Black Americans Must Return to Our Original Mission
Black America has always taken great pride in Black Colleges. There are 105 Black Colleges and universities. These colleges and universities have served as the base for the post-slavery progress of Black America. Black professors have served as mentors and living role models for the students of these schools. In large part, the schools were created in response to the American culture of segregation and to counter the vestiges of slavery. They were also created to develop a leadership class to bring the African American builders of America to a position of equality.
Dr. Benjamin Mays, the great educator and mentor of Dr. Martin Luther king, described his experience in a Black College he attended at North Carolina State College in his book, Lord The People Have Driven Me On. He said, "It did my soul good in 1911, to find at State College an all-Negro faculty and a Negro President." Mays went on to describe the inspiration he received from these Black mentors as professors, staff and faculty whose inspiration was of incalculable value. He was impressed that the faculty was not only inspirational in their teaching but that they also fought racial injustice and discrimination.
One Black College, the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), was chartered in 1958. It was a joint venture combining four denominations including Baptist, United Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal, Church of God In Christ, and Christian Methodist Episcopal. Today, they are made up of a more diverse group of religious organizations. ITC, under the current leadership, seems to have lost sight of its mission, as evidenced by what appears to be its current focus to promote a homosexual agenda.
Black Colleges, like many Black organizations born out of pre-civil rights discrimination, find themselves in the midst of a changed world affected by new influences that didn't exist on the date of their birth. These new influences include differing gender roles, access to places and things that were closed to generations gone before, i.e., class differences within the Black community and an indifference to the Black Nationalist movement, to name a few. In a sense, the season and conditions that spawned the Black Colleges and Universities have passed, like a Christmas tree after Christmas.
Black Colleges at their creation were populated by God fearing people with altruistic attitudes dedicated to a common goal of helping one another who were all seeking a common goal. In large part Black students, because of limited choices, went to Black Colleges out of chance rather than choice. With progress, attitudes changed and not always for the better. Altruism is sometimes replaced by selfishness. Common goals are replaced by personal goals. It's so easy to forget.
With the influences of technology and the population expanding, the need for college education keeps growing and once again Black students are finding themselves at opportunity's door and can't get in. On the surface the reasons appear race neutral. In fact, however, they are based on the quality of the education where you went to elementary school and high school, how well you did on the college entry exam, and your life's experiences in competition with a broader group of people. Newly arrived immigrants from far away places like China with money, their family ties, and thousand year old culture intact, are also a factor.
The Whites are still there with their privilege and contacts. I mean if your Daddy was the judge, there's instant privilege. If your family donated to the campaign to build a new school or the campaign to elect the school board member, there are privileges that go with the donations.
In today's society, equality and justice are based on what some call the best democracy that money can buy. As long as Blacks find themselves at the bottom rung of the economic ladder there will be the need for Black organizations with a stated purpose of maintaining the progress we have made as a group. Individualism is a nice concept, however, Blacks were never discriminated against as individuals, they were brought here as a group for the economic benefit of the moneyed class. Likewise, they were kept out of the moneyed class as a group.
The message today is clear. Racism is alive and well. It is still about the money and where Blacks fit with the money. When Willard Mitt Romney talks about welfare checks, he is talking about Blacks, and reminding American Whites to be careful or Blacks will take your money. When Newt Gingrich talks about the food stamps and about Obama being a food stamp President, he is talking about Blacks.
Someone like Condoleeza Rice, having expressed an appreciation for Affirmative Action, will never rise to the level of President or Vice President because the moneyed Republicans don't need a voice for economic equality for everyone. That is especially true for Black economic equality. Because at the end of the day they are well aware that keeping Blacks poor is the only way to keep Blacks under control. Therefore, keeping us poor requires keeping us uneducated and out of the entrepreneurship class.
On the other hand, when Black gangster rappers pull down their pants and highlight the poverty of the Black community in their raps, they are glorifying and promoting the perpetuation of ghetto life as a positive goal. It's funny about rappers pulling their pants down to show the world their drawers. It reminds me of the saying, "The higher the monkey climbs the more he exposes." These rappers aren't building new schools or creating new organizations to move us forward. And when one person shows up to move us forward, the power brokers (these days both White and Black) do what they always have done, try to crush us.
One example of being a victim of the crushing effort of Republicans today is Van Jones. Jones is a Yale educated Black Lawyer who was a special assistant to President Obama. The Republican rumor machine called him a communist and he resigned. But he didn't go away. Jones started a new movement called, "Rebuild the Dream." Jones is proposing a powerful game plan to restore hope, fix our democracy and renew the American Dream. He is making this game plan a reality through the organization Rebuild the Dream—a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to get the U.S. economy working for 100 percent of Americans, and not just the top 1 percent. NAACP President Ben Jealous says Jones is "one of the few Americans in recent years to have generated powerful new ideas that are creating new jobs."
I don't say the above examples of innovators have the answers to all of the problems we face, but they certainly have the recipe that says, "DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!" These new times require new solutions by bold new leaders; just as there were bold new leaders who started Black churches, Black schools, Black newspapers and Black businesses, when the need arose.