- Created on 10 June 2013
The Mississippi Chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), community leaders and local clergy in Natchez, Mississippi...
- Created on 09 June 2013
Black mayors were once rare and revered, with the late Maynard Jackson setting a high standard as the first Black mayor of a major southern city in 1974. Now they are a force in American politics.
The 39th Annual Convention for the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) rolled into town last week and the sleek event was attended by prestigious political and media figures like Education Secretary Arne Duncan and George Curry, the premier journalist of the Black Press. Founded in 1974 NCBM reportedly represents some 650 U.S. mayors, including 65 here in Georgia.
"When you look at the local elections this year watch Augusta, Brunswick, Macon and Dublin, which have large African American voter populations," says Willie Burns, the former mayor of Washington, Georgia. "Look to see some of those cities headed by Black mayors because of the increased Black voting clout and the clout women voters have. That tells you what we're doing is working; we are on the rise. I predict by 2016 Georgia is going to turn blue."
"We have Black mayors in major cities like Philadelphia, Sacramento, Savannah, Albany, Columbia, SC and Baton Rouge but the Conference membership is mostly made up of smaller cities," says Burns, currently the executive director of the Georgia Conference of Black Mayors.
Poverty in their cities remains h a pervasive and perplexing problems for many of the NCBM members. Mayor Burns laments that the new "cash crop" for many Black mayors is the prison system.
"It saddens you when you visit a prison where 90 percent of the population looks like us -- and the prison is the major industry in the town," Mayor Burns complains. "Davisboro, Georgia, for example, has a Black mayor and population of 2,000 – 1,500 of that is a prison system."
Mayor Bowser, Mayor Burns and other NCBM members are banking on the charisma of the incoming president Sacramento Mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson to enhance the group's financial fortunes. The organization has also begun to expand its membership internationally.
George Curry, an award-winning journalist and executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, told the group during a keynote address that growing their membership in Africa may be the answer to their wealth woes.
"According to the World Bank, seven of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa," Curry commented. "Seven out of 10 – Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria. And in some countries, such as Nigeria, this growth is not just fueled by oil money, but also by telecommunications, construction, trade, manufacturing and agriculture.
"The slave castles in Ghana and the 'Door of No Return' should remind us that Europeans descended upon Africa to steal its people. Now, they hope to come back and steal the land. We should never forget the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu: When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'Let us pray,' we closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land. We can't let that happen again."
(Photo: Conference Speaker and National Newspaper Publishers Association Director George Curry , left, stands with SCLC President Charles Steele. Photos by Alexis Scott)
- Created on 08 June 2013
(NNPA) –The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that nearly 140,000 low-income families could lose rental assistance and “thousands of other low-income families using vouchers could face sharp rent increases because of sequestration.”
Sequestration, the automatic federal budget cuts, was implemented on March 1.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, sequestration will slash $2 billion from housing assistance and community development programs funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Blacks received 43 percent of housing vouchers to supplement housing costs. Whites received 36 percent of housing vouchers. Without the vouchers, these families would see those costs skyrocket. Other families will lose counseling services that help distressed homeowners navigate foreclosure proceedings.
“Due to sequestration, 337,000 victims of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault, and other crimes will lose critical support and services they receive through the Crime Victims Fund to help them recover from the heinous crimes committed against them,” wrote Eric Stegman, the manager of the Half in Ten initiative at the Center of American Progress, a non-partisan education and research group.
The Victims of Crime Act, shelters victims from prohibitive costs associated with seeking justice, including sexual assault services, crisis intervention and investigation and prosecuting of child and elder abuse.
States could lose more than $37 million to fund these services and victims could lose their right to justice.
After reauthorizing the hotly contested Violence Against Women Act, legislation that assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, Congress left the funding of the programs to the mercy of the sequester. More than 100,000 may be turned away.
Black women account for a disproportionate number of domestic violence victims.
According to a report by the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community at the University of Minnesota: “Black women comprise 8 percent of the U.S. population but in 2005 accounted for 22 percent of the intimate partner homicide victims and 29 percent of all female victims of intimate partner homicide.”
The institute also found that intimate partner violence among African Americans is related to economic factors.
“Intimate partner violence among blacks occurs more frequently among couples with low incomes, those in which the male partner is underemployed or unemployed, particularly when he is not seeking work, and among couples residing in very poor neighborhoods, regardless of the couple’s income,” stated the report.
Programs that benefit children are also reeling as a result of sequestration. Head Start, a government funded program that promotes school readiness for poor children, lost an average of 5 percent at each of its local affiliates. Twenty-eight percent of Head Start enrollees are Black and 41 percent are White.
“Sequestration cuts are forcing Head Start programs across the country to drop children from their ranks, despite research showing that every $1 invested in Head Start brings $9 in benefits to society,” wrote Sally Steenland, director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress.
Experts estimate that 70,000 children will be forced out of those programs.
Some programs are holding lotteries for available slots, juggling budgets and wait listing families. Others have proposed the elimination of transportation to the programs.
“Head Start is a safe haven for parents,” said Almeta Keys, executive director of the Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center, Inc. in Washington, D.C. “The best that we can do is give our parents referrals to possible programs that they can go to and in some cases, it’s going to mean them being out of childcare. That’s the rude awakening.”
Children will not only loss educational services provided through Head Start, but also nutritional and social programs and comprehensive health services.
“The parents are going to be left to fend for themselves, said Keys. “A lot of our parents are young parents and they need that extra guidance that we are giving them in Head Start.”
Families that depend on neighborhood food pantries for groceries every month may have to fend for themselves, as well. Because of the downturn in the economy, food banks that supply neighborhood food pantries, have also suffered a decrease in donations.
According to Feeding America, a domestic hunger-relief charity, 25.1 percent of Black households live with hunger compared to 11.4 percent of White households that are also food insecure.
“Food banks are struggling across the nation, because we’re not receiving the donations from the community,” said Brian Banks, director of public policy and community outreach for the Capital Area Food Bank. “Many food banks have to go into their operating budgets to purchase food to put on their shelves to get food out into the community.”
Banks said that hurts their bottom line. The more money food banks spend on food, the less they can spend on other services like nutritional programs, community outreach, and advocating for better safety net programs.
“If there’s less funding to support the staff in doing that work, it’s going to make it more difficult to for us to put a dent in this problem and end hunger in this country,” said Banks.
In April, the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill drew the ire of non-profits that service low-income populations, when they stepped in to help airports and air travelers inconvenienced by the sequester, but not others.
In April, Congress acted to help air travelers, that were experiencing flight delays because of the sequester, by passing the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013. The bill allowed the Federal Aviation Administration to shift money in its current budget to pay air-traffic controllers that were forced to take unpaid leave, because of sequestration.
Keys and others challenged Congress to act just as quickly for those that don’t have the support of well-financed lobbyists to stand up for them.
“The same vigorous movement that we saw when the air traffic controllers went back to work, that’s what Congress needs to be doing when it comes down to cuts that the Head Start program has received,” said Keys. “Congress needs to be focusing on our future and our children are our future.”
Amelia Kegan, senior policy analyst at Bread for the World, agreed.
“Low-income families who are really struggling in this economy don’t have the resources to mount a huge campaign to bombard Capitol Hill,” said Kegan. “They are most likely to be left out of any legislative attempts to mitigate the impact of sequestration. Congress needs to replace sequestration and deal with the entire thing and take a much more balance approach.”
Kegan added: “We don’t want to see a situation where those who are the most vulnerable are the ones left bearing the brunt of deficit reduction.”
- Created on 08 June 2013
Bankrupt Morris Brown College has decided not to accept the City of Atlanta's $10 million offer to the school. The college's trustees decided against accepting taxpayer money that would have also eliminated its $35 million in debt.
The trustees had requested a $20 million bailout from the city in February. Anne Aaronson, a Philadelphia-based lawyer for the school, says the $10 million offer was insufficient and that Morris Brown has a better offer on the table, according to the AJC. Aaronson declined to give the paper any further details.
The Associated Press reports that the school is set to present its restructuring plan to a bankruptcy court by the end of the month.
"I believe I know how the movie ends," said Mayor Kasim Reed, who reportedly offered the plan to Morris Brown. "The movie ends with that area looking like a swap meet. And I am not going to have it said that we should have done something."
Reed's interest in saving the school may largely be rooted in its location adjacent to the site of the proposed new Atlanta Falcons stadium. Reed said he's worried the campus will be sold off in pieces and will become home to liquor stores, payday loan shops and other similar businesses.
Documents obtained by the AJC show that Reed and Invest Atlanta's proposal would have given the school $9.7 million. The proposal would have purchased the 37.22 acres tied up in bankruptcy; paid the Morris Brown's creditors; given the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which governs the school, $1 million in cash; paid $480,000 in back pay to professors and staff; allowed the school to rent the four buildings it still uses with an option to buy them back after three years; allowed Invest Atlanta to work with developers to redevelop the rest of the property.
Two-thirds of the money in the deal would have come from the Westside Tax Allocation District, and the rest would have come from the city's general fund. Invest Atlanta and the City Council would have had to approve the deal.
"Giving Morris Brown an opportunity to become healthy again and . provide accredited degrees to its students was an essential priority for this administration," Reed said.
The school proposed a $20 million bailout from the city in February. But that sum included operating expenses, and the city said it wasn't interested in running the school and couldn't do so legally.
- Created on 08 June 2013
Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been admitted to the hospital in South Africa and his condition is listed as “serious but stable,” according to a presidential spokesperson.
Mandela, 94, has been battling a recurring lung infection, but his condition deteriorated rapidly overnight. Mandela,...