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JOURNAL Summer 2013 s17 Town Hall Meetings On March 4, members attended general sessions at the Gaylord Hotel to discuss key issues pertaining to the African-American community. The first Town Hall Meeting focused on the theme, “Shoring Up the Middle Class – The Economy, Equality and Employment.” Dr. Thelma Daley, 16th National President, greeted attendees with opening remarks, recounting her thoughts as she observed children marching with the Sorority during the reenactment. “All children of every hue are the responsibility of all of us. What shall we tell the children? We will urge them to keep the wisdom bequeathed to us by the Founders, our elders and have faith in people, each other, themselves and their neighbors,” said Soror Daley. “We will tell them that Delta Sigma Theta marched for their future.” Soror Tracee Wilkins, NBC 4 reporter, moderated the panel consisting of Rep. Lois DeBerry, member Social Action Commission and Tennessee General Assembly; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, honorary co-chair, National Social Action Commission; The Honorable Gloria Reno, member, National Social Action Commission; and Roland Martin, journalist and political analyst. Panelists discuss the middle class during Delta Days in the Nation’s Capital. PICTURED (LEFT TO RIGHT) Rev. Jamal Bryant, Rev. Marcia Dyson, and Jeff Johnson. Soror Wilkins began discussing defining the middle class and the current job loss trends as low wage jobs replace middle wage jobs. According to Soror Wilkins, low income jobs such as office clerks, retail sales persons, cashiers and food services, have risen by 40 percent and make up 12 percent of the job market. “Jobs have disappeared because we do not have a job policy in this country. We have seen jobs disappear partly because our government will not get involved in job creation,” said Soror Malveaux. “We will not talk about our financial problems because we think it’s personal. This is not a person problem; it is a systemic problem. If you look at it as a political problem, you respond to that problem through legislation and organization.” Roland Martin remarked that the recession has dramatically affected African-Americans because many African Americans hold public sector jobs. “You are always going to be at the mercy of policy makers because when there is an economic downturn, the highest cost, in terms of capital, is human capital. They will cut those jobs first,” said Martin. Martin also suggested that social advocates refocus their educational attentions on 2-year institutions as opposed to directing all students towards 4-year colleges and universities. According to Martin, 60 percent of the available jobs in the U.S. are trained by community colleges, which suggest that other fields may be “drying up.” Soror Reno advised the audience to continue to encourage the youth to not become ensnared in the criminal justice system because today’s convictions and arrests impact their ability to obtain employment. “Those days are gone when you can make a mistake. Sometimes you don’t get a second chance. This is your chance,” said Soror Reno. Other issues discussed include the effects of credit card debt; increase in crime in middle class communities; migration of affluent African-American communities; unemployment; the new face of poverty; technology replacing the human factor; and unions supporting the advancement of African-Americans and the middle class. “We die and we are falling because of lack of knowledge,” said Soror DeBerry. “We need to pull our communities together and tell them about what we are talking about today. If not, the middle class will continue to move back.” Soror Diana Bajoie, former State Senator of New Orleans, gave the closing advocacy charge to attendees stating a need for the members of Delta Sigma Theta to return to the political agenda established since the organization’s founding. “We need to go back to our chapters to make sure that these laws don’t roll us back where we need to roll forward.” Addie Perkins Williamson also gave a charge, suggesting that the organization assist in changing the behaviors of the community in order to initiate necessary cultural changes. “We can help people understand the impact of their behavior on themselves and others. By helping them think about new behaviors that will be more effective, we can change the culture in our black communities,” said Soror Williamson. The focus of the second general session revolved around the theme, “Maintaining Pillars of the Middle Class.” Sam Fulwood, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, moderated the group of panelists consisting of Soror Shavon Arline- Bradley, Director of Health Programs


SummerJournal2013
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