Issue 22

The Heroes Of
Project 2019

What did black America accomplish during the 1950’s and 1960’s? There is an easy answer to this question. Black America initiated, fought, and won a revolution to obtain and secure civil rights for black Americans. What did black America accomplish during the 1970’s, the 1980’s, and the 1990’s? There is not an easy answer to this question. However, a case can be made that compared to the previous twenty-year period, black America accomplished little or nothing – and, in some cases, barely maintained the status quo.

In the year 2019, the four hundredth anniversary of the beginning of Slavery in America, our children and grandchildren may well ask a similar question. What did black America accomplish during the first two decades of the twenty-first century? If the answer is that black America accomplished “little or nothing,” then black Americans should be prepared to continue indefinitely in their role as the base upon which the rest of America builds its success and prosperity.

If the objectives and goals of Project 2019 are met, parents and grandparents will be able to respond to the question with a list of collective accomplishments. The most important one being that – for the first time since they arrived in America – blacks will be as educated, as knowledgeable, and as enlightened as the rest of America. After four hundred years in America, our children’s and grandchildren‘s generation will be the first black generation truly prepared to compete with the rest of America on a level playing field.

If our children and grandchildren believe they have only their parents’ generations to thank for their success, they should be made to understand that they owe equal amounts of gratitude to every past generation of black Americans. Every past generation has sacrificed, overcome obstacles, and fought to ensure a better life for generations that would follow. If, however, in the coming decades, our children and grandchildren wish to acknowledge the heroes of Project 2019, it is easy enough to anticipate who the heroes will be.

The Black Media
The black media can be heroes of Project 2019. Black media ownership is miniscule in comparison to the size of black America’s population. Even so, black media – together with white owned media—has an inordinate influence on black Americans. A case in point is black music videos.

Prior to the emergence of broadcast media and the modern American life style, the black print media was a mainstay of black America. As has always been the case, the white print media still dwarfs the black print media. Even so, the black print media continues to be extremely relevant and influential by virtue of the information that it provides and the manner in which that information is presented to black Americans.

Black Americans currently own about two percent of all television and radio stations. However, including black programming by white owned television and radio stations, the overall impact of broadcast media on black America is enormous. And, without question, black radio is today the medium with the greatest impact on black America.

Although the number of black owned and black format radio stations may be small, almost the same percentage of black Americans listens to these fewer black stations as the percentage of white Americans who listen to the more numerous white stations. Black radio reaches the vast majority of black Americans, either directly or indirectly, on an almost daily basis.

Black radio has the capability to introduce and sustain the Project 2019 Movement more so than any other mass communications tool available to the black community. In addition to Project 2019 promotions and contests, black radio can help to ensure the success of Project 2019 by continuously reminding black America of the name, the purpose, and the progress of Project 2019.

Black Churches
Black churches can be heroes of Project 2019 just as they were heroes of the Civil Rights Movement and other positive social changes. Most black churches already have an education ministry or programs that are intended to encourage or assist in the education of their children. Therefore, they need only to incorporate the purpose and the spirit of Project 2019 into their existing programs. Many people believe there should be more, not less, religion in American schools. It is certainly just as appropriate that black churches put greater emphasis on education and knowledge.

During the Slavery era, it was argued that a slave should be allowed to learn to read so that he might read the Bible. It was decided that the possibility of the slave losing his soul was not worth the risk that he might read something that would make him unhappy with his station in life. Today, black churches have the opportunity to both save souls and to help black Americans improve their station in life.

Black Organizations And Institutions
Black institutions and national, state, and community organizations should be heroes of Project 2019. Indeed, institutions and organizations whose primary mission involves the educating of black Americans should enthusiastically embrace Project 2019. The list includes black colleges and universities, the United Negro College Fund and other large and small scholarship funds. This list also includes the many large and small teaching, tutoring, and mentoring organizations and programs all across America.

Introducing the purpose and the spirit of Project 2019 to those who are served by these organizations and institutions will pay incredible dividends. The purpose, the reasons, and the rationales for Project 2019 will provide inspiration and motivation for those who are seeking education and knowledge. Project 2019 will also create a sense of unity of purpose for all such like-minded black Americans.

This is especially important for black children and youths. Every black youth who can be convinced that he “belongs with Project 2019,” lessens the possibility that he will be convinced that he should “belong to a gang.” Project 2019 will also produce a sense of higher purpose for those who are seeking success. As a result, those who are inspired, motivated, and assisted by Project 2019 will understand the need to give back to the community that contributed to their success.

Black organizations whose primary mission does not involve education should also embrace Project 2019. A number of them already have an education component as part of their mission statement. These organizations should incorporate Project 2019 or simply make Project 2019 their education mission.

Black Athletes And Entertainers
Black entertainers and professional athletes can and should be heroes of Project 2019. Whether they like it or not, they are role models for most young, as well as many older, black Americans. The definition of “role model” is “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.” Note that it is not the “person” who chooses to be, or chooses not to be, imitated by others. It is the “others” who, for better or worse, choose the role model and, more importantly, chooses which roles to imitate.

This is the reason parents can not successfully raise their children by simply telling them to “do as I say, not as I do.” It is also the reason that entertainers and sports celebrities can not simply say “buy my music or the products that I endorse but ignore the fact that I abuse my family or that I do drugs.”

Of course, everyone has options. If you want to avoid being a role model, then you should not have children. You should also attempt to live a very quiet, very private life. This will lessen the possibility of others imitating your behavior. But, whatever you do, do not become a well-known entertainer or a star athlete. As an unavoidable consequence of your success and fame, there will be children who will choose to imitate your behavior – behavior that may or may not have anything to do with your art or sport.

Black artist and athletes must realize that they are not being paid to just sing, act, or shoot a basketball. They are being paid to make little boys and girls think they want to “be like Mike” and to convince their parents to buy them a CD or a particular brand of athletic shoes.

Black entertainers and professional athletes can also become heroes of Project 2019 by explaining to black children the realities of the sports and the entertainment fields. They can testify that the road to becoming a superstar athlete or entertainer is littered with the broken bodies and the broken dreams of hundreds of thousands of young black Americans who were competing for jobs that number only in the thousands. They can explain to them that the odds of becoming a success in America are thousands of times greater if they spend two hours every day reading and studying than if they spend two hours a day playing basketball.

Black recording and performing artists and others in the entertainment field can also use their celebrity status to promote and support Project 2019. More importantly, they can use the power of their art to further the cause of Project 2019. Considering the interest that could be generated by the subject matter as well as the nobility of the cause, it should not be a difficult challenge to create and produce interesting and exciting movies, plays, and songs with educating black Americans as a major theme.

Black Professionals
Black professionals must be heroes of Project 2019 by providing the business and technical expertise that will be required to make Project 2019 a success. The knowledge and the skills of black professionals, from teachers to judges and from politicians to publishers, will be essential in every phase of the movement. The expertise of black professionals can also be provided directly to young black Americans in the form of tutoring and mentoring. If every black architect, accountant, attorney, banker, doctor, engineer, and so forth were to tutor and mentor just one black child, it would go a long way towards making Project 2019 a success.

Black professionals, more so than any other segment of the black population, should step forward and support Project 2019. They have taken the path that Project 2019 declares to be the best path – the path of formal education – and they have succeeded as a result of it. They should be the role models for young black Americans.

Clearly, black professionals are by far the most successful segment of the black population. Their lives are obvious and irrefutable proof that “the system works.” And their success is one of the best arguments that can be made for one of Project 2019’s major assertions – knowledge is power and knowledge, as a product of formal education, can save black America.

Black Families
Black families must be heroes of Project 2019. Indeed, the contributions of other heroes of Project 2019 will be severely limited without the support of black families. The family has always been the backbone of human civilization and it remains so today. Black families must certainly be the backbone of Project 2019 because the family unit is where children get their values, develop character, and where they look to for various forms of support. More importantly, the family is where children begin their education and develop long lasting attitudes regarding education.

Education must start early for every black child. Black parents should begin reading to their children while they are still in the womb and they should read to them when they are infants and toddlers. All black families should establish a daily “home study period.” There should be a consistent time in the evening when the television and video games are turned off and the entire family spends time together on academic pursuits, above and beyond a student’s daily homework. It has been said that, “a family that prays together, stays together.” It can also be said that, “a family that learns together, succeeds together.”

The importance of education must be stressed in every black family. “You must get a good education if you want to be successful” is a message that can be heard in many black American homes. This should be a mantra in the home of every black child in America. “You must get a good education if you want to be successful.” It should be repeated morning, noon, and night and parents should take every possible opportunity to convince their children that it is a fact.

Parents must take an active interest in their children’s homework, test grades, and final grades. They should insist on excellence and not allow their children to settle for mediocrity. For parents who truly love their children and want them to have a better life, there is no better way to demonstrate this than to insist on straight “A’s” from kindergarten through college.

All Black Americans
Finally, each and every black American has the potential and the opportunity to be a hero of Project 2019. The oldest, the youngest, and everyone in between has a role to play. The most educated and the least educated can contribute to the cause. The most affluent and the poorest black Americans can make a difference.

All black Americans can be heroes of Project 2019 by taking the time to understand the movement, taking a stand by supporting the movement, and demonstrating their faith by living the movement. All that is required is pride in the unique heritage of black Americans and the desire to pass this black pride on to our children, grandchildren, and all future generations of black Americans.

What Is The Missing Ingredient…?
In terms of educational infrastructure, black America has what it needs to reach educational parity with the rest of America. Black Americans have access to public schools, almost all of which are suitable for learning. And most of the schools that are not conducive to learning are not because of unmanageable social conditions. The reasons are not dilapidated, unheated buildings, woefully unqualified teachers, or the lack of textbooks. In many parts of the world, children are willingly and gratefully learning in far worse conditions than are found in the average inner city classroom.

Even so, there is a pressing need to improve the quality of the schools where most black children are educated. They are not on a par with schools where most white and Asian-American children are educated. Currently, these shortcomings are being addressed on a school by school or school system by school system basis. This approach will never be as successful as addressing these issues as part of a national movement by millions of black Americans with a stated goal of attaining educational parity.

In addition to public schools, black Americans also have access to secular and religious private schools as well as charter and choice schools. One can even elect to home-school their children. Black Americans also have access to public libraries, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet where almost all the knowledge in the world can be found.

Less than a hundred years ago, many black Americans managed to get an education when none of the above was true. And they did it in spite of having to walk for miles to and from school and also having to deal with discrimination and racial intimidation. But it was true then, just as it is true now, that it is all about mindset – a passionate desire and a resolute determination to learn.

By one measure, black America is already doing much of what needs to be done to reach educational parity with the rest of America. There are many thousands of organizations that are dedicated to increasing the amount and improving the quality of education for black Americans. There are thousands and thousands of tutoring and mentoring programs. Black churches all across America have education ministries.

Thousands of private sector companies provide educational services and scholarship money to black Americans. There are many thousands of other large and small scholarship funds including thousands that were established by black athletes, entertainers, and other private citizens. And, unlike a hundred years ago, black Americans are now relentlessly encouraged to get the best education they can possibly get.

The Synergy Of The Project 2019 Movement
If the infrastructure is in place and there are activities designed to and effort being made to eliminate the education gap, why is so little progress being made in black America’s struggle to attain educational parity with the rest of America? Similar comparisons and questions might well have been asked regarding black America’s century long struggle for civil rights. The answer came in the 1950’s and that answer was the Civil Rights Movement.

The potential heroes of Project 2019 are formidable: the black media, black churches, black organizations and institutions, black athletes and entertainers, black professionals, black families, and every other black American alive today. However, the individuals in any one group of heroes are not as formidable as they would be if all the individuals in the group were working in concert to accomplish a specific, measurable objective. And all the individual groups of heroes are not as formidable as they would be if they were all working in concert to achieve a specific goal by a specified date.

It is this lack of synergy that explains black America’s lack of progress in reaching educational parity. And the only way to capture and capitalize on this synergy is as a result of a movement.

Project 2019 is a national movement by black Americans with a major goal of reaching educational parity with the rest of America by the year 2019, the four hundredth anniversary of the beginning of Slavery in America. The heroes of Project 2019 can and will succeed in this monumental endeavor.