstein.
“So to the extent that we have a monster in our community, but the monsters weren’t created in and unto themselves, they had to be created. Yesterday’s slavery and its residue is the direct cause of today’s plight.”
Coard draws a contrast with the many unsung “normal,” young, Black men, who go to school, graduate and get jobs. “It’s the exception that goes out and robs and rapes,” Coard said. “They ought to be punished, but they ought to be understood too.
“Those that know better, do better,” Coard continued. “If you’ve got a mother and father at home that are positive role models, you are inclined to do the same thing.”
Coard and Moore both know well the causes of the dramas facing the community; Coard also has one solution — reparations. But not in the manner most think.
“We shouldn’t get money … but in terms of leveling the playing field, put African Americans in the positions they would have been in if there had never been slavery,” Coard suggested. “Free mental health care, free housing, guaranteed employment; put Black people where they need to be.”
This is the second of a series of panel discussions, and both Moore and Coard plan on speaking at the ensuing meetings as well.
“Anytime they are talking about solutions for and from the Black community, I will be there,” Coard said. “What you see in society is the lesion, but you have to look at the cancer.
“You can cut out the lesion — or in this case — lock up the young Black men — but you have to get to the root of the cancer itself.”
At the Democratic National Convention, a number of issues were brought to the spotlight, showing the vast differences between the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan platform and President Barack Obama’s administration.
On Tuesday night, the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro, electrified the audience with his speech, as did first lady Michelle Obama and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. They touched on women’s rights, the continuing political wrestling over same-sex marriage, veteran’s benefits and other national issues and problems.
Absent was any statement regarding the national epidemic of Black on Black violence — violence which consumes cities like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Camden and Chicago. Even President Barack Obama has been noticeably silent on the issue, according to some community leaders — and they’re starting to ask why.
“I’ve noticed this, and normally they’re quiet on this issue, but there’s a silence on many serious domestic issues like structural poverty. There are issues that need to be addressed and aren’t,” said author and sociologist Dr. Elijah Anderson. “When it comes to the problem of crime and violence in Black and Latino communities, could it be indifference? We can speculate that it is. Certainly these communities are hurting; there is a national recession and a depression in inner city poor communities.”
Bilal Qayyum, executive director of the Father’s Day Rally Committee also said that he noticed the silence on the part of various speakers regarding the high numbers of young Black and Latino men who are killed every day in America. Qayyum said both parties are afraid of the National Rifle Association.
“Both parties have been very silent, haven’t they? I think it’s because they’re scared of the NRA,” Qayyum said. “Now in the light of the shootings in Colorado, there’s renewed discussion on banning assault weapons. But when it comes to Black and Latino males gunning each other down, I can tell you that Mitt Romney doesn’t really care — but then both parties have been silent on the issue of violence in America in general.
“Mayor Castro didn’t say anything about it and neither did the first lady. Patrick did mention the problem of crime, but didn’t get into specifics. It’s an issue that they’re not really sure how white voters would respond to. What they could do is cloak the subject by speaking about crime and violence in general because really, when it comes down to it, it is an American problem, not a Black American problem. I’d bet that if you took a national poll and asked the average American what were their two biggest concerns, the first would be jobs and the second would be crime. I also think that if you politicize this, you’ll find yourself in a fight with the NRA. The only person who is likely to mention this problem is Mayor Michael Nutter, who has spoken about this before as a national issue.”
Mayor Michael Nutter was scheduled to speak at the convention on Wednesday, but was rescheduled for Thursday night. In the past, as president of the United States Conference of Mayors, Nutter has been outspoken concerning the high murder rate among young Black and Latino men and the issue of illegal guns that fuel the violence.
According to figures from reports researched by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 85 percent of the Black victims of homicide are male and 51 percent are between the ages of 17 and 19. Across the nation, Blacks accounted for 49 percent of all murder victims in 2005. Black males accounted for 52 percent. If those figures were reversed and white males were killing each other at such a rate, no national resource would be spared to stop it, said Chad Lassiter, president of Black Men at Penn.
“We know why there’s a silence on this issue,” Lassiter said. “There’s lots of jibber-jabber and well-rehearsed, well-written speeches that are calculated to get an emotional response — but are thin on substance. I’m not surprised there’s no real discussion on the issue of Black and Latino males murdering each other, because we’re talking about a segment of the population that’s not part of the landscape. These young men are seen as a permanent underclass, as sub-human and ostracized from society. To raise these issues means you have to talk about institutional racism, the high incarceration and drop out rates — and they’re not going to risk their lobby contracts or their political futures. When it comes to this kind of violence there isn’t a real effort on the part of the power elite to address it. Poverty is a ‘no-no’ and Black male violence is a ‘no-no.’
Philadelphia criminal defense attorney and community activist Michael Coard said the problem won’t be raised because of racism.
“Why isn’t this issue being raised? Because Romney doesn’t give a damn and Obama is afraid to give a damn,” Coard said. “But really, if you think about it, there’s no such thing as Black on Black crime. People don’t commit crime because of race, but because of opportunity and because it’s convenient — it’s neighbor on neighbor crime. Statistically speaking, white males commit more crimes because they’re a larger segment of the population, but the white media doesn’t report that — and why? Because just like America is racist, the media is also racist.”
A crowd of nearly 60 organizers, Black historians and residents joined activist attorney Michael Coard on Thursday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Slave Memorial at the President’s House at Sixth and Market streets.
Coard, a member of the organization Avenging the Ancestors Coalition (ATAC), recalled the opening of the memorial last year. The memorial commemorates the nine slaves kept at the site who were owned by America’s first president, George Washington.
“Wednesday, December 15 Mayor Michael Nutter stood just a few feet from where we are now, cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the first and only slavery memorial on federal property in the history of the United States of America,” said Coard, whose statement was greeted with applause.
“No place else at no other time has there ever been a memorial contribution to enslaved Africans in the history of America on federal property.”
Those attending the anniversary included school children on a field trip, Pam Africa of MOVE, and music icon Kenny Gamble.
“This is a wonderful turnout and I’m glad to be a part of it. We as a people must know and fulfill our destiny. We must ask ourselves, ‘Why did this happen to us?’ and we must work together to make this a better world,” said Gamble, who is also a member of Avenging the Ancestors.
“I’m here to support ATAC, I’m a member of the organization and I support this effort because the more awareness that, not only African people but all people, have about the plight and journey of the children of the slaves and our ancestors, the better this country is going to be.”
Gamble said he attended the event to honor his ancestors.
Rahim Islam of Universal Companies, founded by Gamble, agreed.
“One of the most important things which I think this event signals is how much we don’t know about our own existence. So I’m dedicating the rest of my life to try to get as much information as I can get to create a way so that we can pass this information on to our children, so they don’t have to start where I’m starting at 54, they can learn it in Kindergarten,” said Islam.
“People need to understand the historical importance of what we have here. This site is the only site in the history of America on federal property where a slave memorial exists. This has become our Mount Rushmore, our Liberty Bell, our Stature of Liberty,” said Coard.
He said that when the news that George Washington kept nine slaves at the site where the first White House once stood became public, the Park Service wanted to commemorate Washington without regard to the slaves.
“Well, Black folks came together and we didn’t just get mad, we got even and we organized. The thing that really helped us to win was that we did the one-two punch,” said Coard.
This one-two punch was the combination of activism on the streets by organizers and the collection of historical and intellectual information by historians and scholars. It was this combination that Coard credits with making the difference.
“We were able to raise hell on the streets with the activists and issues in the board room with intellectuals,” he said.
In a 5 to 4 decision announced this week, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down laws in 28 states — Pennsylvania among them — that automatically sentence youthful killers to life terms behind bars, calling juvenile life without parole “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The decision follows years of debate on the issue, and the high court’s ruling applies to all inmates under 18 who are serving life sentences. The ruling doesn’t automatically empty cell blocks, nor does it hinder any judge from sentencing a teenage murderer to life. It does, however, leave the important rehabilitative tool of parole on the table.
“I’m ecstatic about this, not only as a defense attorney, but as an attorney in the state that sentences more juveniles to life in prison than any other state in the nation, and any other jurisdiction on earth. Many of these defendants weren’t even present when the murders were committed and didn’t even know what was being done,” said defense attorney and activist Michael Coard. “In 2005, the high court said that executing kids is unconstitutional. We don’t let kids vote, drink or drive or get married because they are impulsive, irrational and sometimes downright silly. The justices applied the same logic to this decision. Now, I’m not a bleeding heart liberal who wants to slap a killer on the wrists just because they’re young. My concern is the idea that there is no possibility of parole. What if after 20, 30, or 40 years in prison the defendant gets his GED, maybe helps the officers during a prison riot, educates himself or becomes a minister or imam? Our intent should always be rehabilitation, and if you take away, even the possibility of parole, what does that inmate have to lose? Parole is the carrot dangling in front of them; it’s an incentive for good behavior.”
Justice Elena Kagan said in a statement that the decision was consistent with the court’s previous acknowledgement that children lack maturity and have an underdeveloped sense of responsibility. By nature, children are more susceptible to peer pressure and outside influences and they are more open to being rehabilitated. The court’s opinion does not say whether its ruling applies only to future sentences, or whether new hearings would be granted to the more than 2,000 prisoners across the country who were are serving life terms for murders. The decision doesn’t end life sentences for youthful defendants but it does require that judges must consider their age along with the facts of their crimes.
According to figures from the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the state has almost 500 inmates serving life without parole who either are juveniles or were juveniles at the time of their sentencing.
“I think this is a significant decision and that SCOTUS got it right. This is significant and timely, especially for Pennsylvania, which incarcerates the largest number of juveniles serving life sentences in the country. Sentencing young people automatically to life without parole is unconstitutional,” said prominent civil rights attorney David Rudovsky. “The question in all of this is what kind of reviews will be considered and the review process because of course, every case is different and the appropriateness of the punishment to the circumstances must be considered. It’s not clear yet how all of that will work out. And their prison records have to be reviewed as well.”
One of the most controversial cases that surfaced in Philadelphia was that of Stacey Torrance. Torrance was 14 in 1988 when he was arrested for the murder of Alexander Porter, a young man who was his girlfriend's brother. He was about to enter the tenth grade at a Philadelphia high school under a magnet program for students who excelled academically.
Torrance was convicted of second degree murder (felony murder in Pennsylvania) and sentenced to life without parole. He had no juvenile record, and this was his first offense. He was charged directly in adult court and never had a juvenile transfer hearing. According to court documents and police investigative reports, Torrance agreed to participate in a robbery with two adults, Henry Daniels, who was his cousin, and Kevin Pelzer. The victim was Alexander Porter. They reportedly believed Porter had a lot of money because it was allegedly common knowledge that his family was involved in drug dealing. The plan involved coercing Porter to give over the keys to his apartment so that Daniels and Pelzer could rob it.
Torrance agreed to participate in the robbery scheme, but was not present at Porter’s fatal shooting, nor was there evidence presented at trial that even suggested he knew Daniels and Pelzer were going to murder Porter. Torrance has been serving a life sentence.
“The large number of individuals sentenced to juvenile life without parole represents the dismantling of the founding principles of the juvenile justice system,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project in a press release. “These youth were failed by systems intended to protect children. Many juveniles sentenced to life without parole first suffer from extreme socioeconomic disadvantage, and are then sentenced to an extreme punishment deemed unacceptable in any other nation.”
In December 1969, the then head of the national NAACP, Roy Wilkins, joined with other top Black civil rights leaders and white civil liberties/equal rights leaders in condemning the police murder of Chicago Black Panther Party head Fred Hampton.
Last week Philadelphia’s NAACP head and a local Black filmmaker faced stiff criticism for their stances on a contentious local murder case containing a connection to that 1969 Hampton slaying — a blood-soaked fatality that later congressional investigations and court proceedings determined was a FBI-aided assassination.
That criticism erupted during a tense Q-&-A session following a screening of “Barrel of a Gun” the latest film by Tigre Hill.
Hill’s film purports to provide irrefutable proof that acclaimed Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal brutally murdered a Philadelphia policeman in December 1981.
Hill sees no problems with Abu-Jamal’s 1982 murder conviction feeling Abu-Jamal is properly serving life in prison following removal of his death sentence last fall.
Hill, Philadelphia/Pennsylvania NAACP president Jerry Mondesire and attorney/activist Michael Coard were panelists on a program following the “Barrel” screening at the International House.
Hill and Mondesire said their investigations — conducted separately — convinced each of Abu-Jamal’s guilt.
Mondesire, The Philadelphia Sunday Sun newspaper publisher, said he conducted his investigation after Abu-Jamal refused his request to tell “what happened” when incarcerated Abu-Jamal asked to write for The Sun in the early 1990s.
Attorney Coard, however, said his investigations of all court transcripts and court filings in this controversial case convinced him that Abu-Jamal was both legally not guilty and factually innocent. Coard called Hill’s film “a great work of fiction.”
Hill’s documentary pushes the unsubstantiated theory that Abu-Jamal’s hatred of police, developed during Abu-Jamal’s 17-month, teenaged membership in the Black Panther Party, triggered his killing Officer Daniel Faulkner on 12/9/81 — 12 years after Abu-Jamal voluntarily left the BPP.
That “Barrel” title of Hill’s film comes from a response Abu-Jamal made to a Philadelphia newspaper reporter in January 1970 when Abu-Jamal, then a 15-year-old BPP member, told the reporter that Hampton’s murder during a midnight Chicago police raid provided proof that power comes from the barrel of a gun.
Abu-Jamal used that power-from-gun quote for emphasizing how police were killing BPP members nationwide to destroy the BPP — an organization founded partly to confront rampant police brutality against Blacks.
That quote came from Mao Tse-tung, the communist founder of contemporary China. Hill’s film harps on Mao being a prime influence driving Abu-Jamal’s radical behaviors.
That police campaign to slay BPP members — 28 deaths between January 1968 and December 1969 — is what outraged leaders like the NAACP’s Wilkins and former U.S. United Nations Ambassador Arthur Goldberg.
During Abu-Jamal’s 1982 murder trial the prosecutor perverted that power-gun remark, shifting from Abu-Jamal applying it to police killing Black Panthers to proclaiming Abu-Jamal’s intent to kill police — one of many factual mischaracterizations that millions worldwide constantly cite when charging Abu-Jamal received an unfair trial.
During last week’s tense Q-&-A audience members assailed Hill for his one-sided depiction of Panthers as crazed cop killers without referencing any campaigns to kill Panthers like the FBI’s COINTELPRO later exposed as operative in Hampton’s murder.
Hill’s film portrays police as victims without referencing police brutality historically victimizing Blacks.
That brutality problem still persists including in Philadelphia — a problem Mondesire raised when deflecting audience criticism by rightly praising the local NAACP for constantly filing lawsuits against “police brutality.”
Less than six months before Hampton’s murder the Chicago Black Police Officer’s Association blasted the Chicago Police Department for conducting “racial genocide against Black people” through brutal beatings, fatal shootings and false arrests.
Eighteen years before that 1969 Chicago Black police condemnation an interracial group filed a petition with the United Nations charging the U.S. government with committing “Genocide” against Blacks.
That petition listed “the policeman’s bullet” as the new form of lynching. Two of the first eight police brutality cases cited in that 1951 petition came from Philadelphia.
In 1969, the NAACP’s Wilkins dismissed Chicago police explanations defending their Hampton killing as “not even plausible.”
Last week attorney Coard and audience critics lambasted Hill for his film’s implausible construction omitting evidence questioning Abu-Jamal’s guilt.
One example is Hill using former Philadelphia Police Inspector Alfonzo Giordano as his film’s featured expert on Abu-Jamal crime without revealing Giordano’s corruption conviction and/or emphasizing Giordano’s intimate involvement in the two-tiered emergence of Abu-Jamal’s alleged confession.
The confession prosecutors used during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial suspiciously surfaced during a Police Department investigation into Abu-Jamal’s charge that Giordano beat him at the crime scene.
Mondesire drew fire from audience members by declaring the national NAACP had “never taken a position” on Abu-Jamal’s case during his pre-Q-&-A panel presentation.
Audience critics produced resolutions adopted at NAACP annual national conventions supporting investigations into Abu-Jamal’s disputed conviction and statements by former NAACP board chairman Julian Bond supporting Abu-Jamal.
Mondesire, responding to those critics, said he said the NAACP never picked up the Abu-Jamal case as a “major matter.”
Filmmaker Hill, under questioning from panel moderator Annette John-Hall, a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, grudgingly admitted that Philly’s police union initially refused to assist him believing he was pro-Abu-Jamal simply because he is Black.
Racism evidenced by police-prosecutorial and judicial misconduct against Abu-Jamal, while dismissed by appellate courts and many like Philadelphia’s first Black DA Seth Williams, fuels doubts worldwide about Abu-Jamal’s guilt.
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship Program.
When NAACP members from Cheltenham, Jenkintown and nearby Northwest Philadelphia gather for their July meeting, the focus will be on voter education in the neighborhoods.
The group welcomes new members to join them as they embark on voter registration drives and education about the new Voter ID laws. The next session will be held at the LaMottCommunity Center, Willow Avenue and Sycamore Street, July 16 at 7:30 p.m.
This was the message of the Cheltenham Area NAACP branch when they held their
recent gala. With the theme “Your Power, Your Decision, Vote” the gala took place at the Flourtown Country Club, 150 McCloskey Road in Flourtown on June 23. Radio One executive and Concerned Black Men member E. Steven Collins, of Laverock, served as the master of ceremonies.
One of the highlights of the program was when musician and composer Brian Michael Evans of West Oak Lane sang a new jingle penned by family therapist and local radio personality Lucille Ijoy of Mount Airy. It focused on getting one’s photo identification and culminated with the words, “I got mine, I got mine, I got mine.” The NAACP audience joined in singing the lyrical tune about voter education for this November’s elections.
“Dr. Ijoy came to me with this song about voter identification,” Evans said. “I put some music to it and here is it is. There are people out here who don’t want us to vote. We have our first African American commander in chief and that’s why there is this movement to erode our right to vote.”
Additionally, four community members were honored for their contributions to civil rights and community service. The Humanitarian Award recipient was longtime State Rep. Lawrence Curry of Jenkintown. While David Poindexter received the Educational Achievement Award, attorney Michael Coard was the Social Justice Award recipient. Additionally, educator Bonnie Johns received the Community Service Award for her volunteer efforts with youth.
There were also four $500 scholarships given to local high school students as a result of an essay competition earlier this year. The winners were Jenkintown High School senior Aury Krebs, Springfield High School senior Calvin Speight, Plymouth Whitemarsh High school student Janelle Marie Grace, and Cheltenham High School graduate Francine Marquis.
“Some say that the NAACP was founded in 1909 so it’s old and irrelevant,” said Harvey L. Crudup, branch president of the local chapter, in his welcome. “We still need to fight discrimination. This is the most respected, most effective civil rights organization in America.”
“One of the things I’ve learned is that you have got to be taught to hate,” Curry said. “There is still more work to be done. It doesn’t stop now. Come together to overcome.”
The local chapter is involved in a Voter ID Registration and Education Campaign. They are supportive of the “Protect Our Vote” initiative and are partnering with the NAACP of Pennsylvania in defending voting rights.
To volunteer for this campaign contact John Jordan at the NAACP of Pennsylvania at (215) 715-5681.
Credit Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for using a word during his Democratic National Convention speech last week that President Barack Obama seemingly has purged from his public vocabulary: poverty.
Nutter, just four full sentences into his DNC speech delivered the same night that President Obama spoke, used that “P” word that has practically disappeared from public political discourse among America’s elected leaders and leading media pundits.
Poverty grew by 27 percent increase across America from 2006-2010 according to an Indiana University study released earlier this year.
Poverty in America is “remarkably widespread” that study concluded.
Over fifty-million Americans are living in poverty the IU study stated.
That crushing condition guts over one-third of Philadelphia’s residents daily… the highest among American large cities.
And little surprise, that IU study noted that the largest increases in poverty afflicted Hispanics, African-Americans, children and households headed by women.
America’s child poverty ranks second-highest among 35 developed nations. (A three-person household with $17,900 annual income lives in poverty according to the federal government.)
It’s outrageously ironic that while poverty soars across America critically wounded by the wealth-greed enflamed Great Recession, anti-poverty discourse disappears from policy initiatives advanced by Democratic and Republican leaders.
Conservatives, especially Republicans, have long pushed the falsehood that America’s impoverished are solely responsible for their impoverishment.
That falsehood fudges foundational facts fanning impoverishment like what Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders castigates as America’s “grotesquely unfair distribution of wealth” — were the top 1 percent controls 41 percent of all wealth compared to the bottom 60 percent controlling just 2 percent of America’s wealth.
Irrespective of conflicted understandings about poverty’s root causes, at least one observable certainty exists about those tens of millions of Americans living in poverty or living near falling into poverty.
Not one among the tens-of-millions of impoverished were among the scores of millionaires/billionaires that recently paid a $1-million apiece for a private audience in Tampa Bay with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney aboard the ritzy 150’ yacht “Cracker Bay” that flew the flag of the Cayman Islands where the wealthy often off-shore income to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Mayor Nutter referenced the word poverty when extolling the necessity of all people acquiring solid educations. Nutter scored Republicans for slashing educational funding from kindergarten to college.
Nutter stated that education was essential for achieving his goals in Philadelphia that included reducing poverty.
“In Philadelphia,” Nutter said. “Our public safety, poverty reduction, health and economic development all start with education.”
Obama’s rare referencing of poverty, either from political reticence or refusal, has sparked criticism from within his political constituency.
“This year, both Governor Romney and President Obama at least mentioned the ‘P’ word in their convention speeches, but neither pledged to make the alleviation of poverty in America a priority,” Obama critic Tavis Smiley wrote recently.
It speaks volumes that self-applauded businessman Romney doesn’t practice what he preaches about the virtues of private enterprise generating paycheck producing jobs that keep people from falling into unemployment induced poverty.
Very few Black businesses around Tampa Bay, Fla., received any revenue from the millions of dollars expended on and generated by the RNC that recently anointed Romney.
The presidents of the Tampa Bay Black Chamber of Commerce and the Sun Coast African American Chamber of Commerce both said economic exclusion ruled at Tampa’s RNC.
“There was not big tent of inclusion,” said Tampa Bay Black Chamber head Willis Bowick. “The RNC had no real outreach to Black businesses here.”
Before dismissing this Tampa Bay Black business criticism of GOP exclusion as partisan soar-grapes recognize that Bowick is the president of the African-American Republican Club of Hillsborough County that includes Tampa Bay.
Shortly before the Tampa Bay RNC, a leading Republican activist in that city, Joseph Robinson, resigned from the GOP citing frustrations with the GOP’s persistent lack of response to issues important to African Americans including the lack of Black business inclusion at the RNC.
Robinson, who owns an engineering consulting firm, said things for blacks worsened within the GOP during the past few years paralleling the ascendancy of Tea Party influence.
“With the GOP they do not even give us trickle-down crumbs,” Robinson said.
In contrast to the black business exclusion at Tampa’s RNC, Black business received more equitable access to economic opportunities generated at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
Dr. Renae Sanders, chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce, said “several” Black owned companies received DNC related contracts including construction firms and event planners.
That Black business inclusion during the DNC, while commendable, does not off-set the exclusion Black businesses experienced in federal contracting from Obama’s ARRA stimulus.
Between Feb. 2009 and November 2010 black businesses received a paltry 3.5 percent of stimulus contracting compared to white firms receiving 81.3 percent of stimulus-funded contracts.
While the Democrat and Republican parties again pledged to protect Israel from external violence (increasingly exacerbated by Israel’s increasingly intransigent government) neither Obama nor Romney are addressing the urban violence epidemic wrecking America, as noted in a recent article by Philadelphia Tribune reporter Larry Miller.
Miller’s article quoted attorney/activist Michael Coard observing that neither Obama nor Romney address urban violence because “Romney doesn’t give a damn and Obama is afraid to give a damn.”
Civil Rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson recently said Obama “must address poverty and violence in a different way.”
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Fellowship Program.
Are you captivated or frustrated by ABC's hit drama "Scandal?" Does the buzz and hearsay surrounding "Django" have you ready to join Spike Lee in his latest tirade?
These and other issues will be addressed when the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) presents "Monitoring Hollywood 2013: Black Actors Unchained? From the Silver Screen to Television, Have We Come Far or Gone Backwards?," a panel discussion taking place on Feb. 20, 7-9 p.m. The annual event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at Community College of Philadelphia's Center for Business & Industry located at 18th & Callowhill Sts, lecture Hall, second floor. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
" 'Django' really got people talking, for better or for worse, and of course you know Spike Lee was very upset about it," said PABJ Vice-President Monica Peters. "It was a discussion that needed to be had, but also, I just noticed that whenever there was a discussion about 'Django,' there wasn't someone who could put a proper historical analysis to it to verify if what happened in that film - was it factual, or was it fiction? I kind of felt that that was missing from the dialogue.
"And of course we're going to be talking about 'Scandal,' Peters continued. "The reason why we're going to be talking about 'Scandal' is mainly because the controversy has been, 'Is this a groundbreaking role for Kerry Washington?' in that I think she's the second Black woman in television history to have a show that a Black woman is the lead character. Or is the character that she plays, does it portray Black women in a bad light?
Topics will also include "reality" television and the "housewives" franchises, as well as the "color casting" controversy surrounding the upcoming Nina Simone biopic. The event, co-sponsored by the Community College of Philadelphia, will be moderated by Al Butler, host of "Midday with Al Butler," WURD 900 AM. Panelists include:
• Charing Ball: Journalist (Madame Noire, The Atlanta Post, The Grio, The Root, Clutch Magazine)
• Michael Coard: Activist/Attorney: Radio show host, Court Radio on WURD 900AM, Philadelphia Magazine/Philly Post contributor
• Nikia Dillard - Actor: ("Night Catches Us," starring Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie; "Law Abiding Citizen" with Jamie Foxx)
• Q-Deezy: Radio personality, host of "The Q Deezy Show" on Hot 107.9 FM Philly.
• Rakia Reynolds; President of Philadelphia Chapter, Women in Film & Television, contributor Uptown Magazine, owner of Skai Blue Media.
• Kimberly C. Roberts: Arts & Entertainment Reporter, Philadelphia Tribune.
RSVP is encouraged at http://www.eventbrite.com/org/3243406020
He touched the lives of thousands, and it was in his honor that hundreds gathered to say farewell to “a scholar with an African mission.” The funeral of Dr. Edward W. Robinson, Jr. was held Friday morning at the church in which he was born and raised, the A.M.E. Union Church, in the heart of North Philadelphia.
Just outside the church, a dozen drummers of all ages played in the midst of an oppressive heat wave. All morning, city dignitaries streamed through the church to pay respects to the educator and his family.
While his body laid in repose, images of Robinson in various stages of his life played in the background, as ushers carried baskets of fans and circulated through the aisles with bottles of cold water. The several hundred gathered fanned themselves endlessly as they comforted their hearts in the words offered by friends, colleagues and family members during the two-and-a-half hour service.
Robinson's casket, draped in a United States flag, was flanked by floral displays in the colors of the Pan-African flag — red, black and green — with one especially stunning arrangement forming the shape of the continent of Africa.
Proclamations were read from Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, State Senator Leanna Washington, and Congressman Chaka Fattah, along with resolutions from the Institute for the Preservation of Youth, the Paul Robeson House, the African American Museum of Philadelphia, Chaney University Alumni Association and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP. Also noted in the audience were music producer and educator Kenny Gamble, producer Bob Lott, activist Pam Africa, Judge Thomasina Tynes, Rep. Dwight Evans and Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams.
Remarks were offered from every branch of Robinson's life - from political to civic to personal. Speakers included Christine Thomas Wiggins, Founder of IMHOTEP Charter School; Ali and Helen Salahuddin, founders of the D'ZERT Club; Activist Michael Coard, Esq.; African-American scholar Dr. Molefi Kete Asante; Cody Anderson, former WDAS General manager and Dr. Mildred Johnson of Virginia State University, and Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode, former mayor of Philadelphia. “Dr. Robinson served his generation in an outstanding manner,” noted Goode. “The question is, who is going to serve this generation?”
“A great soul has passed this way,” said Asante. “A great man has lived among us.”
The amazing life that Robinson had lived and shared with those closest to him was obvious in the various titles accorded him: father, grandfather, great-grand-father, great-great grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, and most importantly, husband.
Robinson's widow Harriet eschewed the podium, instead choosing to stand next to the casket as she recited a poem while holding the arm of her beloved husband of 41 years. “I wanted you for life, you and me in the wind. I never thought there would come a time that our story would end. ... Maybe all I need to know and if I listen to my heart, I'll hear your laughter once more. And so I’ve got to say I'm just glad you came my way. It's not easy to say goodbye.”