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Message to the village: No time to rest, says Dr. Alvin Poussaint

Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint – widely known and regarded for his collaboration on the ultra successful “The Cosby Show” – still believes in the core message of the book he and Bill Cosby released in 2007. by Tony Jones
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint – widely known and regarded for his collaboration on the ultra successful “The Cosby Show” – still believes in the core message of the book he and Bill Cosby released in 2007.

 
 Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint

“Come On, People” talks about how “we’re not preparing them (students) strong enough to take advantage of education,” said Poussaint, who was in Memphis Tuesday highlighting a professional conference focusing on health care in the Mississippi Delta.

The University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences served as lead sponsor for the conference that was presented by the Consortium for Health Education, Economic Empowerment and Research (CHEER) and held at the Cook Convention Center. After sharing his thoughts on the conference topic, Poussaint autographed copies of “Come On, People” and then sat down for a few moments of straight talk.

“We’ve got to steer our children back to the importance of education. Even Ebony magazine has become focused on entertainment and the medium is not good for us,” said Poussaint.

“The teachers are participating when they adopt an attitude that ‘the schools are no good so we shouldn’t even try.’ It’s building in failure. Having a black drop out rate of 50 percent dooms black children to a life of crime, poverty, disease, substance abuse. The empowerment has to come from the inside.”

And what is the responsibility of the educated black middle and professional class?  Has “black flight” been as damaging as “white flight?”

“It’s become just like in the white community where the well to do people move out, like in Boston. I suspect redlining still has an effect also,” said Poussaint. “There’s still a fear of white flight that exists. Anytime a school system reaches 30 percent black population, that’s a tipping point for whites to flee that school system.”

Referring to the values central to “Come On, People,” Poussaint said, “No matter what the difficulties in persuading today’s youth that many of their problems are self inflicted, accountability has got to remain the leading edge of conversation and commitment in the black community.”  

While Poussaint lent star power to the conference, an important highlight was the awarding of the WK Kellogg CBPR Award (Community Based Participatory Research) to Dr. Leon Caldwell.  

Now headed to Baltimore as a senior research associate for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Caldwell’s intellect-based community activism platform created the 2008 and 2009 National Think Tanks for American Progress, launched the Memphis Area Fatherhood Coalition and conducted over 100 empowerment workshops in several areas.

From the crucial Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies,

Dr. Brian Smedley of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies also made a presentation, as did Dr. William Young, host of WLOK’s “On The Road To Healing” and co-host of the 5th Annual Suicide and the Black Church Conference, which ends a two-day run at the UTHSC Midtown campus on Thursday (July 23.)

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