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November 7th, 2012

Tough questions require some serious thought



Lillie Howard

What are you feeling like today, November 7th? Did you go out to vote or did you stay at home? If you did vote, did you have any problems and if so were they resolved?

Are you satisfied with the results of this 2012 Presidential election? Why? What are your hopes and desires for the next four years?

Are you involved in your community to help bring about a change, or are you satisfied with the way things are? If you’re not satisfied with the way things are in your community, are you letting your voice be heard?

As I’m writing this column, the Newburgh/Highland Falls NAACP is holding their election for new officers. I couldn’t participate in that election because I’m not a member of the NAACP. I used to be many years ago, but I decided to not get involved when I saw no serious involvement in my community coming from them. How sad! The City of Newburgh has no organization that is seriously addressing the many serious issues that this community is facing and has been faced with for many years. Why?

Back in the late 1960s I founded an organization - the Black Women’s Community Service Club (BWCSC) - which tried to bring about some changes in Newburgh. We started the first free breakfast program for children, held at St. Mary’s Church. We also partnered with Orange County Community College (Marilyn Wheeler) and brought the first mobile education van into the City of Newburgh. BWCSC member Victoria Sawyer was the teacher for that program, which taught business skills and high school equivalency skills to enable the women to get their diplomas. Mrs. Sawyer is no longer in the land of the living but she was a very dedicated lady.

We did all of that and much more, and we did not receive any grants to do so. Wow! As I look around the City of Newburgh today and see all of the grants that have been allocated to various groups, I have to ask the question: "Where’s the beef?"

Back around 1972, Mayor George Shaw appointed me to the Narcotics Drug Council. At that time, I approached my cousin, Laura Stewart, about donating her house on Montgomery Street to us, and that’s where Moody House - the first house for drug rehabilitation in the City of Newburgh - was started. Laura didn’t receive a dime for that property; she donated it from her heart. Laura recently passed away at the age of 96, but she’ll never be forgotten.

Unfortunately, it’s all about money now, and sadder still is the fact that we see no evidence of what that money is being used for. Hopefully a new day will come in Newburgh whereby results will be expected for any money that is given out. Track records will have to be studied, and if there are no positive results then no more money should be allocated to anyone or group that is not able to answer the question: "Where’s the beef?"

My heart is weighed down with much sadness because Newburgh, the city where I was born, has sunk into a cesspool. What is it going to take for this city to rise up and become the "All-American" city that it once claimed to be?

The City of Newburgh has continuously been allowed to go downhill. Why is this the case? In my heart I truly believe that this was a deliberate attempt to get a certain segment of people out. Ironically, the same segment of people who are used as statistics to get the money into the city are the ones that the city wants to get out. Wow!

Where are the leaders who will seriously address these problems? Why are the churches so silent about these issues? Why is there such acquiescence?

Let me end with some words of wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on acquiescence:

"The Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescing; he merely increases the oppressor’s arrogance and contempt. Acquiescence is interpreted as proof of the Negro’s inferiority. The Negro cannot win the respect of the white people of the South or the peoples of the world if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety."

Sad to say, but that’s what has been done in the city of Newburgh! Seriously think on that! This is Lillie’s Point of View!


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