Have African Americans Progressed in Forty Years

All we asked for 40 years ago was a seat at the table and the race was on…. for some African Americans. Obtaining goals is America is characterized by the energy one gives by the sweat of their brow and their willingness to reach for and grab hold of opportunities that are there if you are willing to pay the price. The class gap can be contributed to generational standards that take hold and never let go of families

This generational standard creates a bottleneck at the route of ascension that keeps families engulfed in poverty, addictions, and hopelessness, with no intention of individual within the family to seek a better way. Racism cannot be the culprit for this Gap, perhaps apathy can. The larger community simply does not care to educate those left behind. The larger community would rather turn a blind eye toward education and the teaching of socialization skills, crises management skills, and conflict resolution skills.

Some African Americans are somewhat their own worst enemy, spewing hate and attacking one anther with black on black crime. Robbing and killing one another for the looming prize of an I-Pod, when a college degree is there for the talking and learning how to invest in stock can give one the satisfaction of playing within the rules.

We are our own worst enemy and have no one else to blame when despite the presence of racism, we allow it to dictate the course of our lives. We can be better than that, we can overcome these things, it we only strive to be a thriving, caring part of a progressive society. No one is holding us back. Until we all buy into this fact, there will always be two classes of African Americans, the dream is near for us now. It is just a matter of “how much do we want it and how willing are we to get it? How willing are we to help our kids with homework? Turn off the video games? To teach our children to respect themselves and to respect others. To honor our women and not take advantage of them? To provide for our families?

Some of us have got it; we know the formula. Until we toss aside the narrow ways of thinking and the obsession that we have with things that do not matter, we will remain two classes of people the haves and the have nots? It’s a choice, just like everything in life.

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Growing Up In A Time Of Change

My father was an African Methodist Minister and in 1960 he was assigned to pastor St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was six years old when we moved to Chattanooga. We lived in Chattanooga from November 1960 to November of 1965. These were very volatile years. Historic years in terms of change and perhaps the most exciting time in 20th century if you were not only an African-American, but an American. In November 1965, My father was assigned as Pastor of Asbury Chapel AME Church in Louisville, Kentucky. I was able to see the world of segregation in Chattanooga and to see a totally different picture of open housing, white flight from neighborhoods, and open enrollment schooling in Louisville, Kentucky. Two contrasting situations. It was literally a tale of two cities.

I grew up as a child in the black church, specifically during the civil rights movement, I was born at the dawn of the freedom march movement in 1954. This enabled me to get a good view of the old; segregation, and the new; integration, open housing, the opening up of entertainment facilities that were at the time exclusively white. I remember when we were unable to go the the Martin Theater located in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. There was a black theater reserved for African- Americans in the black business district, called ninth street. My father being a local minister did not allow us to go to ninth street, because of the night clubs and unwholesome activity that took place there.

I remember seeing the effects of segregation and the restraints that it put on children like myself, but I also witness change and what could happen when doors were finally opened. I remember the church picnics we had and being confined to the “colored” parks; Lincoln Park and Booker T Washington State Park in Chattanooga. I also attended all black Howard Elementary school, which included on the same premises, Howard Junior High School and Howard High School. All African Americans who lived on the South side of Chattanooga were assigned to attend Howard High School. If you lived on the North side of Chattanooga and you were African- American you attended Orchard Park Elementary, Orchard Park Junior High and Riverside High School. If you lived on the east end of Chattanooga, you attended Booker T. Washington High School.

The city was totally segregated; school, entertainment facilities, parks and everything. During the time we lived in Chattanooga, much was happening nationally that influenced our lives in Chattanooga. Students at Howard High School and Riverside High School, planned a march in downtown Chattanooga to protest the segregation of entertainment facilities. My father was part of a ministerial alliance of other black ministers, who met with the mayor, police chief and other city officials to insure them that the student would be peaceful and cause no trouble and pleaded for their co-operation. The Chattanooga city officials were open to do whatever they could to insure that the students would not be harmed or arrested.

The Chattanooga experience was not a good one, because of substandard schools and deteriorating neighborhoods. The effects of segregation took its toll on the African- American community and neighborhoods were filled with derelicts and drunks, primarily because they had no hope of obtaining a good job, because of segregation laws. My father’s church and the parsonage was in the heart of this decadence. When we moved in November 1965 I was 11 years old. I had no white friends in Chattanooga. We lived in an African- American neighborhood and attended African American schools.

In November 1965, my father was assigned to pastor Asbury Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Louisville offered better opportunities for African Americans in terms of better schools and better neighborhoods. We lived in the West End of Louisville where neighborhoods were integrated , but they were rapidly becoming all black, as whites begin to move to the suburbs; classic white flight. For the first time in my life from the sixth grade to the 12th grade I attended school with white kids. As a matter of fact, my best friend was white. We played baseball and basketball together and we both attended Shawnee Junior High School and Shawnee High School. Louisville opened my eyes to a different world.

It also opened my eyes to the faults of both races, African- American and white. In 1967 while living in Louisville, riots took place in the west end of Louisville. We lived across the street from Shawnee Park in the church parsonage. There was a skating rink and an amusement park called Fountain Ferry Park, that was literally destroyed one summer evening by a riot, precipitated by African- Americans who lived in the West End. Fountain Ferry was great place to go to swim and to visit the amusement park. Then one summer day it was all destroyed by vandalism from African- Americans. There was already white flight in the neighborhood, but after this, the flight accelerated and in the a span of three years the west end of Louisville became virtually all black.

Louisville was sports town laced with excitement. I remember seeing Muhammad Ali one March day in 1966 on Grand Avenue. A large crowd was around Ali as he lived in the neighborhood. Ali was a Louisville legend and the stance he took by courageously refusing to be inducted into the US Army solidified his position during a time of change. Ali was banned from boxing for three years because of his stance. These were volatile times and much occurred in America. Not just the Civil Right Movement. The escalation of the Viet Nam War. The peace movement. The women’s liberation movement. All of this defined the sixties. It was a time when no one knew what they wanted to be. But we all knew we wanted change.

This was in fact the best time in my life It was a time that I learned about the changing face of America. It was a time when I literally saw the walls of segregation come tumbling down. It was a time when we saw Lyndon B. Johnson author and pass the Civil Right Legislation. It was a time when we saw great leaders assassinated. John F. Kennedy in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, Martin Luther King in 1968 and Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

These were times of change and it opened doors for many African Americans, unprecedented in American history. My sisters were able to attend and graduate from a predominately white college. I attended and Graduated for East Tennessee State University in 1976, also predominately white. All of this would not have happened if it were not for the sacrifices of the many brave and courageous men and women that laid the foundation for what we now enjoy. I give tribute to the spirit which defines what the the American experience is all about. We live in the greatest country on earth and we should be proud of it.

Super Delegates Will Support Obama

It’s funny how the so-called Democratic super delegates are; well,super silent. Some say, silence is golden. Are how about , no news is good news? The fact of the matter is, the super delegates are being uniquely quiet for a reason….. perhaps waiting for just the right opportunity to come out in support of Barack Obama. Dismantling the Clinton dynasty is no easy task. No sane Democrat will take that plunge unless they have all their ducks in a row. But there will come a day and time when they will all weigh in at a Democratic coming out party in support of Obama and rejecting Hillary. Many have taken the plunge so far, but we have yet to hear from Democratic heavyweights like Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore, but the time will come when we will. Perhaps when Hillary turns in a less than stellar performance in Pennsylvania, she will see the hand writing on the wall and quit. If not, the super delegates will start a parade of endorsements for Obama, that will rival the any parade in American history.

The Influences of News Events

Is there really such a thing a real creative journalism? Yes there is. However most Journalism throughout history has been totally reactionary. Without news or events you have no stories. You have no features and you have no editorial expose. Our life and the chaos that surrounds it is news itself and we have so much of it that we will never, ever, have a shortage of reactionary news reporting and features.

Since the advent of Journalism editors , publisher, and reporters have reacted to the news to sell newspapers, increase ratings and increase impressions. It is a tenant of Journalism. Once the hard news story is reported, what follows is a steady stream of creatively done features. Take the erratic lifestyle of Brittany Spears. There have followed many features that have run the gamut. Will Brittany get help? What’s wrong with Brittany? You get the picture, with every news story there can be fashioned an up close and personal feature article.

Why is this the norm in Journalism? Because sizzle sells, sensationalism has always sold newspaper and magazines. It is the American way. Even on the Internet on the eve of the Super Tuesday primary the sensational stories abound; “Pro Clinton Push Poll Erupts in in California”, State Polls in California Shows Huge Gains By Obama- McClain, The sensationalism leading up to the primaries is in full force. Is this good for Journalism? Yes and No.

The trend toward reactionary creativity has always been in Vogue since the first newspapers were published. Newspaper have alway been a forum for journalist who had a mission to report in depth on issues of the day. War correspondents have followed armies to report on the life of soldiers abroad during war time situations. This was an important means of getting not only factual accounts, but the much needed human interest features that were so important to the folks back home eager to get any tidbits of what life was like on the war front.

Journalism has always been laced with sensationalism; as said before it sells. Real Creativity borders on creative expose, short stories and the like. This is too specialized to sell an audience so it’s place is in magazines, the Internet and books. As long as there is news there will always be opportunities for reactionary creativity.

The Cost of Gas, Food and Everything Else Keeps Rising

Be sure to take two credit cards and a wallet full of money the next time you go shopping at your local grocer. Trust me, you will need it. It seems like everything costs about $3.50 more than it did six months ago. It’s probably some sort of conspiracy that just want go away. The culprit? We don’t know the answer to that. The experts say It’s the economy; I guess we knew that! We continue to suffer, while manufacturers and distributors are trying to find a way to add on additonal charges to continue to make a profit.

While all of this is going on the researches are too busy cloning cattle that they plan to sell in supermarkets across America. That’s not the only thing they plan to clone; how about pigs? Can you imagine eating clone cattle meat or cloned bacon? of course they will promptly raise the price of meat by say $10 per pound. Cloned meat is expensive you know and hard to come by, I guess.  Has any one seen a cloning farm lately? Has any one seen “Dolly” the cloned sheep? I believed she died; someone said she was only six years old and had a number of diseases. The Food and Drug Administration probably knows where all cloning farms are located. By the way the FDA says they don’t have to tell us the meat is cloned. So much for the right to know. More than likely the politicians will call a national symposium of top business leaders and industry professionals to discuss why. Maybe they will have the answer on CNN shortly.

Seriously the cost of nearly everything is increasing with the exception of one thing….our salaries! Not only is regular gas hovering around $3.30 a gallon, but a carton of eggs cost almost $3.00. This makes it somewhat hard to consider driving a Hummer. You know all of us have thought about it from one time or another; buying a Hummer. I’m not talking about renting one. I talking about buying one and then filling if up with gas. It would probably cost you $100 to fill the tank. But we live in prosperous times as some politician put it.

When the Presidential election rolls around in November, I predict gas prices will drop about $1.30 per gallon; just long enough to see who actually wins the election! Now that gives us food for thought (cloned of course) for the rest of the year.

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