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NNPA’s Newsmakers call for more involvement from the community

This year’s Black Press Week held in Washington, D.C. culminated with the an award ceremony honoring Ben Jealous and Marian Wright Eldelmen.

by Caryn Freeman
NNPA News Service

This year’s Black Press Week held in Washington, D.C. culminated with the an award ceremony honoring Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, who received an award for community service, and founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Eldelmen, who received a lifetime achievement award for her leadership as the nation’s biggest advocate for undeserved and underprivileged children.

Ben Jealous

Marian Wright Eldelmen

Jealous, who got his start in journalism at the Jackson Advocate in Jackson, Miss., spoke to the crowd about the challenges of working through the recession while also emphasizing to publishers the need for them to fight as hard as ever. He noted that fighting for equal rights in America often has taught the African-American community that achieving whatever is fought for at the moment can cause the community to lose everything it had at the same time.

 That seemed to be a reference to this year’s upcoming opportunity to reelect the first African-American to serve as president and the controversy over new voter restrictions laws being pushed at the state level. Those new laws recently took Jealous to Geneva, Switzerland for this year’s United Nations delegation.

Jealous told the United Nations delegation that he was there to “ring a bell because we need you to come take a look at what’s happening in the U.S. Sometimes the U.S. needs to have its ideals reflected back to itself and needs to have its realities reflected back to itself.”

Voters targeted by the laws are disproportionally African American and the very students who chose the last president, said Jealous.

 Edelman emphasized the shattering blow the cradle to prison pipeline has on the state of the African-American child and the African-American community. She also sounded the alarm about high rates of illiteracy among school children and high dropout rates.

“If you cannot read and compute in this global economy you are sentenced to social an economic death,” she said, adding that, “we need to look at the young unemployment rate for black young men under thirty, it is at nearly forty percent with no hope, no job and (with) poverty growing among our children, many of them never get onto the trajectory of success.”

“We have got to reweave the fabric of family and community,” said Edelman, who has started an organization of freedom schools to provide a real opportunity for African-American kids living in impoverished, underserved communities.

“We need to have a community effort because we are going back. We know what to do to save children. It is movement time folks, we have got to step up.”

(Caryn Freeman is a journalism student at Howard University and the Editor-in-Chief of The Caxton Press.)


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