Submitted by: Mary Robinson:
The Black playwright, August Wilson, in his play Joe Turner come and gone, introduces a character who is constantly reminding the people that they must write their own song—not accept the song written by someone else…if they are to ever be their own person. It was his way of saying that you must define who you are and not let some-one else do it for you. That is just too much power to give away.
Excerpt with Ernie Hudson and Roger Robinson Video
Throughout the history of black people in the United States, however,…from the days of slavery to the present time, there have been people who have tried to write the song for all black people. Through laws of segregation, excepted practices, limited educational opportunities, it has been a real struggle to write our own song. It has been especially difficult for black males in America…and…yet many through self-determination, perseverance, and strength of character have overcome the many insurmountable obstacles of life in America. So as we start our black history series, I would like to recognize one of these black males.
As I looked at this contemporary young man, I was reminded of the two slogans which President Obama used for his two elections…the first ‘Yes we can’ and for the second ‘Forward’. It is no accident that Barak selected these particular phrases, they have been our battle cry all our lives. We understand the need to continue to say Yes I can and I will move forward.
Excerpt with Chad L. Coleman and Roger Robinson Video
So did the gentleman I have selected to spotlight today. He was born in 1951 in Detroit, Mich. His mother, Sonya, had dropped out of school in the third grade. At age 13, she married a 28 year old minister. Two sons were born, Curtis and Ben. When Curtis was 10 and Ben 8, the parents were divorced. The mother was left to raise the boys alone. She had no education, barely able to read, she worked as a domestic at two and sometimes three jobs at a time to provide for her boys. The boys had a difficult time in school, and in fifth grade, Ben was at the bottom of his class. His classmates called him ‘dummy’ and he developed a violent temper. When Ben’s mother saw his failing grades, she determined to turn her sons’ lives around. The mother took charge of their education, even though she had not gone beyond the third grade. She sharply limited their television watching and required them to read two library books a week and give her written reports. Reports she could barely read. Ben states in his writing about the experience, that within a few weeks his performance in fifth grade improved. Once he realized that he really wasn’t stupid, he went on to excel so that by the time he reached junior high, he had risen from the bottom to the top of his class. He was writing his own song and exemplifying the spirit of Yes I Can. He studied hard and did so well in high school that he won a scholarship to Yale University. He received his degree in 1973.
Ben had always dreamed of becoming a doctor and was very interested in psychiatry. Once in medical school at the University of Michigan, he realized he was good with his hands and set his sight on neurosurgery. After completing medical school, he became the first Black accepted in the prestigious John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. In 1983, he was offered a chief neurosurgical residency in Perth, Australia. He returned to John Hopkins a year later and within a year was promoted to director of pediatric neurosurgery. He became one of the youngest doctors, age 33, in the country to head such a division. He was truly writing his own song.
This man, Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, who was at the bottom of his fifth grade class, the son of a third grade drop-out who insisted that ‘yes he can’ do well in school, is now a renowned surgeon. He is a doctor with many accomplishments…too many for me to enumerate at this time. He is well known for performing the first successful operation to separate seven-month-old co-joined German twins. He is an authority in the field.
Because of his academic problems in school, he spends time motivating young people to fulfill their potential—to write their own song. Dr. Carson is the recipient of many awards and over 50 honorary degrees. In 2008, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
More than anything else, Dr. Carson is an excellent personification of the spirit…Yes I can write my own song. (Gifted Hands)
by Kevin Mathews
February 25, 2013
Good news! Michelle Obama is banging it out of the park. And that’s not (just) a reference to her new hair. The First Lady’s campaign to get kids healthier is producing results: according to a new press release, “the national childhood obesity rate has leveled off, and even declined in some cities and states.”
Granted, this declaration is coming from the White House itself, but the numbers appear consistent with other reports. USA Today notes that in Mississippi, a state where Ms. Obama has focused some of her efforts, has seen its childhood obesity rate drop 6 percent in as many years. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which studies topics of kids’ health similarly reports that the obesity rate has finally stopped growing, noting significant declines in California, Philadelphia and New York City.
While it is practically tradition for First Ladies to advocate for non-controversial causes during their time in the White House, not all of them can boast a success rate. This month marks the three-year anniversary of her Let’s Move! campaign. In addition to a steadying youth obesity rate, the White House also credits Let’s Move! with helping to promote physical activity, making healthy food more affordable and accessible, and improving the healthiness of school lunches.
Without questioning the data itself, some critics are skeptical of how much influence Obama has actually had toward any improvement in national adolescent health. The Daily Caller cites scientists in a New York Times article who “doubt that anti-obesity programs actually work.” They also link to a USDA study that states that nearly half of all of the nation’s most impoverished people claim to have lost weight because they were unable to afford food.
Either way, there’s no denying that Obama has stayed committed to keeping the conversation on combatting childhood obesity alive. In the upcoming weeks, Obama has scheduled several media appearances in order to bring attention to the initiative, as well as meetings with various community leaders to make them allies in the cause.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/is-michelle-obamas-crusade-against-childhood-obesity-working.html#ixzz2M2F7t800
President Barack Obama visited Chicago on Friday Feb, 15 at Hyde Park Career Academy he had a private meeting with some young men in a group called B.A.M. This group helps trouble young black men stay on the right track in life. President spoke to a huge crowd of people who came from all over the city. He talked about gun control and improving education and raising the wage for part time workers and creating more jobs.
President Barack Obama
Global Politics, Congress, White House, Pre-Kindergarten thru High School Education, Veteran Affairs, Europe, Asia, Africa
Posted by: sustainabilityinpoliticspolicyandeducation February 2, 2013 Chicago, the Murder Capital of America: Why So Much Mayhem and How to Fix it?
Chicago has finally achieved the infamous distinction of being: The Murder Capital of America, a title that might be pegged to any other major urban-inner city at any given time. (Note: At the end of January 2013, the city had recorded forty-two (42) murders and counting, one of which garnered international attention; the murder of Hadiya Pendleton, a drum majorette who had recently returned from participating in President Obama’s second term inaugural parade. Hadiya was a 15 year old sophmore and honor student at King College Prep High School located on Chicago’s south side, a college bound young lady with a very promising future whose life was cut short by a gunman shooting into the group she stood with under a canopy in the Oakenwald Community, also located on the city’s south side.) How a city could acquire such an infamous reputation is arguably linked to numerous reasons, but we will address two (2) of those that we believe deserve a spot at the top of the list of systemic socioeconomic problems that trumpet the pack. As a backdrop we will begin with a dialogue that the author of this blog recently had with a young 25 year old African-American male, a dialogue spawned by the question: What is the root cause of all the violence being perpetrated by some African-American males? For purposes of confidentiality, we will call our young man “Tory”.
In response to our inquiry, Tory stated that: (1) The guys committing the killings are very angry, actually mad as the result of feeling short-changed, unloved, devalued and hopeless because their home environment has denied them emotional and social support; typically there is no father in the house, and the female who birth them is most often a teenager who knew little and still possesses a brevity of information about parenting; tragically, she is bringing her limited sociological, psychological and lack of financial preparedness to the experience and (2) that same male population invariably attends schools that mirror the same behavior they are experiencing at home: The school environment makes them feel valueless, that they are about nothing, that they are not worth the time to try and teach and that they are a lost cause. The resulting dynamic is that those male children are passed through the primary grades, including kindergarten, not being properly prepared to successively navigate the more critical academic rigors of middle school and beyond. Moreover, Tory said he is cognizant that the children who lack the foundation skills really begin to demonstrate their inability to compete by the time they pass to the fourth grade, and, he said he is equally aware that the same children get trapped in a very precipitous academic decline. Tory also noted that the male children with such a profile are a prime target for gangs, the reason being everyone wants to be loved and to belong, and, if both the home and school environments of those children are denying them those experiences, they will fulfill their needs elsewhere.
The African-American male Tory described who typifies the person committing the mayhem on our urban-inner city streets is at the core of the public policies we must address. Accordingly, we will provide a series of recommendations focused on (1) pre-school through grade 12 education, (2)girl and teen pregnancy and (3) the development and opening of social centers.
(1) There are studies which have confirmed that pre-school education for children ages three through five has tremendous merit. The problem is education at that level is not mandated at least in the communities wherein the children are the greatest at risk. While the logistics need to be determined, state boards of education must establish a policy wherein pre-school education is mandated where the need is most prevalent, and an accountability system must accompany it. (Note: Re-inventing a portion of the wheel is unnecessary because there is substantial data that details the academic preparedness that pre-schoolers should possess prior to entering kindergarten.) Concomitant with the requirement to mandate more pre-school programs must be the establishment of such programs in existing school buildings, particularly neighborhood and charter schools.
Not only must pre-school education be increased, but there must be a return to all neighborhood schools of the breadth of college preparatory courses, (i.e. four years of english, inclusive of writing and literature, three years of high school mathematics (i.e. algebra, geometry and special topics), three years of science (i.e. biology, chemistry and special topics), four years of social studies (inclusive of African-American History, where desired), two years of a foreign language, a fine arts program offering band, orchestra, theater, drama and ballet), a physical education program, honors classes and electives). Further, school districts must contract with organizations such as the Foundation for Critical Thinking (i.e. not an endorsement) to bring support to classroom instructors and administrators on how higher order thinking pedagogy should be integrated with all subjects. Additionally, school based vocational programs must also be re-integrated as part of the core curriculum consisting of trades training in construction, and then the inclusion of 21st Century classes in solar thermal and solar electric installations, and the rudiments of information technology and digital courses. The point of such comprehensive education programs is to educate the talented 9/10th, not simply the talented 1/10th as maintained by W.E.B. DuBois. Retooling the academic climate of schools will require equally bold action relative to the socio-pathological environment that has been encouraged in too many schools, that is the issue of young girl and teenage pregnancy.
(2) Girls who become pregnant must not and cannot be allowed to attend school with the regular day population because it sends the wrong message, namely that out-of-wedlock pregnancy is acceptable. We do not of course want those who unfortunately become pregnant to be denied their education, and, accordingly, there should be either an evening program for them to attend or a special day school available. Once a young lady births a child, and if she desires, the established district policy should allow her the option of returning to the regular day population. Further, it is critical that girls who become pregnant, and who attend one of the specially designated schools, have available to them, parenting classes. Such classes would be available to both the girls as well as the fathers of the children. Moreover, if necessary, there should be community housing complexes created to provide subsidized rentals for families, be it the mother and baby or mother, father and baby, with the stipulation that if it is a nuclear family, they must marry.
(3) Social centers must be re-established in communities. This is not an anomaly because it is no more than what healthy communities offer their young people. Community centers should offer a plethora of sports such as racquetball, volleyball and table tennis, arts, crafts, fashion designing, home economics and other activities.
Someone will immediately ask, where will the money come from to support the ambitious programs described above? For one private equity companies can provide the capital. One such company, for example, Bain Capital, recently financed the formation of a thriving daycare. So is the above possible? The answer is absolutely. Is it a pipe dream, absolutely not. Finally, drastic problems require drastic measures. We can keep fueling the socio-pathological sickness that is engulfing our at risk communities or we can operate on a moral authority that we must change the societal woes that ail us, and that are wiping out the Hadiya Pendletons of the world.
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WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE
FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, to restore the country to its role as the global leader in education, to strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. Over the course of America’s history, African American men and women have strengthened our Nation, including by leading reforms, overcoming obstacles, and breaking down barriers. In the less than 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision put America on a path toward equal educational opportunity, America’s educational system has undergone a remarkable transformation, and many African American children who attended the substandard segregated schools of the 1950s have grown up to see their children attend integrated elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.
However, substantial obstacles to equal educational opportunity still remain in America’s educational system. African Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline and referrals to special education. African American student achievement not only lags behind that of their domestic peers by an average of two grade levels, but also behind students in almost every other developed nation. Over a third of African American students do not graduate from high school on time with a regular high school diploma, and only four percent of African American high school graduates interested in college are college-ready across a range of subjects. An even greater number of African American males do not graduate with a regular high school diploma, and African American males also experience disparate rates of incarceration.
Significantly improving the educational outcomes of African Americans will provide substantial benefits for our country by, among other things, increasing college completion rates, productivity, employment rates, and the number of African American teachers. Enhanced educational outcomes lead to more productive careers, improved economic opportunity, and greater social well-being for all Americans. Complementing the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in preparing generations of African American students for
successful careers, and the work of my Administration’s separate White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, this new Initiative’s focus on improving all the sequential levels of education will produce a more effective educational continuum for all African American students.
To reach the ambitious education goals we have set for our Nation, as well as to ensure equality of access and opportunity for all, we must provide the support that will enable African American students to improve their level of educational achievement through rigorous and well-rounded academic and support services that will prepare them for college, a career, and a lifetime of learning.
Sec. 2. White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
(a) Establishment. There is hereby established the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Initiative), to be housed in the Department of Education (Department). There shall be an Executive Director of the Initiative, to be appointed by the Secretary of Education (Secretary). The Initiative shall be supported by the Interagency Working Group established under subsection (c) of this section and advised by the Commission established under section 3 of this order.
(b) Mission and Functions.
(1) The Initiative will help to restore the United States to its role as the global leader in education; strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages; and help ensure that African Americans receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college, a satisfying career, and productive citizenship.
(2) The Initiative will complement and reinforce the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative established by Executive Order 13532 of February 26, 2010, and together, they both will support enhanced educational outcomes for African Americans at every level of the American education system, including early childhood education; elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education; career and technical education; and adult education.
(3) To help expand educational opportunities, improve educational outcomes, and deliver a complete and competitive education for all African Americans, the Initiative shall, consistent with applicable law, promote, encourage, and undertake efforts designed to meet the following objectives:
(i) increasing general understanding of the causes of the educational challenges faced by African American students, whether they are in urban, suburban, or rural learning environments;
(ii) increasing the percentage of African American children who enter kindergarten ready for success by improving their access to high-quality programs and services that enable early learning and development of children from birth through age 5;
(iii) decreasing the disproportionate number of referrals of African American children from general education to special education by addressing the root causes of the referrals and eradicating discriminatory referrals;
(iv) implementing successful and innovative education reform strategies and practices in America’s public schools to ensure that African American students receive a rigorous and well-rounded education in safe and healthy environments, and have access to high-level, rigorous course work and support services that will prepare them for college, a career, and civic participation;
(v) ensuring that all African American students have comparable access to the resources necessary to obtain a high-quality education, including effective teachers and school leaders, in part by supporting efforts to improve the recruitment, preparation, development, and retention of successful African American teachers and school leaders and other effective teachers and school leaders responsible for the education of African American students;
(vi) reducing the dropout rate of African American students and helping African American students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career, in part by promoting a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools, and by supporting successful and innovative dropout prevention and recovery strategies that better engage African American youths in their learning, help them catch up academically, and provide those who have left the educational system with pathways to reentry;
(vii) increasing college access and success for African American students and providing support to help ensure that a greater percentage of African Americans complete college and contribute to the goal of having America again lead the world in the proportion of adults who are college graduates by 2020, in part through strategies to strengthen the capacity of institutions of higher education that serve large numbers of African American students, including community colleges, HBCUs, Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and other institutions; and
(viii) enhancing the educational and life opportunities of African Americans by fostering positive family and community engagement in education; reducing racial isolation and re-segregation of elementary and secondary schools to promote understanding and tolerance among all Americans; improving the quality of, and expanding access to, adult education, literacy, and career and technical education; and increasing opportunities for education and career advancement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
(4) In working to fulfill its mission and objectives, the Initiative shall, consistent with applicable law:
(i) identify evidence-based best practices that can provide African American students a rigorous and well-rounded education in safe and healthy environments, as well as access to support services, which will prepare them for college, a career, and civic participation;
(ii) develop a national network of individuals, organizations, and communities to share and implement best practices related to the education of African Americans, including those identified as most at risk;
(iii) help ensure that Federal programs and initiatives administered by the Department and other agencies are serving and meeting the educational needs of African Americans, including by encouraging agencies to incorporate best practices into appropriate discretionary programs where permitted by law;
(iv) work closely with the Executive Office of the President on key Administration priorities related to the education of African Americans;
(v) increase the participation of the African American community, including institutions that serve that community, in the Department’s programs and in education-related programs at other agencies;
(vi) advise the officials of the Department and other agencies on issues related to the educational attainment of African Americans;
(vii) advise the Secretary on the development, implementation, and coordination of educational programs and initiatives at the Department and other agencies that are designed to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for African Americans of all ages; and
(viii) encourage and develop partnerships with public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit stakeholders to improve African Americans’ readiness for school, college, and career, as well as their college persistence and completion.
(5) The Initiative shall periodically publish reports on its activities. The Secretary and the Executive Director of the Initiative, in consultation with the Working Group and the Chair of the Commission established under subsection (c) of this section and section 3 of this order, respectively, may develop and submit to the President recommendations designed to advance and promote educational opportunities and attainment for African Americans.
(c) Interagency Working Group.
(1) There is established the Federal Interagency Working Group on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Working Group), which shall be convened and chaired by the Initiative’s Executive Director and that shall support the efforts of the Initiative described in subsection (b) of this section.
(2) The Working Group shall consist of senior officials from the Department, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and such additional agencies and offices as the President may subsequently designate. Senior officials shall be designated by the heads of their respective agencies and offices.
(3) The Initiative’s Executive Director may establish subgroups of the Working Group to focus on different aspects of the educational system (such as early childhood education, K-12 education, higher education (including HBCUs and PBIs), career and technical education, adult education, or correctional education and reengagement) or educational challenges facing particular populations of African Americans (such as young men, disconnected or out-of-school youth, individuals with disabilities, children identified as gifted and talented, single-parent households, or adults already in the workforce).
(d) Administration. The Department shall provide funding and administrative support for the Initiative and the Working Group, to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations. To the extent permitted by law, other agencies and offices represented on the Working Group may detail personnel to the Initiative, to assist the Department in meeting the objectives of this order.
(e) Collaboration Among White House Initiatives. The Initiative may collaborate with the White House Initiatives on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, Educational Excellence for Hispanics, Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, and (consistent with section 3(c) of this order) Historically Black Colleges and Universities, whenever appropriate in light of their shared objectives.
Sec. 3. President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
(a) Establishment. There is established in the Department the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Commission).
(b) Commission Mission and Scope. The Commission shall advise the President and the Secretary on matters pertaining to the educational attainment of the African American community, including:
(1) the development, implementation, and coordination of educational programs and initiatives at the Department and other agencies to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for African Americans of all ages;
(2) efforts to increase the participation of the African American community and institutions that serve the African American community in the Department’s programs and in education programs at other agencies;
(3) efforts to engage the philanthropic, business, nonprofit, and education communities in a national dialogue on the mission and objectives of this order; and
(4) the establishment of partnerships with public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit stakeholders to meet the mission and policy objectives of this order.
The Commission shall meet periodically, but at least twice a year.
(c) Commission Membership and Chair.
(1) The Commission shall consist of not more than 25 members appointed by the President. The President shall designate one member of the Commission to serve as Chair. The Executive Director of the Initiative shall also serve as the Executive Director of the Commission and administer the work of the Commission. The Chair of the Commission shall work with the Executive Director to convene regular meetings of the Commission, determine its agenda, and direct its work, consistent with this order.
(2) The Commission may include individuals with relevant experience or subject-matter expertise that the President deems appropriate, as well as individuals who may serve as representatives of a variety of sectors, including the education sector (early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, higher education (including HBCUs and PBIs), career and technical education, and adult education), labor organizations, research
institutions, the military, corporate and financial institutions, public and private philanthropic organizations, and nonprofit and community-based organizations at the national, State, regional, or local levels.
(3) In addition to the 25 members appointed by the President, the Commission shall also include two members from the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Board), designated by the President. In turn, the Board will henceforth include two members from the Commission, designated by the President. This reciprocal arrangement will foster direct communication and vital consultations that will benefit both bodies.
(4) The Executive Director of the Commission and the Executive Director of the Board shall convene at least one annual joint meeting between the Commission and the Board for the purpose of sharing information and forging collaborative courses of action designed to fulfill their respective missions. Such meetings shall be in addition to other prescribed meetings of the Commission or Board.
(5) The Executive Director of the Commission shall be a non-voting, ex officio member of the Board and shall be the Commission’s liaison to the Board; and the Executive Director of the Board shall be a non-voting, ex officio member of the Commission and shall be the Board’s liaison to the Commission.
(d) Commission Administration. The Department shall provide funding and administrative support for the Commission, to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations. Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation but shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by law for persons serving intermittently in the Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707). Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.) (the “Act”), may apply to the administration of the Commission, any functions of the President under the Act, except that of reporting to the Congress, shall be performed by the Secretary, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Administrator of General Services.
Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) The heads of agencies shall assist and provide information to the Initiative as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the Initiative, consistent with applicable law.
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(1) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(2) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(d) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Since the removal of Rod Blagojevich as the Governor of the state of Illinois, almost two years ago, Illinois government has become worse. Although there is no “political gridlock,” and everybody is apparently getting along in the legislature, even in the General Assembly (State Senate), there is nothing to improve. However, Pat Quinn is following the agenda of House Speaker Michael Madigan. He is imposing “perverse legislation” upon the citizens of Illinois.
House Speaker Madigan (often referred to by then-governor Blagojevich, as the George W. Bush of Springfield), along with Pat Quinn, have imposed a huge tax hike upon the people of Illinois. Moreover, Quinn along with the help of House Speaker Michael Madigan, have pushed through the House of Representatives (Illinois Legislature), a bill that will allow same sex couples the right to get married in Illinois. Allowing same sex couples the right to get married is not only “perverse,” but also abomination to God; however, Madigan, with the help of Pat Quinn, pushed the bill through the legislature in attempt to remain in office, with the help of the vote from “the gay community.”
In addition to higher taxes, and same sex marriages, Madigan and Quinn have also begun cutting back on social service programs, in an attempt to balance the budget. Governor Quinn, supposedly a man of the people, has taken over the governorship and shown that he is a man of the legislature. In particular, he wants to be the man of House Speaker-Michael Madigan; Quinn has done nothing but what the legislature and Michael Madigan what him to do, which is to make Illinois Government work at the expense of the people, instead of making Illinois government work for the people.
Beginning during the gubernatorial tenure of George Ryan, Illinois found itself in the worse financial shape it has ever experienced. However, when Jim Edgar (George Ryan’s predecessor) left office, Illinois had a surplus built on the backs of Illinois taxpayers. With higher taxes, along with cuts in public welfare, and public education by then-governor Edgar, the state is in a financial decline.
During Blagojevich’s gubernatorial tenure, he not only vetoed all tax hikes, but also made several proposals to balance the state budget, notably, selling, or mortgaging the Jim Thompson Center. House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Illinois Legislature would then reject that proposal, along with gross tax receipt proposal. If Michael Madigan and Pat Quinn really had the best interest of the people of Illinois at heart, they would find other ways to balance the budget, other than at the expense of the citizens of Illinois.
The Chicago Bears drafted Jim McMahon in 1982, in his rookie season McMahon instantly showed an ability to get the Bear offense into the end zone; he also showed poise in the pocket, and the mental toughness necessary to avoid mistakes that his predecessors were prone to make. Also in his rookie season McMahon established himself as a resourceful scrambler and thrower; he became a quarterback that could roll out of the pocket and buy time from his receiver to get open, or into a saloon, with equal ease; McMahon earned the respect of his teammates, he also earned NFC rookie of the year honors in the strike shortened season of 1982, McMahon came in second to Marcus Allen for rookie of the year league honors.
In 1985 McMahon came to training camp with a new hair-cut; which his wife (Nancy McMahon) almost divorced him over it. However, during the third game of the season against the Minnesota Viking, which McMahon did not start because of an injury; the character Mad-Mac was born. With the Bears trailing 17-9, and the offense going nowhere fast, McMahon entered the game. The play that was sent into McMahon was designed to be a screen pass to be the legendary Walter Payton; but McMahon changed the play in the huddle. As McMahon went back to pass, he stumbled. And with the help of a block thrown by the great Walter Payton, in the face of an all-out blitz by the Viking defense, McMahon gave the Bears the lead for good-with 70 yard touch- down pass to Willie Gault. After the play Coach Ditka asked McMahon “why did you throw it to Willie?” and McMahon said “because he was open.” McMahon would also throw another touchdown pass on his second play from scrimmage, in which he once again changed the play that Ditka sent in, which gave the Bears the lead for good. McMahon threw his final touchdown pass on his eighth play from scrimmage also. McMahon rallied the Bears to a 33-24 victory, after that game McMahon would forever be remembered as “Mad-Mac.” Through out the 1985 season McMahon further established himself as an NFL passer that was unselfishly willing to go beyond the normal duties of a Quarterback, which included being on the receiving end of a half-back option pass from future Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton; furthermore, McMahon also displayed that he was a “Blue-Collar Quarterback” willing to pay any price to advance the Chicago Bear offense. The day after the Bears suffered their only loss of the 85 season to the Miami Dolphins, the team recorded the famous song “The Super bowl Shuffle;” when it was McMahon’s turn to sing, he introduced himself as the “Punk QB.”
McMahon capped off a wonderful 1985 season by leading the Bears to their first and only Superbowl championship. For the rest of his tenure with the Chicago Bears McMahon would continue to call his own plays, or change plays in the huddle, or at the line of scrimmage; McMahon would also call an audible seemingly at will. This was a practice that would frustrate Head Coach Mike Ditka, but it would lead success for the Chicago Bear offense. Next to Joe Montana, Jim McMahon had the second highest winning parentage amongst quarterbacks. McMahon’ s tenure with the Chicago Bears would be cut short because of injuries and confrontations with Head Coach Mike Ditka-and team president Michael McCaskey. Once McMahon left the Bears, they would find out how much his leadership was needed; because McMahon’s successors (Mike Tomczak, Jim Harbaugh, and Eric Kramer) were not able to lead the Bears on another Super Bowl run.
Rod Blagojevich “Hot Rod,” was a two-term Democratic Governor of the state of Illinois, and his gubernatorial tenure was filled with clashes with lawmakers that were designed to block everything that he would try to implement for the betterment of the constituents that elected him to govern the state of Illinois. While Blagojevich was in office, Illinois became the only state in America to provide free healthcare for children; the state of Illinois also became one of the few, if not the only state in the union to provide senior citizens with free access to public transportation. Rod Blagojevich would also implement the I-Save Prescription drug program, which was an idea that was given to him by then-Congressman, and now Chicago Mayor-Rahm Emanuel; this was a program that was designed to help seniors afford groceries that they needed to live on, along their medicine. Illinois became the first state in America to defy the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) by providing seniors with cheaper medicine on the open trade from Canada; the I-Save Prescription drug program gave seniors the convenience of being able to mail in their order of prescription medication also. However, the inception of this program, in the eyes of the Illinois State Legislature and General Assembly, was an impeachable offense; however, the Governors of Wisconsin, Vermont, and Kansas worked with Rod Blagojevich to be able to implement the I-Save Prescription drug program not only in the state of Illinois, but in their states also. In order for Blagojevich to get things done for people, he often times had to use the helpful advice of lawyers to go around the Legislature to be able to give seniors-citizens free rides on CTA, and give uninsured women free access to breast and cervical cancer screening. Blagojevich also helped save the life of a 19 year old young man, in the person of Omar Castillo, who had a rare kidney disease, and was in need of a kidney transplant that would save his life.
In his last official act as the Governor of the state of Illinois, Blagojevich ordered the criminal history of Jimmie Beck and Fred Latsko expunged; making it possible for both men to be able to find gainful employment. Blagojevich’s maneuvering around “the system of checks and balances” to provide for the people who hired him may have infuriated his fellow Democrats in the legislature, particularly Speaker of The House Michael Madigan; however, Blagojevich proved that he was a politician willing to go to any lengths to get things done for people who relied on the “the system.” Rod Blagojevich became a target of ridicule not just for the indifferent way governed the state of Illinois, but the unique way he wore his hair, and his commute to and from Springfield, not to mention his residency. Rod and Patty Blagojevich choose to live amongst their constituents on the northwest side of Chicago-instead of living in the Governor’s mansion in Springfield; because he and his wife Patty wanted to instill a sense of humility in their children, they didn’t want their children growing up spoiled, with a sense of privilege and entitlement, because their father was Governor of the 5th largest state in America.
It has been two years since the impeachment and removal of Rod Blagojevich as the Governor of state of Illinois; and it did not take long to see just how much better off the constituents of Illinois were with him as Governor, versus his successor, Pat Quinn. Since the very day that he took office, has shown he is solely interested in “business as usual,” and meeting the demands of House Speaker Michael Madigan, by attempting to sock it to the tax payers with higher taxes. Moreover, Pat Quinn has neither the willingness, nor the gumption to take on tough lawmakers, and/or go around the legislative process the way Rod Blagojevich did to make government work for the people, instead of at the expense of the people.
Jim McMahon and Rod Blagojevich both defied “the powers that be,” and proved to be very-good at doing the jobs that they were hired to do. Jim McMahon won ballgames for his team by unselfishly willing to do anything for his team to win. Rod Blagojevich used the executive authority of a Governor to get things done for people, and in the process, his administration literally saved lives, without burdening the middle-class with “phony politics.” The type of phony that socks it to the tax-payer, the type of phony politics-where politicians talk a good game, but really are not interested in getting anything done for people who elect them to office.
By Kendra L. Turner:
As Valentine’s Day is among us in the midst of Black History Month, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on real black love.
It was a true labor of love that allowed two friends and I to make a 13-hour road trip from Chicago after a more than stressful week of work to witness the 57th Presidential Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.
We love and treasure Barack Obama not only because he is the country’s first black president, but also because he represents the love of our ancestors who embraced the idea that we as a people were worth more than our current circumstances and were destined for greatness. He represents what our ancestors fought and died for, he is the personification of the lyrics of Lift Every Voice and Sing, the Black National Anthem, penned by James Weldon Johnson over a century ago. “Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last /Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast…”
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, climbing through the bushes on the outskirts of the West Lawn of the United States Capitol—once again a labor of love, I witnessed true American history at its finest—the first black President reclaiming the country’s highest office for a second time. The 57th Presidential Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama denotes feelings of devotion, strength and pride, just to name a few.
The feelings of love and adoration were deepened further after hearing the invocation of Myrlie Evers-Williams, who was married to assassinated civil-rights activist, Medgar Evers. Evers-Williams became the first woman and layperson to give an inaugural invocation in which she acknowledged both the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and the country’s newest struggles with gun violence. Evers-Williams encouraged President Obama and others of the “Joshua Generation” to continue to build on the foundation established by civil rights pioneers such as her late husband who laid down his life for the love of his people.
President Obama took to the podium to address the sea of citizens that had gathered to observe history. Appropriately, he spoke to the idea of the American people not just moving forward, but doing so collectively. “Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together,” President Obama remarked.
Borrowing from the Declaration of Independence, President Obama’s key focus of “We the People…” was ever-present in his address as he paid homage to those who came before him. Namely Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still. Just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall, just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung. Who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth?”
He enjoined every citizen to take their responsibility in guiding America’s continued course towards freedom and acknowledged his oath to do the same. It is only through love for ourselves and love for our fellow man that we can accomplish the goal. Just as our ancestors loved us enough to make sacrifices to achieve the goal of freedom, we must do the same to keep that freedom alive for our descendants.
Once again, our bright star has been cast, Barack Obama. We love you!