Shaw University Elects New Board Chair, Officers
RALEIGH, NC (May 16, 2012) – Shaw University, the first historically black university in the South, today announced the election of new officers to its Board of Trustees. Dr. Joseph N. Bell, Jr. was elected as board chairman and will succeed Dr. Willie E. Gary, who was re-elected as a board member. In addition, Dr. Lorenzo Williams was elected vice-chairman and Dr. H. Donell Lewis was elected secretary. Each officer will serve a two-year term effective July 1, 2012.
Dr. Bell, a Shaw alumnus, currently serves as the vice-chair of the Board and holds several Board positions, including vice chair of the Executive Committee; chair of the Fiscal Affairs Committee; chair of the Trusteeship Committee; member of the Investment Committee and member of the Property Acquisition and Business Development Committee. He has also served as chair of two Transition Committees during changes in administrations.
After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from Shaw University in 1970, Dr. Bell established himself in the banking industry, having served as Executive Vice President of Carver State Bank in Savannah, GA. His wife, Carolyn Hodges Bell, a 1971 Shaw graduate, was recently elected Alderman-at-Large for the Savannah City Council. In addition, Dr. Bell served as Executive Director of the Chatham Association of Educators, an affiliate of the Georgia Association of Educators and the National Education Association, for almost 25 years.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
REPUBLICAN-LED GENERAL ASSEMBLY BACK IN SHORT SESSION
[RALEIGH] The NC Legislative short session has begun, and GOP leaders promise to get their business done quickly. Part of the reason is because it’s an election year, and both Republican majorities in the state House and Senate are anxious to start campaigning to maintain control. GOP leaders are expected to attempt to override Gov. Perdue’s prior vetoes of voter ID, and their gutting of the NC Racial Justice Act. They will also adjust the state’s $19.9 billion budget, and are expected to ignore Gov. Perdue’s $20.9 billion state budget proposal, with the biggest battle over education spending. Observers are also looking to see what lawmakers do about compensation for the victims of the state’s forced sterilization program. Gov. Perdue has budgeted over $10 million for it.
DEMOCRATS FUMING AFTER CHAIRMAN PARKER RESIGNS, THEN GETS RE-ELECTED
[GREENSBORO] If North Carolina Democrats are walking around in a daze of late, you can’t blame them. Many are still trying to figure how state Party Chairman David Parker submitted his resignation Saturday to the state party’s Ruling Committee, only to have the majority of the committee vote not to accept it, thus allowing Parker to remain chairman. Parker had been under fire for covering up an alleged sexual harassment accusation at party headquarters that saw Executive Director Jay Parmley resign his post. Everyone from Gov. Perdue to the White House is not pleased. They wanted Parker out. Now it is expected that the Republicans will make plenty of election year hay out of the controversy.
POLL HAS DALTON ONLY SIX POINTS BEHIND MCCRORY IN GOVERNOR’S RACE
[CHARLOTTE] With all of the drama surrounding NC Democrats lately came some good news. Walton Dalton, the Democratic nominee for governor, is polling only six points behind heavy favorite Republican Pat McCrory, according to Public Policy Polling. In a survey of just 666 voters done days after last week’s May primary, the current lieutenant governor lags behind the former mayor of Charlotte, 46 to 40 percent. About 13 percent of those polled are undecided. This means the race can easily tighten up going into the November general election. And it also means, depending on how North Carolina goes for President Obama, Lt. Gov. Dalton could edge McCrory, just like Gov. Beverly Perdue did in 2008.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
WAKE BEGINS THREE-MONTH DEFIBRILLATOR CAMPAIGN
For the next three months, the Wake County Commission Board and Emergency Medical Services will be urging business and building owners to take part in having automated external defibrillators installed in more public buildings to save more people who suffer cardiac arrests. That’s the goal of the Wake EMS 100 Day Heart Safe Automated External Defibrillators Campaign. Local businesses will be given special incentives to purchase the devices. Studies have shown that having a unit immediately available, and training people on how to use it, saves more lives.
OAK CITY BAPTIST CHURCH SPONSORS STROKE PREVENTION FITNESS DAY MAY 26TH
Oak City Baptist Church, along with the Triangle Stroke Education Outreach Initiative, is sponsoring “A Day of Fitness and Fun,” Saturday, May 26th starting at 9 a.m.. There will be a Senior Fun Run, free eye/glaucoma tests, CPR training. Entertainment by gospel comedian Elder Ascender Hankins. For more information call 919-264-8120, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ORANGE -CHATHAM DA WANTS SBI PROBE OF UNC BLACK STUDIES PROGRAM
On the heels of published reports alleging academic fraud in the UNC-Chapel Hill African and Afro-American Studies Program, the district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter for possible criminal offenses. DA Jim Woodall met with the SBI earlier this week to detail his concerns, based on a university probe of the troubled program. Reportedly, Professor Julius Nyang’oro did not teach a series of summer school courses for which he was paid. Allegedly, the classes were never held. The UNC probe also uncovered that there were unauthorized grade changes for students who did not complete course work.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
THE WILMINGTON TEN - Earlier today, I took part in an historic press conference at the North Carolina State Capital.
The announcement was made that a legal petition for pardons of innocence on behalf of the Wilmington Ten had been submitted to the Governor’s Clemency Office.
For those of you who remember who the Wilmington Ten were, you know that this was historic.
This year is the fortieth anniversary of when eight black male student activists, along with a white female social worker, and their leader, the Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., were falsely put on trial, and convicted of conspiracy to commit violence during the racial upheaval in Wilmington in 1971.
In fact, all ten were brave, committed and nonviolent young social activists - from ages 17 to 35 - who bravely stood up against the New Hanover County Board of Education in 1971, and demanded an equal quality of public education for African-American students after the school system closed Williston High, the all-black high school.
Remember, this was all happening just three years after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. The South was still dealing with desegregation issues, and it wasn’t easy.
Here’s how Dr. Ben Chavis described the tenor of the times in an NNPA column he wrote in 2011:
During the Nixon Administration in the early 1970's, African Americans in the South, as well as in other regions of the nation, were being challenged with the systematic racial disparities involved in the details of how federal court-ordered school desegregation was being enforced.
Because we dared to speak out and to engage in non-violent street protests to the long, unprecedented history of racial violence and injustice in that port city, the African American community became the targets of a violent, paramilitary, anti-Black terror campaign led by the Ku Klux Klan and the Rights of White People (ROWP) organization.
Because of our involvement in the struggle in Wilmington in 1971, we were unjustly charged, arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a combined maximum total of 282 years in prison in North Carolina in 1972. We all were completely innocent of theoje alleged charges of arson and conspiracy to assault. In 1978, Amnesty International declared that we were "Political Prisoners." We stayed in prison during most of the 1970's while our case was on appeal.
As the coordinator for the Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence Project, a project sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association - the major black trade association of 200 African-American member newspapers across the nation (of which the Carolinian and Wilmington Journal newspapers are members of) - it has been my responsibility to pull the project together, and work with the best team possible - project co-chairs Mary Alice Thatch, publisher of The Wilmington Journal; and attorney Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law.
The hard work and commitment of these two giants inspire me to put in the extra effort to make sure that this would be an endeavor that we can all be proud of.
But the highlight of this project for me personally has been meeting, interviewing, and spending time with the seven surviving members of the Wilmington Ten, and the family of the three deceased members.
The Wilmington Ten’s stories, told to me firsthand, of struggle, faith and fortitude after being targeted for crimes they didn’t commit, are compelling.
There is no question that the false prosecution and imprisonment of the Wilmington Ten radically impacted their lives individually, as well as those of their families and loved ones.
Each defendant was young, some barely in their twenties, when they were convicted in 1972 of crimes that they didn’t commit. Some were still in high school, and living with their parents.
At least one, Ms Shepard, was raising three young children.
All of the defendants had dreams of a bright, hope-filled future of either practicing the law, playing professional sports, or even performing as a musician.
Their only collective “crime,” they each individually say, was their willingness to openly, but peacefully, challenge injustice. Because of their individual courage, and commitment to equality, the Wilmington Ten suffered false prosecution, years of imprisonment and great personal hardships for themselves and their families. The collective impact for all of them has extended decades beyond their release from prison, and well after a federal appellate court overturned their convictions.
Today, forty years hence their false prosecutions, three of the Wilmington Ten - Jerry Jacobs, William Joseph Wright and Anne Shepard-Turner - have died, their dreams unfulfilled, according to their bereaved families.
One member, Reginald Epps, has worked so hard to protect his privacy and rebuild his life, vowing to leave the pain of his false imprisonment behind.
Another member, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, the leader of the Wilmington Ten, has evolved into one of the most accomplished civil rights leaders of our time, but he’s paid a dear personal price to do so.
So has Wayne Moore, who has had to move from Wilmington after his release from prison, leaving family and friends behind, because he was denied the opportunity to work and live in his hometown due to his association.
Willie Earl Vereen, Connie Tindall, James McKoy and Marvin Patrick, all now elderly men, struggling with their health, all feel robbed of the promise they once had to be productive citizens forty years ago. They have lost faith in government, and angrily challenge North Carolina to render to them long overdue justice - both tangibly and symbolically - to remove the clouds they say still follow their names, and reputations.
In all, the lives of the Wilmington Ten have been marked by struggle, hardship and indignities they otherwise would not have experienced if the state of North Carolina, forty years ago, had not sought to punish them for their political activism, and willingness to demand social change.
While past cannot be changed, amends can be made today for what was unjustly done to ten innocent North Carolinians, and American citizens.
Being intimately involved in this NNPA project has made me very proud to be a member of the Black Press. Some may ask, “How is it that the Black Press can be involved in making news, when that’s not what the press is supposed to be doing at all?”
My answer, it doesn’t stop newspapers and television stations from sponsoring fundraisers and telethons for hurricane relief - helping innocent victims regain their lives after a disaster!
That’s what we’re doing here, helping ten innocent people to officially reclaim their rightful innocence after the injustice that was perpetrated against them by the state of North Carolina.
In effect, the Black Press, through the NNPA and The Wilmington Journal, is leading the way in telling the story of the Wilmington Ten to a new generation.
It is a story that should be told, just like the Greensboro Four - four NC A&T students in 1960 who boldly integrated the Woolworth lunch counter, sparking the sit-in movement.
Just like Rosa Parks, a brave woman of the South who in 1956 decided she would standup, by sitting down in the front of the bus in segregated Montgomery, Alabama.
And just like the Little Rock Nine - nine black students in Little Rock, Arkansas who, amid hatred and violence in the late 1950;s, bravely walked into an all-white high school, determined to get their education.
Yes, the story of the Wilmington Ten MUST be told.
But thanks to the efforts of the Black Press, it must also ...be finished!
And it will!
I hope that you will support our pardon effort on behalf of the Wilmington Ten. You can go to The Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence Project on Facebook to learn more, and show your support. We are constructing a dedicated website to further educate this new generation about the Wilmington Ten, and we'll announce that as soon as it's ready.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.myWAUG.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.
SEEKING PARDON OF INNOCENCE TODAY - Seated from left to right, Marvin Patrick, Mrs. Margaret Jacobs (mother of Jerry Jacobs), and Connie Tindall. Standing from left to right, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Wayne Moore, Willie Earl Vereen and James McKoy. [Cash Michaels video clip]
FALSELY CONVICTED FORTY YEARS AGO - Members of the Wilmington Ten in the 1970's included (seated) Rev. Ben Chavis, William "Joe" Wright, Connie Tindall. Then standing left to right is Wayne Moore, Anne Shepard, James "Bun" McKoy and Willie Earl Vereen.
GOV. PERDUE ASKED TO
PARDON WILMINGTON TEN
By Cash Michaels
Seven survivors and the families of three deceased members of the Wilmington Ten - ten 1970’s civil rights activists convicted forty years ago of conspiracy charges to commit violence, charges a federal appeals court; the US Justice Dept; and fifty-five members of Congress later determined were not true - formally petitioned the governor of North Carolina Thursday to grant each of the original group a pardon of innocence.
The pardon petition called the Wilmington Ten case, “…a politically inspired prosecution.”
The May 17th petition filing was immediately announced to the world during a press conference conducted Thursday by members and family of deceased members of the Wilmington Ten; their attorney, Irving Joyner; National Newspaper Publishers Association Board members; and numerous supporters outside the North Carolina State Capital Building.
A nationwide petition drive to support the pardon effort was also announced.
Support for the effort has already begun to come in from local and national leaders.
“There are still too many black activists who are still being mistreated in this country, who carry badges of shame, if you will, for spending time in prison, who at the end of the day their only crime was standing up for the people,” Benjamin Jealous, president/CEO of the NAACP said when asked several weeks ago. “In the case of the Wilmington Ten, we will push [for pardons] and support our state conference in their push to ensure that finally, their names are cleared.”
Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, has also expressed his support for the pardon effort as well.
The Wilmington Ten pardons, if granted by NC Gov. Beverly Perdue, would officially declare the innocence of the seven surviving members - Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Wayne Moore, Marvin Eugene Patrick, Connie Levinesky Tindall, James Matthew McKoy, Willie Earl Vereen, Reginald Epps - and the three deceased members - Anne Shepard-Turner, William “Joe” Wright, and Jerry Gerald Jacobs.
The pardon petition, authored by attorney Joyner - the original coordinator of the Wilmington Ten legal defense for the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice - and James Ferguson, the lead defense attorney in the case forty years ago, bears the authorizing signatures of the seven survivors and representative family members of the deceased.
It urges Gov. Perdue to issue the pardons, “…in order to declare each Wilmington Ten member innocent of the offense for which they were wrongfully prosecuted and convicted in the New Hanover County Superior Court in September 1972.”
The charges - associated with the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery in Wilmington on Feb. 6, 1971 - included conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to assault emergency personnel, conspiracy to burn property with incendiary devices and the actual burning of property, according to the pardon petition.
For the past forty years, and even when they were collectively convicted and sentenced to 282 years in prison, the Wilmington Ten have always maintained that they were innocent of all charges.
Their ages, at the time of their convictions, ranged from 19 to 35.
Today, many of the surviving members are in their late 50’s, early sixties, and in dwindling health.
In exclusive interviews, some revealed that after their arrests, police offered to set them free if they turned state’s evidence against the others, especially Wilmington Ten leader Rev. Ben Chavis.
None ever took the offer.
In a February, 2011 op-ed piece for NNPA member newspapers, Dr. Chavis, now an NNPA columnist, wrote about the events that led up to the arrest of the ten activists:
During the Nixon Administration in the early 1970's, African Americans in the South, as well as in other regions of the nation, were being challenged with the systematic racial disparities involved in the details of how federal court-ordered school desegregation was being enforced.
Black students, parents, and community leaders made a decision in Wilmington in February 1971 that they would stand up and fight to protect and secure the "quality" education of African American students by attempting to preserve the high academic integrity and institutional legacy of African American public schools such as Williston Senior High School (which the New Hanover County Public School Board closed, to the outrage of the African-American community there).
The United Church of Christ, as a progressive mainline Protestant denomination of 1.7 million members, and its Commission for Racial Justice, led by The Reverend Dr. Charles E. Cobb, decided to stand with the student-led coalition in Wilmington to demand fairness and equal justice. As a young civil rights activist, I was dispatched by the Commission for Racial Justice to give organizational assistance to our brothers and sisters in Wilmington.
Because we dared to speak out and to engage in non-violent street protests to the long, unprecedented history of racial violence and injustice in that port city, the African American community became the targets of a violent, paramilitary, anti-Black terror campaign led by the Ku Klux Klan and the Rights of White People (ROWP) organization. Our movement's headquarters in Wilmington - Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ - and the surrounding African American community, was placed in a state of siege by armed White vigilantes, who opposed racial justice and equality.
[Wilmington Police refused to do anything to stop the White supremacist attacks in the black community. On Feb. 6, 1971, a local store called Mike’s Grocery was firebombed amid the violence. It took a year, but authorities finally targeted Rev. Chavis, eight young black student leaders, and a 35-year-old white female social worker, Anne Shepard, for arrest and prosecution, even though there was no evidence that any of them committed any crimes]
Because of our involvement in the struggle in Wilmington in 1971, we were unjustly charged, arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a combined maximum total of 282 years in prison in North Carolina in 1972. We all were completely innocent of the alleged charges of arson and conspiracy to assault. In 1978, Amnesty International declared that we were "Political Prisoners." We stayed in prison during most of the 1970's while our case was on appeal.
[The three so-called state’s “witnesses” North Carolina prosecutors used against the defendants, all began to recant their testimony against the Wilmington Ten]
On December 4, 1980, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the unjust convictions of the Wilmington Ten because of "prosecutorial misconduct" in the unconstitutional and unfair frame-up. Yet, to date there has not been an official "pardon of innocence" issued by the state of or by the federal government.
In the Wilmington Ten petition for a pardon of innocence, attorney Joyner writes, “As a result of the State Prosecutor’s knowing use of perjured testimony, the State of North Carolina fraudulently procured the convictions of ten innocent North Carolina citizens.”
“This misconduct was aided and abetted by the actions of the Trial Judge which improperly prevented relevant facts from being presented to the jury,” atty. Joyner continued. “These wrongful convictions resulted in each Wilmington Ten member spending significant periods of time incarcerated in the North Carolina Dept. of Corrections where they lost critical developmental years.”
Joyner adds, “The time which they spent in prison can’t be replaced, and those experiences and history remain as a blot on their life’s stories.”
In exclusive interviews, many of the Wilmington Ten say they could not get jobs after they were released from prison. Some were shunned by their churches. Some had to leave Wilmington, they say.
All were virtually denied the dreams they held dear as high school students, dreams that included becoming a doctor, a lawyer, musicians, and in one case, a professional football player.
“His whole world just came tumbling down,” says Mrs. Margaret Jacobs, mother of deceased Wilmington Ten member Jerry Jacobs. Jacobs had dreams of being a professional tennis player and a doctor before being arrested by police in the Wilmington Ten case at age 19.
As a result, after Jacobs left prison, he was forced to leave Wilmington for New York, where he began shooting up drugs, contracted the AIDS disease, and died in 1989.
“Yes it did,” Mrs. Jacobs now laments when asked if the Wilmington Ten changed her son’s life. “Yes it did. He probably would have been living today.”
As in the Jerry Jacobs case, the burden of the Wilmington Ten’s arrests, convictions and incarcerations was also shared by all of their families, who always believed in their innocence.
“Only the granting of Pardons of Innocence can remove this deeply engrained tarnish which continues to hang over this state,” attorney Joyner writes.
The pardon petition effort, the first ever for the Wilmington Ten in the forty years since their case became a national and international cause célèbre, was spearheaded by the Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence Project Committee, the manifestation of the national initiative the National Newspaper Publishers’ Association kicked off during its 2011 Black Press Week “Power of the Black Press Luncheon.”
The project committee is co-chaired by Mary Alice Thatch, publisher of NNPA member The Wilmington Journal - a black newspaper that was firebombed by a white supremacist in 1972; and attorney Irving Joyner, a law professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, NC, and chair of the NC NAACP Legal Redress Committee.
"We are going to tell the story of the Wilmington 10," then NNPA Chairman Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel said during the 2011 Black Press luncheon in Washington, D.C. "And, we think it is incumbent for us to fight for a pardon for those 10 people.”
“Justice to this day,” Bakewell added, “ has not been served."
In an exclusive interview, attorney Joyner says the filing of the Wilmington Ten petition for pardons of innocence, is an historic moment.
“It is historic in many respects, he says. “First, this case represents one of the first documented disclosures of prosecutorial misconduct in North Carolina where nine innocent African-Americans and a lone White woman were persecuted by state agents because they stood up and protested against racial injustices in a local school district.”
“Second, the Wilmington Ten became another outstanding example in North Carolina of young people daring to protest and defy entrenched racism within the North Carolina education and criminal justice systems.”
Atty. Joyner continued, “Third, the State of North Carolina, through the New Hanover County District Attorney's Office and the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, used every weapon at its disposal to "cover-up" the vicious persecution of these ten young people and, after this massive misconduct was publicly exposed, refused to do anything to rectify the harm that had been done to these ten victims and the Wilmington community.”
“It is now time for the Governor of North Carolina to make amends for the State and correct the record by issuing Pardons of Innocence for each member of the Wilmington Ten, attorney Joyner says.
NC Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat who was elected in 2008 as the first female governor in North Carolina history, has announced that she is not running for re-election, and will be stepping down when her term ends in December.
If she grants the Wilmington Ten’s pardon of innocence petition, it is not expected until after the November presidential election.
Editor’s Note - a website for the Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence Project will be launched shortly, detailing the history of the case and other features. Meanwhile, readers can show their support at the Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence Project Facebook page.
Cash Michaels is the coordinator of the Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence Project for the NNPA
Black Women Make Major Employment Gains
By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Black women are making the most significant gains in employment but still lag behind Whites, according to the Labor Department.
The most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the unemployment rate for Black women, 20 and older, dropped from 12.3 percent in March to 10.8 percent in April, a decline of 1.5 percent. More significantly, the jobless rate for Black women has fallen 3 percentage points over the past five months, the largest decline for any demographic over that period.
The unemployment rate for White women, 20 and older has remained flat at 6.8 percent from last December to April, but that stagnant rate is still four percentage points better than the current rate for Black women. The jobless rate for Black men fell to 13.6 percent to 15.7 percent over the same period, but some economists warn that those figures could be misleading.
“There are two things driving down the unemployment rate,” said Steven Pitts, labor policy specialist at the University of California-Berkeley’s Labor Center. “The improvement in job prospects and simultaneously some Black men dropping out of the labor force.”
When people quit looking for work, they are no longer counted as unemployed. Consequently, the labor force shrinks, causing the unemployment rate to go down. The unemployment rate for Blacks fell from 14 percent in March to 13 percent in April.
“The unemployment rate might look like an improvement, but it’s really just people giving up,” explained Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy program at the Economic Policy Institute.
In a 2011 study, the National Women’s Law Center found that Black women lost 233,000 jobs between December 2007 and June 2009, then lost another 258,000, 491,000 between June 2009 and June 2011. Black men only lost 477,000 over that period.
According to the study, not only are Black women a majority of the African-American workforce (53.4 percent), they head a majority of the Black families with children.
More Black women are the heads of households now, “So they have to work, “ explained Maudine Cooper, president of the Greater Washington Urban League. “They’ll often accept less money than a man would be making in the same job.”
A 2012 study on the pay gap conducted by the American Association of University Women found that women working full-time earned just 77 cents to every dollar earned by a man. Black women working full-time make just 70 cents for every dollar White men make and 91 cents for every dollar Black men bring home. White women, on the other hand, received 82 cents for every dollar a White man earns. White men are often used as a benchmark, because at this time they are the largest demographic group in the labor force.
Research by Wider Opportunities for Women found that 62 percent of Black households and 66 percent of Hispanic households live on the edge of poverty. Even when working full-time, 80 percent of Black single mothers and 85 percent of Hispanic single mothers don’t make enough to make ends meet and they’re much more likely to lack economic security than White single mothers or single fathers of any racial or ethnic background.
For Cooper, a college education still remains the Black community’s strongest ally in closing the economic gap.
More than 44 percent of Black women graduate from college, compared to 33.1 percent of Black men, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Cooper said it’s about sacrificing short-term gratification for what really matters.
“I have friends that are going to school and working,” Cooper said. “You have to do what it takes. At some point it’s over and you’ve worked hard, you’ve sweated, you’re exhausted and you’ve gotten through it and that’s the attitude everyone should have.”
That means that Black men have a lot catching up to do in an increasingly competitive job market.
A 2010 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce 2018 reported that 63 percent of the jobs newly created or vacated by retiring workers will require at least some college education.
Given that Black women lead a majority of Black households and graduate from college at higher rates than Black men, their success is essential as the Black community recovers from worst economic times since the Great Depression.
At a 2011 session at Stanford University titled “Black Women and the Backlash Effect — Understanding the Intersection of Race and Gender,” visiting scholar and expert in workplace diversity Katherine Phillips said that Black women are excelling in education and entrepreneurship.
“Two-thirds of African-American college undergrads are female,” said Phillips. “And, between 2002 and 2008, the number of businesses owned by Black women rose by 19 percent – twice as fast as all other firms and generating $29 billion in sales nationwide.”
Phillips, also a professor of organizational behavior at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., noted that Black women in the workplace are often viewed as “as independent, competent, and demanding of respect — all classic leadership traits.”
During her research Phillips found that Black women have more latitude in the roles they play at home and at work. One study found that Black women who worked outside the home were viewed positively while the same behavior by White women evoked negative reactions.
“The evidence here suggests that White women are supposed to stay in this little narrow box more so than Black women are,” said Phillips.
Although Black women are often forced to confront the dual plague of sexism and racism on the job, Phillips said that owning that identity may also have certain advantages.
She explained, “There may be a malleability that comes with being an African American woman that allows you to identify both as Black and as a woman that you might be able to use as a mechanism to make it through the world.”
Voter Registration and the 2012 Election
By Lee A. Daniels Special to the NNPA from The Defenders Online
It’s as dependable as the rise and ebb of the tides.
If a national election is near, then it’s time to cast doubt on the commitment of blacks and Latinos to turn out to vote. Despite their steady level of participation over the last two decades, and clear ratcheting-up of voting in the last six years, forecasts of a fall-off – or at least concern that it will occur – remain a staple of conventional political coverage.
It was so in the run-up to the mid-term elections of 2006; and 2008; and 2010 even as the percentage of blacks and Latinos voting approached or surpassed record levels and they accounted for a greater than ever proportion of the overall national vote.
Now, it’s begun again. Last week the Washington Post published an article declaring that the number of black and Latino registered voters has declined sharply since 2008. It attributed the fall-off – for blacks, a decline of 7 percent to some 16 million voters; for Latinos, a decline of 5 percent, to about 11 million voters – to three factors.
One was the usual shrinkage in the voting rolls during non-presidential years. The number of white registered voters slipped by 5 percent as well, to 104 million.
More worrisome, however, was the view of some observers that loss of jobs and loss of homes to foreclosure during the last two years had forced many blacks and Latinos to move – thereby ceding their voter registration and making it uncertain that they’ll register elsewhere.
In addition, the enactment or strengthening of voter identification laws in more than a dozen states since the 2010 mid-terms has raised the possibility that some significant proportion of traditionally Democratic Party voters may be blocked from the polls.
Those are valid concerns, to be sure. But the Obama campaign and other independent observers pointed out a serious flaw in the Post article’s discussion. It was comparing voter registrations from an historic, politically-super-charged presidential election year with those of a mid-term election year now two years in the past.
Clo Ewing, an Obama campaign official, wrote that in fact “since that time, more than 1.4 million African Americans and more than 1.2 million Latinos have registered to vote…. There are more Americans of both backgrounds registered to vote today than there were when President Obama was elected.”
Michael P. McDonald, a professor at George Mason University and an expert on voting, said that a flaw in the way the Census Bureau currently tabulates voting and registration rates has contributed to the confusion. He said there’s no doubt that the registrations of both Latinos and African-Americans provide the Obama campaign with a comfortable advantage in registering more of each this year.
He added “That these minority populations are also growing in size relative to the non-Hispanic White population should give more worry to the Romney campaign than to the Obama campaign.”
Nonetheless, there is significant cause for concern.
In every political election every vote always counts; and that will be especially true in the Obama-Romney contest. For, it’s already apparent that the incessant, overtly-racist and racially-coded attacks launched from low and high places in the conservative sector against the President and the First Family since before he took office will continue right through November’s Election Day.
It’s also clear, as a May 3 New York Times article underscored, that the opposition to Obama among some segment of white voters will continue to be grounded in racist attitudes.
As Jamelle Bouie pointed out in a perceptive article in The American Prospect, these whites’ opposition to Obama is, in turn, driven by their dismay at black Americans exercising what Bouie calls “political agency.”
This, in my view, means more than just political power. It means political effectiveness – an acute understanding of the political game.
Certainly, that description fits both Obama’s strategy for gaining the Presidency and the black electorate’s, first, patient, skillful assessment of Obama during the early part of the Democratic presidential primary four years ago, and, then, its massive turnout for him at the polls in November 2008.
It soon became apparent that that display of political competence on the part of Obama and the black electorate infuriated a diminishing, but still substantial minority of white Americans. One can hear the voice of the Steubenville, Ohio bank employee the Times reporter interviewed who practically spits out the reason she thinks Obama won the election. “He was like, ‘Here I am, I’m black and I’m proud,’” she said. “To me, he didn’t have a platform. Black people voted him in, that’s why he won. It was black ignorance.”
As I noted recently in characterizing a display of anti-black bigotry in a very different context, these attitudes spring from the sense that a “whites-only” rule has been violated – that blacks, or a black person is trespassing on a place or position that should still be reserved for whites.
This group’s racial intransigence is important because in a paper published this month, Harvard economics scholar Seth Stephens-Davidowitz estimates that anti-black bigotry “cost” Obama 3 to 5 percentage points in the national popular vote in 2008. That is, but for those voting against him out of racist motives, Obama would have gained between 56.7 and 58.7 percent of the popular vote, not the 53.7 percent he actually did get.
Stephens-Davidowitz calculates that the massive, 95-percent black vote Obama got added only about 1 percentage point to his popular vote totals.
In other words, “any votes Obama gained due to his race in the general election were not nearly enough to outweigh the cost of racial animus, meaning race was a large net negative for Obama. Evidence from other research, as well as some analysis in this paper, suggest that few white voters swung in Obama’s favor in the genera election due to his race. …. [Thus, the paper offers] new evidence that racial attitudes remain a potent factor against African Americans, nationwide, in modern American politics”
That means it’s critically important that every effort must be made to register every eligible black and Latino voter and ensure that they vote – because, come November, President Obama will likely need every vote he cab get.
Lee A. Daniels is Director of Communications for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Editor In Chief of TheDefendersOnline.com.
In this photo released by The White House, President Barack Obama participates in an interview Wednesday May 9 with Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America in the Cabinet Room of the White House. — THE WHITE HOUSE, PETE SOUZA
Will Gay Marriage Divide Black Electorate?
By Larry Miller Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune
Right on the heels of North Carolina becoming the 31st state in the Union to pass a ban on homosexual marriage, President Barack Obama announced his support of matrimony between same sex couples.
The president’s public support of same sex marriage could either be a boon or a curse for his re-election campaign; it’s too soon to tell, despite the fact that he’s just received a million dollars in campaign contributions. But one thing is certain; the president’s public stance in favor of homosexual marriage has drawn a dividing line among voters. Will it have an affect among African-American voters, some members of the Black clergy think it will.
“I think it will to some extent,” said Bishop Ernest C. Morris Sr., Jurisdictional Prelate for Koinonia Jurisdiction. “A large percentage of Black Christians believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman. What he may be banking on is the African-American community’s love for the first Black president but he should consider that large numbers of Black churches won’t agree with this. There are too many passages in Scripture that denounce homosexuality and I can’t see how to fully justify it from the Word of God. Don’t misunderstand me; this is not about hatred of homosexuals because we are all sinners in need of a savior and God is so gracious. It is the continuous practice of this that the Bible is against. I also think that as the nation’s first Black president, he’s seen not just as the political leader of our country but as more than that. Many people see him as a moral and spiritual leader as well.”
On Wednesday May 9 President Barack Obama took what some political experts are saying was a risky move — especially during an election year — and voiced his support of same sex marriage. Like the issue of legalized abortion, same sex marriage is one of those hot button issues that draw a clear division between those who support it and those who oppose it. Republican presidential front runner Mitt Romney said he opposes same sex marriages.
“Well when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name,” Romney said in a published report.
A bill that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado died in the legislature this week. The president’s public endorsement of homosexual marriage followed a vote in North Carolina where constituents came out in favor of a ban against same sex marriage. North Carolina is now America’s 31st state to enact legislation against it.
In a prepared statement, the president said he was asked a direct question and gave a direct answer regarding same sex marriage.
“I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry,” the president said. “I’ve always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful traditions it evokes. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution. But over the course of several years I’ve talked to friends and family about this. I’ve thought about members of my staff in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships that are raising kids together. What I’ve come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, and the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens. So I decided it was time to affirm my personal belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.”
The president also said that he respected the beliefs of others and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines but he said that he believed that in the eyes of the law all Americans should ne treated equally and no federal law should invalidate same sex marriages in a state that enacted it.
Reverend Clarence James, a Black minister based in Chicago said he definitely believes the president’s move is going to hurt him among African-American voters, many of whom oppose same sex marriage.
“Many of us oppose this in every form and may decide to vote against the president because of this,” James said. “From a medical and psychological point of view homosexuality is a mental illness; for male homosexuals anal sex is medically dangerous. The president is coming at this as a civil rights issue but there is no correlation even though the homosexual community is trying to make it one. The Civil Rights Movement was about freedom and equal rights, this is a moral issue. For the president and other elected officials it’s easier to go along with popular opinion rather than to do what’s right.”
But some members of the African-American clergy have a different point of view regarding this issue. They believe the African-American community should find ways to address same sex relationships and that there can be reconciliation between sex and spirituality.
“If every gay person in our church just left or those who have an orientation or preference or an inclination, or a fantasy, if everyone left, we wouldn’t have — we wouldn’t have a church,” said Bishop Carlton Pearson who heads Chicago’s New Dimensions Ministries in a published report. “Homophobia is hardly unique to the African-American community. It’s a social malady that’s due largely to the influence of fear based-theologies, particularly fundamentalist Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all of which grow out of the Abrahamic tradition. The African-American church has traditionally used a kind of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ approach toward homosexuality.”
Dr. Janice Hollis who heads Progressive Believer’s said the African-American community should look at the president’s record not just on this issue but on others and determine if the quality of their lives has improved.
“I think it’s an insult for the president to intellectualize on morality as if the Church doesn’t already have a mandate from God on this,” she said. “This is a political move and even though he may not see it, he’s only a fleeting moment in history; God has always been there. I think the president is promoting a way of life that deters people away from the Word of God.”
Reverend Bill Owens, a minister with the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and who is based in Memphis, Tennessee, said there’s no doubt that the president’s endorsement of same sex marriage is going to hurt him among Black voters.
“Absolutely it will and especially among the Black churches where the conviction against same sex marriage is so strong,” Owens said. “I think many Black Christians feel somewhat betrayed by the president on this — this is something that Black churches have always stood firmly against.”