Insight News

Feb 13th


New generation of leaders return to D.C.

New generation of leaders return to D.C.As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, while centrist Democrats bore the brunt of the mid-term election losses, members of the Black and Hispanic caucuses won 56 of 60 re-election bids. The more than 40 returning African American members of Congress and at least five new ones are coming to Washington fired up and determined to beat back the coming attacks on the progressive agenda the country voted for in 2008.

As a result of the elections, seven new African Americans will be sworn-in as new House members on January 5. These include two Tea Party endorsed Black Republicans -- Tim Scott, of South Carolina, and Allen West, of Florida, -- and the first Black woman ever to represent the state of Alabama , Terri Sewell. 


Empowering Black America’s parents

As we enter the final days of 2010, one of the outstanding issues of the past 12 months is the inadequate education that the majority of African American children and young adults are receiving throughout the United States.  All parents, and in particular, African American parents, want the best for their children.  Thus, the empowerment of parents around the issues of improving the education of young people in the African American community should remain one of the highest priorities.

They say that information is power.   Black parents need accurate and timely information about the various options and rights that they have concerning all the educational systems, programs, and institutions available.  Having a greater knowledge of how to access better and more effective educational opportunities is critical to parental empowerment.

Eating local, healthier in Minneapolis

Eating local, healthier in MinneapolisCommunity meeting on new urban agriculture land use plan and progress toward Homegrown Minneapolis goals A Homegrown Minneapolis community meeting 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Urban Research and Outreach Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N., Minneapolis will give folks a chance to learn about how Minneapolis is making progress in helping residents eat and grow more healthy and local food. Over the last two years, these initiatives have been a part of “Homegrown Minneapolis,” which is a City-community vision that unites efforts to get more healthy, local food grown, processed, distributed and eaten in Minneapolis.

At the meeting City staff will also unveil the draft of the City’s new Urban Agriculture Policy Plan and kick off the plan’s public comment period. The plan will guide City land use and zoning to support local food-related activities. Homegrown Minneapolis successes so far include ordinances changed to allow indoor farmer’s markets; require grocers to sell fresh, whole foods; and permit beekeeping in the city. A Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support State Health Improvement (SHIP) obesity prevention grant also helped expand the use of food stamps (EBT) to two farmers market locations to make fresh produce more easily available.

Stimulating African American Economic Development: Lessons from GM 

President Barack Obama reached another significant milestone on the long difficult road toward economic recovery when General Motors (GM) recently launched one of the largest initial public offerings (IPO) in American history.  I believe that the proper stimulus investment in the African American business community will also bring a much-needed economic recovery.

To the astounded pseudo-economists and near-sighted politicians who vociferously criticized President Obama for using federal stimulus funds to reorganize and stabilize GM, the fact is the stimulus worked.  The investment of taxpayers’ dollars worked to save GM jobs and to catalyze a financial rebirth of GM.  Now as a result, in Detroit and in other cities where GM and the automotive industry is based, there is an increase in the opportunity to regain some of the jobs and businesses that went under when GM went down.  The nation’s biggest automaker in very heavy trading closed its first day on its return to Wall Street at $34.19-a share price.  Billions of dollars were raised.  President Obama stated, “We are finally beginning to see some of the tough decisions that we make in the midst of crisis pay off.”


And yet love exists

Dr. Maya Angelou is a gracious, wise, and witty woman who has been an absolute treasure to our nation and our world.  I just learned that she will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving.  Of all the things that Dr. Angelou has accomplished, I am most impressed by her ability to radiate optimism even in pessimistic times and to teach about “the courage to love.”  

I am fortunate to have her as an advisor, sister, friend and board member at Bennett College for Women.  So often, I have had the blessing of sitting at her feet and receiving phenomenal words of advice and guidance.   My dear friend, Robby Gregg, shared a thanksgiving message from Dr. Angelou that motivates this column:

"I'm grateful for being here, for being able to think, for being able to see, 
For being able to taste, for appreciating love - for knowing that it exists in a 
world so rife with vulgarity, with brutality and violence, and yet love exists. 
I'm grateful to know that it exists."

Blacks who are turning things around

Ford Motor Company has had a successful business turnaround.  The century-old corporation’s rebound is a great American story in which Blacks played pivotal roles.  The way Ford went from a $12.7 billion loss in 2006 to a $2 billion profit in three years is an African-American success story.

Black Americans’ economic history is intertwined with that of automobile production. As consumers and/or workers Blacks played a role in Ford’s turnaround.  Starting a century ago Ford has helped build the country’s economy and middle-class and made history advancing agendas of African Americans.  So, it’s important to note roles African Americans are playing at Ford and its success.  Black American leaders of note are impressed with ways Ford Motor Company’s Group Vice President of Global Purchasing Tony K. Brown “turned Ford around”.

E3: Education, employment, & economic development

E3: Education, employment, & economic developmentNow that the political dust from the 2010 mid-term election has settled and the veils have been lifted, it is back to the stark realities of the challenges that face this nation, but moreover our community. Exit polls nationwide voiced people’s cry for an end to high unemployment rates, replaced post-haste with the creation of meaningful-wage jobs that lead people to self-sufficiency. No matter the political party banner one chooses to wave, nor whether or not you chose to be a responsible citizen by voting, in the final analysis, all roads lead right back to the power of E3: education, employment and economic development.

An article entitled “America in Crisis,” notes that the October 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed positive employment trends. However, considering the current levels of job creation, it will take 20 years simply to return back to December 2007 employment levels. It is suggested that at a minimum, 127,000 jobs need to be created per month to keep abreast of population growth and to keep unemployment hovering at just 9.6%. Unfortunately, these figures do not include the ranks of the under-employed, those who have given up searching for a job, or those who have extinguished all of their unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
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