Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Henderson, Rice earn Hall passes

The doors to Cooperstown swung open on Sunday for Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice as they were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rickey Henderson was in his first year of eligibility and Jim Rice in his 15th and final year. Henderson was the all-time leader in two categories - 1,406 stolen bases and 2,295 runs scored. He also holds the record for unintentional walks and leadoff home runs. Considered to be the greatest leadoff hitter ever, Rickey Henderson was elected with 94.8 percent of the votes cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Jim Rice, a career-long member of the Boston Red Sox, was in his final year of eligibility. He received seven votes over the 75 percent threshold to garner 76.4 percent. Last year, he fell just 16 votes short. His percentage last year was the highest ever for a player not elected.

Henderson and Rice are the first left fielders elected to the Hall of Fame in 20 years. They bring the number of players in the Hall to 202.

Rickey Henderson established himself as baseball's supreme leadoff hitter by banging out 3,055 hits in a 25-season career that spanned four decades (1979-2003). He played for the Oakland Athletics (four times), New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres (twice), California Angels, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

A career .279 hitter with a .401 on-base average and 297 home runs, Henderson won World Series rings with the 1989 A's and '93 Blue Jays, was the American League’s MVP in 1990 and set the bar so high with the single-season stolen base record of 130 in 1982 that no player since has come within 20 bags of equaling it. His 81 home runs leading off games are the most in Major League history.

A .298 career hitter with 382 home runs, 2,452 hits and 1,451 RBIs in 16 seasons, Rice had four seasons of more than 200 hits, led the American League in home runs three times, RBIs twice, hits once, slugging percentage twice, was the AL Most Valuable Player in 1978 and was an eight-time All-Star.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Vick Reinstated to NFL - Almost

Almost two years after he pleaded guilty to a federal charge of bankrolling a dog fighting operation at a house he owned in Virginia, Michael Vick has been reinstated to the National Football League. According to an NFL statement, Michael Vick will be considered for full reinstatement and to play in regular-season games by Week 6. He can participate in practices, workouts and meetings and may play in his club's final two preseason games under the conditions of his reinstatement, the league said.

Michael Vick, in his own statement, thanked the league's commissioner and former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, who has served as his mentor. Dungy has agreed to continue working with Vick as an adviser and mentor, the NFL statement said.
Vick said, "I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have been given."

The former Atlanta Falcons player is a free agent and has not been signed by any team yet. The league suspended Vick indefinitely in August 2007 after his guilty plea. Although he was released from federal custody July 20, he must serve three years of probation, the league said.

According to the NFL commissioner, this step-by-step approach is not meant to be further punishment and should not be viewed as such. Instead, it is intended to maximize the prospect that he can successfully resume his career and his life. Michael Vick will also on programs aimed at preventing youths from getting involved in dog fighting and on programs to assist young people who have been involved.

Don’t you just love the self-righteous people that complain that Vick is a felon and therefore should not be allowed to earn a living? I thought that was the American Way – to forgive after a person pays for their mistakes. It doesn't mean what he did wasn't wrong, we all know it was, but nothing can change the past.

We support politicians who have done worse, we support movie stars who die from overdose, support stars you have molested young children, yet we are "disgusted" by a man who has the opportunity to lead others from making the mistakes he has made. Every step he takes will be followed by the over-zealous media hoping to catch him making a mistake. I believe he will use this platform to teach people that it is possible to actually feel remorse for the mistakes made in life.

I thought that once you have paid your debt to society, you should be given another chance. Otherwise, we might as well execute anyone who commits a crime. To what extent do people of color have to continue paying their debt? Michael Vick was incarcerated, paid fines and lawyer’s fees. Again, when is enough - enough when people of color have paid their debt to society?

I don’t see any animal lovers picketing the rodeo, horse racing or the circus. Look into the detail of these animal cruelties main stays of U.S. society. Or better yet look into the places most of your lovable little dogs originate.

Mike Vick has paid dearly for his crime and I truly believe he deserves a second chance to rehabilitate himself. He is going to be working with the Humane Society. God allows us to make mistakes, but he still forgives us. I don't condone what he did, but that is what repentance is all about.

Monday, July 27, 2009

From the Heat to the Hospital

After dancing her way through school, former Miami Heat cheerleader Fabienne Achille has traded in her pom-poms for a stethoscope. Doctor Achille turned in her hot pants for scrubs and now delivers babies as a Florida obstetrician.

The pretty 28-year-old paid her way through pre-med school at University of Miami by cheering on the likes of Alonzo Mourning, then turned her attention to the grueling medical curriculum at University of South Florida. The ballgame glamor made her undergrad days memorable, but it wasn't exactly easy. Fabienne Achille, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said, “It was a lot of hard work especially being pre-med. But it was definitely a very very enjoyable memorable time in my life.”

The obstetrician is now finishing her residency, delivering babies at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami -- the facility where she was born. Jackson Memorial is a hospital that deals with many minorities, including Haitians. Recently, Doctor Achille got to help one of Haiti's most deserving patients, in a well-publicized case that touched the hearts of millions. It was Achille who, with her mother and twin sister, helped arrange for Marlie Casseus, a 14-year-old girl suffering from a dangerous facial tumor, to come to Jackson from Port-Au-Prince for life-saving surgery.

Doctor Achille has one more year to do in her residency, then she hopes to perform a medical mission to Haiti, where she can reach out to the uninsured in her community. In the meantime, she is especially interested in helping patients without medical insurance.

Eventually, she plans to go into private practice. If time permits, she may also take in more Miami Heat basketball games -- but from the stands, not the floor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No Honor in Red Sox Anniversary

The following are excerpts from an article at by Howard Bryant which I thought was very interesting.

On July 21, 1959, the Boston Red Sox manager sent in Elijah "Pumpsie" Green in to run for another player. That game 50 years ago yesterday, allowed Green to become the first African-American to play for the Red Sox. Boston was the last team in the major leagues to field a black player, 12 years after Jackie Robinson. During past anniversaries -- the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut in 1947, for example -- the Red Sox have flown Green and his wife to Boston, chartered them a limousine and feted them as important elements of the team's and city's history. Green has been honored as a pioneer, as a critical first, and he has thrown out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park to the cheers of a newer, younger Red Sox Nation. As the decades pile up and institutional memory fades due to death and time, the story of the integration of the Red Sox could very well be transformed into a moment of triumph, worthy of commemoration.

What’s milestone is there to celebrate? That the Red Sox put off integrating for as long as possible? To celebrate that occasion is to do something corporations -- and do not forget that baseball is a corporation -- do very well: They are experts at scrubbing history, at massaging a negative into a positive. Through no fault of his own, Pumpsie Green represents a moment in Red Sox and Boston history that should be acknowledged soberly and apologetically out of respect for him, but not as a celebration.

Unlike Jackie Robinson, neither Green nor the Red Sox exhibited any special courage that July day in 1959. In fact, the sequence of events that led to Green’s playing that day was decidedly antiheroic. A year earlier, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination sent a letter to club executives asking them to explain how the Red Sox did not employ a single African-American in any capacity -- centerfielder or secretary, groundskeeper or accountant, usher or janitor. Even Boston's hockey team, the Bruins, integrated before the Red Sox.

In the mid-1950s Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams thought he was headed for Boston. As Williams recalls it, the Red Sox were interested … until they weren't. "Yaz and I were the two best left-handed hitters going," Williams told me this past spring. "We used to joke about it. Imagine what that Wall would've looked like with the two of us hitting one after the other."

There is the sad case of Lorenzo "Piper" Davis, who in 1950 became the first Black player in the history of the Boston organization. Davis was 26, played for the team's Scranton affiliate, led the team in average, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases, and then was unceremoniously cut from the team and sent home to Birmingham, Alabama, without train fare.

In 1949, the Red Sox scouted Willie Mays. Mays recalled hearing that after a few days of inclement weather in Birmingham, the scout, Larry Woodall, told fellow scouts, "I'm not going to waste my time waiting on a bunch of n-----s." Willie Mays once told me. "To be honest, I really thought I was going to Boston. But for that [Tom] Yawkey. Everyone knew he was a racist. He didn't want me."

And of course, there was the original sin: Jackie Robinson's humiliating 1945 tryout with Boston that ended with Robinson and the Red Sox -- manager Joe Cronin, in particular -- as lifelong enemies. The Red Sox were not serious about signing Robinson; by the time he retired following the 1956 season, the Sox still hadn't integrated.

This is the real truth about July 21, 1959. It cannot be changed. When your organization is less interested in Willie Mays than a spell of bad weather, you get Pumpsie Green. When you have the jump on Billy Williams and he gets away, you get Pumpsie Green. When your top baseball man patronizes Jackie Robinson, you get Pumpsie Green. When you're one of the richest teams in the game and fail to capitalize for more than a decade on a pool of the most talented, available and economically desirable ballplayers in the history of the game, you get Pumpsie Green. When the state's corporate watchdog sues your organization not once but twice for discriminatory hiring practices, you get Pumpsie Green.

Not long after he arrived in Boston, in a phone conversation, Jackie Robinson told Green that Green's road would be equally -- if not more -- difficult than Robinson's, for the simple reason that the Dodgers had wanted Robinson to succeed while the Red Sox desperately avoided integration until completely surrounded by the forces of change.

The dynamic of Red Sox have dramatically changed. Boston -- whether in sports or in everyday life – still has trouble overcoming the images of its intolerance. Race has become a much less bitter subject. In terms of black players, the Red Sox are far less diverse than even 10 years ago. The hostilities have calmed, but the patterns have not. Former centerfielder Coco Crisp is the only full-time, everyday African American player they have employed since 2002, but the team is more universally regarded, by all races than ever.

This is not a date of something that 50 years later can or should be retrofitted for a different time -- a better time, certainly -- to satisfy a newer, softer narrative.

Howard Bryant is a senior writer for He is the author of "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston" and "Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

'For Colored Girls' Has Lasting Power

Ntozake Shange

Cast of "For Colored Girls"

Ntozake Shange, (pronounced En-toe-ZAHK-kay SHONG-gay), author of the famed play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf," was inspired to write the play by a rainbow while driving down Highway 1 in Northern California. At the time Ms Shange was in her mid-20s and had reportedly tried to commit suicide four times. The rainbow gave her inspiration by becoming the colors – the voices – of the unnamed femaile characters in the work. Her grandmother gave her the inspiration for the words "For Colored Girls", as she always told Ntozke that she was such a pretty little colored girl.

"For Colored Girls" was a sensation upon its debut in 1975 and remains a mainstay of theatrical companies across the country -- as well as a popular book for high school students. Ntozake Shange, now 60, calls the work a "choreopoem". It consists of 20 poems, some based on Shange's own experience, plus occasional music, dance and song. The characters are associated with the rainbow and known as "lady in green," "lady in blue," "lady in yellow," and other colors of the spectrum. Currently it is in Atlanta and directed by Jasmine Guy and staring Nicole Ari Parker and Robin Givens among others.

The current edition features a seventh color -- brown -- added to yellow, purple, red, green, blue and orange. Each is also associated with a city across the country: "I'm outside Detroit," one says; "I'm outside Baltimore," says another. In fact, "For Colored Girls" is amazingly flexible. Each actor can appear in different cities. Each story has no specific setting. This makes topics all-inclusive. The topics of "For Colored Girls" are raw and honest. They include losing virginity, needing love, having an abortion, even pressing charges against a rapist who was not a stranger. Ms Shange said her intent was to free the female body and to unearth unspeakable secrets as well as to have nostalgia about wonderful things.

Critics loved the work's originality. It won an Obie Award for best off-Broadway play and also earned Tony, Grammy and Emmy nominations. More than 30 years later, Ms. Shange said she hopes women draw positive emotions from the show and her other works, which includes seven novels, four children's books and several other plays and poems. "I like women in general, women of color in particular, to feel pride and dignity and joy and fullness that we're capable of," she said.

There are no male characters in "For Colored Girls," but men take away something from it, too. “When most men see the play they realize they they know so little about us,” she said. Ms. Shange said that what she looks forward to is men drawing from her work the strength, virility and the comedy of the women they are surrounded by.

Ntozake Shange was born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey to an upper middle class family. Her father, Paul T. Williams, was an Air Force surgeon and her mother, Eloise Williams, was an educator and a psychiatric social worker. Shange's family had a strong interest in the arts and encouraged her artistic education. Among the guests at their home were Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Chuck Berry, and W. E. B. Du Bois. In 1971 she changed her name. "Ntozake" means "She who comes with her own things" and "Shange" means "she who walks with lions" in Xhosa.

"For Colored Girls" still has staying power. It's headed to Broadway and is under contract for a film next season. The production was filmed for a 1982 episode of "American Playhouse" on PBS; the version included several members of the original New York cast, including Shange. The voices in "For Colored Girls" remain vivid, like the colors of the rainbow. Be sure to check it out if you get a chance, but for sure pick up the book.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thousands Turn Out for Steve McNair's Funeral

Steve “Air” McNair was laid to rest in front a couple hundred of his family and friends this past Saturday, but nearly 5,000 turned out to say goodbye at his the funeral services held at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg earlier in the day. Pall bearers included former Tennessee Titan and Baltimore Raven teammates. Speakers included Titans coach Jeff Fisher and quarterback Vince Young and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

"Steve was like a hero to me, and heroes are not supposed to die,'' Vince Young said before stopping to rub his eyes as he talked about the man he knew from football camps as a teenager and called "Pops''. Other NFL men who competed with and against McNair or coached him on the field also attended, including Eddie George and The high school football team McNair's son plays on wore their jerseys in honor of the man they often saw smiling from the sidelines. Steve McNair’s good friend, Brett Favre, who had a home near McNair's in Hattiesburg, sat behind the McNair family. Doug Williams, the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl, also was on hand.

It was one of the largest funerals in the recent history of Mississippi, McNair's home state. The hearse carrying McNair's casket was escorted the 30 miles down Highway 49 by nine police officers on motorcycles and several vehicles carried family members. Steve McNair's family rented buses to carry in people from his hometown of Mount Olive. After the two-hour service, the procession headed back down the road for the private burial at Griffith Cemetery, about 20 miles from Mount Olive.

The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will be remembered for being an incredibly hard worker, a dedicated teammate and a true NFL leader. He was selected third overall by the Houston Oilers in the 1995 NFL Draft. As a prolific quarterback at Alcorn State, he shattered Division I-AA records, won the Walter Payton Award, and finished third in Heisman Trophy voting behind Rashaan Salaam and Ki-Jana Carter (who and who). Despite missing two games with an injured calf and ankle during the 2003 season, McNair finished with the best numbers of his career -- including 24 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 100.4. McNair and Peyton Manning were named co-NFL MVPs for the season. "Mississippi has lost a tremendous legend,'' said Cardell Jones, McNair's college coach at Alcorn State.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Swim Club Invites Day Care Back After Racism Allegations Goes National

A group of protesters gathers in front of the club on Thursday.

A suburban Philadelphia swim club has invited children from a largely minority day-care center to come back after a June reversal that fueled allegations of racism against the club. After the “alleged” racial comments incident turned into a national story and protesters started picketing at the swim club, a hasty Sunday afternoon meeting of the Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania was called. And club members voted overwhelmingly to try to work things out with the day-care center. The day-care center, which had contracted to use the pool, after budget cuts forced some pools in the Philadelphia area to close, has accused some swim club members of making racist comments to Black and Brown children.

This quick change of heart is more likely the result of the club having been subpoenaed by the state Human Rights Commission, which launched a fact-finding investigation last week after allegations of racism at the Valley Club. The club director’s wife said the club canceled its contract with the Creative Steps day-care because of safety, crowding and noise concerns, not racism. (Why is the director’s wife speaking for the club? – maybe because he can’t get his foot out of his mouth. He said that having the day-care center children would change the complexion [definition: skin tone; facial appearance, nature; character] of the club). She also said, "and the legal advice was to try to get together with these camps.”

Alethea Wright, Creative Steps’ director has repeatedly criticized the club for its tepid response to the charges and said the children in her care were "emotionally damaged" by the incident. "These children are scarred. How can I take those children back there?" she said. However, the day-care center’s lawyer said the center will give the Valley Club's offer "due consideration" once it is received and looks forward to sitting down with the parties. “"The children are our primary concern.” (Lawyer speak for as soon as you pay the damages we will back off.)

Swimming privileges for about 65 children from Creative Steps were revoked after their first visit June 29. Some children said White members of the club made racist comments to the children, asking why "black children were there" and raising concerns that "they might steal from us." A few days later, the day-care center's $1,950 check was returned.

The club director told reporters that he had underestimated the amount of children who would participate, and the club was unable to supervise that many kids. Ms. Wright has rejected the camp's contention that the swim club's pool was overcrowded. The club had accepted a 10-to-1 ratio of children to adults and was considering adding up to three lifeguards, according to e-mails obtained by CNN. And Wright said she still has concerns about the issue. "Are the members who made those comments still there?" she asked

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Please excuse the harsh words - but the contents are great.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson Remembered

He was praised and ridiculed. He broke down barriers and built them around himself. He soared to heights unimaginable with his music, and he made the front page of gutter tabloids worldwide. For Michael Jackson, the spotlight was always present, and the rest of the world followed. Even his passing has played out in the spotlight: Thousands are expected to swamp Los Angeles to mourn him today at the Staples Center.

The city of Los Angeles braces for massive spectacle as an army of Michael Jackson fans poured into the city from places far-flung, to collectively mourn their idol in a massive ceremony today. Gates to the Staples Center were opened about 6 a.m. PT. The LAPD has put up concrete barriers around the center, allowing only fans with tickets to the star-studded event to enter. Parking lots in the area raised their prices, some as high as $30. Airports throughout Southern California saw a spike in bookings. And several movie theaters in the area announced special screenings of the event, which will also be carried live by some television networks and Web sites.

Monday night, more than 12 hours before the service, the mood was almost festive, with fans lined up around the block to sign the memorial wall. Police and security officers kept a close watch. Helicopters flew overhead, and sheriff's deputies could be seen strolling through with bomb-sniffing dogs. Media from around the world rolled cameras and took photos. Vendors strolled through the crowd, offering everything from Jackson T-shirts to copies of old magazines featuring the star on the cover to homemade “King of Pop" soda for $5.

The Jackson family remained tight-lipped about where the singer will be buried, but signs pointed to Hollywood Hills Forest Lawn cemetery. Several carloads of people, including family members among them, came and went from the heavily secured cemetery after sunset Monday. Shortly before the cars began arriving, a hearse drove up, with at least five police cars in tow.

Today will begin with a private gathering of Jackson family members at the cemetery at 8 a.m. (PT). The California Highway Patrol will escort Jackson family members from his parents' Encino, California, home to the cemetery and then to the Staples Center. AEG Live, the concert promoter handling the memorial, said there would be no funeral processional. The Staples event is expected to feature singers Mariah Carey, Usher and Stevie Wonder. Also participating will be basketball stars Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson; singers Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer and Smokey Robinson; and activists Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

All day Monday, fans who won tickets to the memorial service through a lottery swarmed to Dodger Stadium -- some in smart cars, some on scooters and even one in an airport shuttle. They entered energized with anticipation and exited shaking with excitement, holding two priceless tickets and sporting wristbands that organizers put on them to prevent resale. Organizers used a computer to choose 8,750 names from 1.6 million people who registered online. Each received a pair of tickets, for a total of 17,500 tickets.

Just 11,000 of those are for seats inside the Staples Center. The other 6,500 are for viewing the memorial telecast across the street at the Nokia Theater. AEG Live owns and operates both venues. The Jackson family set aside an additional 9,000 Staples Center seats to give out to people they choose.

Also Monday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge granted control of Michael Jackson's assets to the executors of his will. The executors, his longtime personal attorney, and a music industry executive and longtime friend sought immediate control of the entertainer's assets at a hearing before the judge. The men said control of the assets would allow them to tend to Jackson's numerous outstanding debts, legal cases and business obligations (lawyer speak for we’re going to fill our pockets and give you some change too). The media talks about MJ’s debts, but he always had the leverage with half ownership of the various star music catalogs, including the Beatles, Sly and the Family Stone, and until recently Little Richard’s. The Beatles alone is worth more that $500 million.

The judge appointed the men special administrators until another hearing on August 3. He said they will be responsible for protecting the estate from immediate losses. His mother, Katherine Jackson, started administering his assets the day after he died. Lawyers for Katherine Jackson objected to the judge's decision, saying "irreparable damage" could be done to the estate in coming weeks with lawyers in control. Do you think his assets should be controlled by lawyers or his mother?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Former NFL QB Steve McNair Shot to Death

Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair was shot multiple times in Nashville, Tennessee Saturday. Police said they found McNair and a woman identified as Sahel Kazemi fatally shot receiving a phone call about an injured person in a condominium in downtown Nashville. The ex-NFL star was shot twice in the head and twice in the chest, while Ms. Kazemi was shot once in the head. McNair's body was found seated on a living room sofa and a semi-automatic pistol was found under Kazemi's body, which was on the floor. The bodies were found two days after Kazemi was pulled over in an Escalade, registered to her and McNair, and charged with driving under the influence. McNair was in the car at the time. McNair, a married father of four, and Sahel Kazemi apparently were involved in a dating relationship over the past several months.

McNair met Kazemi at the Dave & Buster’s restaurant where she worked as a server and where his family ate often. The two began dating a few months ago. Ms. Kazemi bought a gun a couple of days before she was found dead alongside the slain former NFL quarterback. “There was no way she was depressed and wanting to do this,” he said. “She was so happy. … She just had it made, you know, this guy taking care of everything,” said her nephew, who also said his aunt believed Steve McNair was divorcing his wife and she was preparing to sell her furniture to move in with him. Sounds like the common occurrence of the girlfriend disappointed when she finds out that the husband is not leaving his wife for her.

Mechelle McNair has been described as very distraught about her husband’s death but has not commented on it. Nashville courts had no record of a McNair divorce case, but a 14,000-square-foot home he owned in Nashville is on the market for $3 million.
Publicly, McNair was a happily married man and proud father of four sons who split his time between his Mississippi farm and a home in Music City, where celebrities are cherished, not hassled. His death, however, thrust a darker side of his private life into the spotlight.

On the football field, he simply was “Air McNair,” a winner. McNair still holds the NCAA’s Football Championship Series (formerly Division I-AA) records for career yards passing (14,496) and total offense (16,823) from his days at Alcorn State University, a HBCU school.

He played 13 NFL seasons, starting with the then-Houston Oilers, which became the Tennessee Titans. He led the Titans to the 2000 Super Bowl. He was named the NFL's co-Most Valuable Player with Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning in 2003. He ended his career with the Baltimore Ravens last season, after being traded away by the Titans after they drafted Vince Young as a replacement for the aching and expensive veteran. Steve McNair played with unquestioned heart and leadership and NFL fans were shocked by the news of his death.

What is so sad is that his family will forever have this to remember every Fourth of July. And after such a marvelous career, a person is remembered by a last act, which becomes your legacy.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin Resigns (Quits) as Governor

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announces that she is stepping down from office at the end of the month. The news rattles a Republican Party already plagued with setbacks in recent weeks, including extramarital affairs disclosed by two other 2012 presidential prospects, Nevada Senator John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Governor Palin hinted she had a bigger role in mind, saying she wanted to make a "positive change outside government." She said that this is in Alaska's best interest and that her family is happy.

In a hastily arranged news conference at her home Governor Palin said she will formally step down July 26, and Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell will be inaugurated at the governor's picnic in Fairbanks, Alaska. She still has two years left to her term.

The 2008 vice presidential nominee was seen as a likely presidential contender in 2012 and had many supporters among the party's base. But the last week brought a highly critical piece in Vanity Fair magazine, with aides questioning if she was ever really prepared for the presidency. The backbiting continued through the week, with follow-up articles recounting the nasty infighting that plagued her failed bid.
Palin's resignation, timed on the eve of the July 4 holiday when many Americans had already begun a three-day weekend, seemed designed to avoid publicity while openly leaving office. She alluded to how she could help change the country and help military members — code that she didn't think her time on the national stage was over. And a spokeswoman for Palin's political action committee SarahPAC, said the group continues to accept donations on its Web site, with a rise in funds after Palin's announcement.

I would think this eliminates her from serious consideration for the presidency in 2012. In the presidential race, Palin became the butt of talk-show jokes and Democratic criticism after news broke that the Republican Party had spent $150,000 or more on a designer wardrobe, accessories and hair and makeup services for her. The high-end spending spree contrasted with the down-to-earth image she sought to craft for herself and became an unwelcome issue for the McCain campaign. An unnamed advisor said that Governor Palin was "really unhappy with the way her life was going. Palin expressed frustration with her current role as governor. She felt that the pressures of the job combined with her family obligations were becoming too much. Just imagine her running and her opponent saying you quit your last office, maybe you will quit being president when the pressure is on also. This certainly calls into question her commitment to public service. YOU BETCHA!!!

Governor Palin said, “I cannot stand here as your governor and allow the millions of dollars and all that time go to waste just so I can hold the title of governor." I wonder what she has up her sleeve now? This leads me to suspect her to pop up on some national radio or TV show with a lucrative contract.

Sarah Palin's announcement comes after several recent blows to the Republican Party. Senator Ensign, a member of the Christian ministry Promise Keepers, stepped down from the Senate Republican leadership last month after admitting he had an affair for much of last year with a woman on his campaign staff who was married to one of his Senate aides. Ensign later disclosed he had helped the woman's husband get two jobs during the affair. And just days after news of Ensign's affair broke, Governor Sanford admitted an affair with a woman in Argentina. Some lawmakers are now calling for his resignation. Before the admission, Sanford had been missing from the state for five days visiting his lover. He had slipped his security detail, lied to his staff about where he was and failed to transfer power to the lieutenant governor in case of a state emergency.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

America's "Other" Private Schools

If you mention the names of New England's private schools most Americans will recognize them. Both John F. Kennedy, Jr. and former president George W. Bush attended Phillips Academy in Massachusetts. Schools such as Phillips and Exeter have educated the children of generations of America's first families. Less well known, however, are Black private schools, whose existence has been virtually ignored.

Over 200 Black academies operated in the South prior to 1920. Secondary schools in the South during this time were few and far between, and the few that existed were in the major cities. In 1916 four southern states did not have a single public high school for Blacks, and half of all Black students at the secondary level were enrolled in private academies. Georgia had one public Black high school but closed it to redirect funds to the education of White children.

The lack of public secondary education provided for Black students reflected the philosophy in the South, which did not make education a high political or social item for Black Americans. So Blacks found ways to establish their own schools. They were aided by religious groups and by philanthropists such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Julius Rosenwald, who gave generous amounts of money to build schools in Black communities. These philanthropists often directed that their aid should fund "industrial education" favored by Booker T. Washington, who had counseled Blacks against pressing for social equality and urged them to train themselves as useful workers for the southern economy. No wonder “good old boy” Booker T was one of the few Black folks in history books.

The Washington concept of industrial education, however, was not embraced by all Blacks. Dr. William Edward Burghardt DuBois, the first Black American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard, actively opposed Washington's ideas. Dr. DuBois urged Blacks to pursue collegiate courses and a classical education. And the DuBois philosophy echoed well with Black academies. The competing Washington-DuBois concepts ultimately led to two types of schools for Blacks: County training schools largely emphasized industrial education and some teacher training, while academies largely emphasized college preparatory subjects and some teacher training.

Religious denominations also founded Black academies in the South, especially the Presbyterian Church, which established over 75 private schools in the South. In South Carolina alone, Presbyterians established 25 schools. Boggs Academy in Keysville, Georgia was the first boarding school established by the Presbyterians. Shortly before it closed in 1986, Boggs was the only predominantly Black accredited boarding school in the U.S. Today, the former academy continues as the Boggs Rural Life Center.

The Baptists founded Fredericksburg Normal and Industrial Academy in Virginia in 1905 and Bettis Academy in Trenton, South Carolina, in 1881. The Methodist Episcopal Church founded Mather Academy in Camden, S.C., in 1887. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church established Clinton Normal and Industrial Institute in Rock Hill, S.C., in 1896. The American Missionary Association established academies as well as some private Black colleges. Avery Institute in Charleston, S.C., was established by the AMA in 1865. Avery was a grade and high school with a small department for training elementary teachers and was known for its high academic and moral standards. It closed in 1954, and its successor is known as the Avery Museum and Research Center of African American Culture.

Black academies provided a high quality of education for Black youth in an inhospitable time, when the typical southern view of prejudice and a low view of Black intelligence denied educational opportunity to Blacks. Because large numbers of academies were affiliated with church denominations, a religious orientation and attendance at weekly chapel and Sunday services was obligatory. Social activities among students and between men and women were strictly monitored. Boggs Academy, for example, required its students to be in their dormitories by 9:30 p.m. and in bed by 10 p.m. Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, North Carolina required the students to dress up for the evening meal and the rules of manners and table etiquette were strictly observed.

The instruction in academies was highly structured and heavily inclined towards college preparation. In fact, one of the touted values was that this type of schooling led easily to college admission. While the typical academy did not emphasize industrial education, its students were taught to respect the dignity of labor. Students frequently were assigned chores at their schools, such as trimming shrubs or cleaning floors. Courses focused on clerical, business subjects and home economics. Boggs Academy defined its program as having four parts: study, workshop, work, and play. The play aspect centered on athletics and the arts. Boggs had outstanding football and basketball teams. Its choir frequently toured the country giving concerts to raise funds for the school, as well as to provide experiences for the students to visit famous historical and cultural sites.

Perhaps the best testimonials to the excellence of the Black academies were supplied by their graduates, who distinguished themselves in many fields of endeavor. The long list of accomplished graduates includes:

Famed jazz musician Dizzy Gilespie, a graduate of Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina; Judge H. Carl Moultrie, a graduate of Avery Institute in Charleston, S.C., who presided over the trial of the eleven Hanafi gunmen who seized 134 hostages in Washington, D.C., in 1977; Dr. Frank DeCosta, former dean of the Graduate School, Morgan State University, was a 1927 graduate of Avery Institute; Ms. businesswoman and owner of TVOne and RadioOne, graduate of Piney Woods Country Life School in Piney Woods, Mississippi; and Alice B. Bullock, dean of the Howard University Law School, a graduate of Boggs Academy.

The “golden era” in education of Blacks in the U.S., which was established just after the Civil War, ended as church groups cut back on their support and as public school education, though segregated, became more available. The accomplishments of these schools provide eloquent documentation that blacks have had a long and historic interest in intellectual development, and they did what they could, in spite of severe hardships, to achieve their educational goals. There are today a half dozen private schools predominately for Blacks still in operation, which comprise the Association of African American Boarding Schools. The schools are: Laurinburg Institute, Laurinburg, N.C.; Piney Woods Country Life School, Piney Woods, Miss.; Southern Normal School, Brewton, Alabama; Pine Forge Academy, Pine Forge, Pennsylvania; and Redemption Christian Academy, Troy, New York.