Posted on 08. Aug, 2010 by admin in Uncategorized
“[R]esearch into Afro- American [music] must become the concern of musicologists if the definitive history of American music is ever to be written, “ Eileen Southern, music scholar and pioneer in the still largely untapped field of Black music history in the U.S., wrote in “New Needs and New Directions: Needs for research in Black-American music.” Southern, Harvard’s first black female tenured professor, wasn’t taken seriously by her colleagues, but their disregard motivated her to continue her studies and research and eventually, self-publish. What Southern began decades ago has grown into a legitimate field in some U.S. academic institutions, but the importance of African American, of Black music history has yet to fully take hold.
Columbia College’s Center for Black Music Research (CBMR) is helping to fill the void. CBMR, founded in 1983 by Samuel A. Floyd, Jr., houses a library and archives filled with primary and secondary sources about black music worldwide. CBMR is the “only repository where you can find classical black music and Jamaican field recordings by some of the world’s leading ethnomusicologists,” said Monica Hairston, CBMR Executive Director. CBMR hosts educational, outreach and performance programming for students, scholars, musicians, teachers, the public.
The New Black Music Repertory is CBMR’s current performance group—an ensemble of up to 80 musicians provides performances that exemplify the wide variety of music from the African Diaspora. “[T]he challenge is really getting the word out past the academy. It’s our history, everybody’s history, American history,” said Hairston. “It’s not a museum, it’s not a lending library, but as long as there’s a serious interest in learning anyone can come.”
CBMR is located at 618 S. Michigan Ave. For more information, call 312-369-7559.
Posted on 08. Aug, 2010 by admin in Uncategorized
The Association of Black Psychologists (ABP) held its 42nd Annual International Convention in Chicago this year (July 27-August 1). Each year, ABP hosts a forum with the community in the community. This year, ABP assembled a panel of national experts to discuss, to offer solutions to the unwarranted expansion of youth violence at last week’s forum, “Violence and Black Youth: Repairing, Restoring and Renewing the African Spirit.”
“My only answer is love,” said panelist Sister Afrika Porter, a member of the Deborah Movement, a group of women— mothers, warriors, leaders—dedicated to fostering youth, instilling a sense of hope and eliminating violence.
In 2009, 314 American soldiers were killed in Iraq, said moderator Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, an author, lecturer and mentor. That same year, 509 Chicagoans were killed. African Americans are 13 percent of the population, yet make up 49 percent of all homicides, he continued.
With growing disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, in education, health and employment, African Americans must take action. “There is no progress without a national movement,” according to panelist Rev. Dr. John Porter, a founder of Operation PUSH and organizer for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago in the summer of 1966.
At the root are issues that have grown over the years—a deterioration of family, home, community and accountability. Dr. Kunjufu outlined five major contributors to youth violence: fatherlessness, unemployment, illiteracy and dropout rates, gangs, guns and self-hatred. In 1960, 80 percent of African American homes had fathers, now there are fathers in only 32 percent of black homes. Kunjufu posed the question: Is the village strong enough to raise all the children without fathers?
As of June, the unemployment rate for black youth (16 to 24 years) was 31.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. For every thousand African Americans only nine will start a business, Kunjufu said. African American people spend $900 billion a year. Only three percent of that $900 billion goes to black businesses, he continued, suggesting the need for more community support.
“A people without values are dangerous,” Kunjufu said, quoting activist/scholar Dr. Maulana Karenga, while addressing the issue integral to any solution: self-image. Today’s youth are most influenced by their peer group, entertainers and TV programs, according to Kunjufu. He asked the panelists for one solution to the challenges youth violence presents. Panelists agreed that there isn’t one solution, but each provided concrete examples of what can be done.
“Behavior is complex [and] multidimensional,” said Dr. Carl C. Bell, President/C.E.O. Community Mental Health Council, Director Institute for Juvenile Research and Professor, Department of Psychiatry and School of Public Health at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).
Healthy food and supplements are a solution, according to Bell. Omega-3s, the “good fats” found in fish and some plant and nut oils, according to Bell, are not just good for the brain, but also have a calming effect. “I don’t think there’s one answer,” said Dr. Margaret Spencer- Beale, Professor of Urban Education in the University of Chicago’s Department of Comparative Human Development. “We need to begin thinking of our youth… developmental[ly].”
It starts at home, with “establishing order in your home,” according to David Lemieux, activist and retired Chicago Police Officer. Sister Porter continued that sentiment, speaking as a mother, a proud parent: “Parents are their children’s first teacher…parenting never stops, educating never stops.”
“All humans are vulnerable,” Dr. Spencer-Beale said later, adding that we buy into the language that designates those most vulnerable as “at-risk.” Parental monitoring, according to Spencer-Beale, is one way to combat negative influences— that a parent’s presence, their lessons are with the child no matter where he/she is. Youth in attendance also had the opportunity to speak. They shared their experiences as well as their own personal solutions, echoing the sentiments of the panelists: the need for self-love, self-respect and self-knowledge.
“Everybody can’t reach 100 people [but] everybody has family,” said Lemieux, adding that being a mentor to a niece or nephew is a solution. Healthy eating and becoming more active in community and national organizations are also solutions,said Sister Porter, adding that “We are our own solution.”
Through the collective efforts of public officials, private businesses and local residents, Chicago’s South side has the largest urban solar plant in the nation. “It takes not one individual…it takes us all collectively,” said Ald. Carrie Austin (34th).
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included over $80 billion for the creation and expansion of renewable energy sources and clean energy technology in an effort to move the nation toward a more environmentally sound existence.
“As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs -– but only if we accelerate that transition…only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation –- workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors,” President Barack Obama said in his June 15 national address on the BP oil spill.
Citizens, community organizations, public officials and private businesses on Chicago’s South side are seizing the moment. On July 21, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), Exelon officials, Julie Blunden of SunPower and President/CEO of Riteway-Huggins Construction Larry Huggings, joined community members for the dedication of Exelon’s new solar power plant.
“In Chicago, the environment is a major component of our strategy to attract people and jobs, remain competitive in the global economy…Our challenge now is to seize the future and the opportunities it offers,” said Daley. “Those who do not see the future will not survive in this global economy.”
The 41-acre West Pullman site, a former industrial brownfield had been vacant for 30 years. Work on the plant began in July of 2009 after years of site remediation by Navistar International Corporation, the former owner of the site. Navistar, formerly International Harvester, owned the West Pullman Works site for more than 75 years. In 1996, they enrolled the property (21 acres) in the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) Site Remediation Program (SRP). In conjunction with community officials and organizations like Austin and the Victory Heights/Maple Park Advisory Council, remediation ended in September 2009 with the Remedial Action Completion Report currently under review by Illinois EPA. Projects like this take the entire community, not just one individual, according to Austin. “We have to…take our desolate areas and turn them into something,” she said. “It (the site) is something now…where we can have our children come in and learn.”
The plant, a $60 million project, has 32,292 solar voltaic panels. These panels convert sunlight into enough electricity (over 14,000 megawatthours) to meet the annual energy needs of up to 1,500 homes—emitting no carbon emissions, according to Exelon.
In addition to its benefits to the environment, plant construction created 200 construction jobs most going to local residents and about 40 percent of the contractors were minority-owned, according to Exelon Chairman and CEO John Rowe. The plant along with other clean energy sources throughout the city is, according to Daley, showing how a large city can live in harmony with the environment. The Exelon project is moving Chicago towards its environmental goals, as described in the Climate Action Plan—its strategy for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change in the city, Daley said. “The benefits of the Climate Action Plan go beyond the…goal of improving the environment. The actions that have the greatest impact…will also create jobs, save companies and residents money, enhance our quality of life and position the city and its residents for future economic growth.”
At a sundown prayer vigil last Wednesday, Chicago residents, members of the Park Manor community, and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) gathered to mourn, to honor and celebrate the life of police officer Michael Bailey. Bailey’s funeral was held Friday at St. Sabina’s Catholic Church. Officer Bailey died in an attempted robbery on the morning of Sunday, July 18 in front of his Park Manor home while cleaning his car. He’d just returned from his overnight post guarding Mayor Daley’s home. He was still wearing his uniform.
Bailey and the assailant(s) exchanged fire and he was fatally injured. The 62 year-old Bailey, was going to retire in August. Bailey, a great father and friend, according to family spokeswoman Stephanie Tatum, was also Vice President of the 74th and Evans Block Club. Speakers talked of Bailey’s dedication to his family, to his community. As they spoke of his life, they also spoke of their frustrations and the need to move forward, to come together and transform the community, their lives.
“We will not be scared,” said Darlene Tribue, President of the Park Manor Neighbors’ Community Council before a crowd of residents, ministers, officers and local officials at the intersection of 74th and Evans. “We stand strong as one Park Manor…Share yourself outwardly, love, show forgiveness…help repair the cracks in our village.” “I am very angry about what causes us to be here,” said Freddrenna Lyle, Alderman of the 6th Ward, also home to slain police officer and Iraq veteran Thomas Wortham IV. Lylestood amidst the crowd just a few feet from Henry O. Tanner Elementary School. “I went to Tanner,” she said, adding that she’d walk to school and back every day without fear of any harassment. “They had gangs,” she clarified,” but “they weren’t taking our babies and seniors…because they had respect…they were a part of the community… something’s changed.” Park Manor has to contend with this change. “We go through so much turmoil…to change,” Tribue said, adding that she hopes this can be a time to heal, rise up, thrive and grow in the great city of Chicago. Park Manor stretches north to south from State Street to Cottage Grove and east to west from 67th to 79th, encompassing about four square miles. Residents have been in Park Manor for 65 years, according to Tribue. “We had to fight to come in here and we’re going to fight to stay here,” she said. That fight requires courage and unity. “If we can quite finger pointing, we can point the shooters out,” said activist Andrew Holmes.
The reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer(s) of Officer Bailey was up to $65,000, Weis sad at the vigil. The Fraternal Order of Police Chicago is offering $25,000 and urges anyone with information to call Area 2 Detectives at 312-747- 8272. “We don’t care if the motivation is reward money, good citizenship or whatever. Just please let us get these criminals off the street. If they kill a police officer, the question comes up, “Who’s next?’” Weis said at a press conference last week. Bailey was the third officer killed since May. CPD has received calls threatening the lives of police officers, United Press International (UPI) reports. The threats, according to UPI, have been toward officers patrolling the Chatham community, where both Bailey and Wortham were residents. Weis said CPD takes the threats seriously but hasn’t found them to be credible, UPI reports.
Bailey’s death and the treats came just weeks after the city’s new handgun ordinance, which went into effect July 12. The ordinance requires that residents who own a firearm(s) or are looking to purchase a firearm(s) fill out an application for a Chicago Firearm Permit (CFP), necessary for legally registering a firearm. Visit www.chicagopolice.org for more details. In order to truly transform the city, to ensure the safety of its residents, it will take efforts on the part of police, public officials and residents—the entire community. “We have to bring the people responsible for this to justice,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis. “As a community we can overcome this.”
For young people looking for hope and a way to survive, an education is often the only way to turn a bad situation into something good. In an effort to effect positive change and provide hope for Chicago’s youth, the Quentis Bernard Garth (QBG) Foundation awards scholarships to hardworking college-bound high school seniors who need financial assistance. This year, the foundation identified students who are achieving even in the face of adversity.
Most can’t help but think of 16-year old Derrion Albert, the Fenger honor student whose death made national headlines. The innocent Albert was fatally beaten while leaving school last year. His death has greatly affected the school and the wider community. Now, there’s a different story unfolding at Fenger as recent graduates Glen Fulton and Christina Bass, along with Kiara Caradine, a 2010 graduate of Homewood-Flossmore High School, have been selected as recipients of the 2010 QBG Foundation “I Believe in Me” Scholarship. The scholarship, which will be presented at the Annual QBG Fundraiser and Dinner held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago at 5:30 on July 31, offers students a chance to excel in spite of the odds.
“When we see kids are having a hard time, we have to reach out to those kids and realize that if someone just believes in them, we could improve their lives,” QBG Chairman Bill Garth said. Believing in kids—that’s what the foundation set out to do when it looked at students who have overcome major obstacles, Garth added. With the scholarships, he hopes the foundation will help make a difference. QBG, in conjunction with its community and corporate partners, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Central State University, Jewel, and ComEd, among others, are making sure that Bass and Fulton don’t have to worry about the cost of continuing their education.
Fulton, whose life has been side tracked by family issues, has lived with his twin sister in Chicago all of his life. The siblings grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes with their parents until they were ten when they were removed from their parents care by DCFS because of domestic violence.
The two were separated for a time while being raised by two of their aunts, but ended up back together at age 13 with their Aunt Lillian Fulton. Since then, they have been living in Roseland and attended Fenger High School for all four years. Despite some setbacks, Fulton only missed one day of school at Fenger during his freshman year where he gained a reputation for being kind and respectful.
When it comes to computers, he’s a wiz and over the years has learned to troubleshoot most computer problems, a skill, for the most part, he has learned on his own. At Fenger, he continues to work as part of the technology crew where the promise for success lies in his hope to attend Chicago State University where he plans to go on to study computer technology. As he worries about basic necessities like housing, he hopes the scholarship opportunity will help him to build on what he has already accomplished–putting him one step closer to a career in computers.
Bass, who has had to care for her mother who has cancer, aims first to attend the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). If she does well, she may have a chance to further her education at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which works with the city colleges to help students build a pathway to succeed at the private four-year institute. Over the past several months, the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Office of the Chancellor at CCC have begun to set the groundwork to develop a coordinated path to IIT for students who are interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (traditionally referred to as STEM fields) as well as the fields of business, architecture and psychology.
According to Jerry Doyle, IIT’s Vice Provost of Admissions and Financial Aid, many students who start at one of the city colleges and then go on to complete their educations at IIT have done extraordinarily well in recent years completing research projects and academic work at the highest levels.
“The message that we need to send is this, ‘there are many paths to achieve your professional and personal goals in life and for a great many students, this path starts at a city college. At Illinois Institute of Technology, we are proud to partner with Chancellor Hyman and the presidents of the city colleges of Chicago to build clear pathways for students. We are equally committed to providing merit-scholarships and need-based financial assistance to enable students to realize their dreams.”
“We are committed to preparing the next generation for undergraduate and advanced degrees in STEM fields,” says Alan Cramb, IIT Provost and Senior Vice President. “At IIT, students who excel in these fields will be tomorrow’s leaders in improving and advancing the human condition,” he adds.
Doyle has also indicated that the Office of Admission very much wants to talk to students and their families who are interested in pursuing an undergraduate education at IIT for Fall 2010. There are dozens and dozens of highly qualified students in the city of Chicago who have the academic credentials at the secondary school or community college level but who have either not made a final choice for Fall 2010, or who as one incoming south side student recently told Doyle, “Going to IIT is the most important investment that I can make in my future, and that with IIT institutional grants and scholarships along with federal and state assistance, the education at IIT is affordable. Unfortunately, not everyone knows that there are financial and academic resources available to support a private school education. We just need to get this word out.”
It’s important to note that at IIT, every student applicant to the university will automatically be considered for Heald and University merit-scholarships (up to $10,000 each per year). In addition, IIT offers many full-tuition need-based scholarships for the residents of the city of Chicago; these scholarships also include assistance for housing, books and fees. IIT has committed to working with the Citizen Newspaper in an effort to recruit deserving underrepresented students. For more information, please call 773-783-1251.
The QBG initiative has captured the attention of the broader business community. A. Finkl & Sons, a Chicago-based manufacturer of specialty steel products, intends to relocate to the city’s south side. Finkl CEO Bruce Liimatainen, who has also served on the board of IIT, said, “Our company’s success and future growth depends on qualified employees and interns who are looking for real-world manufacturing experience. We support the QBG Foundation’s efforts to bring more young people into science and technology and are committed to furthering the cause.”
Central State University, located in Wilberforce, Ohio, is also partnering with QBG to provide a $10,000 scholarship to a deserving student. The university offers leading edge programs in urban education, manufacturing and environmental engineering as well as jazz studies and has graduated generations of leaders in fields ranging from education, business, and communications, to the natural sciences and the fine and performing arts. More than 80 percent of Central State University graduates go on to graduate school or pursue a career in their field within one year of graduation.
“Central State offers a welcoming and diverse community designed with the student in mind,” says Hedy Diop, president of Central State University-Chicago Alumni Chapter whose participating in the effort on a local level. “Our nurturing environment encourages both the intellectual and social development of our students; we will prepare students to not only excel in their chosen careers but also to lead and serve others. Here students will be part of a caring community. They will receive hands-on learning and personal mentoring by professors who truly care about their goals and ambitions.” Bass and Fulton live in the 34th ward. “There is no project without community partnerships…partnership[s] start with the community,” said Ald. Carrie Austin (34th). “Our children…that’s my future…my legacy…[it] is my charge to open up every [avenue],” she continued, adding that the charge allows them to say, to believe, ‘I can do things of substance.’”
“I really like taking care of people,” said Bass, who wants to go into nursing, criminal justice or another science-related field. “My mom is really sick…I’m busy trying to take care of her,” Bass continued. “This scholarship would mean a lot to me.” Caradine will be attending Concordia University in Wisconsin, where she will pursue courses in physical therapy. While running track she snapped her hamstring. Since going through physical therapy, she’s decided she wants to help others do the same. “I want to help people like me get back on their feet and continue to do something they love,” she said. As Garth looks ahead, he sees an opportunity to brighten the futures of many young people. “With all of our corporate and institutional partners, we can play a pivotal role in changing things on the South side and throughout Chicago,” he said. “That’s the key…that way, when you read the newspaper or turn on the television, it’s not about someone whose become the victim of some grave circumstance–it’s about someone who is succeeding, someone who is really trying and wants to succeed.”
By Shanita Bigelow
The Illinois Disaster Assistance Program awarded Cook County a $10.3 million grant to aid individuals, families and business impacted by the severe weather and floods of fall 2008. These funds are available for property repairs and mold remediation, but will more directly provide support for health and social services.
From September 13 to October 5, 2008, severe weather conditions stemming from Hurricane Ike dropped over 10 inches of rain, causing major flooding throughout Cook County and other parts of Illinois. Then, Governor Rod Blagojevich declared six other counties, DuPage, DeKalb, Kane, Will, Grundy and LaSalle, as state disaster areas. Despite inclusion in the Presidential Federal Disaster Declarations, prompting assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), those programs didn’t deal with many of the health and social service needs of the residents of Cook County, according the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. As such, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided this additional funding via the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program.
“We are pleased to announce this additional funding, which will help thousands of Cook County residents recover from devastating storms and flooding of 2008, especially in the midst of the current economic and housing crises that many of our residents are also facing,” Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said in a press release.
The Cook County Disaster Grant (CCDG) is being handled by the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Only Cook County residents (homeowners, families, businesses, non-profits, health and emergency service providers, etc.) can apply for assistance. Grants will not be allocated to residents as a means of reimbursement for expenses incurred and paid for home repairs or health care.
Awards will not be granted through FEMA, but for those who previously applied for assistance through FEMA, the FEMA ID will aid in processing the application. The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management insist that previously applying through FEMA is not required and will not guarantee an award or disqualify applicants.
Information sessions, where residents can learn more about the grant, how to qualify and apply, will be held throughout Cook County.
Affected residents can obtain the application and more information on the CCDG website (www.cookcountydisastergrant.org). To apply, download and print the application and submit it by fax to 312-603-9883, or call the CCDG hotline (312-603-7600).
Upcoming Information Sessions:
Saturday, April 24 at 9:30 am in the Harwood Heights Village Hall (7300 W. Wilson Ave.)
Monday, May 3 at 6 pm in the Des Plaines Public Library (1501 Ellinwood Street)
Saturday, May 8 at 9:30 am in Park Ridge City Hall (505 Butler Place)
By Shanita Bigelow
Governor Pat Quinn will make his annual budget announcement today, highlighting his plans to fill Illinois’ woeful deficit. The minimum FY2011 starting deficit, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), is $13 billion. These growing economic concerns will likely result in more spending cuts, more borrowing and wider searchers to find more sources of revenue.
“This is the reality budget. This is what’s really happening,” David Vaught, Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), said to the Associated Press (AP). This reality is likely to include spending cuts of about $2 billion—cuts to education, public safety and human services, according to AP.
In an effort to provide Illinois residents with an in depth look into these realities, GOMB launched budget. illinois.gov. Residents have the opportunity to track government spending and provide feedback.
“We’ve received over 6,000 suggestions,” Kelly Kraft, Director of Communications for GOMB. “I sat down with the governor and he circled few…there are a lot of…sound solutions…We are excited about the feedback.”
Suggestions range from raising the cigarette tax to legalizing marijuana. But the overwhelming response has denounced further spending cuts, particularly in education, and has supported the possibility of a tax increase.
“More than 30 states have raised taxes to keep pace in this recession. Illinois has the nation’s lowest income-tax rate and a narrow sales-tax base. We’re out of step and falling further behind,” Rachel Williams of Chicago wrote.
House Bill 174 is a popular solution for many of the respondents. HB 174 would augment state revenue by increasing the rate of state income taxes from three to five percent, expanding the sales tax base, etc., according to CTBA. One third of all new revenue generated by tax increases would go into the Common School Fund, CTBA reports.
“The State of Illinois is sinking into a quagmire due to irresponsible spending without progressive taxation… There can be no excuse for failing to raise revenue while cutting services to those who have nowhere else to turn,” Rev. Lloyd A. and Ms. Doris Jean Heroff of Mount Prospect wrote on the site.
By Shanita Bigelow
The Chicago Board of Education’s decision to close, consolidate or turnaround eight of Chicago’s public schools (CPS) comes at a time of dire budget constraints and heightened expecatations from the Obama administration.
“[W]e know that about 12 percent of America’s schools produce 50 percent of America’s dropouts, we’re going to focus on helping states and school districts turn around their 5,000 lowest-performing schools in the next five years,” Obama said at the America’s Promise Alliance Education Event.
The decision to turnaround Charles S. Deneen and Myra Bradwell elementary schools due to low performance came amid protests from school faculty and staff, students, parents and other community members.
CPS’s “Performance Policy” scores schools based on a variety of factors. Schools that score less than 33.3 percentage points based on the policy for two consecutive years are considered for reconstitution or turnaround.
Deneen and Bradwell’s consistently low standardized test scores and attendance when compared to comparable students district-wide slated them for reconstitution, according to CPS.
Deneen’s reading and math scores improved by 5.3 and 2 percentage points between the 2005-06 and 2008-09 school years while CPS averages increased by 8.7 and 9.6 percentage points, Ryan Crosby, CPS Director of Performance Policy, testified.
Bradwell has been on probation for the past three years and five out of the last six years, Crosby stated at the Feb 10 hearing.
“I’m asking for one year…in August…I presented them [staff] with a challenge… we knew our backs were against the wall and the status quo was unacceptable…In July, I established a partnership with the Black United Fund and the Safe Passage Program. Every day we have up to 14 volunteers who are securing safe passage routes for our students. We…had zero fights on our school grounds up…until we got that letter…Once the students got the letter, they felt abandoned again. Then we had to start putting out a million fires,” Bradwell Principal Justin Moore testified. The turnaround of Bradwell and Deneen will likely be managed by the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL), which has managed eight CPS turnaround schools since 2006 and seen much success.
Donald Feinstein, AUSL Executive Director, acknowledges the challenges inherent in the turnaround process and is dedicated to improved student achievement and more community involvement.
“I think it takes longer than the current time frame [of CPS policy] in order for others to have a voice,” he said. Schools should also receive information regarding the health of their school a lot sooner, he continued. But, “when all else fails… through a transparent process…there may be times when [reconstitution] is justified.”
By Shanita Bigelow
“[W]e need to find common ground…We know it’s possible to do this,” Obama stated in his weekly address, Saturday evening. “[N]o final bill will include everything that everyone wants. That’s what compromise is…I am eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties on health care…But I also believe that we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge. The tens of millions of men and women who cannot afford their health insurance cannot wait another generation for us to act. Small businesses…Americans with preexisting conditions cannot wait. State and federal budgets cannot sustain these rising costs.”
Thursday’s bipartisan meeting, a seven hour, televised debate, further solidified Republican and Democratic differences; chief among them, cost and implementation. And what little ground they found provided few solutions and left many, even those in attendance, with more than a few questions, most prevalent: What’s next?
“I think it was a good forum,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I hope that it could be the basis for us to have some serious negotiations. But we still have the fundamental problem: Do we go on the partisan plan that…ran through the Senate and the House or do we start over from the beginning?”
But starting over to some is tantamount to doing nothing. The “Republican mantra” of starting over “means do nothing,” according to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) also on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” That’s simply not the case, according to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WS), who said “we want to fix this…but this is not the solution,” at Thursday’s meeting.
Republicans fear a government takeover and suggest starting over and addressing the problem step by step. “Coverage doesn’t equal care,” said Sen. John Barrasso (RWY), as Republicans tout a bill that would expand coverage to only three of the more 30 million Americans currently uninsured.
“[We] can’t get from one point to the next incrementally unless we deal with it holistically,” said Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).
Aside from opposing solutions to the health care quandary, the parties also differ in their definition of the problem itself, said Ronald Brownstein, Political Director for Atlantic Media, on “Meet the Press.”
“[T]he Senate bill reallocates resources in the health care system effectively enough that the independent Medicare actuary has estimated that the measure would cover 33 million more people by 2019 while increasing total health care spending by less than a penny on the dollar. It’s not perfect, but…does provide a solid foundation for a more equitable and efficient health system,” Brownstein wrote in the National Journal Magazine. Democrats hope to build upon the common ground and muster enough votesto move the legislation through to the American people. Should Democrats find themselves stymied by their fellow congressmen and women, they may opt for congressional r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . Reconciliation would allow for passage with a majority of 51 votes as opposed to 60, a risky move for such sweeping legislation. Today, President Obama will address “what’s next.” He “will talk about the merits of the legislation, mainly about the costs of doing nothing versus the cost of doing something and what this will accomplish,” said Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, to the New York Times.
By Shanita Bigelow
Imagine an America, a world without potato chips or ironing boards, dust pans, refrigerators and automatic breaks. Imagine your life without a TV or radio, without your laptop or PC. The genius of black invention lies in innovation and perseverance, in searching for solutions to shared problems. But Black inventors represent more than patents and products. For more than 300 years, they have represented possibility. “…Even in a time when [blacks] were held back,” said Stacyann P. Russell, National Chair of the National Society of Black Engineers, “they were inventing things…necessary for our quality of life today,” she said.
Jan E. Matzeliger (1852-1889) was one of those inventors. He laid the foundation of the shoe industry in the United States and made Lynn, Massachusetts the shoe capital of the world.
When Matzeliger moved to Massachusetts in 1876, he spoke little English, had little money and didn’t know many people. “Before Matzeliger, hundreds of inventors and thousands of dollars had been spent in an effort to make a complete shoe by machinery,” according to Inventors.org.
Inventors before him developed crude shoe making machines but the final problem of shaping the upper leather over the “last” and attaching this leather to the bottom of the shoe had so-called “Hand-lasters,” perplexed. “Matzeliger heard of the problem… For ten years he worked, steadily and patiently, with no encouragement.” But finally, on March 20, 1883, he received a patent (no. 274,207) for his “Lasting Machine,” which revolutionized the capabilities of mass shoemaking.
Matzeliger’s machine could turn out from 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day versus an expert hand-laster’s fifty.
Russell, who works with the NSBE Juniors, which includes groups of students spanning grades three through twelve from low-income communities, is aware of the many challenges they face and hopes to show them that there are no limitations on what they can achieve. “When you see someone going through what you think is impossible…they prove it is possible,” she said.
Patricia Bath (b. 1942) of Harlem, N.Y, is another example of a person surpassing societal expectations and limitations. Bath came from humbled but inspired beginnings. Her parents encouraged her interest in the world and in science, and after only two and a half years in high school, she graduated. In 1959, during her short high school career, she was selected to participate in a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) where she worked on cancer research. She went on to Hunter College in New York and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964. Later, she went on to Howard University’s medical school and graduated with honors. She is most known for her work in devising, “[a] safer, faster and…more accurate approach to cataracts surgery,” according to BlackInventor.com.
People like Matzeliger and Bath, like Otis Boykin(1920-1982) who’s interest in the burgeoning field of electronics led the way for the electrical resistors used in radios, computers, TV’s and most notably, pacemakers, are examples of what happens when individuals test the limits of what is believed possible.
Boykin was a graduate of Fisk University. After graduating he secured a job as a laboratory assistant in Chicago, testing automatic aircraft controls, according to Associated Content. He then worked as a research engineer at the P.J. Nilsen Research Labs in Illinois. Boykin chose to continue his studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology, but could not afford tuition after two years. Despite this setback, he continued to work on his inventions: 28 electronic devices, most importantly, the pacemaker.
Mark Dean (b. 1957), another pivotal engineer, is an IBM Fellow and Vice President of Technical Strategy & WW Operations for IBM Research. Today, he leads a life of learning. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, he began working as an engineer for IBM and continued his education while pursuing his career.
“In his capacity as an engineer for IBM, he didn’t take long to make a big impact, serving as the chief engineer for the team that developed the IBM PC/ AT, the original home/office computer,” according to BlackInventors.com. “Dean would own three of the original nine patents that all PCs are based upon.”
With over 29 years of experience at IBM, Dean is now responsible for the direction of IBM’s Research Strategy, which spans eight labs worldwide, according to IBM. He is leading IBM’s global operations and information systems teams and is proof that one’s work is never done, as the issues of today present new problems to be solved tomorrow.
For the many Black Americans that have shaped and continue to shape America, recognition is due. “When people don’t know…they tend to make things up,” Russell said. When this knowledge is attained, it allows for a “different perception of black people today,” and blacks’ perception of themselves, she continued.
More information on little known inventors like George Crum (potato chips), Sarah Boone (precursor to the ironing board), Thomas Elkins (refrigerated apparatus and chamber commode), Willis Johnson (egg-beater), Lloyd Ray (dustpan) and Richard Spikes (turning signals, automatic gear shift, etc.) can be found on BlackInventor.com.