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May 7th, 2014

School of Hard-knocks and Injustice

Lillie Howard

I can’t believe that I’m using the language that our youth are using. This morning I went online and saw a posting that was from one of my grandsons re:a song by Beyonce & Drake entitled ‘ WASSUP’? As I was listening to the lyrics of this song I found my mind being taken back to the late 50’s when I was a young girl growing up in the city of Newburgh. Wow! As I look back over my life and think about the pain that was experienced when Urban Renewal tore all of those properties down, of which one of those houses was owned by my grandparents, my heart became overwhelmed. Why? Because it was the beginning of my realizing just how cold the powers that be are towards African-Americans in this country. I was in my late teens then and as I fast forward to what’s going on now, as it pertains to our young people, it breaks my heart.

Why are we always being treated as the wretched of the earth? Why in a country that professes to be so heavily dominated by Christians could so much hatred be in existence when the moral code of Christianity is love. Jesus said "I leave ye another commandment and that is that ye love one another." Wassup? That’s the question that I have for the Newburgh Teacher’s Association because of their endorsement of four white candidates in the upcoming school board election. Wassup? How is it possible that in a school district consisting of 73% minority, which in reality is a majority, could this be possible? Wassup? The real sad part of this is that the NTA are not genuinely concerned about that 73%. The question to that is "why"? What’s really going on? Wassup?

Another real sad factor to this is the amount of African-American school teachers in this school district are a real low percentage. I’m going to be generous and say that this percentage is 15%. Wassup with that? These figures that I’ve quoted should be sending a very loud and clear alert out to our community that it’s time to make a change and we are the people that not only can but must be about doing it. We can no longer afford to be passive as it pertains to what is or what is not going on re: our children in the Enlarged city of Newburgh School district for this is where the making of our children’s futures begin. The information that I shared with you in last week’s column should be a wake-up call. How long are we going to sit silently by and watch our children’s futures be tampered with? Wassup?

To all of this I find my thoughts going back to "Separate but Equal" and I feel that this is where the big mistake was made. Our forefathers should have not allowed their children’s lives to have been put in the hands of a people whose hearts wreaked with so much hatred against them. Wassup with that? They should have fought for their educational systems to have been made equal as it pertains to school buildings, books etc. Let us not forget that the NTA is made up of individuals whose forefathers were the ones that didn’t want their children going to school with our forefathers. Seriously think about this. What’s going on now should be a reminder to us as to what was going on then. Wassup?

Let me share with you something that is in "Why We Can’t Wait" by Dr. Martin Luther King ,Jr.:" My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and non-violent pressure. Lamentably, it is a historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

Let me end this with the question "What are we in this community going to do about the Newburgh Teacher’s Association’s immoral behavior towards our community? They made a deliberate decision to ignore our children’s needs therefore we must make a deliberate decision to respond to that by going to the polls on May 20th and casting a vote for Sheila Murphy (Lever#2) Runston (POP) Lewis (Lever #4,) George Bowles (Lever#14). Come out to 290 Broadway, which is Runston Lewis’ campaign headquarters, to lend a helping hand. And as Dr. King so aptly stated: "There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair." To that I say, it’s time to make a change and we are the people that not only can but must do it. Hopefully, judging by the discussion at last night’s NAACP meeting, our local NAACP will be joining in with us? Wassup?

This is Lillie’s Point of View!

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