by Ronald Court
After New Haven on Thursday, it was on to Harlem in New York City to meet a man who happened on our website several months ago. He discovered the Booker T. Way then and has been championing it among friends and acquaintances ever since.
He even stood up at his co-op meeting to read an editorial I had written that posed the question, “Is there a need for a Black History Month?” here.
As he read the opening paragraphs aloud, some hasty listeners jumped to the conclusion that it (and he) were ‘against’ BTM and nearly caused a riot.
So I was very much looking forward to meeting Mr. Herman Amos, a gentleman who risked his own safety to promote the Booker T. Way. He had even kindly taken the day off from work to show me around town.
First stop of the day, The NY Public Library’s Schomburg Library on Malcolm X Blvd., up by 135th street in Harlem. To get a grounding in African-American (AA) history, this is a good place to start, …except that references to Booker T. Washington were notably absent. I hope to change that, but this is (at least momentarily) Charlie Rangel country, a man who represents (if anything other than his own self-interest) just about everything Booker T. Washington does not.
Let’s be clear, Booker T. spoke to economic independence and good character, whereas “Representative” Rangel, long under investigation by the Ethics Committee, is a poster child for government dependence. I noticed a campaign sign in a store window that aptly sums up his strategy and perspective: “Charlie Rangel. He delivers.” It’s all about taking, not empowering.
So there he was, Herman Amos, my guide for the day to NYC, and much more. I discovered “Striver’s Row” a street of elegant brownstones occupied by folks who clearly were enjoying the better life. Then on to the Abysinnian Baptist Church, built by Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee-trained students, and about whom its famous preacher, Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. wrote a testimony to Booker T.’s educational philosophy here.
From there to Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace and finally, to meet Mr. Hector Torres, a gentlemen about to be the first charter member and leader of the Booker T. Club of New York City. Another outstanding individual (introduced by Mr. Amos to the Booker T. Way), and a man who put himself through college, built a career, and has gone on to exercise his entrepreneurial abilities by forming his own security training organization, an ideal candidate for forming and leading a Booker T. Club.
I’m looking forward to working with Mr. Torres and Mr. Amos as they develop the Booker T. Club of New York City to encourage and equip young Americans to live, learn and lead the Booker T. Way.
by Ronald Court
A couple of Wall Street Journal articles, one from last November editorial and one today by Peggy Noonan indicate that the road we’re on to a post-racial society continues to be bumpy.
Over time, ‘color’ will, hopefully and eventually, become a non-issue. (note: to be ‘color-blind’ is not to be ‘culture-blind.’ It is to acknowledge skin color as irrelevant in matters that count.)
The common saying, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ applies, as both Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. attested.
Still, some don’t ‘get it.’
Last November Alabama Congressman Artur Davis voted against the health-care bill. He probably expected some grief from his fellow Democrats. But he was also accused of selling out his race.
He was the only black Member to oppose the legislation, and his vote earned him a rebuke from Jesse Jackson at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation reception. “We even have blacks voting against the health-care bill,” said Mr. Jackson. “You can’t vote against health care and call yourself a black man.”
When a politician’s skin color is gratuitously invoked in a debate about whether the government should have more control of health care, you have to wonder if some politicians are seriously interested in a color-blind society. Former President Jimmy Carter suggested that whites who oppose the President’s policies are racists; Mr. Jackson said blacks who oppose them are betraying their race.
And just this past week, Shirley Sherrod was, “smeared by right-wing media, condemned by the NAACP and canned by the Obama administration” (and then offered her job back). Clearly, some folks, left and right, are simply too quick to infuse race into every issue.
Ms. Sherrod showed real class in informing the folks at the NAACP meeting that it’s “really about those who have versus those who don’t”.
It is a shame the media pounced on Ms. Sherrod’s out-of-context words. But perhaps even more so that the NAACP leadership and Obama administration were so quick to judge.
It reminded me of Proverbs 15:14 “The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.“
I met the most amazing people last week… people who care about our youth and our country… on a 4-day trip that took me to Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
Thursday, at 6am: out the door to my 1st stop: New Haven, CT, home to Yale University and people blessed with opportunities others seem unable even to dream of.
But I was going to meet a couple at the Varick AME Zion Church, just one mile up the road from Yale: Wendy Tyson-Wood and her husband, Ken Cook.
The run-down appearance of the street the church is on, Dixwell Avenue, gives the immediate impression that this is where those without the dreams live. Yet Wendy and her husband are working to help the church develop its summer camp program into summer enrichment called ‘The Booker T. Washington Academy.’
In researching a curriculum to develop, Wendy came across the BTW Society website and saw how our ‘Booker T. Way’ could be the theme to motivate and tie it all together. They clearly have their hearts into creating a positive learning environment that will bring dividends in brighter, motivated students down the road… perhaps even to Yale!!
I was introduced to the kids in their program, from kindergarten to 7th grade, about thirty in all, and thrilled to see them setting our, ‘I CHOOSE’ motto and ‘Booker T. Way’ motivating principles to a rap beat and words written by Ms. Flake, their instructor.
To see our encapsulated version of Booker T.’s practical approach to education come alive through the energized voices of thirty children was exciting. I’m waiting for the video to show you.
And that was just the start of a great four-day trip. Stay tuned…