Education and Community

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By Stanley Kinard

Say it Loud,
I’m Black and I’m Proud!
The Black community sighed when informed of the passing of James Brown.  “The Godfather of Soul” made his transition on Christmas Day.  Many of us were fortunate to grow up on his music that shaped the Black Cultural Aesthetic of America.  We thank James Brown for giving us the affirmation, “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!”.  Spike Lee has been commissioned to do a screenplay on Mr. Brown.  We want to see who will be cast to do the James Brown part.  This will truly be a hard act to follow.  In addition to the loss of Mr. Brown our community lost several other legends last year.  Our dear sister, Aliyah Abdul-Karim quietly made her transition a few months ago.  Sister Aliyah was a writer, grandmother, educator and member of The African-American Teachers Association.  Our community will always be indebted to her for her wisdom, love and grace that she gave us so unselfishly.  She cared so much for her people and we must never forget her.  Another community legend, Charlie Story, also made his transition in November.  Mr. Story affectionately was called The Mayor of Bedford-Stuyvesant.  He owned several furniture stores on Fulton Street in addition to being a great gospel singer.  He promoted gospel shows throughout the community and made several recordings.  It is important as we begin this New Year that we continue to acknowledge our community ancestors.
Kwanzaa celebrations took place throughout central Brooklyn this past week.  It was a very festive week as family and friends gathered to reflect on the principles of Kwanzaa.  It is imperative that we now practice these principles throughout the year.  We must continue to advocate for justice for Sean Bell and not forget about this horrible tragedy.  We also must not forget about this racist school system that continues to fail Black kids and refuses to teach Black history.  We do approach the New Year with renewed determination.
This is the year that the school system will be forced to implement Black history in the curriculum.  BNYEE will play a pivotal role in negotiating this resolution.  It is important that the community be supportive and ready to act when called upon.  This is also a year that Operation Power will emerge, a major human rights organization concerned with obtaining political power.  I see great things for our people this year if we unite and maintain our focus. 
To our retired educators, we need you back on the front line.  So many qualified educators have left the system and there is a tremendous void.  There is still a lot of work to be done with our children and now that you are receiving your pensions, you are no longer liable to a system that doesn’t work.  Now, you can say what needs to be said and assist in developing a new system of education that works for us.  We must do this in the tradition of our ancestors like Dr. Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington and Ida B. Wells.  They knew how to educate Black kids and left for us a blueprint. 
Last column, I commented on the riot that took place at a basketball game between Paul Robeson and Thomas Jefferson High Schools.  The Public School Athletic League reviewed this situation and ruled that the basketball season at Robeson will be terminated for the entire year.  Jefferson will also forfeit its next three games.  This is a major penalty that will have a negative impact upon the student athletes at both of these schools.  I question whether it is doing much to curtail the cause of the violent outburst or the problem of violence among our youth.  We certainly can’t learn how to play a game or watch a game without violence if there is no game.  The major media didn’t really report this incident in the matter they reported on the Knicks brawl with the Denver Nuggets.  That made national news while the Robeson riot has more significance than the Knicks brawl to our community.  It is time that concerned leaders and residents come together and discuss the culture of violence among our youth.  We must do this before it is too late.