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The Covenant with Black America, Tavis Smiley, 0883782774

The Covenant with Black America

Tavis Smiley (Editor)

ISBN: 0883782774
Format: Paperback, 254pp
Pub. Date: March 2006
Publisher: Third World Press
List Price: $12.00

    click to enlarge Read Editorial by Dr. Sam Chekwas


Six years' worth of symposiums come together in this rich collection of essays that plot a course for African Americans, explaining how individuals and households can make changes that will immediately improve their circumstances in areas ranging from health and education to crime reduction and financial well-being. Addressing these pressing concerns are contributors Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. surgeon general; Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of the research think tank PolicyLink; and Cornell West, professor of religion at Princeton University. Each chapter outlines one key issue and provides a list of resources, suggestions for action, and a checklist for what concerned citizens can do to keep their communities progressing socially, politically, and economically. Though the African American community faces devastating social disparities-in which more than 8 million people live in poverty-this celebration of possibility, hope, and strength will help leaders and citizens keep Black America moving forward.

Tavis Smiley is the author of eight books, including Doing What's Right, Hard Left, How to Make Black America Better, and Keeping the Faith. He hosts an eponymous talk and interview show on PBS stations and his radio program, The Tavis Smiley Show, is syndicated by Public Radio International. As the host of BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley, he was a three-time winner of the NAACP Image Award. He lives in Los Angeles.

The Covenant with Black America Introduced by Kam Williams Blackbooknews.com

On Saturday, February 25th, the 7th Annual State of the Black Union was
held in Houston at St. Agnes Church, where an audience of about 8,000
convened to hear about forty prominent leaders discuss a variety of issues
of concern to the African-American community. The affair was hosted by Tavis
Smiley, who announced the publication of a new book which was released in
coordination with the event.

Entitled "The Covenant with Black America," this collection of essays is
ostensibly a step-by-step manual for dealing with the pressing political,
economic and medical concerns of black society. Delineating a checklist of
10 specific goals, The Covenant is also a document signed by each
participant as proof of his or her commitment to the survival of black
people in the United States.

As discussed on the dais, these Covenants include:

#1: Securing the right to healthcare and well-being.
#2: Establishing a system of public education in which all children achieve
at high levels and reach their full potential.
#3: Correcting the system of unequal justice.
#4: Fostering accountable, community-centered policing.
#5: Insuring broad access to affordable neighborhoods that connect to
#6: Claiming our democracy.
#7: Strengthening our rural roots.
#8: Accessing good jobs, wealth, and economic prosperity.
#9: Assuring environmental justice for all.
#10: Closing the racial digital divide.

The day-long think tank, which aired live on cable-TV on C-Span in three
segments, relied on thes aforementioned Covenants as its prevailing theme.
The panel of the mid-day session undeniably had the most heavyweights, with
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Reverend Al Sharpton, Princeton
Professor Cornel West, Harry Belafonte, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
(D-TX), Attorney Raymond Brown, Jr., Chairman of the Congressional Black
Caucus Mel Watt (D-NC), Civil Rights Leader Wade Henderson, Dr. Na'im Akbar,
Bishop Harry Jackson, Policy Link Founder Angela Glover Blackwell, Professor
Kimberle Williams-Crenshaw, and State Senator Jackie Winters (R-OR).
While all of the above weighed in eloquently, the biggest crowd pleasers
were undoubtedly Farrakhan Sharpton, West and Belafonte. Minister Farrakhan,
who looked a little weak when he started to speak, summoned enough strength
to bring down the house by the end of an inspirational tirade which not only
indicted America for black folks' woes, but questioned whether the goals
envisioned by The Covenant were even achievable. After he left the stage,
several speakers went out of their way to take issue with his remarks in
that regard.

The opening session, which focused on business empowerment, was emceed by
NPR's Michelle McQueen Martin and a few of the contributors were the Urban
League's Marc Morial, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Reverend Floyd Flake, and NBA
star-turned-restaurant chain owner Junior Bridgeman.
The closing session was dedicated to emerging leaders, but they were
unfortunately given short shift since long-winded speeches and CPT delays
meant little time was left when they finally got their chance. Impressive
nonetheless, these rising stars included Princeton Grad Student Victor
March, Malia Lazu of the Institute for Policy Studies, Trish Millines Dziko
of the Technology Access Foundation and filmmaker Shola Lynch, this critic's
pick as the best black director of 2004 for Chisholm '72.

While it is impossible to recount in an article of this length but a tiny
fraction of what transpired during a meeting of this magnitude, those who
missed the gathering are in luck because Tavis and company are taking their
show on the road. Visit: http://www.covenantwithblackamerica.com/moving.aspl
to see when the series of town hall meeting will be arriving in your neck of
the woods. My only advice to the organizers is to figure out a way to save
time by asking the speakers to stop paying each other so many compliments.
For although it might be polite to give props, you often end up squandering
a significant part of a prime opportunity to share your innovative ideas.

Editorial by Sam Chekwas Blackbooknews.com

Much is made of the state of Black people in the United States of America and the role government plays in our lives. The fact is that the genie is out of the bottle and we cannot continue to window dress these issues any longer while the collective populace of people of color continues to suffer and disintegrate.

A much more serious approach is needed to address the multitudes of social issues that plague our communities. Most importantly, the black race has got to change its foolish support to materialism and destructive behaviors, maladies that government does not force upon us.

Our destructive behaviors is leading the the The killings of our young people which is now an epidemic.

Our collective abilities to address these issues have failed and it is time to demand individual responsibilities from our leaders, families and children. While the efforts of our two learned brothers should be applauded, we believe that it is now time to demand action from all quarters: the individual, the community, the leaders and the government. Both brothers have done well for themselves and in following that great human calling; are giving back to society. Our problems are now beyond the efforts of two brave men, we need a million brave men, to organize and to hold all players accountable, and to call each man and woman into action.

While most of the ills in the Black community today can only be rooted to failed policies of the past and to the legacy of slavery, some could be addressed by a well organized assault on the immediate causes of the cycle: teen pregnancy, absence of fathers in most households, lack of education or job training, glorification of dangerous lifestyles.

It will definitely help if we can focus on the most serious of issues and redirect our priorities, hence in order of urgency:

1. #4: Fostering accountable, community-centered policing. Strengthening the family and the community.

2. #1: Securing the right to healthcare and well-being. Emphasizing healthy living and free healthcare for all people of color.

3. #2: Establishing a system of public education in which all children achieve at high levels and reach their full potential. Making parents accountable to their children's performance.

4. #3: Correcting the system of unequal justice. Educating our children of the role of the legal system and how to protect themselves.

5. #5: Insuring broad access to affordable neighborhoods that connect to opportunity. Yes to strong communities.

6. #10: Closing the racial digital divide.

7. #8: Accessing good jobs, wealth, and economic prosperity. Taking our own finances in our own hands. We control over 50 billion dollars of the economy in spending. There is no reason why we cannot be in control of our own economic future. Creating Black owned financial institutions, banks, credit unions, small loan lending institutions, a different credit scoring system for people of color.

8. #7: Strengthening our rural roots. Whatever that means.

9. #9: Assuring environmental justice for all. Everybody wants this.

10. #6: Claiming our democracy. Everybody wants this.

We believe that we can take control of our future and the rescue our children from certain doom. Let's unite and face this crisis.


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