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Black Community Opinions

Local Voices: Beyond the Confederate Flag – Lots of Work To Do

By John L. Horton

“I have only just a minute, only sixty seconds in it … just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.”

– Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

It never ceases to amaze me how this “divisive issue” keeps popping up. Proponents say the Confederate flag represents Southern heritage. Opponents say it represents racism and slavery. Personally, I agree with the latter. Let there be no doubt, whatsoever, about that.

While I fully agree with most of the concerns and issues pertaining to the Confederate flag, there is an urgent need and pressing priority to go beyond these “symbolic efforts” and focus on the “real deals” that have to be overcome.

Once the Confederate flag issue has been settled, one way or the other, we need to become more proactive in our efforts … and results. We need to concentrate more closely and assertively on finding internal and external resources which will empower individuals, families and communities.

In my opinion, there are some “high priority specifics” that need to be accomplished. First, we need to get the word out about the “golden rule of economics”: “He who has the gold gets to make the rules.” Second, economic might almost always ensures the accompanying social and political might(s). That’s the way it is … and that’s the way it has always been.

When it comes to these important matters, I identify with Paul Robeson’s sage and eloquent words: “We realize that our future lies chiefly in our own hands. We know that neither institution nor friends can make a race stand unless it has strength in its own foundation; that races like individuals must stand or fall by their own merit; that to fully succeed they must practice the virtues of self-reliance, self respect, industry, perseverance, and economy.”

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Therefore, to remain viable, relevant and necessary, we need to:

• Organize civic, social, business, religious and government entities into task forces to deal with community wide issues, particularly those involving at-risk youth, dysfunctional families, academic success, economic stability, and the like.

• Gather the necessary internal/external resources (leadership, strategies, monies, volunteers, etc.) to “make it happen” for those most adversely affected and who need help the most.

• Facilitate “economic empowerment zones” that directly benefit those who live and raise families in these disadvantaged and impoverished communities.

• Devise a “village concept” for dealing with negative peer pressure, teenage pregnancy, fatherless homes, drug involvement, crime, violence, and a lack of positive role models.

• Find sufficient tutors, mentors, counselors and facilitators for our children.

• Initiate in-house/intra-community efforts to significantly reduce truancy, drop-outs, suspensions and expulsions.

• Develop ways and means to utilize schools, churches and public buildings for afternoon, weekend and year-round activities and programs.

• Formulate strategies for dealing with youth and adult employment and career development concerns.

It is now time for “us” to focus on the “forest,” rather than the “tree.” To quote Dr. Benjamin E. Mays: “I have only just a minute, only sixty seconds in it … just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.” Simply put, we must accomplish the tasks that lie before … and buffet – us. If it is to be, it is up to us!

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Once we do what needs to be done – and we are capable of doing it – it will not matter so much about those Confederate flags, wherever they may be. For, we will be in charge of our lives and our destinies. We will be the “captains of our souls and masters of our fates.”

Therefore, let us do what needs to be done. We can do this! Yes, we can!

John L. Horton is a retired Marine sergeant major who lives in Norfolk and has worked with youth. He is a frequent contributor to this paper.

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