Archive for Jr.

Is Floyd Mayweather On The Decline?

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Sports News with tags , , , on September 25, 2014 by Gary Johnson

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It seems from an abundance of the sentiment I am seeing and even my own feelings as a hardcore boxing fan, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has started to decline. Not necessarily financially yet, as he has a guaranteed two more $32 million pay days.

But as a brand, and as someone that people are interested in seeing, he is starting to get old. A confluence of factors have combined in a kind of perfect negative storm.

• His look how rich I am shtick has gotten old. People get that he has a few $ and likes to selectively throw it around. But he is tone deaf to the negative reaction that approach has on even his admiring boxing fans. Non-boxing fans simply detest it.

• A clearer view in this “Ray Rice” environment that Floyd has repeatedly treated women much worse than that single punch. No cameras were around to record it but the reports are simply too numerous and consistent in them to all be unfair “attacks” on Money.

• Trouble in his business camp. Whatever the reasons may be, good or bad, Floyd is showing discomfort with those around him. His my way only approach may have thinned the skin of those around that are not singularly dependent on his paying them for their livelihood. Time will tell how that unfolds.

• Lastly, and most importantly, his fights. His fights where he makes his millions. Relative to other bouts, fans have become increasingly aware of the fact that most of his fights are boring and predictable. When was the last time that you even THOUGHT that Floyd had the possibility of knocking someone out? Sure, he is clearly the better boxer, and does win a majority of 12 rounds with athletic skill and superiority. But there are enough young lions out there (Keith Thurman, Kell Brook….etc.) other than Pacquiao that would make things compelling. I will insert credit to Floyd for taking on Canelo. A bold move that paid off. However, with the above mentioned dark clouds circling, his next two fights will need to be bold as well, else risk a clear rejection of his bouts at the betting windows and on PPV. (The betting windows were the worst ever for this last rematch).

Floyd mayweather-Cars

The only non-competitive fight he can financially get away with is Amir Khan. From a pure boxing perspective Amir doesn’t deserve a shot. His recent record is mixed at best, and while he does come to fight, he also loses and gets knocked out. This at 140 lbs, a weight class BELOW where Floyd fights. However, boxing is a business and Amir has the largest demographic following in the weight vicinity and that means $$$$$.

If not PAC man or a young lion, any other fight will be looked at as just a way for Floyd to extend his “0” for the history books. The loser will most likely be Showtime and perhaps the host MGM site, as I predict the volume of fans just won’t show. People are seeing thru the childish hype.

The money team show of cash, cars, luxury goods, jewelry and Ho’s has run its course. Time for a different business strategy or shtick.

This is the assessment of a lifelong boxing fan (45 years).

Wilmer Cooksey, Jr.: The Man Behind The Corvette

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , , , on August 19, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Wil Cooksey - Corvette

Many of you were introduced to Wilmer “Wil” Cooksey, Jr., through our exclusive interview with him in 2003.  Mr. Cooksey was named manager of the world’s only Corvette plant in February of 1993.  As a lifelong fan of the car, it was a dream job come true.  Last year, Wilmer Cooksey, Jr. was inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Mr. Cooksey received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee State University in 1965. He earned a Master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Toledo in 1972 and completed post graduate work in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University.

A Distinguished Graduate of the Officer’s Training School, Cooksey served as an executive officer in the U.S. Army Artillery, 1st Lieutenant. His last assignment was a year in Vietnam. For his efforts while in Vietnam, he was awarded the bronze medal.

Mr. Cooksey’s General Motors career is the epitome of achievement beginning with his first job as an assistant professor in industrial engineering at GMI in Flint, Michigan to his current position.

Mr. Cooksey’s accomplishments are long and historic. In 1997 Cooksey received the “Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award.” Also in 1997, Austin Peay University named him “Achiever of the Year” in their Focus Program. He also received a Presidential Citation from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in recognition of exemplary experience that honors Tennessee State University. Dollars & Sense Magazine honored Cooksey in their 1998 “Salute to America’s Best & Brightest Business and Professional Men and Women.” Cooksey is featured on the cover of African Americans on Wheels magazine as they named the Corvette the “Best Urban Car of the Year.” He has been honored as an Outstanding Graduate of Tennessee State and named a “Black Achiever in the Industry” by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Here is our original interview with Mr. Cooksey.  That interview was conducted by Gary A. Johnson in 2003.

Wilmer Cooksey, Jr.:  The Man Behind The Corvette

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BMIA.com:  How important of a factor was education in your accomplishments? 

Education has been critical to my success.  In the 1950’s and 60’s you couldn’t expect or dream about opportunities if you didn’t further your education.  The same holds true today.  Growing up I saw so many people who were not given the professional opportunities available because of a lack of education.  My mother taught my siblings as well as myself the importance of education.  In fact, all eight of us went to college.  An education is something no one can ever take away from you.

BMIA.com:  You’re involved in a lot of community service work.  Were you taught as a child to be a good citizen or is this something that you learned later in life in the work world? 

Growing up in a lower-income, blue-collar family in Texas, we depended on services to help us out during certain times.  Even though my mom worked full-time in a hospital, money was very tight.  There were quite a few times when services would bring food or Christmas presents to the house for us kids.

Now I am in a position to return the favor and help others.  Supporting my community through the United Way and educational institutions, like Tennessee State University (TSU), are very important to our workplace and to me.

BMIA.com:  Who influenced you the most? 

Wil Cooksey:  My mother always had her sights set on earning a college education.  However, she was burdened by taking care of our family and working full-time.  She took night courses and always kept trying.  She was absolutely delighted when I as well as my siblings earned our college degrees.  It was her focus and determination that influenced me the most growing up.

My wife, Dr. Elizabeth Cooksey, has also been a great influence in my life.  We met while we were in college at TSU.  It was with her guidance and example that I saw the importance of getting a great education as well as having a good social life.  She’s been a guiding light ever since.  This year we’ll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

BMIA.com:  What’s your position on Affirmative Action in the workplace? 

Wil Cooksey:  Affirmative Action is absolutely necessary.  I believe that organizations are aware of the importance of diversity.  However, many do not have the action steps behind it to support creating a diverse workforce.  Unfortunately, you are not going to get the right mix of people automatically.

In today’s competitive market it is very difficult to recruit the best and brightest.  It takes a good recruiting program to attract the talent and diversity that companies need to be successful.  It requires mentoring, training and hiring practices that bring in people who are going to continue to grow and challenge traditional thought.

BMIA.com:  Based on your experiences, how does someone fight racism and sexism in America? 

Wil Cooksey:  The most important way to fight racism or sexism is not to feed or perpetuate it.  You cannot win if you use racism to fight racism.  Every individual has to walk the talk and set the example of how you as an individual want to be treated.

Education is the key.  I believe that ignorance is the basis for most of the racism and sexism that we see in our society.  We will all have a greater understanding of one another if we support educational programs and opportunities for all different kinds of people.

BMIA.com:  What was your earliest or most vivid recollection of being “different?”

Wil Cooksey:  I never really realized that I was different until I started wanting to go to the movies with my friends.  Not only was I black and had to sit in the upper balcony but I was also tall.  In fact I was so tall for my age that I had to carry my birth certificate with me so the movie attendants would believe that I was 10 years old.  Otherwise, I would have had to pay more than 10 cents to see some of the greatest westerns ever made.

It is at that age that I realized the inequities between the races.  By working and being surrounded by all types of people, I quickly learned that if I was going to be successful you have to have a better understanding of all people.

BMIA.com:  What would you say has been your biggest success to date? (Personal and/or business). 

Wil Cooksey:  My entire career I have focused on becoming the plant manager of the world’s greatest sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette.  The success that the car and the plant have had – winning more than 55 industry awards – in the past 5 years and launching the brand new Cadillac XLR means a great deal to me.  It has taken the teamwork and focus of everyone at Bowling Green Assembly.

Personally, my greatest success is being happily married to my wife for forty years.  We’ve been together through degrees, moves, wars, children and careers.  I am very proud of her and her accomplishments.  Most recently she earned her doctorate in secondary education.  It is with her unending support that I am most successful.

BMIA.com:  Did you have any mentors growing up?

Wil Cooksey:  When I first hired into General Motors your mentors were people you didn’t even know.  They worked behind the scenes making sure that you were given opportunities that you would traditionally be looked over for.  I began my career as a professor at GMI, now Kettering University, and teaching statistics.  However, my goal was to get back into production management and to become a plant manager. At that time GM’s Chairman of the Board was Dick Terrell.  It was as a faculty member that I met Mr. Terrell.  The board used to come and have lunches with the faculty quite frequently.  He took an interest in my career and helped me transition to a career in manufacturing where I eventually became a plant manager.  Little did I know that he was pushing my career from behind the scenes.

Now I serve as a mentor to many students at TSU and I can proudly look at the careers of employees who have grown up through my ranks.  It is my pleasure and greatest achievement to help mentor those who have ambition, talent and a drive to succeed.

BMIA.com:  What makes the Corvette so special? 

Wil Cooksey:  There is no one thing that makes Corvettes so special.  I could talk about all the specific reasons for hours.

Corvettes have to be in your blood.  When I lived in Atlanta I decided that it would be for the best to sell my Corvettes since I had so many different interests.  It didn’t take long before a sense of loneliness and emptiness set in deep inside me.  Corvettes take a place in your life whether you are driving, washing or showing them.  Very quickly I went to Tom Juniper Chevrolet because I was having Corvette withdrawal.  He let me take a two-toned white and silver ’82 home right off the lot.  I was happy once again.  Since that day I have never been without a Corvette.

Basically Corvettes end up being members of your family.  It doesn’t matter the year or body style, they are all special.  You depend on them and they take car of you.

BMIA.com:   Under your leadership, Corvette has won a number of prestigious awards.  What did you do to re-establish the Vette and win these awards? 

Wil Cooksey:  Bowling Green Assembly has been very successful due to entire team working together to achieve one common goal.  And, that is to be the best assembly plant in the world.  Our organization had to improve its productivity, performance and quality in order to be more competitive.  It took the partnership of the local UAW to take some bold steps and training of the entire workforce. We focused on safety and quality.

We also created enthusiasm by listening closely to our customers.  We started to use customer feedback from JD Power, Corvette shows and other mechanisms to solve quality problems.  It took teams of engineers, management and UAW members working together to get our quality where it is today.  We have learned that if you develop close relationships and listen to your customers you will be successful.

BMIA.com:  How important is diversity in today’s workplace? 

Wil Cooksey:  Diversity is essential.  In fact it’s mandatory if you are going to be successful. Our customers are diverse just as the people would build our products are diverse.  Companies today will not meet the needs of their customer base if they don’t have the same diversity in the workplace.

There’s strength in diversity, which means there is more than one way to always look at something. As a leader, if you have a diverse organization there is a greater probability that you will make the best decisions for the entire workforce.

BMIA.com:   As you climbed the corporate ladder was it difficult to find a happy balance between work and family? 

Wil Cooksey:  Unfortunately, you sacrifice a little bit of your time.  However, you have to take on the challenge to support your career as well as your family.  I didn’t get to go to all of my son’s track meets or my daughter’s band activities as they were growing up, but I did go to a majority of them.

It has helped that my wife is a professor and has a demanding schedule as well.  It is important that we both remain flexible and know one another’s schedule.

BMIA.com:  You are a trailblazer.  What advise would you give to someone who wanted to make a career in corporate America?

Wil Cooksey:  Here’s the advice that I would give any young professional wanting to make a career in corporate America:

–          It is important to have an excellent education.   Excel in your studies and take educational opportunities such as internships and work programs that will give you professional experience in your field.

–          As a student, make sure that you attract company representatives that can give you good advice and take on a mentorship role.  As a student or young professional, you are going to have to help navigating your career.

–          If you are going to be successful it is imperative that you have strong people skills.  Essentially, all people want to do the right thing. When entering a new organization you need to be part of the team and not come in a threatening manner.

–          Always show initiative.  Remember, it is deeds not words that get the job done.  You have to be known for getting the job done successfully.

–          Finally, no matter what the job is remember to always do your best.  Never let anyone see your displeasure with a certain job or let them see you sweat.  Go into each job to make the most of it.  If you always do your best, no one including yourself, will ever be able to question your integrity.

BMIA.com:  What’s next for Corvette?

Wil Cooksey:  We’re very excited about the future of Corvette both with the 2004 model and the upcoming C6.  It has been a great pleasure to be involved and contribute to three generations of Corvettes. 

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The 2014 Corvette

BMIA.com:   What’s next for Wil Cooksey? 

Wil Cooksey:  It’s my goal to have a pleasant and enjoyable end of my career.  The most rewarding thing is to see the people’s lives that I’ve touched as they go on ahead and achieve great things.   There’s never a dull moment in my life.  I am always ready for the next challenge.

BMIA.com:  Is there anything you’d like to share with our readers that I didn’t ask? 

Wil Cooksey:  People are your greatest resource.  It’s amazing what you can achieve when everyone works together.  You’re greatest strength is those who surround and support you.

This interview was conducted and posted on http://www.blackmeninamerica.com in 2003 and is being re-posted by popular demand.

“WELL MY MOM SAYS,” by C.M. LEE, Jr.

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Book Reviews and More, Motivational Moments with tags , , , on August 2, 2014 by Gary Johnson

C. M. Lee Book Cover

Here’s an excerpt from the book “Well My Mom Says,” by C. M. Lee, Jr.

Every Day, Be Thankful

As I step out of my door, I see the sunshine and breathe the fresh air and I’m thankful—thankful for this world, thankful for my health, thankful for my mobility, and so on.

I have the privilege to help people when they need a physician. I’ve gotten a bigger perspective on life just seeing people hurting and dealing with things I couldn’t image. This makes me thankful for the smallest of things, because not every person has the ability to see, talk, walk, speak, and read. The small things, when taken away, really make a huge impact.

As you sit and read this, no matter your situation, know that other people have made it through what you’re going through. If you can breathe on your own, be thankful; some patients have a machine breathing for them. If you can walk, be thankful; there are amputee soldiers that are wheelchair bound. If you have children, be thankful; some couples are infertile. I could go on and on and on.

There is always something to be thankful for. Don’t let one situation, one isolated aspect of your life, take your joy and skew your view. You have great things going on in your life. Make it a habit to always give thanks.

Excerpt from Chapter 8 Appreciation from Dr. Lee’s book “Well, My Mom Says…” published this past May by Westbow Press.

C. M. Lee PR About the Author: 

As a physician, speaker, entrepreneur, and CEO of CMLEEJR Co.  Dr. Clarence Lee embodies the importance of faith and persistence in life. The first physician, college athlete, and Air Force flight surgeon in his family; Dr. Lee is dedicated to helping others remove perceived barriers in their lives. Dr. Lee has been featured in The Word, the Sacramento Business Journal, Appeal-Democrat, and others. He lives in California and loves spending time with his wife and daughter on the coast.

Mayor For Life

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Book Reviews and More with tags , , , , on July 12, 2014 by Gary Johnson

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In Marion Barry’s book, race plays a factor in everything that occurs in America. In “Mayor for Life:  The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.,” you can learn how this politician’s focus on race made him one of the most popular and controversial figures in modern history. The book is chock-full of information contemporary Black households need to know about what can be done with political power.

Barry recounts the times when we were at our zenith in terms of political power. In Washington he’s a Black “icon” and “role model.” Born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper, Barry is the third of 10 children. His father died when he was four years old, and a year later his mother moved the family to Memphis, Tennessee, where her employment prospects appeared better. In his autobiography, Barry has a lot to say about how his life in politics was publicly diminished by institutions like the media and government agents.

Barry said the book helps readers “know me.” “Mayor for Life” shows the impact Barry has had on the District of Columbia. He’s a civil rights activist that adroitly leveraged political power for D.C.’s poor and Black communities. Barry has been at the center of the District’s triumphs and troubles since the 1970s. The 78-year-old politician proudly says that he has dedicated 40 years of his life to public service “always fighting for the people.” Known around the world, Barry served as the second elected mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991, and again as the fourth mayor from 1995 to 1999. He has served on the D.C. Council, representing Ward 8 since 2005.

Reading the book reveals Barry’s having courage, tenacity and vision few Black politicians display. The book illustrates that in no way was Barry colorblind. If President Barack Obama leveraged the power of the presidency toward his people, as Barry did, a nation of Blacks would be dancing in the streets.

Barry helped Blacks develop wealth through government jobs and contracts – Black businesses received 3 percent of D.C. contracts when he entered office and 47 percent when he left. Barry said, “They didn’t want me creating all of these opportunities for Black folks.” His deliberate hiring practices and set-asides for minorities created a generation of Black-owned businesses and the nation’s largest Black middle class. Mayor Barry’s true legacy is Prince George’s County – the nation’s wealthiest majority Black jurisdiction. No other mayor has come close to his achievement in providing jobs for poor young Blacks. The late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson places second on the list. Houston’s Lee Brown comes in third.

The worst longtime Washingtonians are willing to say about Barry is: “He didn’t exercise self-control.” Barry’s personal problems first surfaced in 1983, when he was accused of using cocaine at a nightclub party. The culmination of a series of embarrassing incidents was an FBI sting that caught Barry on a videotape smoking crack cocaine at the Vista Hotel. At his 1990 trial, Barry was only convicted of one of the 14 charges pending against him. One juror has been recorded saying: “I believe the government was out to get Marion Barry.”

 
Call him “a rascal” or “champion for the race” Barry deserves credit for his purposeful and single-minded quest of “doing what’s right for Black Americans.” The 324-page book published by Simon & Schuster is squarely aimed at Black readers. Barry makes no apology for that, addressing Whites at the end of the book: “I’m Black, and my life has been about uplifting Black folks.”

Howard University 1991 journalism graduate Omar Tyree, a New York Times best-selling author, penned the book with Barry. Like Barry, Tyree said the book was written for Black people, many of whom benefited economically from city contracts and summer jobs during Barry’s time in office. The “big payback” would be for Barry and Tyree to experience gigantic book sales. The book’s hardcover price runs about $20. Hopefully, Barry and Tyree will sell millions of copies so “the Mayor” can go fishing.

William Reed William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

5 Entrepreneurship Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists with tags , , , , on January 20, 2014 by Gary Johnson

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By Black Men In America.com Staff

On this day where the nation honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a national holiday, we ran across an article in Forbes.com magazine written by Joseph SteinbergSteinberg is noted for writing about entrepreneurship and cybersecurity.  He’s done a great job of connecting Dr. King’s message to what is relevant to us 45 years after his death.  In his article, Steinberg writes that entrepreneurs should take note of five important business lessons that can be learned from Dr. King, and his role in the Civil Rights movement.  The 5 lessons are:

1. Make Your Dream A Reality

The phrase people most often associate with Dr. King – excerpted from his landmark 1963 speech — is “I have a dream.” Of course, many people have dreams. Some even have great dreams. But most people don’t work to make their dreams a reality as did Dr. King. Great ideas for new products, businesses, and works of science and art die every day with their inventors. To be an entrepreneur is to dream – but is even more to do.

2. The Way It Was Is Not The Way It Has To Be

At the time that Dr. King gave his famous speech at the Mall in Washington, racism had been entrenched in American culture for centuries. Dr. King challenged the status quo, and raised awareness of a different and better future that could be built from positive change. Likewise, businesses often are averse to changing long-held positions, or denying that major changes for the better can take place, with or without them. Only a few years ago, “experts” were saying that people would reject keyboard-less smartphones like the iPhone, and Blackberry would continue to dominate the smartphone market for many years to come. We know how that turned out.

3. Change Can Happen Fast

The vast majority of the members of my generation – born not that many years after it took a struggle to get the Civil Rights Act passed – consider the notion that people should be segregated based on the color of their skin to be both morally repugnant and downright ridiculous. Attitudes change quickly – especially after positive developments occur and everyone sees the correctness of the change. This is true vis-à-vis business as well. Consider how quickly Blackberry went from market leader to having less than 4% of market share, or how fast Kodak was transformed from having its film products bought by nearly every family in America to filing for bankruptcy as a firm many teenagers “had never heard of.”

4. Build A Large Following

Dr. King was an amazing speaker who inspired millions of people with his words. But, ultimately, it was those large numbers of people who organized, marched, or otherwise influenced legislators and the public. There is little doubt that the grassroots nature of the civil rights movement – and the resulting far reach of its leaders – was a key ingredient in its success. In the Internet era it is much easier than the 1960s to reach large numbers of people; if you have a great message – spread it widely.

 5. Success Takes A Lot Of Work

The civil rights struggle did not achieve its aims overnight, and its success was built upon the hard work and sacrifice of many; Dr. King and various others even lost their lives. Thankfully, entrepreneurs do not need to make such giant sacrifices, but, effectuating change and achieving success does not usually happen without hard work. Yes, there are some businesses that skyrocket to the top, and there are some people who get rich quickly. But, the vast majority of businesses are built with a lot of time and effort. Don’t expect to succeed without working hard.

Joseph Steinberg Joseph Steinberg is the C.E.O. of Green Armor Solutions, a vendor of cybersecurity technologies which he co-invented, and which specializes in applying knowledge of human dynamics so as to ensure that maximum security can be delivered with maximum convenience.  You can follow Joseph and learn more about him on Twitter at @JosephSteinbergClick here to visit Forbes.com.

RNC Luncheon

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics with tags , , , , on September 24, 2013 by Gary Johnson

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By Purnell, Black Men In America.com Guest Columnist

MENDING FENCES ON THE HILL

It opened with the “Pledge of Allegiance” followed by the singing of the “National Anthem” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” This was powerful patriotic material tastefully presented, well received and resulted in an electrifying effect upon the audience. There was even a sprinkling of “Amens” heard at the end of James Weldon Johnson’s famous song!

Formal luncheons are usually mundane affairs on the Capital Hill circuit, but a Commemorative Luncheon on August 26, 2013 dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the historic March On Washington in 1963 sponsored by the RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and hosted by Kristol Quarker, the African American Liaison Chairperson…proved to be an exception. It was a delightful, cordial affair attended by an over-flow audience of local as well as national Republican personalities. Present was a representative blend of age and racial groups connected by a belief in and a dedication to, the tenets of Republican philosophy.  Some invitees were seemingly longtime local members of the party, others were well known national Republicans, while quite a few appeared to be recent political converts eager to hear the ideas of those steeped in a political philosophy they were now being invited to explore. The new folks were highly pleased by what they heard and favorably impressed by the sincerity of the speeches delivered by the honored guests. If not there to adopt a more conservative alternative political philosophy, the guests had at least expressed enough interest in the GOP for the Republican hierarchy to extend an invite. This event was special in several ways and for several reasons, but what made the affair unusually important was that a cohesive African American group was willingly and publicly edging closer toward Republicanism.

The irony in all of this is that it was white abolitionists who founded the Republican Party in 1854…to end slavery. By 1860 the first Republican President of the United States had been elected: Abraham Lincoln, “The Great Emancipator.” True to their credo, the first Republican president issued the “Emancipation Proclamation” to free all slaves on January 1, 1865. Radical Republicans of the 39th, 40th and 41st U.S. Congresses finished the job of making former slaves full citizens of these United States by passing the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments between 1865 and 1870. Later in the South, following the “Compromise of 1876,” southern black men were the mainstay of the Republican Party at great personal risk. They maintained their allegiance to the GOP well into the 20th century despite the murderous onslaught of white racist extremists in Dixie and the crippling effects of prejudice in the North. American politics is uniformly silent on this heroic legacy, to the detriment of African Americans and to the regret of White Republicans of goodwill.

Interestingly enough, in the course of the observance held at the Republican National Committee’s headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., a common theme seemed to reoccur. This repeated message found expression in various ways coming from dissimilar speakers recounting experiences from different time periods and within the context of a variety of professional situations. The crux of the matter is the seeming inability of the GOP to attract and retain a significant number of African Americans. It seemed to defy logic that an obvious political oversight had been ignored for so long that it has become a glaring embarrassment to the GOP and regrettably generates the grounds for accusations of racism from GOP detractors. A nagging embarrassment for Republicans, the problem is continually bewildering for many black Republicans and exerts an especially inhibitory circumstance for the growing number of African Americans who are reconsidering their blind allegiance to the Democrats. The difficulty as articulated repeatedly was this: “How can the GOP gain traction in African American communities in the United States following decades of neglect and what is the most promising approach to accomplishing that task?” Each time that the concern was elaborated upon, the audience responded with generous applause followed by thoughtful silence. That pattern between the speakers and the luncheon guests…agree that there is a problem and call for a prompt, rational solution…characterized attempts to address a sensitive, seemingly incongruent truism in contemporary Republican Party affairs.

               However, it seems that the means to solve the GOP’s dilemma with regard to black voters in America is inherent in the general description of the problem itself: a dormant mutual political HISTORY of long standing. It is incumbent upon the Republicans to establish that within the shared history of blacks and “The Party of Lincoln” can be found common values, ideals and a conservative ethic. Despite all the appeals to reason and sentiment served up as rationales for reconnecting blacks with Republicans, the element of motivation is apparently lost. So how best can the African American community be convinced to re-embrace Republican political thought and initiatives? Perhaps the historical approach combined with a substantial dose of conservative philosophy would work. This idea seems to hold the most promise for a political reconciliation. But why use an historical approach?

Carved in stone above the entrance to the U.S. Archive, America’s repository for its national narrative, are the words, “What Is Past, Is Prologue,” meaning…what is past, is “first.” Not many Americans look up as they walk into the imposing entrance to this building, but the words are there. For the GOP, the words above the entrance to the Archive could be instructive. It’s a relatively simple proposition for the Republican Party…they have to tout the finest aspects of their past relationship with blacks with emphasis on areas of shared agreement and then proceed to point out areas of political and value-based commonality. Extend an invitation to blacks to join the GOP mid-term and 2016 efforts to regain the White House and the Senate. There will be vigorous opposition to that partnership by the Left and the secular liberals who dominate the media…that’s their job. Their wailing will have to simply be ignored.

Notice that as blacks became estranged from the GOP, America drifted into a wonderland existence where there is no right or wrong and where dissent is vilified. Take for instance education; it is well known that secondary and higher education has been dumbed-down to pathetic levels by the adoption of secularist’s educational philosophies. And further, how can it be that 2 or 3 dozen colleges and universities out of a total of some 4,100 in America are managing through research and development to maintain US technological superiority in the world. Even worse, among the 30 top industrialized nations in the world, the US educational attainment now ranks 25th or lower on virtually all measures. These circumstances highlight a pathetic national reality. Ironically though, there is an opening here for the GOP.

               Republicans must respectfully elevate American political discourse with reliable, verifiable information, presented in novel ways, intended to capture the attention of African Americans long enough to loosen the grip of the other party and begin to neutralize the bandwagon-effect of using super liberal celebrities as instruments of political persuasion. A value system to live by has to be clearly articulated. A common-sense approach to the national problems of today and a move toward God, family and country needs to be formulated. An overpowering government needs restraint. Moreover, a clarification of the Republican ideology for the black community is long overdue. The list of essential actions obviously goes on, but the idea of active engagement has relative merit and the GOP must decide upon a course of action aimed at embracing its African American brethren.

               Clearly, today’s GOP is not the “Party of Lincoln” as its detractors self-righteously take every opportunity to point out. Republicans have to counter that criticism by simply establishing that the GOP is a body of guiding principles which transcend individual personalities…and that those principles have remained viable and intact. Republicans have to proudly claim and advocate for the ideals and values that carried African Americans through their epic struggle for freedom from American chattel slavery. They have to rally around their philosophical body of thought and make it clear that they are as legitimate today as they were in 1854. Surely those cherished traditional ideals deserve to be revisited by old friends seeking common grounds.

The March on Washington at 50

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists, Politics with tags , , , , on August 27, 2013 by Gary Johnson

William Reed

Business Exchange by William Reed

Fifty years to the day that Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, President Barack Obama will take to the same steps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The march is one of Black American’s greatest achievements. Tourism officials in the Nation’s Capital are hoping that a quarter-million people will assemble in Washington, August 21-28, 2013, for events hosted by the King children, the remaining four of the original “Big Six” organizations and the march’s last living organizer, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), and other organizations such as the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

The main events will include a commemorative march and rally along the historic 1963 route and a “Global Freedom Festival.”  The rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial and the festival on the National Mall. Among the featured speakers and groups are: Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, the families of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till; Lewis, and a host of Democratic officeholders and union officials.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago remains one of the most successful mobilizations ever created by the American Left. Organized by a coalition of trade unionists, civil rights activists, and feminists of the day, most of them African American and nearly all of them Socialists – the protest drew nearly a quarter-million people to the Nation’s Capital. It was the largest such demonstration in the history of the United States and set the stage for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unfortunately, many of the issues that gave rise to the March on Washington 50 years ago remain unfulfilled or under siege today. African Americans are still nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as Whites, a rate unchanged in the past 50 years. Actually, “March 2013” serves as bitter reminders of not only how far we still are from realizing “the vision for jobs and freedom”, it also underscores how ephemeral the gains made by the civil rights movement currently are in today’s society.

As Black Americans assemble in Washington D.C. again, it’s important that Blacks remember the role the late Bayard Rustin played in the march and subsequent movements. A proud Black gay man, Rustin served as an indispensable architect of the civil rights movement. His most noteworthy achievements include serving as chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, mentoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and helping to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Quiet and dignified throughout his career, Rustin probably would view with disdain the drama that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities wrought when they allowed local gay activists to summarily dismiss gospel singer and Pastor Donnie McClurkin from performing at a concert, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

A spokesperson for Gray said that: “The Arts and Humanities Commission and Donnie McClurkin’s management decided that it would be best for him to withdraw because the purpose of the event is to bring people together,” said Doxie McCoy. “Mayor Gray said the purpose of the event is to promote peace and harmony… that King was all about.”

Whether MLK “was all about” deference to gay lifestyles is questionable. However, McClurkin said he was “asked not to attend,” and cites the article he penned on a Christian website in 2002 that said that he struggled with homosexuality. “I’ve been through this and have experienced God’s power to change my lifestyle,” McClurkin wrote. “I am delivered and I know God can deliver others, too.” A longtime gay rights activist, Phil Pannell, raised objections with the mayor’s office because he said McClurkin’s comments on homosexuality were not in keeping with the spirit of the “beloved community” about which King spoke. Surely, the Gray administration cut a check to McClurkin, his management and musicians.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

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