Is it time for a changing of the guard?
Posted By: torin ellis on June 21, 2010 |
Week to week, I try and post at least one article that tinkers with the deeper conscious of the audience. An article that springs forth thought, to be shared via verbal prose with a colleague or translated through the use of keyboards across the country, behind which sit an array of talented kings and queens.
Speaking of kings and queens, is it time for the African American community to crown a few new leaders? put another way, is it time for some, associated or referred to as the "old guard", to step aside? Below a piece that lays out that very argument. I want to hear from you. I know how the author feels - share with us how you feel!
Lastly...share the page with others so that we might GROW the HBCUConnect online community. Have a fantastic week!
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I love and respect my elders. I swear I do. I believe that the fabric of a society is made tighter with the inclusion of its older and more mature. By following their lives as example and listening carefully to their experience we can often avoid the pitfalls on the arc of history. It’s true that they laid the way for every benefit we have today but sometimes, I just wish they would fall back.
Take the example of Andrew Young. the former Ambassador to the UN, former Mayor of Atlanta, and Georgia Representative. The man has had a distinguished career but is most widely known for walking shoulder-to-shoulderwith Dr. Marting Luther King Jr. He is a leader in the Black community, in Atlanta, and the Democratic Party. He’s also quite out of touch with the times every now and then. A year before the election of Barack Obama, when discussing whether or not he supported the Obama or Clinton camps, Young declared that, “Bill is every bit as black as Barack. He’s probably gone with more black women than Barack,” in his consideration of Obama for the office. Young and another SCLC veteran John Lewis went on to support Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential election.
When explaining his choice of Clinton for the Presidency, he offered that she was the only Democrat with the “toughness” and “organization” needed to take on a Republican nominee in the general election.”I just don’t think that anybody else is prepared for that,” he said and added, “[Obama] will continue to be a strong and influential voice in global politics and will be president — one day.” In short, he didn’t think that a man who won by sizable margin could do just that in this day and age. 66% of voter under 30 thought differently and help sweep Barack Obama to victory on November 3, 2008.
There’s also the case of “America’s Dad” Bill Cosby. With all due respect to Dr. Cosby, I believe the man is approaching senility and doing so rapidly. Who can forget his 2006 address before the NAACP to commemorate the anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education where he took young Black people to task for “not holding up to their end of the deal?” In it, he even went as far as to chastise lower income Black people for what they name their children and suggested a justification for police shootings.
“Looking at the incarcerated these are not political criminals,” he said. ”These are people going around stealing Coca Cola.
People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged, ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?“
All this from a man who didn’t support the death of the man who shot his own son in the head, an offense seemingly more serious than stealing pound cake.
Then there’s the old man closest to my experience, Spike Lee. This past Spring there was an issue at Morehouse College that involved Mr. Lee. Students led a march against campus administration protesting the quality of campus services and most seriously the need for change in Morehouse’s system for granting credits. To be brief, Morehouse is one of few liberal arts schools that grants 3 credit hours per class instead of 4. As a result the Men of Morehouse are required to complete 40 classes instead of 30 to graduate at the standard 120 credits (an expensive prospect at $39,497 per year.)
Lee and (surprise, surprise) Ambassador Andrew Young come into the picture because both men happen to be members of the Morehouse College Board of Trustees. One would think that they have the juice needed to create change within the space they represent. They also happen to regularly encourage students and young people in general to become active in the great tradition of Morehouse’s most famous alum, Dr. King. Lee exalted student protest in his film School Daze. In it, he even cast alumnus Samuel L. Jackson. A bit of Morehouse trivia: Jackson was suspended from the college in 1969 for holding the Morehouse Board of Trustees (including Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.) hostage during a meeting. His demand for their release was an African-American studies program.
When faced with the physical manifestation of what so many elders decry young people for not doing today, they folded. Students were met with police at the door of the administrative building and told that their complaint needed to be submitted in writing for consideration at the Board’s next biannual meeting. That was the “right thing” that Spike did.
What you get when examining just these examples is a pretty clear conflict. The lack of leadership within the Black community is tied to more than a reluctance of young people to get involved – step up and carry the mantle. An effective transition of leadership involves more than willing leaders to step up. It takes the old guards’ recognition of when to step down. I appreciate the work of those that came before me but young people also need their appreciation for us to carry on. Cosby, Lee, Young, and the like did phenomenal jobs in pushing progressive Black politics forward in their respective areas. But let’s not forget that they also did so as young men, despite being the knuckleheads and troublemakers of their day.
As evident in Young’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, there is a day where one does reach as far as their vision can carry them. Instead of believing that Young didn’t want to see Barack as the first Black President, I choose to think that he simply couldn’t see it. The possibility of it exceeded his vision. The problems of today need new blood and new eyes. They need new people to carry the torch. I take that as a challenge and an honor. I hope my elders can understand it as the relief of a burden and move aside to make room.
Link to original article: http://donovanramsey.blogspot.com/2010/06/...
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Tuesday, June 22nd 2010 at 8:48AM
A Registration Clerk/Specialist at New Orleans Public Schools
Thursday, June 24th 2010 at 4:50PM
Fredrick LeeYes, the old guard should be respected for paving the way, sacrificing blood, sweat and tears for paving the way for the younger generations. However, I believe there are some in the old guard who do not want to give up the thrown for fear of being irrelevant in today's everchanging, evergrowing and diverse global world. There are also those who fear being questioned or critizied for views or actions that may differ them. The younger generation have more opportunities to excel and compete in the global, but some of the old guards have done a crappy job in prepping the younger generation to lead. Just look at a lot of the churches, organizations, so-called activists, communities and schools... most are controlled by the old guard with few "young guns". Many of them, not all, still have outdated ways of thinking and are still thinking locally instead of globally. There are younger generations of blacks who want to excel, lead and are looking for role models. However, many feel rejected from those who have made it or talked down to like peons. As Black Enterprise's founder Earl Graves eluded to the fact that the older generations needs to learn to say when, step aside and let new blood take the helm of ship. If not, the younger generation will continue to feel lost and forgotten. They will also have ill feelings towards the older generation (e.g. city of Oakland's Mayor Ron Dellums being shout down by younger blacks). So after all of the soapbox talk (smile), yes, it is time for change, but everyone needs to be on the same page and lose the egos and fears to ensure a constant stream of quality leadership and excellence in the black community.
Asst. Regional Inspector General for Audit (ARIGA) at U.S. HUD Office of Inspector General (U.S. HUD OIG)
Saturday, July 3rd 2010 at 4:48PM
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