Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on January 29, 2010 at 8:57 am

Dead on arrival–at least that’s what many opponents of the proposed JSU, ASU, and MVSU consolidation were told yesterday. College Board (IHL) President Scott Ross said in a Senate hearing meeting that “Based on private conversations that we’ve had with members of the Legislature as well as many public comments that we’ve seen by members of the Legislature, we have assumed that the merger idea is dead on arrival in this Capitol, and there is no reason for us to discuss. And we haven’t.”

IHL Commissioner Hank Bounds said that the university system budget could be reduced by at least $183 million by 2012. Furthermore Bounds said that in order for the university system to reconcile the shortfall in the budget, there will be some 400 employees laid off, reduction in 850 courses, and the loss of 35 departments. For Bounds “If the projections are worse than this … the three (historically black universities) won’t be the only ones in real trouble.”


“Let Me Know”

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2010 at 1:40 am

Somehow, while listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, I was reminded of the late R&B singer Aaliyah’s cover of the Isley Brother’s song At Your Best (You are Love). Aaliyah opens the song with one strong request, let me know, let me know, let me know. Not addressing healthcare until a third through his speech, President Obama issued a challenge to both sides of the aisles: “But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.”

In these economically difficult times, we all want to know–in Mississippi we want to know how education will be impacted by the budget cuts, we want to know if professors will lose tenure, we want to know whether mental health will be cut drastically, we want to know quite a bit. As the song continues: “Confusion can give way to doubt, And there are times when I fall short of what I say, What I say I’m all about, all about”–elected leaders too fall short, and President Obama appeared to be extremely humbled by some of the challenges his administration has faced. “Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved.”

Is there an end in sight? Let me know. Will the markets respond favorably in 2010? Let me know. Will, will, will, no matter the question, no matter how it is formed, we all want to know what the future holds.

“If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you shouldn’t call it a chicken”

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2010 at 1:00 am

If it weren’t real life it would make for good public policy reading–Governor, in the face of declining revenues, makes significant budget cuts, then House comes back to reinstate most of the third round of cuts. Governor says that there will be no tax increases, while some in and around the legislature are calling for tax increases on those in the six figure range. As a means to save money, school districts could potentially be consolidated, and perhaps some universities as well. Ok, I love politics, and this is an interesting read for me. But wait, this is real–real Mississippi.

There are tough decisions to be made and one of those decisions, according to Jackson State University President Ronald Mason, Jr.’s proposal is to consolidate Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State with Jackson State to form Jacobs State University! The name is inspired by a former slave and founder of Jackson State, H.P. Jacobs. According to Adam Lynch of the Jackson Free Press, Senator Alice Harden of Jackson spoke with President Mason regarding this proposal “and I don’t support it. We need to do something, but this isn’t it. I can’t stand behind this.”

Representative John Hines and HBCU Alliance Chairman Othor Cain have organized a rally at the state capitol on Thursday, January 28, according to the Delta Democrat Times, to “show support for our historically black schools. If we don’t, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. We can’t sit back and not do anything to prevent this from happening.” Additionally, of President Mason’s proposed consolidation of the three universities, Cain remarked that “If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you shouldn’t call it a chicken. The way this plan is set up, it seems to turn Alcorn University into a remedial college for teaching students who leave high school unprepared for college. That’s what community colleges are for.”

Click here to read Adam’s story and to view President Mason’s proposal.

Not Just a Southern Thing

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2010 at 12:20 am

As a kid, growing up in a rural town, frequenting the place with the golden arch or any other fast food establishment was at best a treat. However, when I went off to college, the temptations, wow the temptations. Fast food on every corner, fast food, fast food, fast food–it was an addiction. Thank goodness that I played basketball in college to keep the weight down, but now looking back, I needed a healthier balance.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health Mississippi, for the fifth year in a row, is the fattest state in the union. Former Mississippi state health officer, Dr. Ed Thompson, said the information used in the report was “old data rehashed.” But that Mississippi was addressing the “multifaceted problem” by targeting the children.

Some 900 miles away in Prince George’s County, community activist Arthur Turner and Maryland state senator David C. Harrington are tackling the very same issues that Mississippi’s facing–obesity. The duo, “Pointing to studies that rank Prince George’s residents among the least healthy in Maryland, Turner and Harrington want to limit new fast-food restaurants in the county, a far stricter approach than what has been enacted in such places as New York City and Montgomery County, which banned the use of trans fats in those establishments.” Turner stated that “Our county is inundated with unhealthy food choices.”In some areas, if someone wants a healthy choice, there are no options. We want healthy options in our community.”

Whether it’s Prince George’s or Mississippi, obesity is much more than a “southern” thing–even though the diet in the south primarily consists of anything fried. Obesity is one of those diseases we would rather not discuss. But it too is a disease that is robbing us all.

Looking for S-A-V-I-N-G-S!

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2010 at 9:42 am

There are many in Mississippi who are calling for the Legislature to give Governor Barbour more flexibility in budget cuts. The largest state agency heads are also requesting the Legislature to grant them “lump sum budget authority and the flexibility to better manage personnel needs in order to limit potential job cuts by removing the bureaucratic constraints of the State Personnel Board.” The House passed a bill to limit the Governor’s budget authority, which counters a bill passed by the Senate that would grant the Governor “emergency” powers for a year to cut any agency up to 10 percent. House Bill 392 calls for the Governor to spend down rainy day funds and limits the budget cuts to $347 million.

Now Legislators are looking to higher education for significant savings. Elizabeth Crisp of the Clarionledger said that “Lawmakers introduced a slew of university-related bills before this week’s deadline for general bills and constitutional amendments. Many are attempts to cut costs or increase revenues for the eight public universities.” Among these bills include merging Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University with Jackson State as well as Mississippi University for Women with Mississippi State. Rep. Credell Calhoun of Jackson wants “to see (the merger proposal) die before it even makes it to the House.” The Senate Universities and Colleges committee is scheduled to hold a January 28 hearing to discuss how to preserve the state’s higher education system, which also will include discussions on potential mergers.

“Remember the whole “‘Yes, We Can'”

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2010 at 9:09 am

This was on my friend’s facebook status last night after Scott Brown, Republican from Massachusetts, won former senator Ted Kennedy’s seat. After campaigning in Massachusetts, President Barack Obama and the Democrats may not have a leader, dare I say they are searching for an identity. After a wave of optimism that swept the nation to become President, according to Tonyaa Weathersbee, “he is struggling to persuade much of the nation to give him a real chance to govern.”

My friend is right, “Yes, we can” hasn’t translated to governance–so where do the Democrats go from here? According to CNN’s Ed Hornick and Kristi Keck, the Democrats are now blaming each other. “Even before the polls closed on Tuesday night, Democrats were distancing themselves from Democrat Martha Coakley and blaming her lackluster campaign for her stunning loss in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts. A top adviser to President Obama rejected assertions that Tuesday’s vote was a referendum on the president or Democratic policies and instead took a shot at Coakley: “‘Campaigns and candidates matter.'”

Now I’m left with questions: is this setting the stage for things to come in the mid-term elections? What does this do to the President’s healthcare agenda? Who is the leader of the Democratic Party? Time will tell how Democrats respond to this loss, but more importantly, time will tell how the President will respond to such a loss.

The Drum Major’s Legacy

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2010 at 11:15 am

“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that’s all I want to say.” To me these are one of the greatest lines from a speech that I’ve heard. Dr. Martin Luther King’s The Drum Major Instinct.

On this day we celebrate a man who became the symbol for a movement. He embodied the struggles, the pains, but also the hopes and dreams of things to come. Dr. King’s legacy can be felt from Mississippi to D.C., and yet we continue to make the American dream an obtainable goal for everyone no matter the race, gender, creed, or color. While many of us look to today as another day off, today is so much more than that. Today is an opportunity for us to reflect on our drum major instinct–where are we in marching for justice, peace and righteousness?

Eyes and Hearts toward Haiti

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

A sudden shock or loss takes our collective breaths away. We fall, we hurt, we cry, we are numb. And it seems that nothing we do could make the situation better. Whether you believe in a higher power–science, nature, a spirit, God, or many gods–there is something greater that possibly sustains us through the difficult times.

Looking at the pictures streaming out of Haiti, the massive loss–loss of lives, loss of buildings and other structures, loss of normalcy–Haiti, who was already struggling without this crisis, is struggling to recover what little it possibly can following an earthquake on Tuesday. Jeffrey Kluger of Time Magazine asks whether this earthquake could have been predicted. Kluger continues “If any earthquake ought to have been predictable, it was the one that just struck. Haiti sits over two clashing tectonic plates, the North American and the Caribbean, which form what’s known as the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault. Geologists know the fault well and have studied it for decades, and well they should: it has shaken the region violently and repeatedly over history, though yesterday’s quake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, is the worst in a century.”

Mary Beth Sheridan and Debbi Wilgoren of the Washington Post reported of the sights and scenes from their entrance into the devasted country: “Although the Port-au-Prince International Airport was functioning and flights carrying rescue crews and supplies were beginning to arrive, there was little sign of relief in city neighborhoods as Haitians struggled to find survivors in collapsed buildings.”

What keeps coming to my mind is a gospel song by Whitney Houston Hold on Help is on the Way. I am all but convinced that help is on the way, whether this help is of the higher calling or from the international community, help is a four-letter word with significant meaning and is one step to getting Haiti back to some form of normalcy.

The Future of Black Politics?

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Growing up in the Memphis area, I was acutely familiar with the Ford family-Memphis’ and Tennessee’s version of political royalty. And for many African Americans, the Fords were the face of progress and a future that many only dreamed of. Now, Harold Ford, Jr., former Tennessee Congressman is contemplating a run for the New York Senatorial seat.

Following the modern civil rights movement, arguably the faces of Black politics shared Harlem roots. In an October 2009 article, Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times reported that “For decades, Harlem has been the lodestar of black politics in New York City and beyond. From Harlem came the city’s first black mayor, David N. Dinkins, the state’s first black governor, David A. Paterson, and generations of other influential black politicians and operatives. To Harlem went presidential aspirants and other future stars of the Democratic Party, eager to pay homage and seek blessings. But now the once-vaunted Harlem political machine is on the verge of collapse.”

The election of Barack Obama as President shifted the balance of power in Black politics–as Confessore notes, Chicago is fast surpassing Harlem as the base for Black leaders. And at one point, Harold Ford, Jr. was considered to be apart of the new generation of African American leadership. After his failed bid in 2006 for Senator of Tennessee, Ford, Jr. may use New York as his avenue to the Senate. Not a native of Harlem, not a native New Yorker, but Ford, Jr. is a political historian. In a New York Daily News interview Millard Drexler observes, “He’s a guy who’s loved politics and a guy who likes to be in on things and I would bet at some point he was going to run for some office somewhere.” Call it timely, call it opportunistic, call it maybe–for Ford, Jr. nothing is done by happenstance.

Damaged Goods???

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

The National Basketball Association has had its share of bad publicity, and when stripped to the core of this bad publicity, race is at issue. In 2004, The Brawl at the Palace. From multiple players being charged with possession of firearms to Isiah Thomas’ sexual harassment suit, for Commissioner David Stern you may stop at anything to protect the image of your league. Institute a dress code: done. Reinventing the image will allow you to further expand your market globally, but there are still issues at home that you must deal with.

The league is more than its players, and far too often, we scrutinize players’ behaviors and sometime ignore others. For many, Commissioner Stern has been too silent on Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling. John Weinbach of AOL Fanhouse writes: “Over the last six years, nearly two dozen L.A. residents have sued Sterling for engaging in racist housing practices and Jim Crow-style bigotry. In a 2003 deposition, the 76-year-old real estate mogul admitted to paying a former employee to have sex with him in an elevator. Three years ago, the U.S. government charged him with ‘willful’ mistreatment of African-American and Latino tenants, and earlier this month, he agreed to pay the Dept. of Justice nearly $3 million to settle a federal racial-discrimination housing lawsuit, the largest award ever for a case of its kind. Since 2003, he has committed to give more than $8 million to plaintiffs to end housing-discrimination cases before they went to trial. To top it off, Sterling is currently being sued by Elgin Baylor, the Clippers’ long-time general manager and an NBA Hall of Famer, for age and race discrimination.”

Commissioner Stern has held meetings with players prior to the release of their rap cd’s, only to remind them that they have an image to uphold and protect and that certain lyrics would be offensive to many of the NBA’s patrons. Yet, when it comes to Donald Sterling, no public reprimand, no public distancing from the situation, nothing but silence. Former Major League Baseball commissioner Faye Vincent says that “If enough people are outraged or say they’re bothered by something an owner does, then the league will impose something. There’s no clear set of guidelines, and it’s a very difficult, murky area.”

A very murky area indeed. Sterling has denied the racism, and the settlements are not indicative that he has engaged in discriminatory practices. Regardless, the image of the league is in question. For Commissioner Stern, the delicate task is to appear heavy-handed in one area and completely inattentive in another.