Friday, March 31, 2006

The Conscience of Saline County

African Christianity Boom Spills to U.S.
By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press
On the 25th floor of a luxury office tower, a church most people have never heard of is planning to save America. Its leaders believe Jesus has sent them to spread a difficult truth in the United States: Demonic forces are corrupting society and only spiritual warfare can stop them. Call it the message. The messenger comes from Nigeria. The Redeemed Christian Church of God was founded in Lagos by men and women who were once the target of missionary work themselves. Now their church is one of the most aggressive evangelizers to emerge from the recent advance of Christianity across Africa, and their offices in the high-tech corridor of greater Dallas reflect the group's bold, entrepreneurial approach. Washington Post

College Board Acknowledges More SAT Scoring Errors
By Lois Romano
School administrators were stunned yesterday by the revelation from the College Board that an additional 27,000 SAT tests from the October exam had not been rescanned for errors. The announcement was the third admission in two weeks by the testing organization of potential errors and underreported scores in the college entrance exam used by thousands of schools. A spokesman for the New York-based company said that the largest error was a discrepancy of 450 points out of a potential 2,400. The total number of students who will have higher scores resubmitted is 4,411. "It's incomprehensible to me that there have been three separate discoveries of scoring errors on the same exam," said Gary Ross, dean of admissions for Colgate University, which was informed that it had received 57 erroneous scores. Washington Post

10 most notable African-Americans of all-time
By Eric Williams

Before I go any further, let me say that, of all the articles and columns that I have written during my nearly two decades of professional writing, this was one of the toughest I have ever had to write.
Selecting only 10 people for this list was akin to having a bad tooth pulled with no Novocain. To be honest about it, many of the names on my list of all-time greats could certainly be substituted for many other equally deserving candidates. However, when push came to shove, which, for all intents and purposes, is exactly what a deadline is, I made some tough choices and I am sticking with them.
The only criteria I used in making my selections were, how important each person’s contributions were to the betterment of the entire African-American race. Now that that’s done, here we go.

Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-1968)
I don’t think there is a person alive who would object to my selection of Martin Luther King as the number one most notable African-American of all-time. The legendary civil rights leader who was slain in August of 1968, preached a message of equality for all and spurred numerous political and ideological changes that have affected every African-American who has resided in the U.S. since the time of his death. King’s “Dream” has been alive for nearly four decades and his message and memory show no signs of ever being forgotten by a multitude of races all over the globe.

Harriet Tubman (1821-1913)
Yes, we all know that Tubman made 19 trips to the north and saved at least 300 slaves from what was most likely more years of slavery, but I’m not sure whether or not many young African-Americans realize how important Tubman’s contributions were since they occurred so long ago. To put Tubman’s achievements in proper perspective, there is no telling how many lives beyond those 300 that were altered, extended and changed forever by her courageous acts. I suspect that many of the same people, who were moved by Dr. King’s impassioned pleas over a half-century after Tubman’s death, were probably descendants of slaves whose lives were saved by Tubman’s heroic efforts.

3. Fredrick Douglas (1817-1895)
Douglas was, for all intents and purposes, his era’s Martin Luther King. He was the most famous of all black abolitionists as well as one of the greatest American orators of his day. Douglas was also an editor author, statesman and reformer who was often referred to as the Called "The Sage of Anacostia" or "The Lion of Anacostia,"Douglass was among the most prominent African-American of his time, and one of the most influential in American history. He was often called "The Father of the Civil Rights Movement."

4. W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
Dubois was one of the most influential black leaders of the first half of the 20th Century. He shared in the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and served as its director of research and editor of its magazine, "Crisis," until 1934. Dubois was also the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1896. Labeled as a "radical," DuBois was ignored by many who hoped that his massive contributions would be buried along side of him. But, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, "history cannot ignore W.E.B. DuBois because history has to reflect truth and Dr. DuBois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with honest study of the black man and he sought to fill this immense void. The degree to which he succeeded disclosed the great dimensions of the man."

5. Richard Allen (1760-1831)
Being born and raised in Philadelphia, I know all about Richard Allen. The First Black Bishop and A.M.E. Church leader was president of the first national Negro convention and is sometimes called "The Father of the Negro." Born into slavery in Philadelphia in 1760, Allen died in 1831 not only free but influential as well and the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which he organized in 1816, and its first bishop. The only way I can describe Allen, is to say that he was his generation’s Martin Luther King as well.

6. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)
The career educator was a mentor to a whole generation of leaders and was the first Black woman to receive a major federal appointment. Bethune was one of the greatest educators in United States history. She was a leader of women, a distinguished adviser to several American presidents, and a powerful champion of racial equality. Bethune began her career as an educator when she rented a two-story frame building in Daytona Beach, Fla., and began the difficult task of establishing a school for African American girls. Her school opened in October 1904, with six pupils, five girls and her own son. This began the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls, in an era when most African American children received little or no education. At first Bethune was teacher, administrator, comptroller, and custodian. In 1923 Bethune's school for girls merged with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Fla., a school for boys, and the new co-educational school became known as Bethune-Cookman Collegiate Institute, soon renamed Bethune-Cookman College. Bethune served as president of the college until her retirement as president emeritus in 1942. She remained a trustee of the college to the end of her life. By 1955 the college had a faculty of 100 and a student enrollment of over 1,000.

7. Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
The woman we know as Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in New York as Isabella Baumfree. The abolitionist and leader of the women's movement lectured widely and fought for land and rights for the freedmen. In 1843, she took the name Sojourner Truth, believing this to be on the instructions of the Holy Spirit and became a traveling preacher. In the late 1840s she connected with the abolitionist movement, becoming a popular speaker. In 1850, she also began speaking on woman suffrage. During the Civil War she raised food and clothing contributions for black regiments. After the War ended, Sojourner Truth again spoke widely, advocating for some time a "Negro State" in the west. She spoke mainly to white audiences, and mostly on religion, "Negro" and women's rights, and on temperance, though immediately after the Civil War she tried to organize efforts to provide jobs for black refugees from the war.

8. Nat Turner (1800-1831)
I’m sure a lot of folks will scratch their heads at this selection, but Turner wasn’t just a runaway slave who started a revolt and murdered a bunch of people. His efforts, which certainly did not end in vain, changed the way a multitude of slaves viewed slavery and fueled their subsequent acts of heroism to abolish slavery nationwide. Born on October 2, 1800, in Southampton County, Virginia, Turner organized a rebellious escape attempt on August 21, 1831 in which he and several other slaves killed 55 whites in the process. Although Turner was captured and executed later, his boldness changed the thought process for every slave until the time when slavery was ultimately abolished.

9. Malcolm X (1925-1965)
Like Turner, Malcolm X was a militant man who abhorred the oppression that whites had placed on African-Americans living in the U.S. for centuries. Unlike his more peaceful counterpart, Martin Luther King, Malcolm sought to end oppression of blacks in the U.S. “by any means necessary.” During his life, Malcolm went from being a street-wise Boston hoodlum to one of the most prominent Black Nationalist leaders in the United States. As a militant leader, Malcolm X advocated black pride, economic self-reliance, and identity politics. He ultimately rose to become a world renowned African American/Pan-Africanist and human rights activist. Like Turner and King, Malcolm X’s life was extinguished far too early when was assassinated in New York City on February 21, 1965 on the first day of National Brotherhood Week.

10. John H. Johnson (1918-2005)
Once again, many people may have a problem with this selection, but that’s a shame because Johnson was truly an African-American giant and visionary who strived to make the United States a better place for African-Americans everywhere.
Johnson formed the Johnson Publishing Company and transformed it into a multi-million dollar entity that assisted, promoted and raised the consciousness of African-Americans everywhere. Johnson was the first black person to appear on the Forbes 400 Rich List, and had a fortune estimated at close to $600 million.
However, it wasn’t the fortune that Johnson amassed that put him on this list for me. Once again, it was educating and teaching a nation full of African-Americans about the successes, failures, possibilities and realities of life for blacks living in the United States.

By Andiyia

The US government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with USD $160,140.00 for a middle income family. That doesn't even touch university tuition. But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:
* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day! * Just over a dollar an hour. Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140.00? * Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold. * Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
For $160,140.00, you never have to grow up. You get to:
* finger-paint, * carve pumpkins, * play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.
You have an excuse to:
* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day. For $160,140.00, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:
* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless. You get a front row seat to history to witness the:
* first step, * first word,
* first date, and
* first time behind the wheel.
You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match. In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so . . one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price!!!!!!! Love & enjoy your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and all of the steps, too!

The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: May 3, 2006
Hundreds of thousands of teens nationwide are expected to participate in thefifth annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on May 3, 2006. On theNational Day, teens nationwide are asked to take a short, fun, onlinechallenge at <> that asks them to reflect on the best course of action in a number of sexualsituations. The purpose of the National Day is to focus the attention ofteens on the importance of avoiding teen pregnancy and other seriousconsequences of sexual activity. For extensive information about the National Day, <

Harry Belafonte On His Dis-invitation To Coretta Scott King's Funeral
Harry Belafonte On His Dis-invitation To Coretta Scott King's Funeral
Actor/Activist Makes First Public Comment on the Issue
Excerpted Transcript From NPR's 'Democracy Now'

"I saw who sat there, and as the camera moved about, I saw who was sitting in the audience, and I saw all of the power of the oppressor represented on the stage, and all those who fought for the victories that this nation was experiencing and enjoying sat in the outhouse, sat out in the field, sat removed, and if it not been for Lowery, for President Carter and for Maya Angelou, we would have had no voice and no representation at all." -- Harry Belafonte
AMY GOODMAN: Harry, I have a quick question, talking about the children and talking about Dr. King in Birmingham. Coretta Scott King recently died, and it was quite a remarkable funeral. Over 10,000, 15,000 people came out, four presidents, many senators. Reverend Joseph Lowery, while President Bush was sitting right on the dais, talked about weapons of misdirection right here, and President Carter talked about Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King being spied on, and Maya Angelou stood up and said, "I speak here for Harry Belafonte and others." Did you try to go to Coretta Scott King's funeral?

HARRY BELAFONTE: What had happened was that when Dr. King came on one of his very first trips to New York, he was in Harlem, and a deranged black woman stabbed him, and he was -- the blade was just millimeters away from his heart, and to remove the instrument, his life was in jeopardy, and it was a very delicate operation. And it was then that I understood that -- after seeing Dr. King and talking to him, his first concern was what would happen to his family. And I said to myself, our leader cannot be concerned about that. That burden should not be on his shoulders. There are other aspects of the burden that would be his in relation to it, but not that. So that it was demanded and responded to that forever the welfare of his family would never be in jeopardy with him being at the helm of the movement, and we brought resources, and it was my task to direct all that, watching the kids grow, put money aside for their studies, to take care of Coretta, to make sure she had every convenience at her disposal to go, come while her husband was incarcerated.

So the intimacy of that experience was something that I had become accustomed to, and when Dr. King was murdered, I was in Atlanta in their home, and we separated ourselves from others who were there in the living room, and she said, "Would you come with me." We went into the bedroom, and she said, "Help me select the clothes that I must -- we must dress him in." And it was a very private and a very remarkable thing to - the intimacy of it with her. And as we were selecting the suits and the shirt and the tie and laying it out, she sat on the bed, and she kind of - a place where she had slept so often with her husband, and all those memories. And I said, "What is it?" She says, "You know, I'm worried about where this is all going. I'm worried about the nation, the rage, the anger, and I need to know what to do." And we talked for a second. Then I said to her, "You know, at this very moment in Memphis, thousands of sanitation workers are on hold, because Dr. King was supposed to have been there tomorrow to lead that movement and to speak to the people, and before your husband, our leader, is put in his grave, if you have the will and the capacity to go down there tomorrow and stand up before those workers and let the world know that the movement has not been interrupted, that the process continues, and that all of us, as strong or as weak as we may be, will step into the breach and do what must be done." And she did, and she went down, and she spoke, and we came right back.

Now, all through the years since then, the building of the King Center, many choices of things that she made to do, because she was in her own right very involved for Dr. King. She was one of the - she was very, very committed to the peace movement, and as a matter of fact, in Europe, during the assassin-- the missile crisis and whatnot, we gave -- we put on a peace concert for 250,000 Germans in Cologne, mostly students, and the moment when Coretta King -- I called and asked her to come to speak. It would mean a lot to the young people there. She came, and I have never, ever heard a declaration of approval like those young German youth did when she came, and she had a sense of her own power. She had a sense of her own capacity to bring influence and to be revered for the work she did.

On the Pulse

When she died, none of us knew that she was in Mexico, that she had -- I knew that she was ill. I knew about the heart attack, the defibrillation and the stroke. But - and I knew she had cancer, but I thought the cancer was contained, and when she went to Mexico, she was there with her children, and I got the news completely without knowing any of the details, so for a few days we didn't know what was happening. Where is she? Who's bringing her home? When is the funeral? When is the this, when is the that?

And finally, I left a call -- I left a message on the phones of the children, saying, "Please give me a call. I know this is a difficult moment, but there are things that must be done, and I would like to help if I can." I was then called a day later and told that, yes, that it was on that Tues-- this was on a Friday, Friday evening, that the funeral was going to take place that Tuesday, and that it would start at noon, and that with all the people that were being invited, that it was -- I was to be one of these people delivering the eulogy, and that my time would be at somewhere around 12:30 or 1:00, and I said, "Fine." And knowing this, I began to put my thoughts together.

That Saturday, Bush declared he was coming. He would be there. That Sunday, I began to change my speech, not to be rude or to be attacking, but to integrate this moment into what needed to be said. And then, that Monday morning, I got a call, and I was told that the invitation that had been extended to me had been pulled. I was uninvited. A woman by the name of Skinner and a Reverend by the name of Lawrence was the one who called me to tell me that I was uninvited, and when that call came, I called and spoke to one of the children. They said, these are the events, and I need to be counseled as to how this has come about, and I was told that I would get a call shortly, and it would all be clarified. And then, when the final call came, it was -- they were sorry, but the invitation - the withdrawing of the invitation would stand and that if I came down, they would find a place for me in the church, but I would not speak. And I did not go at all. I did not know how to deal with that.

What struck me was on the day of the ceremony, I saw how the altar was adorned. I saw who sat there, and as the camera moved about, I saw who was sitting in the audience, and I saw all of the power of the oppressor represented on the stage, and all those who fought for the victories that this nation was experiencing and enjoying sat in the outhouse, sat out in the field, sat removed, and if it not been for Lowery, for President Carter and for Maya Angelou, we would have had no voice and no representation at all.

Some ministers who were quite angry at all of this said, "Come on down here. Let's -- let's -- We have to talk to the press," and I said, "Talk to the press about what?" "About this. We cannot let it stand." I said, "I don't think that's appropriate. These are the children of my friend. These are the children of the movement. Where did we let them get caught? Why was Bernice giving this kind of sermon? How did you let Reverend Long become the minister of choice? Why wasn't it at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached? And before we go public and begin to vent our anger, let us understand what role we played in this capitulation that has led to this moment, and let us try first to repair it rather than to go into public discourse.

When do we sit in a circle of healing? When we begin to talk about getting back to where we lost stride. How do we fix this? Not how do we play the vanity game, and get off on going public and talking about how I was crucified. You know, it's what it is, and there is a way in which we have to do this that not only prevents - I don't know that there'll be another moment quite like that, because Dr. King and Malcolm X and Fannie Lou Hamer, folks like that were so rare that to be a part of the final ceremony of their departure is a rare moment in history, but I think that it goes along with what I have been saying here. What role have we played in letting all this happen? Where were we? What were we doing that had us so distracted? How can it be this way? How did you priests and ministers let the evangelical rightwing Christian forces co-opt the greater truth about Christianity and the philosophy of liberation? And how did you all let that happen, and where are your voices in opposition publicly?

Everybody has a part in this. Everybody has something to look at, and I think it is a collective experience, and that's why I think rather than sitting here drifting, we've got to talk about this, not just where we failed and where you failed, and we've got to come out of this discourse and this discussion, not just talking about it but saying, "Here's where we go," and take courage in the fact that we can turn this around, because the truth of the matter is we are the only ones that can turn this around. Nothing and no one else can do it. Nothing.

AMY GOODMAN: Harry Belafonte, describing his dis-invitation from giving a eulogy at the funeral of Coretta Scott King.

THE ISSUE: Over the last two decades hundreds of studies from governmental agencies and non-partisan think tanks have all concluded that in the United States the color of your skin, your ethnic background and where you live can not only influence your health care access and quality; they can determine them.
The statistics are as unthinkable as they are conclusive: African Americans are 23% more likely to die from various types of cancer than whites. African American and American Indian / Alaskan Native infant mortality rates are more than 2 times higher that that for their Caucasian counterparts. African American women are nearly four times more likely than white women to die during childbirth or from pregnancy complications. The death rate from asthma is more than 3 times higher among African Americans than among whites. The diabetes death rates among African Americans and Hispanics are about 2 times higher than that among Caucasian Americans. The AIDS case rate among African Americans is more than 10 times higher than that among whites; the AIDS case rate for Hispanics is more than 4 times that of white Americans. African American diabetics are more than 3 times more likely than Caucasian diabetics to have a lower limb amputated.
There are a myriad of reasons for these tremendous discrepancies, and that is why no one step will resolve them. The Healthcare Equality and Accountability Act, S. 1580, introduced by Senator Akaka (HI) / H.R. 3561, introduced by Congressman Honda (CA) and endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus takes a multi-faceted approach to address these problems. It would expand exiting forms of health insurance; work to remove language and cultural barriers to quality health care; improve the diversity of the healthcare workforce to reflect, understand and respect the diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives of the people it serves; support and expand programs to reduce disparities in particular diseases and conditions, especially diabetes, obesity, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS; improve racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and language data collection to adequately identify, measure and find reasonable and innovative solutions for health disparities; ensure adequate funding of the Office of Minority Health, and the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities ; and bolster the capacity of institutions that provide care in racial and ethnic minority communities.
To read the entire Action Alert please click here