Friday, February 21, 2014

The Dr. Edna McKenzie Chapter of ASALH Presented on February 8, 2014 at the Homewood Branch of the Carnegie Library, a Community Forum Titled: The Obama Administration and Black America: Celebration and Consternation

Black Buzz News Service
Ronald B. Saunders Project
Pittsburgh, PA
February 21, 2014

The presenter for the ASALH Community Forum was: Dr. James B. Stewart, Professor Emeritus, Penn State University, former President of the National Council of Black Studies and the National Economic Association and the past President of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.  Commentators for the Forum were: Dr. Lawrence Glasco and Richard Adams. Moderator for the Community Forum was Chris Moore, Talk Show Host for WQED MultiMedia, KDKA Radio and PCNC-TV.  The participants and audience were welcomed by Dr. June Pickett Dowdy, president of the Dr. Edna McKenzie Chapter of ASALH.This event was well attended and scholars, lay people and activist came from all over the Tri-State area to participate in the discussion.

Dr. James B. Stewart presented a summary of his 70-page report titled: The Obama Administration and Black America: Celebration and Consternation.  Dr. Stewart gave a very comprehensive, balanced assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the Obama's Administration policies, actions or inactions in reference to Black Americans.  See the summary report below.

Dr. Larry Glasco was the next presenter and basically supported what Dr. Stewart stated in his 70 page report.  Dr. Glasco then gave an informative overview of early Black Political Development in Western Pennsylvania and the City of Pittsburgh in reference to Frederick Douglas, Martin Delaney and other Black political leaders in Western Pennsylvania and in Pittsburgh.

Rick Adams followed with a critical analysis of the Obama Administration and referred particularly to the Affordable Care Act which he maintained has the potential to impact poor Black people in a positive manner.

A vigorous question and answer and comments followed.  Many of the comments and questions were critical of the Obama Administration in its domestic and foreign policy areas as the policies relate to people of color.

Fred Logan. longtime community activist and who is the godfather of the Community Forum held on February 8th gave the following summary:
"We must use our debates over Barack Obama to "mobilize , organize, and politicize" the black community.  That's what these debates are and must be about.  We must do this persistently and constantly.  This is not a debate about Barack Obama, personally.  It is not a dry academic discussion. It's about the policies of the US government and what is in the best interests of the national black community.

This is one of the most important and sophisticated debates in all of US politics at this moment.  It is of and from black masses.  Black people in beauty shops, during church committee meetings, in taverns, at social clubs, around dinner tables, everywhere they are debating the economy, public education, US foreign policy.  That's great!

Factor out the dumb talk, this is common and inherent in US politics at large.  The debate challenges the black community to organize.  That's the crux of the debate.

At the recent Feb. 8 ASALH forum on the Obama Administration and Black America, Larry Glasco, from Pitt; Esther Bush, from the Pittsburgh Urban League; Homewood community activist Michelle Jackson; Ron Saunders of ASALH; Gail Austin from Black Voices for Peace; African Studies scholar Jim Stewart, in fact everyone who spoke asked, in different ways, what is next for the black community.

Even if it is true, as a lot of black folks argue, that Barack Obama can only do so much, this only means the black community must do more to organize itself.  Whatever restrictions--real and imagined--may be on Obama in Washington, DC, we can still and we must organize in Pittsburgh, PA and everywhere else.

The black Obama-debate is an extremely important mechanism, process, and reason for us to do just that.  Of course, it will not be, and should not, be easy.  It will be, and should be, extremely difficult.
But it can be.

Let's debate Obama's policies not just to support or to criticize the first black US president, but first and last to organize ourselves."

Above, Dr. Carter G. Woodson is pictured standing in his library, at 1538 9th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.  Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to educating the American public about the extensive and positive contributions of African Americans.  In 1926, he initiated Negro History Week to be observed during February of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas.  Today Negro History Week has been expanded into Black History Month.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson is the founder of ASALH which is the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

No comments: