M. Alexis Scott
M. Alexis Scott is publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, a newspaper founded by her grandfather in 1928. She has responsibility for the overall editorial content and general management of the paper, which targets the African American community in metro Atlanta. In 1932, the Atlanta Daily World, founded by W.A. Scott, II, became the nation’s first black-owned daily newspaper in the 20th century. The paper publishes once a week now, can be accessed daily over the Internet at www.atlantadailyworld.com. The newspaper became a part of the Real Times Media family in March 2012, joining five other historic African American newspapers including the Chicago Defender, the Michigan Chronicle, The Michigan FrontPage, the New Pittsburgh Courier, and the Tri-State Defender in Memphis, Tenn. Ms.
Scott joined the Atlanta Daily World in 1997, following a 22-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cox Enterprises, Inc., where she worked her way up from reporter to vice president/community affairs at the Journal-Constitution and then director of diversity at Cox. In addition to her duties as publisher of the newspaper, Ms. Scott is a regularly featured commentator on “The Georgia Gang,” a week-in-review program on politics broadcast on FOX 5 in Atlanta. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Life Financial Group Ms. Scott is active in nonprofit organizations. She is a member of the boards of the High Museum of Art, the Historic South View Cemetery Preservation Foundation; the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the board of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. She is also a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta. She serves on the Global Advisory Board of the Center for Civil & Human Rights and the President’s Council of the Atlanta History Center.
Ms. Scott has received many awards and honors, including the inaugural Keystone Leadership Award from Build, Grow and Enjoy Radio in 2012; being inducted along with the rest of The Scott Family into the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame of the Atlanta Press Club in 2011; the 2011 Trailblazer Award from the Atlanta Hawks; 2010 Journalist of the Year Award from the Atlanta Regional Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; the 2010 Generational Torch Award from the Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce; 2009 Community Leader Award from the Alliance for Christian Media and the 2009 Pioneer Award from the Black Women Film Preservation Project. She was inducted into the 2007 Business Hall of Fame of the Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. She also received a 2007 Trailblazer Award In Honor of Coretta Scott King from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
A native of Atlanta, Ms. Scott is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, and attended Barnard College in New York City and Spelman College in Atlanta. She also attended the Columbia University School of Journalism as a summer participant in the 1974 Michelle Clark Fellowship Program. She is a 1992 graduate of the Regional Leadership Institute and a 1991 graduate of Leadership Atlanta. She has an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Argosy University. She has two sons. She and her family are members of First Congregational Church, U.C.C., where Ms Scott served as presiding officer from 1982-1992, was a member of the Sunday School staff for nearly 30 years and serves on the Board of Missions.
I'll begin by saying I'm heartbroken about the arrest and "perp walk" of 35 Atlanta educators last week, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall.
This has to be the saddest thing that's happened to our school system since it was officially "separate but equal."
I must also say that the charges of criminal racketeering that have been leveled against these educators is beyond horrible. I do not believe that Supt. Hall was intentionally leading a criminal enterprise of school test cheating for money. This is nonsense.
I do agree that changing test scores was a total disservice to the children in the Atlanta Public Schools. I also agree that using the results of a single test to determine the fate of a teacher's or principal's job makes a mockery of education.
The combination of the pressure brought on by "no child left behind" with testing being the standard for evaluating student and teacher performance, with the use of money as a reward and firing as a punishment was a witches brew that brought the APS system to its knees.
Dr. Hall's salary and pay bonuses were tied directly to student achievement and she used that same standard with her principals and teachers. Not only did they get bonuses for improved student performance on tests, but they also risked losing their jobs if students did not improve their (test) performance.
Here's the big problem with this. APS students are not widgets on an assembly line, waiting to be stacked into a thing-a-ma-jig. As if teachers could get ten more dollars for every 10 more students they stacked.
And here's another thing. Most of the educators accused of cheating had either quit, retired or lost their teaching licenses after hearings before the Professional Standards Commission, the body designated to oversee such things as bad professional behavior by teachers. Plus, Dr. Hall had quit and left town. This was the appropriate way to handle these cases. Why are we spending tax payers' money to criminally prosecute people who've already been removed from the system?
And finally, I have long objected to a single standardized test being used to determine the fate of students, much less teachers. This whole sordid business is a wake-up call for modern education. Students need to be taught how to think, analyze and discern, not how to memorize. With technology, students can find any fact at their fingertips. It's now time for some real reform.
Teachers can help students most by serving as coaches, advisers and synthesizers of information. They can offer feedback on their thinking and guide them in exploration of new ideas. They can work with their parents to figure out the best path for them to take, using instruments that measure their interests along with their aptitude.
We've got to figure this out. We've got to provide support for children in poverty who don't have the financial and other support they need at home to help them learn how to learn. Everyone's quality of life in the future depends on it.
This past week was full of activities that I want to share with you. I went to Tyler Perry's house after a private screening of his new movie, "Temptation, Confessions of a Marriage Counselor." I saw a world premiere opera by the Capitol City Opera Company "The Secret Agent." And, I heard a panel of women talking about the challenges of balancing work and family courtesy of the YWCA.
And through all three of these vastly different experiences, I came away with the same feeling: women have a hard row to hoe. Between the movie and the opera, one wrong move can ruin your life. At the real-life YWCA event, the women agreed that the "do all, be all syndrome" is a constant struggle and generally a losing battle.
Now I don't want to ruin your movie experience, (Tyler Perry's newest opens the end of this month) but I will say he has no mercy for his character. She knows she's about to make a bad choice, but makes it anyway. At the screening, Perry said he wanted us to be ambassadors for the movie. He added that he wanted us to carry the message of the movie. Even if you make a bad choice, you always have a chance to redeem yourself.
Thank goodness for that. But in his right vs. wrong world, it can be terribly difficult to come back from the abyss.
I will say I enjoyed watching the stunningly talented Jurnee Smollett-Bell navigate her way through hell and back. I also think Vanessa Williams had the best line of the movie. Madea could not have said it better. But Lord, the women in this movie definitely had a hard luck life, all dependent on men who let them down.
Then, there were the real life experiences shared by a panel of executive women including Rabbi Analia Bortz, also a medical doctor; Nita Sardana, vice president of American Cyber Systems; Alvetta Peterman Thomas, president of Atlanta Technical College; and Jannet Walker, vice president CH2MHill. The panel was moderated by Monica Richardson, managing editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In response to a question about barriers to leadership for women, Atlanta Tech's Thomas said the job she has now would have been too demanding to do and raise her children at the same time. "Women get ill because of stress," she noted. "It will kill you."
As a woman, she said she has learned to say no to things and, "give my best when I do say yes."
CH2MHill's Walker added that in some cases, the "glass ceiling" that keeps women from breaking through has given way to the "sticky floor," – including self- imposed barriers like picking family over career.
And finally, the opera premiere had a lot of wonderful voices, but there was a very bad end for the lead woman. She was a devoted wife, sister to a special needs brother, but ultimately got played for a fool by her husband and an almost lover. It was classic operatic tragedy.
So to all my girlfriends, keep your head up and be careful. It's rough out here.
Just so you know, I'm a child of the segregated South. I grew up in Atlanta in the 1950s and 1960s. Jim Crow was old and set in his ugly ways. I had to sit in the back of the bus. I had to sit in the "crow's nest" above the balcony at the Fox Theatre to see a movie (by way of the side steps outside). And, if I wanted a drink of water in a public place, I was relegated to the "colored" water fountain, which was usually nasty.
That's why it was so moving on Monday to hear Doug Shipman talk about the plans and progress at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights at the Rotary Club of Atlanta.
Doug, CEO of the Center, noted to the mostly White businessmen in the audience that it's been nearly 50 years since the historic 1963 March on Washington, which was made famous by the turnout of the crowd and by Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. And with that passage of time, Doug said, we can move from memorializing a historic moment like this to looking at "what it means today."
And that's his goal for the new Center. In his talk titled: Atlanta's Destiny as the Cradle of Human and Civil Rights for the 21st Century," praised the business community in Atlanta for "always being on the right side of history.
"You're not afraid to rebuild and embrace the future," he told the business leaders. And now he sees the Center as the place that connects the history of the Civil Rights Movement to human rights movements around the world today and in the future.
He took his listeners through the features and exhibits that will be in the space when it opens downtown next to the World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium on Pemberton Place in May 2014. Among interactive technology, it will include exhibits of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers, owned by Morehouse College, which will be rotated every three months.
It will have interactive displays that will be "engaging and dazzling," he said.
He said the Center will be a catalyst and partner for others to discuss vital issues confronting communities around the world. "We have a legacy that we have not yet fully embraced," he added.
I like what he said about the two other important centers in Atlanta that also have a civil and human rights focus. The (Jimmy) Carter (Presidential Library and) Center is a wholesaler, speaking directly to practitioners on the world stage, and the (Martin Luther) King Center has a focus on training, and "we are the retailer," with a focus on tourists and community outreach.
And while the Center may focus on issues that some may think controversial, Doug said he's not worried about it being "ground zero" for protests and demonstrations. "We want to be a place for civil discourse with a variety of viewpoints," he said. "Our one legacy is nonviolence. And that we will maintain."
Doug also reported that the Center will be self-sustaining once opened. It won't have to raise operating funds each year. He also announced several new contributions that have enabled them to begin construction in earnest. The Arthur Blank family foundation has donated an additional $1.5 million on top of the $1 million they had pledged before. The Coca-Cola Company has donated $500,000 in cash to go with the land it donated on which the Center will stand.
And, he told the Rotary group that PNC Bank and Invest Atlanta (the city's development authority) closed on $24 million in federal New Market Tax Credits at the end of February, which provides a key financial instrument critical to getting the project out of the ground.
So I am really looking forward to be among the crowd when it opens next year. I'll be proud to see the story of the role that the Atlanta Daily World played, along with many others, to bring about the vibrant city of diversity that we see today. And I am so gratified that we continued to look to the future for what we can do next to make the world a better place for everyone.
For more information about the Center, check out its website at www.civilandhumanrights.org.