Education and the African American Experience by Dr. Marvin A. McMickle

Dr. Marvin A. McMickle submitted a Unite Rochester blog post which was recently published in the Democrat and Chronicle.  The full text of his article appears here:

After reading Transformation of the African American Intelligentsia: 1880-2012 by Martin Kilson of Harvard, I feel challenged to say a few words about test scores and graduation rates especially among African American males students in the Rochester City School District.

The book reminded the reader that from the end of the slave era in 1865, education was universally viewed by African Americans as one of the primary pathways to success in American society. Learning how to read was the first thing our ancestors did when they were finally able to shake off the shackles of slavery. They flooded into schools run by the Freedman's Bureau, and they enrolled in the dozens of church-sponsored black colleges that sprung up across the South.

Within two generations of slavery, African Americans were becoming physicians, lawyers, college presidents, political officeholders, authors, artists, religious leaders, and scholars of every type. They gave birth to such persons as W.E.B. Du Bois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Horace Mann Bond, Howard Thurman, Madame C.J. Walker, and Mordecai Johnson. African Americans at the turn of the 20th century did not simply view education as a means toward getting a job, they viewed education as a virtue to be aspired toward and achieved as part of their human formation.

How has it happened that this legacy of academic success and aspiration has been turned on its head by so many of their descendants that today are devaluing education and dropping out of school altogether? Too many of today's African American students are scorning the opportunity their great grandparents could only dream about. We cannot allow this present pattern to go on unchallenged.

In an increasingly high-tech world, there will soon be no opportunities for persons who do not value and achieve the highest level of education available to them.

If the problem is with the curriculum or the classroom context then we need to fix that. If the problem is with teachers that do not value or wish the best for the students before them, then we need to stop that. If the problem is inequitable funding within and between school districts we need to correct that. If the problem is in the homes and hearts of the students themselves then we need to address that. What we cannot do is simply sit on the sidelines and bemoan the current statistics.

It is to the advantage of everyone in the Greater Rochester area to be sure that all of our children are receiving a quality education no matter in what postal Zip Code they may live. We need to start laying the foundations now for the black intelligentsia of the future. Those who came before us and who worked so hard to achieve an education under conditions and restrictions we can hardly imagine, expect nothing less from their descendants. Very little awaits a high school dropout except the underground economy of illegal activities and the increased risk of any early grave that comes as a consequence of that lifestyle.

This is not the first generation of African Americans to contend with single-parent households, poverty, racism, violent streets, or underfunded schools. That is exactly the environment in which I and most of my generation pursued our education. My mother was the academic valedictorian of her high school class in Chicago, but she was not allowed to give the valedictory speech at her graduation, as was the custom in 1932, because she was an African American. It is time to stop making excuses and start making progress!

To share or view the post online, or to comment on the post, click here: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/unite/2014/11/14/education-and-the-african-american-experience/19023231/

 

Where Do We Go From Here? Dr. McMickle shares his thoughts on the crisis in the Middle East in his latest Unite Rochester blog

Dr. McMickle's newest blog post in the Democrat and Chronicle's Unite Rochester series:

The phrase, where do we go from here? was the title of the last book written by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. I lift up that question now, with the spirit of that Nobel Peace Prize winner in mind, as we look at the events that have unfolded in the last few weeks between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. A cease fire has been called. Peace negotiations are, as of this writing, underway in Egypt. The whole world can now ask the question: where do we go from here? Will Hamas stop firing rockets into Israeli cities? Will the Israelis remove all of the check points along the border with Gaza that many Palestinians find so offensive? Will Hamas stop storing and firing rockets within populated areas that turn people into human shields? Will Israelis end the building of settlements in some areas that have long been home to Palestinians? Where do we go from here? Is a two-state solution really possible in the present climate of fear and distrust? Whatever the future holds for that troubled part of the world, the most important thing people can do is not forget the 100 year history of Jewish/Palestinian and Jewish/Arab relations. Both sides have made historic claims for their right to occupy that land. The call for a Jewish homeland did not begin with the horrors of the Holocaust, but that was certainly an event that greatly sped up Jewish immigration to Israel; especially since so many Western nations including the United States, placed sharp limits in how many Jews could immigrate into their countries. On the other hand, who can doubt that Palestinians would see steadily increasing Jewish immigration into Palestine as anything less than an occupation of their country? Every rocket fired from Gaza and every air strike launched by Israel is not just the realities of a war being fought in 2014. They are reminders that two groups of people, forced upon one another by historical circumstances, are fighting a war to preserve what they each perceive to be "their home." Which side is completely right? Which side is completely wrong? Where do we go from here?

To read all of Dr. McMickle's post to date, click here: http://blogs.democratandchronicle.com/unite/author/mmcmickle/

To visit the Democrat and Chronicle's Unite Rochester blog site, click here: http://blogs.democratandchronicle.com/unite/

Six Things to Consider Concerning a US Strike Against Syria

The following is a statement from President Marvin A. McMickle originally written to be shared among the American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) as points for consideration as military action in Syria is considered.

As Christians we are not exempt from having an opinion or voicing a position concerning the possibility of our nation launching a unilateral attack against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons. We cannot view this possibility solely through the eyes of US foreign policy or US national security interests. The Lord of the church is not an American; Christ is sovereign Lord over all of creation. Christ has as much love for the people of the Middle East as for the people of the American Midwest. What action is really in the best interest of our brothers and sisters in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and all the other nations in that region that may be impacted if any military action taken by this country results in an escalation of what is essential a civil war?
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Workplace Diversity and Private Construction in Rochester

Recent focus has been brought to the issue of minority hiring and workplace diversity on public sector projects in and around Rochester by the local paper. Progress in that direction is an important step in the right direction. That being said, I remind this community that equal if not more attention must be given to the hiring of minority workers on private sector projects as well. Whether one looks at construction for grocery stores, hospitals, universities, business parks, or corporate offices, there is an obvious absence of diversity on those sites. This is 2013, and the absence of women and ethnic minorities on so many conspicuous construction sites is an affront to the history of Rochester as a progressive community. We should and we must do better!