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(President Obama's Inauguration : January 20, 2009)
Black Americans must not make the mistake of thinking that the nation’s
first African American presidency is an occasion to hang a "mission accomplished"
As President Barack Obama begins his first term, black Americans, based on all standard economic measurements and social indicators, are at or near the bottom of every socioeconomic category. And, short of divine intervention, eight years from now when President Obama completes his second term, black Americans will still be at or near the bottom of almost every social and economic category. There is nothing that President Obama can do to change this reality. And this would be the case even if America were not in the midst of its greatest financial crisis in decades, not fighting two wars, and not heading towards a two trillion dollar federal deficit.
This is not to say that black America’s myriad problems cannot be overcome. It is to say that one man – even an African American president – cannot solve black America’s problems. No less was true regarding black America’s struggle for civil rights. Dr. Martin Luther King, as a lone voice, could not have won the battle. The battle was won because Dr. King showed us the way – and millions of ordinary black Americans did what was necessary to ensure victory. Similarly, President Obama has shown us the way. And it is now up to millions of ordinary black Americans to do what needs to be done to reverse the consequences of four debilitating centuries of slavery and oppression.
Step one: Black Americans must accept that while racism may still be a problem, in the 21st century, racism is no longer "the" problem. Secondly, black Americans must understand that they have won the struggle for civil rights. And, thirdly, black Americans must come to terms with the reality that they will never receive any meaningful reparations for slavery and that affirmative action (which at best benefited only a few thousand blacks) will continue to be chipped away until it is merely a footnote in history.
Step two: Black Americans must accept the harsh reality that, beginning with the arrival of the first slaves in America, blacks have always been – by design – the least educated and the least knowledgeable racial or ethnic group in America. This is why, in the 21st century, blacks are, as they have always been, the least educated and the least knowledgeable people in America. And it is paramount that black Americans accept the irrefutable fact that – black America will never attain social and economic equality – until black Americans attain educational parity with the rest of America.
Step three: Millions of black Americans, young and old, rich and poor, leaders and followers, must come together to change black America’s prevailing mindset of apathy and even negativity towards formal education and the seeking of knowledge. Black America must create a new, positive mindset – a mindset that ranges from enthusiasm to fanaticism in regard to formal education and the pursuit of knowledge.
Clearly, black America’s shortfall in formal education is the major contributor to its lower economic status. And black America’s lower economic status is the major contributor to its many social ills. Educated, gainfully employed blacks have no need for welfare. They are less likely to engage in criminal activities or even be victims of crime. Their children are more likely to live in two parent homes. And they are less likely to be involved in gangs, hard drugs, or engage in other risky behavior.
It may be argued that education and knowledge is not all that is required to reverse black America’s four centuries of being an underclass in America. However, there can be no doubt that education and knowledge is the "gateway" that will lead to the solutions to all the problems that afflict black America.
Knowledge is power. And as long as black Americans remain the least educated and the least knowledgeable people in America, they will remain the people with the least amount of power and success in America. Now, President Obama joins the roster of great Africans Americans whose lives are proof of what can be accomplished by black Americans who value and strive for education and knowledge.
"Project 2019" is a national movement by black Americans to reach "educational parity" (based on college degrees earned) -- by the year 2019 (the 400th anniversary of the beginning of Slavery in America
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