“GOD IS DEAD—NIETZCHE” was a famous graffiti exchange, under which was written “GOD IS NOT DEAD; HE IS JUST AN UNDER-ACHIEVER.” The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference is another prominent under-achiever.
The four-day social networking gathering of America’s richest, best-connected black business executives and politicians held in Washington each September helps (or at least, entertains) its participants while achieving little for the larger American black population.
Were there discussions of how to fix the worst inner city schools? Were there calls for repeal of devastating ‘Rockefeller’-type drug laws with severe mandatory prison sentences and other provisions with horrendous impact on inner city communities? Did defaulted student loans or underwater inner city home mortgages receive constructive examination? Did anyone at any time focus on the desperate need for revitalized better-financed community colleges throughout the nation? Virtually none.
We Have No Leaders—African Americans in the Post Civil Rights Era was written by Robert C. Smith some twenty years ago and is now outdated; but the basic questions remain. Who is encouraging
inner city residents to register and vote and be heard politically? Who is demanding effective Civilian Review Boards to monitor outrages like New York’s nightmarish Rikers Island? Who demands that
non-violent first offenders not be forced to share prison cells with hardened criminals? Where are the voices demanding a criminal justice system that focuses on prevention and rehabilitation rather than punishment and isolation?
If today’s national black leadership focuses on problems such as how to get more black Directors on major corporate boards or worse, local leadership must arise to fill the gap.
Voter registration drives, battles for better inner city schools, close monitoring of a dysfunctional criminal justice system – pressure for more and better vocational training programs for high school dropouts or released prisoners — all must be led by effective local leaders. If they do not exist today, they must be created.