Page 7

JournalSpring2014

s ty, Inc.; Dr. Paulette Walker, National President, Delta Sigma Theta Soror-ity, Inc.; Jean Lamothe, Phi Beta Sig-ma Fraternity, Inc.; Mary Wright, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority; Bonita M. Herring, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.; Carl Price, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.; and Rep. Fredericka Wilson (D-Fla.), representing Alpha Kappa Alpha So-rority, Inc. Panelists weighed in on issues and actions taken to ensure voting rights, social change, proper education of young students, sustain-ability of HBCUs, utilization of global power, and nullifying the negative ef-fects of the criminal justice system. “The idea that the Civil Rights Movement is ‘a thing’ we did in the 1960s is ridiculous when people are struggling for voting rights today,” said Hill. “We live in a world where we have first class jails and second class schools.” Hill began the discussion by not-ing the significance of Aug. 28 – a date shared by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech; President Barack Obama’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for presiden-cy; height of Hurricane Katrina; and death of Emmitt Till – then turned to the panel for their insights on the voting rights issue. Ray informed the intrigued crowd that the council of NPHC presidents immediately stopped one of their meetings to make calls to their chap-ters to block suppression efforts in Ohio. “We must continue educating the community on the work after the election of President Obama,” said Wright. Other members of the panel agreed that voters must also pay close attention to the other sections of the ballot that affect their local economy, not just the presidential candidates. The conversation quickly turned to the strategic planning of affecting social change in the communities. “As you look at us historically, had it not been for the nine organiza-tions – each of those men that stood marching in 1963 were members of Black Greek Organizations,” said Dr. Walker. “As long as we remember that we have global leveraging power, you can systemically and systematically overcome anything.” BGLO leaders offered strategies to jump the hurdles of voter sup-pression by: promoting candidates on the local level; creating programs that teach young people about the electoral process; and holding fo-rums that teach citizens how to run for office. Rep. Wilson expressed a deep concern for African-American males when the issue of Trayvon Martin and the BGLOs response to the Zim-merman verdict. “Trayvon Martin’s death hap-pened in my district. So, we took it very personal. Our organizations are older than the NAACP. We have a responsibility to wrap our arms around our African-American boys. Trayvon’s death has a purpose – to focus America on African-American boys,” said Wilson. “I want to encourage each of our communities to find out what laws are already on the books that need to be rescinded. To fight the battle af-terwards is a difficult one. To rescind the legislation that is already out there is easier,” said Walker. In following the theme of the en-tire weekend, Lyles charged mem-bers of BGLOs to initiate action and not wait for the leadership to make decisions and move on issues. “We need to start looking up and looking in. Dr. King didn’t wait on the national office of Alpha Phi Alpha to start what he did; neither did Thur-good Marshall or W.E.B. Dubois,” said Lyles. “What are you going to do as members of the NPHC? We can develop the strategy, but there are things that make the most impact and those are the things that start with each of you.” Town Hall Meeting The National Town Hall meeting held September 19, 2013 in the Wash-ington E. Washington Convention Center concentrated on the effects of poverty and violence in the Afri-can- American youth community and brought attention to the rapidly de-teriorating prospects for economic and entrepreneurship opportunities for black people. In keeping in line with the theme, “From Poverty to Prosperity: Con-fronting Violence, Restoring Oppor-tunity and Investing in Our Youth,” the panel – moderated by Harvard Law professor, Dr. Charles Ogletree, Jr., and consisting of Rep. Donna Ed-wards (D-Md.); Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.); Mayor Stephanie Rawlings- Blake (Baltimore); Mayor Michael Nutter (Philadelphia); Mayor Corey Booker (Newark); and Andre Washing-ton, Morehouse graduate – discussed ways to create and sustain real prog-ress for African-American youth. They also discussed state and local initiatives combined with community-based approaches as a lens to remedy violence-plagued communities. Mayors of major cities, both Nutter and Booker shared startling statistics that explained why the discussion was necessary. Accord-ing to Nutter, 70 percent of the vic-tims of homicide and 80 percent of the people arrested for homicide in Philadelphia are black men. Booker shared that in Newark, 85 percent of the city’s murder victims have been arrested at least 10 times prior to dy-ing of a violent crime. “Our criminal justice system, in my opinion, is a massive failure,” said Booker. “It is driving the biggest waste of billions of taxpayers’ dollars, communities are less safe, it is erod-ing the productivity of large areas of people, and freezing major inequi-ties in terms of race and poverty.” Rep. Charles Rangel (D -NY) con-tributed to the conversation briefly in his welcome remarks and gave his solution to the never-ending problem facing America’s youth. “We have to build dreams and self-esteem in education. We can not tolerate the death of children,” said Rangel. “You don’t have to be a psy-chologist to know that the people want to live when they have some-thing to live for.” Edwards and Rawlings-Blake pro-vided some insight to the struggles JOURNAL Spring 2014


JournalSpring2014
To see the actual publication please follow the link above