During President Obama’s administration, many critics have accused Black Leaders of not stepping up to the plate in sharing major concerns of the black community with the president because he was a person of color.
I appreciate Dr. Boyce Watkin’s comment in his YourBlackWorld.net article, “Host Who Received “Cease and Desist” Order from Tavis Smiley speaks with Roland Martin, Tom Joyner”, “Since 2008, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Cornel West, Father Michael Pfleger and even I have clearly stated that the president and Congress must address the following issues: Violence, mass incarceration, black unemployment, poverty and unequal educational systems. Not only have these recommendations been made on a consistent basis, they were accompanied by specific policy avenues through which these matters could be addressed.”
There were meetings (at least) in 2010, 2011 and recently in 2012 which included Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League; Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network; Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
As cited in InsightNews.com, “Leaders Craft a Black Agenda for President Obama”, “Morial summarized five priorities that would be fleshed out in the new agenda:
• Achieve economic parity for African-Americans.
• Promote equity in educational opportunity.
• Protect and defend voting rights.
• Promote a healthier nation by eliminating healthcare disparities.
• Achieve comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system.”
Over forty African-American leaders were represented from newspapers, grassroots organizations, historical groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership President, Charles Steele and more. TV One’s Roland Martin even tried interrogating Rev. Sharpton and Marc Morial to find out how far were they willing to go to get results from the president. They wouldn’t “peep their cards”, but said there will be another meeting early next year with the president and all of congress.
We could spend time criticizing the leaders, the meetings or the agenda, however I think such criticism would be misplaced. I choose to focus on how we can 1. support this agenda 2. suggest change to the agenda 3. caucus to produce our own agenda and/or 4. take action to move this agenda forward. I’m for building up, collaborating and focusing on producing results. In all honesty, the question is not, what Tavis or Cornel is or isn’t doing; or what President Barack Obama and our leaders are or are not doing. The prevailing question we must honestly ask ourselves, is “What are WE doing to help ourselves, our schools, our churches and our communities? What say you?