M. Alexis Scott (22)
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.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson was in Atlanta this week, thanks to Delta Air Lines and the company's annual Star Awards for diversity suppliers.
Magic was definitely the star in his 30-minute conversation with former radio personality and restaurant owner Frank Ski. I was prepared to be cynical about his talk about being a successful businessman. Of course a world champion, hall of fame NBA star would be successful in business.
But after hearing him break it down, I realize that Magic Johnson does have the magic to be successful in business and everything else he does, including living healthy for more than 30 years with HIV.
"Everybody thought I was a dumb jock," Johnson allowed in response to Ski's probing question about his challenges in shifting gears from the basketball court to the world of business, "not a businessman."
Despite his detractors and critics, Johnson launched his business career. Today he is chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE), which includes multiple business entities and partnerships such as Canyon Johnson, a $1 billion dollar real estate fund, Yucaipa Johnson, a $500 million dollar private equity fund, ASPIRE, a new African-American television network, SodexoMAGIC, Magic Airport Holdings, Best Buy, T.G.I.F. Friday's Restaurant, Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, Detroit Venture Partners, and Vibe Holdings, LLC . He is the chairman of the multi-cultural media company that houses the Vibe, Uptown, and Soul Train brands. In addition he has a foundation that supports many great causes in communities around the country.
He is most noted in Atlanta for his Magic Johnson Theatres (a venture that no longer exists) and his Starbucks partnership.These deals served as the catalyst for redevelopment in urban communities across the nation and became a part of his business philosophy.
"You've got to believe in partnerships," he said. "I don't need all the money. Give me 5 percent. I'm good with that, especially If this means you'll have a successful business instead of a failure."
Besides partnerships, he said you've got to have good people working with you. "You've got to hire people with expertise, not just hire family and friends.... I pay my family to stay away." After joking about his family, he added, "You've got to find out who is best out there and who can help you."
Also, note that in 2010, he divested his Starbucks and Los Angeles Lakers shares for in excess $100 million dollars. However, he continues to assist Starbucks with their community development initiatives and remains vice president of the Lakers.
Johnson said he's been successful because he always does more than is expected. "You have to do more," he said. "You have to bring added value to everything you do." He said that as an entrepreneur, you have to "over deliver on your contract, so you can retain it and get another one." And for minority entrepreneurs, this is even more important, he said.
As a minority, you have to make sure you're successful, because it's not just for you. "If you're more successful, it will mean more opportunities for other minorities."
He also advised the small business and minority-business owner guests at the luncheon to make the right decisions about their brands and their reputations. "You want to look at yourself and your partners 20 years from now and say, 'we had a great run.'"
Magic said he attributes his success to his partners, being prepared and the foundation and values provided by his parents. He said he also wants to be a great example to his children. He noted that his wife Cookie keeps him grounded and is his greatest confidant.
"We didn't want to become Hollywood, we just wanted to do Hollywood," Johnson said in response to Ski's question about maintaining his humility. "I know that God can take it away tomorrow."
I've come away with a greater appreciation of the man behind the brand. So,Magic, thank you for the success that you share with others in business and in the community. And thank you Delta Air Lines for sharing him with us this week.
My dad was a photographer.
He started taking pictures before he was drafted into the Army during World War II.
When he came out, he continued taking pictures for our family and for the Atlanta Daily World. He took pictures of my mom, before they were married, for his college yearbook, The Maroon Tiger (Morehouse). He took pictures for the ADW of the first eight Black policemen hired by the Atlanta Police Department in 1948.
If he liked the color of what I was wearing to school, he'd stop everything and stand me in front of the fireplace in the living room and take my picture. Though he's been dead for 21 years, I still miss our annual family photo in front of the church on Easter Sunday for which he used a timer on his camera to put himself in the picture, too.
So this is why I have a very special feeling for the "Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story" exhibit that recently opened at the Atlanta University Center Woodruff Library, sponsored by PNC bank. For more than 40 years, Charles "Teenie" Harris (1908-1998) took more than 80,000 photographs of African-American life in Pittsburgh, mostly for the Pittsburgh Courier, a nationally-circulated Black newspaper, much like the ADW.
The Woodruff Library has 80 images on display that express the "truthfulness and beauty" of the Pittsburgh community, said Loretta Parham, CEO and director of the library at the opening.
The exhibit runs through May 24 and is free and open to the public during library operating hours.
"You can feel the love he has for the community, and you love him," said Karen Jefferson, project manager for the library.
Karen's right. The black and white images are brilliant and familiar, even though I've never been to Pittsburgh, nor met any of the subjects. Harris, like my dad, captured the ordinary and the exciting episodes of life in the community.
Archibald Hill, vice president, market manager and community development for PNC, agreed with the resonance of the photographs. He said he and his father were both students at Morehouse College and the exhibit truly captures the familiar life of the Black community.
A special guest at the opening was Deborah Willis, chair and professor of photography and imaging at New York University and a leading historian of African-American photography. Atlanta art historian Amalia Amaki introduced Willis by saying "she drops books the way rabbits drop babies." She added that they are not just books but "treasures, journeys and new opportunities to learn."
Willis said she met Teenie Harris in 1981 while she was still a student. She said Teenie's work captured the breadth and depth of African-American life from the 1930s to 1970s.
"I love Teenie Harris," she said. "He gave me a new way of looking at Black life through the lens of a Black photographer."
Another special treat at the opening of the exhibit was the presence of Teenie Harris' daughter, Cheryl Harris, and Harris' grandson, Taun Henderson, also a photographer. "It's a humbling experience to see my grandfather's work," Henderson said. "Growing up, I didn't realize how powerful this man was."
Henderson now lives and works as a wedding photographer in Atlanta. He said he was happy to follow in his grandfather's footsteps. "If you find something you love, you'll never have to work another day in your life."
Teenie's collection of photographs was acquired by the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh in 2001. Through the support of PNC, the exhibit has been presented in several cities throughout the country and the date here in Atlanta is the first in the South. As a media sponsor for the exhibit, ADW is hosting a photography forum on March 28 at the library to feature the work of several local photographers. Stay tuned for more details. You may even get a chance to take some of their work home. So, thanks, Teenie. Thanks Woodruff Library. Thanks PNC. And thanks, Dad.
M. Alexis Scott is publisher of the Atlanta Daily World
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed had some fun this morning at his annual "State of the City Business Breakfast" because he had good news to tell.
"For the first time (since I've been mayor) I can state proudly and confidently that the state of the city is strong," Mayor Reed told a room of nearly 1,000 business and civic leaders on Wednesday morning at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
He smiled, teased and glowed as he listed the many accomplishments of his administration, particularly the financial health of the city compared to where it was when he first took office in January 2010.
Blessed with one of the most beautiful smiles on the planet, it was a pleasure to watch him enjoy himself as he ticked off the list of "promises made and promises kept."
In the area of public safety, the mayor reported that the city has nearly reached its goal of 2,000 police officers, a longstanding aim of several mayors. He noted that felony crime is the lowest it's been since 1969.
He's proud of his efforts to transform the city's recreation centers into "Centers of Hope." He gave a shout out to Wells Fargo for its donation of $1.5 million for the recently upgraded Center of Hope in Thomasville.
He said next on the list for Centers are Pittman and Ben Hill. Besides Wells Fargo, strong corporate partners in this effort include The Coca-Cola Company and Turner
Broadcasting who all together have contributed more than $4 million to this initiative.
Besides the business community, the mayor acknowledged the Atlanta City Council members who were also present. "None of these things would be possible without a strong partnership with the Atlanta City Council."
The city's financial health has been revived, he declared. He said cash reserves have gone from $7 million in 2010 to more than $126 million. Unemployment has gone from 10.2 percent to 8 percent. He also thinks the plunge in property values may have finally ended. He said his first year, the property tax digest dropped $15 million, then $10 million the following year and then $5 million this year.
He pointed to the new Maynard Jackson International Terminal at the airport. He's excited about the development of the Atlanta Beltline. He's proud of the groundbreaking for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the College Football Hall of Fame being connected by the planned street car leading to the city's other big attraction: The King Center on Auburn Ave.
"We have to move out of this posture of merely surviving," he said.
And he's got big plans. He wants to tackle some $900 million in infrastructure needs. After his trip to China last year, he plans a trade mission to Brazil this year. And without naming it outright he kept up his drumbeat to help the Atlanta Falcons build a new stadium.
Saying that he follows a proud tradition of Atlanta mayors doing big things, he added, "I want to always be in the posture of choosing the future.... I want to make the right decisions at the right time."
And he couldn't resist having some political fun, too. He gave a slow build up to the visit of President Obama to Atlanta this week, suggesting that this prompted him to make a major
announcement. As the room waited with bated breath, he said, "I'm here to announce ...I am ... running for re-election." He let out a big "whew!"
I'm glad we got that straight. And just in case it wasn't clear, he reminded the crowd, "I am living my dream."
Congratulations, Mr. Mayor. You're the right person for the right time in the right job for our dear city.
M. Alexis Scott is publisher of Atlanta Daily World.
Last week I had a chance to hear the stories of two top General Motors executives at a breakfast for media and other community leaders at the Hyatt Regency.
It was part of the Trumpet Awards weekend of activities. The program was called "Cadillac Conversations," and featured Edward T. Welburn, Jr., the chief designer for the General Motors and Don Butler, the chief marketing officer for Cadillac. Welburn is a 2013 Trumpet Award honoree.
Both had inspiring stories about their climb up the corporate ladder. Welburn is GM's vice president of global design and is only the sixth person and the first African American to hold the position in the company's history. Butler, who grew up on a small town in Mississippi, is vice president for marketing at Cadillac and has responsibility for leading product planning, marketing, advertising and promotion for GM's iconic luxury brand.
As a former executive with a 22-year-career at a major media company (Cox Enterprises) I have a real appreciation for their long-time careers with GM. I especially related to Welburn, who is close to my age.
His accomplishments are very impressive. Welburn has created a network of 10 Design Centers in seven countries. He and his team of over 2,000 men and women are responsible for the design development of every GM concept and production car and truck globally. The Design Centers are located in the United States, Germany, Korea, China, Australia, Brazil and India.
Welburn and his team have recently captured the following honors: "2013 North "North American Car of the Year" for the Cadillac ATS at the recent American International Auto Show in Detroit; the all-new Chevrolet Corvette was named "Best in Show" by both Auto Week magazine and The Detroit News; and the Cadillac ELR won the Eyes on Design Award for "Best Production Vehicle Design."
Welburn's personal story was inspiring. He said his kids call it corny. They're wrong. It is inspiring. He said it was love at first sight when he went to an auto show as a kid of 8 years old in Philadelphia. "When I grow up, I want to design cars for that company," he said during the breakfast conversation. "At 11, I wrote a letter (to GM) asking them what I need to do, what courses I needed to take in high school and college in order to design cars." GM responded, and after completing his studies at Howard University, he joined GM in 1972 and worked his way up.
In addition to his design expertise, Welburn is also a member of GM's executive operations committee, which oversees activities for the entire company. Translation: this means he's the highest ranking African American in the company. He also is currently GM's key executive to Howard University, where he was named 2004 Alumni of the Year. In 1978, the GM Foundation, of which Welburn is a board member, established a yearly grant award to Howard. Since then, the GM Foundation has donated more than $1.1 million to Howard.
Welburn's and Butler's stories were nicely induced by Jocelyn K. Allen, director of regional, grassroots, and diversity Communications for GM. She asked them both what it meant to them to have these high-ranking positions as African Americans.
"I do not take it lightly," Welburn said. "Every day I walk into the office and sit at the same desk as the first chief designer.... I know it's important to talk with designers eye-to-eye around the world....I feel fortunate to work for a company that values design."
Butler said he feels a "special responsibility as a black man leading marketing for Cadillac.... Not as a burden, but it's an amazing testament to the company and to my faith in what God has done."
Both agreed that they feel a responsibility to mentor young people and pass along what they have learned to the next generation.
Makes you want to go out and buy a nice GM car -- Cadillac, Chevy or a Buick.
What a week this has been.
The combination of the second inauguration of Barack Obama and the 2013 commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday packed a big one-two punch.
I had tears in my eyes as I watched the annual service at Ebenezer Baptist Church as speaker after speaker showed the reach and range of King's dream. It was also very moving to see Bernice King's imprint as the new CEO of The King Center. For the first time in the 44years of the service, a Latino person gave the keynote address. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of Sacramento, CA, followed in the footprints of other nationally-known speakers like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., a King associate.
Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Bernice rightly described him as "an electrifying orator," as he urged his listeners to follow King's lead to a more just and peaceful world.
On Saturday night, I was impressed by the Salute to Greatness dinner in which this year's recipients included honorees in a new category: The inaugural ANGEL – Advancing No-violence through Generations of Exceptional Leadership – Award was created by Bernice to honor her mother Coretta Scott King and to recognize the work of young leaders from ages 12-to-25 years old.
Alec Loorz, founder of Kids vs. Global Warming and the global Matter Campaign, received the ANGEL Award for an individual. Loorz, who is passionate about saving the environment, said he learned public speaking and activism by watching and listening to speeches by Dr. King. Birmingham, AL, City Councilman James "Jay" E. Roberson, Jr., received the ANGEL on behalf of the "100 Days of Nonviolence" campaign, which he organized and led. During the campaign, no one was murdered.
Of course, this year's Salute to Greatness honorees were stellar, as well. Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner known as the Father of Microcredit, received the award for an individual. The Bangladeshi banker and economist is best known for making it possible for poor women the receive "micro" loans to start their own businesses to get themselves and their families out of poverty. And Georgia's own AFLAC received the corporation award. AFLAC CEO Dan Amos accepted the award, saying that his company is dedicated to improving the quality of live for its employees and the communities in which they live and work. He also noted that his company is 70 percent women and 40 percent people of color, a true reflection of their customers.
And finally, the dinner showed off its use of technology and social media, with attendees being asked to tweet throughout the event, using the #KINGSDREAMS and #IAMFREEDOM. You can go read mine under @adwnewswoman. In addition, attendees were asked to post their dreams for the world on a light board outside the dinner ballroom. My dream was to eliminate racism, poverty and war from the planet.
Then Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term as president, giving a magnificent speech that painted an inspiring vision of what America has working to be since it began with all its self contradictions.
Going back to the Declaration of Independence, Obama proclaimed that "all men are created equal," and talked about our personal responsibility to work together for the common good. It was easily one of his three great speeches. It was so inspirational that it reminded me of his first speech in 2004 when he first came on the national scene at the Democratic Covention.
This was a great week. Makes you proud to be an American.
M. Alexis Scott is publisher of Atlanta Daily World.
Well, 2013 is already shaping up to be quite a memorable year. On Jan. 1, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order to free the enslaved Blacks in the 10 states in rebellion as part of Abraham Lincoln's strategy to defeat the Confederacy during the Civil War and re-unite the union.
Now, President Barack Obama is using a bible owned by President Lincoln as he is sworn in on Jan. 21 to his second term as the first Black President of the United States.
And as if that weren't fitting enough, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington during which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I have a Dream" speech. To mark this signal event, President Obama is also using a copy of one of King's bibles during his swearing-in ceremony which will also take place on the 2013 King Holiday.
It's hard to get any more symbolism than this. The combination of Lincoln, King and Obama is certainly one for the history books. It's especially moving to me, a child of the 1960s who grew up in the segregated South.
"President Obama is honored to use these bibles at the swearing-in ceremonies," said Steve Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. "On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this historic moment is a reflection of the extraordinary progress we've made as a nation."
The Lincoln Bible is part of the collections of the Library of Congress and was originally purchased by William Thomas Carroll, Clerk of the Supreme Court, for use during Lincoln's swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861.
The King Bible was Dr. King's "traveling bible." It was used for inspiration and preparation of sermons and speeches, including during Dr. King's time as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
"We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the Oath of Office using his bible," Dr. King's children said in a statement. "His 'traveling bible' inspired him as he fought for freedom, justice and equality, and we hope it can be a source of strength for the President as he begins his second term."
While I wasn't old enough to have marched with Dr. King, Andy Young, John Lewis and others, I feel privileged to have grown up in Atlanta seeing these icons at work.
As my family chronicled the fight for equal rights and desegregation through the pages of the Atlanta Daily World, I came of age seeing and experiencing many dramatic changes -- from racial segregation to the election of Atlanta's first Black mayor in 1973, and the nation's first black president in 2008.
We have indeed come a long way from the "colored only" signs of my youth to the Obama signs of "hope and change."
And now look at what Bernice A. King is doing as CEO of The King Center. The MLK birthday observance Annual Commemorative Service, also on Jan. 21, will feature Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the first time a Latino leader will serve as keynote speaker.
Elder King calls him "an electrifying orator" and "one of the most dynamic and inspiring proponents of the social gospel in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr." The program, which will be held in Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary, precedes the swearing-in of President Obama.
So here we are, not a month into 2013, and it looks like it will be a remarkable year. I can't wait to see what happens next.
As we prepare to celebrate another Christmas holiday with family and friends, we are reminded to count our blessings in spite of the many challenges that we face, personally and as a community.
I had an opportunity to walk and talk with Andy Young this week as we toured the models for the new National Center for Civil and Human Rights that is scheduled to open in 2014.
He told me about one of his recent sermons taken from one of Paul's letters to the early church. He called it the "bad toenail" sermon. Young said that everything can be okay or even good, but if you have a bad toenail, that's what gets all your attention. I was telling him that I loved his newest documentary on the Jimmy Carter presidency, because it felt like such a love letter.
He told me that was his intent. "I like to focus on the positive," Young said. "Me, too," I replied.
So, that's my Christmas wish for everyone. Let's focus on the good. There's enough bad stuff going on in the world that we have to report and know about. But, I like to keep the focus of the ADW on the positive and uplifting things that are going on in our community.
As we come to the end of the year, feeling the sorrow from the shooting of little children in Newtown, Connecticut, let's feel inspired by the heroes and sheroes from that horrific attack. And let's be determined to do what we can to make things better. Let's do more to regulate guns. Let's provide more help for people suffering from mental illness. Let's work together regardless of political affiliation.
It almost feels like we are about to experience change we can believe in. I think President Barack Obama's re-election is finally setting in and we are getting our faith back to believe that yes, we can make a difference. We can make better public policy that helps more people and saves more lives.
Especially at this time of year, we have another opportunity to be reminded that we have a true role model to follow on how to lead a good life. We celebrate the birth of the son of God, who came into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it. Hallelujah!
M. Alexis Scott is publisher of the Atlanta Daily World.