Wednesday, February 22, 2017

National News

It is the number one reason that Black-owned businesses fail: Simply put – not enough money and not enough places to get it.

That’s why as America commemorates Black History Month, the US Black Chamber Inc. (USBC), an association of more than 122 Black chambers and 265,000 business owners, is escalating publicity on its partnership with historic, Black-owned Liberty Bank. Both entities are determined to break economic barriers that have historically oppressed Black people.

“Our history is full of trailblazers and pioneers that fought to build our community from the ground up. We owe it to them to sustain our community,” says Ron Busby, USBC president/CEO.

“The top three concerns facing Black entrepreneurs are access to capital, access to capital, and access to capital,” Busby says. “As the voice of Black business owners, our focus during Black History Month is to highlight the importance of economic sustainability in the Black community and the dire lack of funding facing Black businesses.”

The USBC has launched what it calls a “buy-Black, bank-Black initiative” as a solution to spur economic growth in the Black community.

“Bank-Black is the single most powerful economic movement currently taking place in Black America,” Busby says. “Now is the time to utilize our Black banks as more than a place to hold our money, but as a resource for securing capital.”

As a part of this initiative, a USBC Bank-Black Credit Card is being offered in partnership with New Orleans-based Liberty Bank, a historic institution and one of the leading banks of the National Bankers Association (NBA).

“Through our relationship with Liberty Bank, we can now provide access of up to $10,000 with an unsecured line of credit at an annual percentage rate of 9.96 percent and with a credit score as low as 570. We think this is game-changing in that it now provides the needed resources for African-Americans to be able to move our communities to sustainability,” Busby says.

Black businesses have long suffered oppressive redlining by major national banks. Even the Small Business Administration has barely reached 3 percent in its loans to Black-owned businesses. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2014 that more than half of Black business owners do not apply for business loans when they need it because of fear of being turned down. According to a report by NewsOne Now, their “fear is justified” as “only 47 percent of Black business owners get the full amount they requested versus 76 percent of Whites.”

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that national banks tilting toward major mortgages “means fewer loans for Blacks, Hispanics.” This leaves Black-owned community banks to do what they have historically done – serve the underserved.

Despite the proven historic wrongs of government and corporate discrimination, NBA President Michael Grant says Black business owners must now find ways to rescue themselves.

“When it comes to the burden of proof of who is ultimately responsible for the economic survival of the Black community in America, I’m arguing that the burden of proof has shifted to the Black community itself,” Grant says. “It does not in any way remove the responsibility of government to be fair. It doesn’t remove the responsibility of corporate America to be fair and to treat Black consumers and their businesses with equity. But the burden of proof of who is ultimately going to save the Black community, I am arguing that this must be the Black community.”

Grant continues, “Even if it means our advocacy, supporting our own businesses, going to our leadership asking, ‘What are your plans for the economic survival of Black people in this country?’ the burden of proof has shifted to us. And this credit card, in no small way, says that we are accepting the burden of proof. We’re saying, ‘Okay, if our businesses are having a difficult time in majority banks getting access to credit, what can the Black banks do about it? How can we accept that burden? How can we step up and revive access to credit?’ That’s what this has done.”

Despite negative stereotypes, Grant points to the education and professionalism of African-Americans in business and in banking as what enables them to create their own economic strategies for survival.

For example, Liberty Bank President Alden J. McDonald, Jr., is the longest tenured African-American financial executive in the country. His nearly 45 years of experience in the banking industry was first established with his presidency of Liberty, which started with the bank’s founding in 1972. The bank’s website credits his “strategic vision and hard work” for the success of the bank. Assets have grown from $2 million in 1972 to more than $600 million currently.

“Our relationship and our partnership with the US Black Chamber is a partnership that will make certain that available credit is based on a level playing field,” says McDonald. “And one of the reasons why we feel the relationship with Liberty Bank is important is because Liberty Bank is very sensitive to the credit challenges of the community. And therefore, our underwriting standards are taken into consideration for the small business person.”

Grant stressed that Black-owned banks can strengthen the economy of the Black community while operating within a stringent regulatory environment.

“Our banks, like any bank, have to adhere to the regulators. We can’t get around that. What we can do is when you come to our banks, we can talk with you, we can take a little extra time with you. We can tell you where the flaws are in your business plan, we can tell you that if you don’t qualify for credit, then here are the things that you can do so that you can become credit worthy. But, the bottom line is that the burden of proof has shifted to the Black community and its leaders and its organizations,” he said.

Ultimately, money in Black-owned banks is a win for everyone, Busby concludes.

“We want African-Americans to have money in Black banks because we feel that Black banks historically provided the resources in Black communities. But, we’re taking it a step further, understanding that banks truly make the largest profits by providing loans and receiving fees,” he says.

“And so we feel like this is a win, win, win. It’s a win for the Black bank, which has additional capital to lend. It’s a win for the individuals because they can now get capital at an affordable rate. And it’s a win for the community because the banks can now make the loans that homeowners and business owners need. The USBC takes great pride in commemorating Black History Month with a tribute that honors Black history and anticipates an even greater Black future.”

By Hazel Trice Edney (

Bruce L. Turner is used to gazing into an audience and seeing blank or puzzled expressions when he talks about his great-great-great grandfather, Nat Turner.

After all, the slave rebellion that Nat Turner led through Southampton County occurred in 1831. It lasted only three days, triggered fresh laws that restricted the movement and assembly of slaves, and became a historical footnote. Still, Turner said he tries to explain why his ancestor and more than 60 to 100 slaves participated in the slave rebellion that lasted from Aug. 21- Oct. 30.

“I try to educate them about who he was a person,” said Bruce L. Turner who grew up on a farm in Southampton County, served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1974, and earned a bachelor’s degree at Old Dominion University in 1975. He earned a master’s degree at George Washington University in 1979. He is a retired computer systems analyst and programmer.

“The fact that a person comes to hear me speak means they have some interest in the topic,” Turner said. “My satisfaction comes from talking about who my grandfather was, as a man. Only three days of Nat Turner’s life were involved in the insurrection. He was extremely intelligent. He was a preacher. He had a family. He had deep convictions.”

Turner added, “In plain terms, he was interested in ending slavery. His objective was not to simply free himself. He wanted to end slavery totally. So I always try to tell my audience who he was as a person.”

Turner delivered the first lecture on his great-great-great grandfather in 2000 in Courtland,  Va., during a panel discussion. “Since then people have asked me to speak,” he said. “I have spoken at elementary schools, civic clubs, and churches. I’ve spoken in many states including North Carolina, New York, and Maryland.”

Each speech tends to follow the same script, he said. “I try to give the same speech all the time because I want people to understand that once he killed the plantation owner who owned him, he was free. This means he could have disappeared and gotten away. But he was looking to free everybody. He wanted to end slavery totally. His objective was to end slavery not to free himself.”

The problem is the name Nat Turner is unfamiliar to some in the audience. For those who have heard the name, few have sorted through troves of census records, dusty birth certificates, marriage licenses, and slave sale transactions, unlike Turner’s descendent. The point is this. What if some in the audience believe it is wrong to take another human being’s life for any reason whatsoever?

During the insurrection 58 whites were killed. A hysterical climate followed. Nearly 200 slaves, many who had nothing to do with the rebellion, were killed.

Turner paused to consider the question. “The killing was a means to an end,” he said. “Nat wanted to prove to the white population that slaves wanted their freedom and they were willing to kill or die for their freedom. He felt that the rebellion would make slave owners agree to end slavery.”

Turner who is married and has three grown children, and six grandchildren paused to reflect on the question again. Is it wrong to kill another human being for any reason whatsoever?
He said, “My own mother, who is still living, adamantly believes that Nat was wrong in killing. She didn’t think killing was necessary. She is opposed to the fact that women and children were killed. She said it was absolutely wrong.”

But audience feedback during the question and answer session tends to be divided, he said. Black people in the audience sometimes have said they thought it was wrong to kill women and children. Others, however, have said Nat didn’t kill enough people. So I hear opinions from those on both sides.”

Turner said, “I always try to keep the focus on Nat Turner. Whether it is a speech, panel discussion, or TV program, my goal is to educate people on he was as a person. In 1831 after the insurrection, he stayed in hiding for 71 days.”

Turner added, “Yet some newspaper stories have said someone sighted him on a ship trying to leave Norfolk. Other newspapers have said someone spotted him in the Great Dismal Swamp. Some said he moved to Houston and lived there with his family. The truth is he was actually captured about two miles from where he started the insurrection.”

During Black History Month, Bruce Turner will participate in a panel discussion on the film, Birth of a Nation, which will be held at Hampton University on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. He will speak at a church in New York on Feb. 22.

He will speak at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Norfolk on March 9 at 12 p.m. He will speak at the Genealogical Society on April 8 at 10 a.m.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

By Jane Kennedy

The Congressional Tri-Caucus recently highlighted red line issues they’re demanding the administration of President Donald J. Trump not cross.

Led by Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond(D-La.), a press conference was initially called to express the lawmakers’ objections to the pending confirmation of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s controversial pick to head the U.S. Department of Justice. The Tri-Caucus is comprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).

However, moments before the afternoon press conference began, Vice President Mike Pence cast a history making, tie-breaker vote to confirm another one of President Trump’s  most contentious nominees – incoming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Democrats are both flummoxed and frustrated by many of Trump’s cabinet picks, some of whom, like Sessions, have records that are seemingly contrary to the mission of the agencies they’ve been chosen to lead, or who like DeVos, are also woefully unfamiliar with their agency’s key issues, policies and laws.

So, they also are preparing themselves to go to battle against any attempts to go backward and to forcefully challenge controversial and discriminatory proposals in committee rooms.
Confirmation, Richmond warned, does not end the fight.

“We’ve been through fights our entire career and we will use our positions on our various committees, our role as oversight, our role as appropriators and everything else to make sure that we hold this administration accountable. And one thing we will do is make sure that there’s daylight and transparency and that we call out the things that are done in the dark and done with discriminatory purpose,” he said.

Red Wing, Minn.
In observance of Black History Month and to celebrate the Tuskegee Airmen’s contribution to our country, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron has unveiled a new “Resources for educators” area of their website. The free downloadable RISE ABOVE Resource Kit is available for teachers and youth leaders.

The materials and activities of the website can be used to enhance lessons about the Tuskegee Airmen and fuel participation in the Squadron’s Black History Month essay contest, going on now until February 28.

Find the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s resources for educators at

The CAF Red TailSquadron is also offering supporting materials such as books, classroom posters and dog tags featuring the Squadron’s Six Guiding Principles at more affordable price points.

Teachers and youth leaders are encouraged to have their students participate in the Squadron’s 2017 Black History Month essay contest. This fun way to learn about the achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen will give students the chance to put into action what they have learned about the importance of education, training and especially determination, based on the Tuskegee Airmen’s example of overcoming adversity.

The contest will be a lesson both in inspiration and finding the motivation to achieve. Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place winners in three age categories.

“We were founded on the vision to bring the history of the Tuskegee Airmen into every classroom in America, and the addition of these resources to our website speaks to that effort,” said LaVone Kay, marketing director for the CAF Red Tail Squadron. “We wanted to do something that would help put our tools directly into the hands of more teachers and make it easier to integrate the inspirational history of the Tuskegee Airmen into lesson plans. I encourage anyone that works with students to take advantage of these free and affordable resources.”

About the CAF Red Tail Squadron

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first Black military pilots and their support personnel.

RISE ABOVE Red Tail, their three-fold outreach program, includes a fully restored WWII-era P-51C Mustang, the signature aircraft of the Tuskegee Airmen; the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit 53’ mobile theater featuring the original panoramic film “Rise Above”; and resource materials for teachers and youth leaders. Each year, they embark on a nine-month cross-country tour that includes appearances at air shows, schools, museums and community events.

Learn more at

By Erick Johnson
(The Chicago Crusader/NNPA Member)

He’s been dead for more than 60 years. Buried with Emmett Till was the truth to what led to brutal murder in 1955. But the latest development in the case is not going well the Till’s relatives in Chicago, the murder boy’s hometown, where schools and streets are named after him.

A new book about the murder is out and the woman whose accusations led to the brutal killing of the 14-year-old confessed that her story was a lie. Like Till’s killers, Carolyn Bryant Donham will not be brought to justice or face any charges for perjury.

Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, never found justice for her son before she died in 2003. Now, the last surviving figure in one of the most shocking murder cases from the Jim Crow era will mostly likely go unpunished.

Legal analysts say the case involving Donham is too old to prosecute, and Till’s killers have been dead for a long time.

Till was a fun-loving teenager who lived in Chicago’s predominately Black Woodlawn neighborhood for years before he made a fateful trip to Mississippi at a time when many Blacks were being lynched and terrorized in the Deep South. Till and his mother are buried in Chicago’s Burr Oak Cemetery. Decades after he was buried, the teenager’s grave continues to draw more visitors than any other resting place in the cemetery on the city’s South Side.

Now, Till’s murder case is back in the national spotlight with a new book where Donham recants her story after more than 60 years of silence since Till was brutally killed by two White men in Money, Miss. In the book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” Donham said she lied during the criminal trial before her husband, Roy Bryant, and J.W. Milam were acquitted after proceedings that lasted just over an hour.

In 2004, the late “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley located Donham at her home in Greenville, Miss. His cameraman captured her on video, but the journalists were chased away from the property after Donham’s son arrived. “The Blood of Emmett Till” is already drawing rave reviews from readers who have received an early copy of the book.

Written by Duke University scholar, Timothy B. Tyson, the book also chronicles the life of Donham, who is twice divorced and married three times. The book also answers a question about the Till murder case that many Blacks knew for years: that Till did not flirt with Donham.

On “CBS This Morning,” Tyson said he was connected to Donham after her daughter-in-law called him and told him that she liked his previous book, “Blood Done Sign My Name.” At the time, Donham was writing her memoir, which she said won’t be made public until 2036.

As for Donham, she has nothing to worry about, despite her confession. In 2007, a grand jury decided not to indict Donham in the murder after an 8,000-page inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The U.S. Justice Department began an investigation into the Emmett Till lynching in 2004, Emmett’s body was exhumed for an autopsy, and the FBI rediscovered the long-missing trial transcript.

The Chicago Crusader is a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Learn more about becoming a member at

By Freddie Allen
(Managing Editor, NNPA Newswire)

Rev. William Barber, the president of the North Carolina state chapter of the NAACP and leader of the Moral Mondays movement, delivered a rousing keynote address to open the 2017 Mid-Winter Conference of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

The theme of the conference was “Strengthening Black-owned Newspapers through Training, Innovation and Technology.” The NNPA partnered with General Motors, Chevrolet, Ford Motor Company, Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to host the conference; Volkswagen, Ascension, Coca-Cola, and the American Association for Cancer Research supported the event as sponsors.

During his speech titled, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” Barber tackled voter suppression in the aftermath of Shelby v. Holder, White evangelicalism and the current political environment in the age of “alternative facts.”

Noting that President Woodrow Wilson played the White supremacist propaganda film “Birth of a Nation” in the Oval office in 1911, Barber said that Trump’s ascension and election is not an anomaly in American history.

“This is not the first time that White supremacy has occupied The White House. This is not the first time that America has elected a racist egomaniac,” said Barber, reminding the audience that President Wilson, a former college president, played “Birth” to signal that Reconstruction was over. “Education doesn’t necessarily get racism out of you.”

To a chorus of “Amens,” Barber said that the one thing that we have to first decide to do in this moment is that bowing down is not an option.

Recognizing that he was addressing a room full of journalists and publishers, Barber pitched ideas for a number of articles and commentaries.

“Somebody has to unpack ‘so-called’ White evangelicalism that is illogical malpractice and heresy,” said Barber. “We’ve got to have some papers that write and do some investigative work to connect the money to White evangelicalism to the policies of extremism and racism, because some of our own folk are sending money to some of these TV White evangelicals.”

Barber said that the loss of the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and voter suppression were two of the most underreported stories during the last election cycle.

“Long before any Russian hack, the American electoral process was hacked by systemic racism and fear,” said Barber. “The Southern Strategy is alive and well.”

Barber acknowledged that civil rights leaders and Democrats could have voiced louder criticism about the lack of work done in the U.S. Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act.

“Democrats talked more about David Dukes than they did about voter suppression and the Voting Rights Act being dismantled,” said Barber.

Barber said that there were 868 fewer voting places across the nation; those closures disproportionately affected Black voters.

“Voter suppression has been proven, voter fraud has been disproven. The lie about voter fraud is a distraction from the truth about voter suppression, because voter suppression is about thievery. You scratch a liar, you’ll find a thief,” said Barber. “Trump won because of the voter suppression that went on in the Black community.”

After delivering a brief history of fusion politics, a time when poor Whites and Blacks worked together to achieve political power in the South following the Civil War, Barber questioned why so many poor, White people today cast votes for lawmakers that oppose establishing living wage standards, better healthcare and more educational opportunities for low-income families.

The North Carolina pastor noted that there are 18.9 poor White people in the United States, about eight million more than the number of poor Black people, though Black people experience poverty at higher rates than Whites.

Barber said that exploring the real reasons why so many poor Whites vote against their own self-interest, would make for a great investigative report.

Returning to the theme that today’s political environment in America is nothing new, Barber told the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who he described as “three millennials from the Bible days,” that liked to write and Nebuchadnezzar, “a maniacal egomaniac who loved to tweet out his own news,” loved to build towers and invited people to come to his towers to bow down.

When Nebuchadnezzar commanded that everyone bow down to his image and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, the king threatened to throw them into the furnace.

“He didn’t know they already had a fire. They came from people who had been through the fire,” said Barber. “They remembered how the Lord had dealt with pharaoh. They remembered how David dealt with Goliath.”

Barber said that the three young leaders had a fire in them, because they sang the songs of their ancestors.

“Can we just make a decision, Black folks? Can we just make a decision, publishers? Can we just make a decision, civil rights…that bowing down is not an option?” Barber implored.

“I gotta suspicion that it’s going be some fiery times. I gotta suspicion that it’s gonna get hot. I gotta suspicion that Nebuchadnezzar is gonna do some rough stuff.”

Barber implored the publishers, journalists and activists in the room to go into the proverbial fire standing up, because help won’t come, if you go in the fire bowing down.

“If you go in the fire standing up, God can transform the fire and the same fire that was meant to destroy you, can become a fire of deliverance!” Barber shouted.

The crowd roared, delivering Barber a standing ovation. The Moral Mondays leader continued:

“Bowing down is not an option! Standing down is not an option! Looking down is not an option! Breaking down is not an option! We’ve been through worse before.” Barber exclaimed. “We’ve been through slavery. We’ve been through Jim Crow. We’ve been through the Trail of Tears and we’re gonna stand up in this moment!”

The next day at the conference, Barber committed to writing a regular guest column for the NNPA Newswire that will be distributed throughout the NNPA’s network of 211 Black-owned media properties and will reach an estimated 20 million readers in print and online.

“Somebody has to write from the perspective of crisis, even if the crisis doesn’t end immediately,” Barber explained. “Somebody has to make sure that there is a witness that [the Black Press] didn’t go along with it. So we have to do that.”

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor
New Journal and Guide

Black students who can read a fast-food menu, key codes into a cellphone, or use an office computer, may not know it was once against the law to teach people of color how to read and write.

This means the next time you fill out a voter registration application, apply for a mortgage, a bank loan, or rant on social media, think of the progress that African-Americans have made since Carolina passed the first anti-literacy-slave-law around 1740 in the United States.

Then, it was dangerous to teach people of color how to read and write. Whether it was Mary Battey, a white woman who was beaten after she launched a school in 1866 for 27 slaves in Andersonville, S.C., or Margaret Crittendon Douglass, a white woman who was jailed for one month in Norfolk after she and her daughter launched a school for free children of color in Norfolk in June 1852. Or Mary Richards, a mulatto who taught contraband slaves (refugees) at Miss Cooke’s School Room, which was located inside of a Confederate hospital in Richmond, called Chimborazo Hospital. The point is these three women bring the hazards of teaching slaves or free students of color sharply into focus.

“I wish there was some law here, or some protection,” said one teacher, Mary Richards. Born in 1841 near Richmond, Richards sailed in 1855 at age 14 to work as a missionary in Liberia, and returned to Richmond where she taught free slaves in the city. But she was living in dangerous times. Blacks who left Virginia seeking an education were prohibited by law from returning to Virginia but Richards returned. The Richmond Whig published details of Richard’s arrest, on Aug. 21, 1860, about five years before slavery was outlawed. The newspaper said Richards was “a likely mulatto girl, about 20 years of age, arrested for being without free papers.”

Still, millions of newly freed slaves yearned to read and write as they streamed from plantations and enrolled in many schools including one that Richards launched in 1867 called Saint Mary’s in Georgia. There, she discovered teaching people of color was still dangerous. Local whites exhibit a “sinister expression about the eye, and the quiet but bitterly expressed feeling that I know portends evil … with a little whiskey in them, they dare do anything,” she said in a letter to Gilbert L. Eberhart, the superintendent of education for the Georgia Freedmen’s Bureau.

Here, you see a clear crisis. However, the crisis is not the point, as the New Journal and Guide examines this year’s Black History Month theme: The Crisis in Black Education, in a four-part series. Instead, the point is the Chinese alphabet uses the same symbol for crisis and opportunity. In the Chinese language, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters, one representing danger and the other, opportunity. And this is where the big picture comes sharply into focus.

Scroll past the first, dangerous anti-literacy-slave-law of 1740, scroll past Virginia’s anti-literacy law of 1849, past mushrooming schools for newly freed slaves that were sometimes burned to the ground; and pause at the untold number of schools and colleges that were launched after slavery ended in 1865.

A glaring fact surfaces: Blacks valued education then and now. In fact, a 2014 Pew Research Center report showed that high school graduation rates have reached record levels. Black college enrollment has also increased, according to a 2010 Labor Department report.

Overall Black high school drop-out rates stood at 15 percent in 2000 and dropped to a record low in 2013 (8 percent), according to the Pew report. This is a historical high, which began in 1959.

Meanwhile college enrollment stands at record levels, according to a 2010 Labor Department report. Asian-American high school graduates had the highest college enrollment rate, at 92.2 percent, followed by whites (69.2 percent). Black college enrollment, meanwhile, stood at (68.7 percent) and Hispanic college enrollment stood at 59.3 percent.

Blacks, in other words, now value education, like they did when Margaret Douglass and her daughter opened a school for free colored children in Norfolk in June 1852.

“We were at once overrun with applications, and our little school was soon formed, and well regulated, Douglass wrote in her 1854 book, titled, Educational Laws of Virginia: The Personal Narrative of Mrs. Margaret Douglass. “The children were punctual in their attendance, and under good discipline. My daughter paid strict attention to them, and they made rapid progress in their studies. Our school numbered twenty-five pupils, of both sexes, and continued in prosperous existence about eleven months. We made no secret of the matter, and never intended to do so, nor could we, had we desired to ever so much.“

About a year later, Douglass was arrested for launching her school in Norfolk. “I am indeed happy to say, although I was afterwards cruelly cast into prison and otherwise unjustly dealt with, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I suffered in a good and righteous cause. I was totally ignorant of any existing law prohibiting the instruction of free colored children, but, at the same time, I was careful to have no slaves among scholars.”

Douglass, in other words, shows the words crisis and opportunities connect to the past and the present, like the fingers attach to the hand.


Consider this. When the financial-aid crisis hit in 2009, Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers, said in USA Today, “The financing system for college is in real crisis. Every one of the participants in the system is experiencing hardship.”

The math tells a lot the story about the financial aid crisis. Blacks who graduated college in 2008 owed an average $52,726 in student debt. Whites owed $28,006. Black grads are also more likely than whites to attend grad school within four years of earning their undergraduate degrees, and to do so, they must, again, borrow more. Black grads (50 percent) in 2008, entered grad school within four years, compared to 38 percent of whites. Blacks not only borrowed more than other students for the same degrees, but were more likely than white borrowers to drop out without receiving a degree, according to a 2015 report, The Racial and Class Bias Behind the “New Normal” of Student Borrowing.


Norfolk State University Honors College student Aleta Annie Allen paused to define the words crisis and opportunity, “In a crisis a person is tested and faced with the choice of beating the odds or accepting defeat. Strong, brave and courageous people are the ones who say they want to beat the odds and create an opportunity for themselves.”

Allen, a 22-year-old senior finance major, heads the student honors program at Norfolk State. She is from Arlington, Va. She is a Washington-Lee High School grad and comes from a family of four. For three years, Allen has worked in the payroll office as a student intern but aspires to be an interior architect. She wants to knock “customers off their feet when they see a room I designed,” she said in a recent email.

“Enrolling in an HBCU helped me to rediscover who I am as a Black woman,” Allen continued. “I am a graduating senior and when I look back to the young lady I was freshman year, I can truly say I have a better knowledge of myself and the woman I want to be.”

Now, look briefly at all of the opportunities Allen has encountered as a student. In addition to fine-tuning her identity, she is gaining valuable hands-on training and developing leadership skills. Meanwhile, she and three other Norfolk State students had the opportunity to present a research project to a group of well-known mathematicians during a two-month program at Arizona State University. “This has been my favorite experience,” Allen said.


Meanwhile Eleanor Griffin, 84, said getting an education definitely improved her life.

“How can you give in life if you are not educated,” asked Griffin, who became pregnant at age 16 and dropped out of Booker T. Washington High in the late 1940s.

In clear crisis mode at the time, in other words, Griffin said she sat with her newborn daughter on her lap in the auditorium at Booker T. Washington High School and watched her 17-year-old husband cross the stage and pick up his high school diploma. They married in January 1949.

“My husband who wanted a family, said he would drop out of high school to take care of his family but I urged him not to,” Griffin said. “Our oldest daughter who was born in April of that year (1949) was sitting in my lap during my husband’s graduation. That was absolutely wonderful,” she said. “He had wanted to drop out to support his family but I encouraged him to stay.” Her husband Richard worked for the United States Postal Service, retired in 1975, and passed in 2015.

“It‘s a two-way street,” Griffin said, aiming to define the faint line that snakes it way through the words crisis and opportunity. “You don’t get to keep your education,” Griffin said. “You become educated so you can give it away and help someone else.”

Griffin went to night school at Booker T. Washington High and earned her high school diploma in 1949 because her parents Vernon and Alice Wallace stressed education while she was growing up in Norfolk with her six siblings. “I had eight children before I was 30,” she said. “Going to college was not optional.

Taking pages and chapters from her own life, Griffin shows how the words crisis and opportunity connect. “I earned an associate’s degree in nursing in 1978 at Norfolk State. I earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Norfolk State University in 1997, said Griffin, the mother of eight, (six are college grads)

Still it’s tough for Griffin to tally up all the lives she has impacted through the years because she has assumed so many different caregiving roles: Wife, mother, nurse, and nursing educator,

“My oldest daughter is a successful realtor in Richmond,” Griffin said, still trying to count the number of lives she has impacted. “Three of my children have a master’s degree. My oldest son is a retired major in the Army. My youngest son owned a trucking company. I have 16 grandchildren, who are college grads. One of my grandchildren is completing a doctoral degree in public health administration. My oldest son is a vice president at Keene College in New Hampshire. I have a grandson who teaches at Livingstone College in North Carolina.”
Still trying to measure the ripple effect she has produced through the years, Griffin pointed to how she began working in low-income neighborhoods as a public health-care nurse. She has also taught classes on preventable diseases, medication, and self-care. About 15 years ago, she launched a nurse aide certificate training program for low-income students and helped hundreds become certified.

“The feedback I get is people phone me and ask me to recommend people who can come into their homes and help them care of family members,” Griffin said. “Others call me and ask for job recommendations. Often, people ask me to be a guest speaker or to be on panel discussion about health care. To me, what is so interesting is the time I had back surgery in 2010, one of my former students took care of me in the hospital. I received the best quality care. My motto has always been caring comes first.”

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter
New Journal and Guide

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”
Carter G. Woodson, “The Miseducation of the Negro”

In 2019 the nation will observe the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first “20 and odd Blacks” who arrived in the English Colony of Jamestown beginning their journey as citizens in the now United States of America.

From indentured servants, to enslaved people who were freed to exist under Jim Crow oppression, to today’s less obvious barriers, the evolution of Blacks has been colored by both progress and retreat from the idea of full equality.

That evolution to where they stand today has been a social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual one.  But to  secure and sustain it, legal and institutional barriers met them as they took each step forward.

Learning to read meant  brutal punishment or death for slaves. Educational prohibition was a barrier to assure their ignorance, bondage deter their efforts to strive for freedom.

After the Civil War, former slaves   founded churches, raised families, formed communities, established businesses and  developed their own cultural view of the world as free people.

But that was met with indifference, or more often with violence, obstruction with guns. Codes were enacted to marginalize and block  their advances, and keep Blacks segregated from Whites socially, academically and physically.

Today, 390 years after the first Blacks arrived in this country, disturbing disparities still exist though great advances have been made in education, including colleges and universities founded by Blacks to educate their community.

Crippling  poverty, illiteracy, incarceration, violence, social and economic isolation place many Black people living in rural and urban centers in a state of affairs little no better than their forefathers who were enslaved or hampered by Jim Crow segregation.

“The Crisis in Black Education” is the African-American History Month theme for 2017. The theme hopes to  focus on the crucial role of education in the history of African-Americans. Thus, the nation is asked to look at the aspects of Black education which can be held up as a source of celebration and example of contributing to Black progress.

As usual, countless events will be planned, speeches delivered and articles by journalists highlighting the celebration theme.

A darker side remains a barrier and must be given equal exposure, for only then can the positives be sustained and the disparities and the crisis they have fostered be alleviated.

The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) founded the annual celebration of Black history.

ASALH’s  founder Carter G. Woodson also founded Negro History Week in 1926 which became Black History Month in 1976 under President Gerald Ford who decreed it a national observance. Dr. Woodson once wrote, “If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race, he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race.”

ASALH’s executive summary for this year’s theme stated, “Woodson understood well the implications associated with the denial of access to knowledge, and he called attention to the crisis that resulted from persistently imposed racial barriers to equal education.”

“The crisis in Black education first began in the days of slavery when it was unlawful for slaves to learn to read and write,” the ASALH summary reads.  “In pre-Civil War northern cities, free Blacks were forced as children to walk long distances past white schools on their way to the one school relegated solely to them.

“Whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America from the late nineteenth century well into our own time.”

ASALH cites that a crisis in Black education has grown significantly from 1975 to today in urban neighborhoods where public schools lack resources, are overcrowded, exhibit a racial achievement gap, and confront policies that fail to deliver substantive opportunities.

Yet, as ASALH points out, the history of Blacks in America bears witness to centuries of resistance to this crisis, beginning with the slaves’ secretive endeavors to learn to read and write; the rise of Black colleges and universities after the Civil War; unrelenting civil rights battles in the courts; the freedom schools of the 1960s; and local community-based academic and mentorship programs that inspire a love of learning and thirst for achievement. “Addressing the crisis in Black education should be considered one of the most important goals in America’s past, present, and future,” declares ASALH.


Regularly, a study on the state of Black education, is released. Despite the successes in the educational attainments of Black children, the disparities and their causes are hard to overlook.

“Race For Results,” a report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation which works to build better families, notes that while no group perfectly meets every milestone, Asian-Americans fare the best and African-Americans do the worst.

“From birth, the average Black child in America is at a relative disadvantage,” citing that  92 percent of white, Latino, American-Indian and Asian and Pacific Islander babies are born at normal birth weight: for African-Americans, this only reaches into the high-80s.

According to that report, the pattern of disadvantage for Black children continues into elementary school and through high school in the form of standardized testing scores and high school graduation rates.

Only 66 percent of African-Americans graduate from high school on time, while more than 90 percent of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders do, the Casey Foundation found.

As America becomes increasingly diverse, the report looked at how five racial groups fare against a dozen milestones in stages of life from birth to adulthood, including the number of eighth-graders with math proficiency and the number of young adults who are in school or working.

“We found that the gaps sort of start out relatively small and get bigger over time,” said Laura Speer, Casey Foundation associate director of policy reform and advocacy. “Look at the early childhood measures: the gaps between African-Americans, Latinos, whites are relatively small. But in the early childhood years, even a small gap can have a big impact in the long run.”

The report uses data from the latest census that shows differences between states. African-Americans face the greatest barriers in Michigan, Wisconsin and Mississippi, according to the report.

The report included information from a recent study from the U.S. Department of Education stating that minority students, especially Blacks, are the targets  of harsher discipline and less access to the best teachers than their White peers.

“Too often, the resources of public systems serving children and families are spent on programs that lack evidence and without input from the families and communities they are intended to serve,” the report says.

“The kids of color in our country are absolutely critical to the future success of the United States,” Speer said. “They are going to be the majority of our work force and we can’t afford to lose the talent they have and could have in the future behind. We need them to be successful.”

By Stacy M. Brown
(The Washington Informer/NNPA Member)

More than six decades after the horrific, racially-motivated murder of Emmett Till, the White woman who accused the Chicago teenager of verbally and physically accosting her in Money, Miss., in 1955, has admitted she lied, according to a new book.

Till had allegedly whistled at and groped Carolyn Bryant, a 21-year-old White woman, while at a country store in the small town.

After the encounter, Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband, and J.W. Milam tracked young Emmett down, kidnapped him, tortured him, shot him, and then tied his battered body to a cotton gin fan using barbed wire and dumped him in the muddy Tallahatchie River. Later, the two men were acquitted of the murder by an all-White, all-male jury after an hour’s deliberation. Till’s brutal killing and photos of his open casket at his funeral helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.

During the trial, Carolyn Bryant testified that Emmett, who was 14, had made physical and verbal advances toward her, a sensational claim that increased tensions surrounding the case. She testified that Emmett had grabbed and threatened her inside the store – and that he had used an “unprintable” word when he told her he had been intimate “with White women before.”

But according to a 2007 interview, newly revealed in the book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” Carolyn Bryant admits that it never happened.

“That part’s not true,” she told writer Timothy Tyson, according to “Vanity Fair,” though she claimed she could not recall what happened the rest of the evening at her husband’s country store, where Emmett stopped by briefly on Aug. 24, 1955, to buy two cents worth of gum.

The two killers later admitted their guilt, after their acquittals.

Emmett Till’s murder became the flashpoint in the American Civil Rights Movement. Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett’s mother, had even insisted on an open casket at his funeral, leading to photographs of his battered corpse being spread across the country, which helped focus public attention on what was happening in the heart of the country.

During Black History Month in February, PBS will air an array of documentaries and programs that aim to examine the African-American experience beginning with The Birth of a Movement on Feb. 6.

Featuring interviews with historians and filmmakers such as Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Spike Lee, “Birth of a Movement” is based on the book The Birth of a Movement: How Birth of a Nation Ignited the Battle for Civil Rights by Dick Lehr. The documentary tells the little-known story of William Trotter, an African-American journalist who launched a protest against the 1915 release of D. W. Griffith’s controversial epic, which laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement to come.

On Feb. 10, PBS will air Smokey Robinson, which is hosted by Samuel L. Jackson and will include an interview with Motown founder Berry Gordy and performances by many artists including BeBe Winans, Ledisi, and CeeLo Green.

On Feb. 20, watch the two-hour documentary The Talk-Race in America. It examines some of the victims who died during encounters with police officers. The film illustrates the issue from multiple points of view: parent, child, the police and the community. The includes interviews with well-known filmmakers and actors including actress Rosie Perez, director/screenwriter/producer John Singleton, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, and Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy killed by the Cleveland police in a local park.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, American Masters presents Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, the first documentary about Dr. Maya Angelou (1928-2014), best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Also airing throughout February is the second season of the PBS original series Mercy Street on Sundays at 8 p.m., beginning Jan. 22. The Civil War era drama is about the chaotic world of Union-occupied Alexandria, Va., and the Mansion House Hospital in the early years of the Civil War.

From Feb. 27-March 1, from 9 p.m.-11 p.m., Louis Gates Jr. will narrate Africa’s Great Civilizations.

Please check local listings for more information.

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