July 19, 2018 

Marc H. Morial 

President and CEO 

National Urban League 

 

“John understood that to truly change hearts and minds in the LAPD, he had to go to work on the inside. And because he was not someone who just shouted in anger and tore things down for the sake of tearing them down, the LAPD saw they could trust him. That’s rare leadership.” – Civil rights attorney Connie Rice, on John Mack’s appointment as Los Angeles Police Commission President

 

When Los Angeles was devastated by unrest in the aftermath of the Rodney King trial, the person to whom President George H.W. Bush reached out was Los Angeles Urban League President John Mack. It was John Mack who guided the redevelopment of the neighborhoods shattered by the riots.

 

It was a familiar role for John, who first arrived in Los Angeles in 1969 just a few years after the infamous Watts riots.

 

The death of John Mack last month, at age 81, was a tremendous loss to the city, to the Urban League Movement, and to me, personally.

 

While John’s service to the Urban League goes back more than half a century, his association with the leaders of the movement goes back even further. While he was studying for his Master of Social Work degree at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta), he became a protégé of Whitney M. Young, then Dean of the School of Social Work. Just a few short years later, Young would take the helm of the National Urban League and ask John to lead the affiliate in Flint, Michigan.

 

He was the obvious choice to lead the Los Angeles Urban League in 1969, at the height of the Black Power movement. He called himself a “sane militant” and was unmatched in his ability to channel the city’s passion and fury into positive change. He could negotiate as skillfully with street gang members as with mayors and Congress members.

 

His life was an emblem of the African-American journey itself. He was born into the segregated South in 1937 and spent his summers picking cotton. While he spoke often of the indignities of Jim Crow, his feelings may best be represented by what happened when white construction workers building a dormitory at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University set up separate “white” and “colored” outhouses. John - a founder of the student chapter of the NAACP – and his friends burned them down.

 

The list of honors and awards John Mack earned during his many years of service is long and includes the very first National Urban League Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award for Leadership in Race Relations, and League’s “Legend of the Century” Award in 2000. In 2005, the Los Angeles Unified School District recognized his commitment to equal opportunity in education by christening the “John W. Mack Elementary School.”

 

The Whitney M. Young, Jr., Award – which John and the Los Angeles affiliate won in 1993, carried with it a $10,000 grant, which the affiliate used to support sensitivity training among African-American and Latino student leaders in middle school, and to support the African-American-Jewish Leadership Connection. At the time, the group was fighting California’s Proposition 209, and anti-affirmative action initiative. Though the ballot initiative passed statewide, it was rejected by a majority of voters in Los Angeles County, where John and the Connection were active.

 

We had planned to honor John during the 2018 Conference next month in Columbus, Ohio, and now will pay tribute to his memory. A scholarship fund has been established in his honor through the California Community Foundation – for more information, click here.

 

John wasn’t just an affiliate President and CEO; he was a leader among leaders, helming the Association of Executives. He was a member of the Academy of Fellows, a group of affiliate leaders with 15 years or more of experience, who served as mentors to new affiliate CEOs. And he served as Vice Chair of the National Urban League Board of Trustees.

 

By the time I was appointed President and CEO of the National Urban League in 2003, John was a longtime veteran. His mentorship over the years has been invaluable, and I knew I could rely on his steady guidance. It is a loss deeply felt throughout our movement and we join his children and grandchildren in mourning him.

Category: Opinion

July 19, 2018  

By Dr. Harry L. Williams 

 

Earlier this year, a man named Jack Weldon Patrick passed away in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. A long-time lawyer, Patrick was remembered as a family man, an advocate for social justice, and a respected community leader.

 

One day a check arrived by mail for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in memory of Jack Weldon Patrick. A few days later, another one arrived, and a few weeks later, another check. Individual donations kept coming to support the work of TMCF and our publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in honor of Jack. His obituary read, “in lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial donations in Jack’s name to causes he cared deeply about.” One of those causes was TMCF.

 

So many of us outside of TMCF headquarters and Menomonee may have never known Jack as a stalwart of access and opportunity for students attending Black colleges. Many of us aren’t even aware that Jack was part of the reason why in 2016, private giving and contracts earned by HBCUs increased for a second straight year, posting a four-year high of $320 million. But we do know he was a living embodiment of the famous quote by Nelson Henderson: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

 

While philanthropic anonymity is honorable, philanthropic leadership helps organizations like TMCF reach new supporters, encouraging new donor circles to give. Showcasing the faces and stories of those who give is an important tool in cultivating similar donors, encouraging a culture of giving around our campuses. This is a critical strategy that grows an organization’s base of support every year. For non-profit organizations, individual giving is the largest type of charitable gift – four times the amount as the next largest category in 2015, according to Giving USA.

 

Organizations like TMCF thrive due to the generosity of individuals who believe in our work and want to expand our impact, through monthly and annual donations, as well as the legacy gift.  TMCF combines these individuals’ gifts with foundation grants and partnerships with major corporations and government agencies to provide the funds that allow us to transform lives. It takes a philanthropic village to develop young minds, and we are humbled to be good stewards of the resources that our donors and partners entrust to us.

 

TMCF, its 47 member-schools and the nearly 300,000 students attending them each year, want to play a role in redefining HBCU philanthropy and support. The data on finances and the number of degrees we produce in areas like STEM, education, social sciences and criminal justice already show just how productive HBCUs continue to be in graduating Black students. Seventy percent of our publicly-supported HBCUs attendees are first generation college students (like I was) and eligible for Pell Grants. In comparison, the national average is only 37 percent for all public schools.  By providing this quality education, students transform their lives and prepare to enter economically sustainable careers. Now TMCF wants to illustrate that same culture within our giving networks.

 

Anyone believing in the power of education to transform lives should invest in HBCUs. This includes alumni who want to have a tangible way to support their schools. All people in our networks at work, at church, in our communities, fraternities and sororities, and other circles of activity are worthy of soliciting for support. Age, earnings and personality are not elements for disqualifying those who might be willing to give, or those who have the capacity to do so. 

 

TMCF member-schools like North Carolina Central University are experiencing record gains in gifts secured from younger donors. Texas Southern University recently raised more than $1M at its annual Maroon and Gray gala, an event which just in its second year which has cultivated new supporters for the university and has raised nearly $2M for student scholarships and institutional support.

 

So today, we honor one man—Jack Weldon Patrick—and his commitment to HBCUs, and we thank his friends and family for their continued investment in the work of TMCF.  We hope his example encourages others to consider impacting people’s lives by supporting our nation’s HBCUs.

 

Harry L. Williams is the president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. Before joining TMCF, he spent eight years as president of Delaware State University. Follow him on Twitter at @DrHLWilliams.

Category: Opinion

July 12, 2018 

By Ron Harris 

NNPA Newswire 

 

Dear U.S. Media, Democrats, Republicans, Independents and to the concerned Americans who poured out into the streets to protest Donald Trump’s cruel and faulty immigration policies,

 

What about us?

 

We understand and applaud your response to this administration’s malevolent separation of immigrant families from their children—policies and practices so un-American and shocking that they have come to dominate the national conversation. Your immediate, visceral response to evil spurred you into action.

 

But there is another evil, a pervasive, chronic and unrelenting wickedness that we, your children, live with every day. We are being shot down on the nation’s streets, locked away in juvenile facilities, poisoned by dangerous drinking water, threatened and harassed by neighborhood gangs, left homeless, either alone from abuse or with parents that cannot afford to put a roof over our heads. We live in neighborhoods bereft of adequate food sources and with fathers and mothers so wrought with financial and psychological instability they can’t provide our needs.

 

And because our nation has lived with this reality so long, it has become almost accepted. It has become quietly and unconsciously perceived as part of the norm, part of the landscape, like the air we breathe, until little by little it becomes so caustic that it kills us or chokes us into action.  Unfortunately for us, your children, you haven’t reached that point.

 

There are 408,000 of us, American children, who also have been separated from our families and placed in the care of others, like the 2,000 immigrant children who you took to the streets to protect. Many of us languish in foster care with little hope of ever being united with our parents or extended families. As we watched the huge crowds that stretched across 700 U.S. cities Saturday. We saw the signs proudly held high that read, “Family Separations Are Cruel.” And we thought, “Yes, they are.” What about us?  Where is our march?  Where is our media coverage?

 

Half of us currently in foster will be homeless within six months after growing too old for the system. We are unprepared to live on our own. We have limited education and no social support. About a quarter of the rest will be homeless within two to four years of leaving the system. Some of us will become part of the 20,000 U.S. children annually forced into prostitution.

 

Another two million of us this year will separated from our families and placed behind bars and in juvenile custody. Many of us, like Clarice, one of twin 14-year-old sisters in Montgomery County, Md., can’t go home because there is no suitable home to go to. Her parents are homeless, and authorities can’t release her to an unstable home. Other parents are dysfunctional or can’t provide the guidance we need. So, we go behind bars because there are not enough treatment facilities for us.

 

We want a march, too, one for better schools for all, because you recognize how the hopelessness created by faulty education diminishes lives and leads to incarceration – that 32 percent of white males in juvenile custody dropped out of school, and that nearly half of African-American and Hispanic male youth behind bars also quit.

 

Media reported how families from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico are fleeing to the U.S. to escape gangs in their countries.  Many of us live in gang-infested neighborhoods, too.  In cities like St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Mo., Memphis, Newark and Chicago, the 10 U.S. cities with the highest murder rate, we have long understood their terror.  We understand their fear.

 

In Chicago, a city rife with street gangs and where at least 16 children have been murdered in the first six months of this year, more than 50,000 people demonstrated for the rights of immigrants fleeing gangs in countries few of them have ever visited.

 

Ironically, they never marched for the children slain this year in a city they traverse every day: Maysia Woodard, 12 mos.; Damarcus Wilson, 16; Deshawn James, 17; Rhomel Wellington, 17; Mateo Nathan Aguayo, 2; Joseph Smith, 16; Jose Agular, 14; Jayton Jones, 17; Erin Carey, 17; She’Vaughn O’Flynn, 12; Jechon Anderson, 11; China Lyons-Upshaw, 17; David Thomas 16; Parris Purdis, 17; Kyle McGowan, 17, and Jazmyn Jester, 15, who was among four people murdered and 13 others shot over 17 hours on a Tuesday and a Wednesday in May.

 

Where do families like theirs emigrate to escape the violence?

 

Many of us live in poverty, one of every four children in Arizona, Georgia, California, Kentucky, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and New York, one in three in the nation’s capital. At least 2.5 million of us will spend some period of life this year homeless; maybe a month, maybe six months or maybe the whole year. Most of us will spend at least one day every month without food.

 

Look at us. Pivot your cameras and microphones to us, as well. We are your children, and there is real evil that plagues us too.

 

What about us?

 

Ron Harris is a journalist, adjunct professor at Howard University and co-author with Matthew Horace of the new book “The Black and The Blue, A Cop Reveals Crimes, Racism and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement.”

Category: Opinion

July 12, 2018 

By James Washington 

The Dallas Weekly/ 

NNPA Member 

 

I remember reviewing the letters of Paul in bible study. In doing so I was constantly reminded that one cannot look at Paul without really seeing Jesus’ amazing handiwork.

 

Now you need to know that I think Paul is an awesome person when it comes to the story of his life. I haven’t found a biography or autobiography of anyone in or outside of the ‘good book’ who comes close to my admiration for Paul; Jesus notwithstanding.

 

Because the two are so closely associated with one another, I can’t help but consider the impact of this tandem on human history.

 

Just in case someone wants to debate me on this by bringing up the lives of the 12 apostles, I have considered them as well as the prophets and I’m just one of those who is in awe of Paul. A very large part of the bible is devoted to Paul’s building of the early church at a time when who you worshipped was a life and death decision. Sound familiar? See World today…

 

Paul himself says in his letters to the church in Corinth, there was indeed a point to his suffering and persecution and the basis for most, if not all, of what he went through was a by product of his faith in Jesus Christ.

 

It’s another perspective of one of my favorite scriptures. “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I (Paul) will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.

 

For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.

 

This kind of thinking and belief led to the eventual proliferation of the church worldwide.

 

It also makes the point of how the lives of so few have impacted and influenced so many in the world then, and also in the world as we know it today. Forgive me if I find this a rather fascinating fact. Paul is who he is because of his unique one on one encounter with Christ.

 

That encounter changed him and ultimately the world in which we live. If that be true, then our individual encounters with Christ should also have a profound effect on us and the world in which we currently live.

 

It is not unusual for new Christians to come under attack by old friends. It is also not unusual for new Christians to come under the attack of the world, since it is in the world that Satan has some degree of power.

 

I think Paul’s good news is there is a place of refuge for all of us, when this happens. He uses himself as an example to follow.

 

If I surrender my weaknesses to the power of Christ and subjugate my will to that of the Lord’s, then I become empowered to deal with whatever is thrown my way.

 

Life, the Christian life, is funny that way. It places what I have described as a bulls- eye on your back, designed to distinguish you from those non believers around you.

 

It, your faith, also sets you up and apart to do great things in the name of Jesus Christ, my personal Lord and Savior. I guess what I’m really saying is when the going gets extremely tough, check the human being Paul.

 

Like Christ, he’s been through and has experienced the worst that life has to offer. But because of his belief system, he’s experienced the best of God’s promises. It’s like a refresher course and I just wanted to let you know where I go during difficult times.

 

You might also find some answers there. The point I’m trying to make is that in the eyes of God, one’s weaknesses are welcomed opportunities for God to show up and show out.

 

Have you ever wondered why those who have been through so much are able to stand and witness mightily for Christ? Reexamine the reality of God’s grace and you just might get your answer.

 

May God bless and keep you always.

 

James Washington is a father, husband, Christian and writer. James is also the owner and publisher of the multimedia company The Dallas Weekly. You can follow James on Twitter at @JAWS_215.

Category: Opinion

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