Emerging leaders need to come out, African Americans
Emerging leaders need to come out, African Americans
We have some leaders at NowPublic including Karen Hatter who is influential in her community in Philadelphia as well as here.
The point of this article is to highlight people so that they become more broadly recognized and to enhance their contributions with exposure.
“New black leaders, new challenges
1:44 AM, Oct. 2, 2011 |
How lists were compiled
The Enquirer consulted several sources of information to come up with the 30 people featured today as emerging African-American leaders.
Among the sources were civil rights leaders from the 1960s through the 1980s, the likes of former federal judge Nathaniel Jones, former Cincinnati council member Marion Spencer and leadership of the localNAACP and Urban League.
Some of the leaders have just begun to get noticed by the media – including DeAnna Hoskins of the Hamilton County government and Brother Abdullah of Elementz. Others are younger leaders who have emerged in key positions, including Rob Richardson Jr. of the University of Cincinnati board of trustees.
Several Enquirer reporters recommended emerging leaders they have encountered on their beats, including business, social services, education, faith-based and the law.
By no means is this list complete.
These leaders are among the group of new ones in the black community who are faced with challenges not familiar to their predecessors but, in many ways, enjoying opportunities created by their forebears.
If there are people who deserve a closer look and are helping to address the challenges facing Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s black communities, please contact minority affairs reporter Mark Curnutte at email@example.com, or 513-768-8362.
Two goals stood out for African-American leadership generations ago:
End racial segregation in schools and other public places, such as restaurants and stores. And make illegal the poll taxes that forced many blacks to pay to vote in some areas of the country. Those objectives were met with passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Today, the goals are not as clear, though racial disparity remains a major national and local problem. Despite advances in higher education, the workplace, elected office and the middle class, African-Americans still live largely in a divided country - separate, unequal and sometimes hostile.
Nationally, black unemployment in August grew to 16.7 percent, more than double the 8-percent rate for whites. The wealth gap between whites and blacks has grown to a record high since the government started tracking such data 25 years ago. Median household wealth for whites is 20 times greater than that for African-Americans, up from a 7:1 ratio in 1995.
Those differences apply locally, say demographers and social scientists, though regional data won't be available from the U.S. Census Bureau until later this year. The infant mortality rate for African-Americans in Hamilton County is three times that of whites, 18.7 per 1,000 births compared to 6.3.
Into this breach has stepped a new generation of African-American leaders in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Today, The Enquirer introduces readers to 10 of these emerging leaders and 20 others to watch. It represents African-Americans who are taking the lead locally in business, health care, social services, education and the arts. (This list does not include African-Americans holding or running for political office because of upcoming elections.)
These leaders are young, 25-46. They say they benefited from the work of their elders at the height of the civil rights movement that allowed them to move into roles once reserved for whites.
What they lack is the direct, first-hand experience of institutionalized racial discrimination that their elders faced.
"What we did we did because racial segregation was not an abstract to us," said Milton Hinton, 84, the former three-team president of the Cincinnati NAACP chapter (1994-2000) and retired University of Cincinnati provost. "It was a more natural, instinctive cultural embodiment to get involved."
Hinton said he laments that he and others of his generation did not keep the struggle in the forefront of their children's and grandchildren's minds.
The black community is more fragmented. The result was ambivalence, Hinton said, instead of "widespread uproar" when NAACP national president Benjamin Jealous in July compared the trends toward voter photo ID cards to "Jim Crow."
"Voting rights and anything to do with voting were everything to us," Hinton said.
Yet Hinton and other "old guard'' leaders, as well as the newcomers themselves, acknowledge that the challenges facing African-Americans and the country today are more complex than what they encountered.
"The big difference today is what's going on in the community is not right in our faces anymore, like the KKK lynching people," said Donna Jones Baker, president and chief executive of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati and one of the many established black leaders who helped The Enquirer identify young African-American leaders of growing influence.
"We have huge issues, they seem almost intractable -and hard to get our arms around - yet so inter-twined they need to be solved at once."
African-Americans have gained access. Whereas their elders were on the outside looking in, some of this new generation of black leaders is on the inside.
"Our challenges are more covert than overt," said Rob Richardson Jr., 32, a lawyer with the firm of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, based in Nashville, Tenn., and a member of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees. "We have to learn how to work within the system and figure out how to raise money for businesses - how do we gain more economic opportunity?"
A more delicate issue to discuss is that of the responsibility of black fathers and the response of leadership. As many as 56 percent of black children grow up in a single-parent home, most led by mothers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Brother Abdullah - Brandon Alexander Abdullah Powell, 28 - is program director of Elementz, a youth arts center in the West End, where he works with dozens of youth creating hip hop, dance and visual arts.
"There is a lack of connection and family in their lives," Abdullah said. "A youth comes here and is here all day. They're looking for bus fare or information on how to get a GED. It's not that they don't want to do well. They don't know how.''
Abdullah knows youth who've used arts to stay engaged in school. Others have turned to crime and the lure of the streets.
The latter become part of the 40 percent of the U.S. prison population who are black male, though African-American men make up just 14 percent of the overall population. In Hamilton County, 70 percent of the jail population is black men.
"Something is definitely wrong when the unemployment rate is double for black men and too many of them go to jail for nothing," said Marian Spencer, 91, the first African-American female elected to Cincinnati city council (1983) and former president of the Cincinnati NAACP chapter (1981).
Those twin issues - jobs and jobs for former inmates - are major challenges for new leadership, Spencer said.
Re-entry programs, including one in Hamilton County, are trying to help ex-felons find work upon release.
DeAnna Hoskins, director of the Hamilton County's re-entry program and a former crack cocaine addict who served prison time, is one of the Enquirer's emerging African-American leaders.
"We now have a voice at the table, we are now in the (government) system," Hoskins said.Her office is studying the overlap of the jail population and the homeless population, creating resources that help ex-offenders returning to society and organizing many programs that already do exist - whether they are government, nonprofit or faith-based.
The Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., now 72 and pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, Carthage, is former president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Greater Cincinnati and Vicinity. His church recently signed a lease on the former Carthage Elementary school across the street from his church and is turning it into a community center.
"A sad thing these days is how the emphasis (in the black church) has turned to prosperity as opposed to servant leadership and social issues," Lynch said. "We fought all sorts of battles in the day. Now the fight is for economic survival."
The economic and educational gaps growing between the larger community and many African-Americans is creating "social dynamite," said Nathaniel Jones, former judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati and former general counsel of the NAACP throughout the 1960s.
"The challenge of leadership today is intervention," Jones said. "The more difficult the child's circumstances, the more difficult the child, yet we cannot give up.
"What worries me is how the legal and justice system that gave us remedies (to racial injustice and segregation) are being weakened by the court's rulings and will soon be unavailable to persons today."