Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's Time for Black Leaders to Lead

Check out my commentary published by New America Media:

It’s Time for Black Leaders to Lead

New America Media, Commentary, Sylvester Brown, Jr.

Posted: Mar 14, 2010

On March 20, public radio and TV host Tavis Smiley will host a symposium in Chicago titled, "We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda." In April, civil rights leader, Al Sharpton, will headline, “Measuring the Movement,” a conference designed to explore ways grassroots organizations can work with government agencies to improve the quality of life for blacks. Both events were arranged after a volatile dust-up between Sharpton and Smiley.

To briefly summarize, Smiley accused Sharpton and other black leaders of giving Obama a collective pass on pushing an agenda that addresses the disproportionate disadvantages black people face. Sharpton is against such a strategy, believing it’s counterproductive and puts Obama in a vulnerable position. It’s up to black leaders, not Obama, to push a “black agenda,” Sharpton said. Both arguments send distressing signals about black leadership in the Obama era.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., analogized some four decades ago, after entering the starting line of the race for equality some 300 years after whites, blacks still have to “perform some impossible feat in order to catch up with his fellow runner.” With disproportionate high school drop-out, murder, incarceration, poverty and unemployment rates, blacks still face a seemingly impossible feat.


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