Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dr. Woodson's Nightmare

BH 424
September 27, 2012

Recently on my daily radio program I noted that three of the seven African American students in the media classes that I teach at Webster University were disruptive and inattentive. While four are brilliant, attentive and anxious to learn, these three are completely opposite. One of the troubling episodes we discussed on the program occurred on a day that it was announced in the daily newspaper that another predominantly black school district will probably lose state accreditation.

This is disturbing because of the long term implications not only for the students, but for their families, the region as well as the impact on local and national politics, for uniformed students are usually not forward-looking about how their actions will influence their future and perhaps yours and mine.

I have many times in my columns used quotes from Dr. Carter G. Woodsons’1933 publication “The Miseducation of the Negro”, but what is even more profound and intricately more informative is the introduction in the book.

A portion read: ‘The most imperative and crucial element in Woodson's concept of mis-education hinged on the education system's failure to present authentic Negro History in schools and the bitter knowledge that there was a scarcity of literature available for such a purpose, because most history books gave little or no space to the black man's presence in America.

Some of them contained casual references to Negroes but these generally depicted them in menial, subordinate roles, more or less sub-human. Such books stressed their good fortune at having been exposed, through slavery, to the higher or white man's civilization. There were included derogatory statements relating to the primitive, heathenish quality of the African background, but nothing denoting skills, abilities, contributions or potential in the image of the Blacks, in Africa or America.

Woodson considered this state of affairs deplorable, an American tragedy, dooming the Negro to a brain-washed acceptance of the inferior role assigned to him by the dominant race, and absorbed by him through his schooling’.

The youths of the race were Woodson's particular concern because he recognized that it was with, the boys and girls that Mis-education began, later crystallizing into deep-seated insecurities, intra-racial cleavages, and interracial antagonisms. All of these factors have been discussed over and over in the immediate past, by historians, sociologists, psychiatrists, and laymen, but Dr. Woodson, and a pitifully small number of others, had pointed the way a full generation earlier.

What is frightening to me is that I am certain the three students I mentioned earlier will have no desire for self improvement, to help others, or even to register to vote or participate in the electoral process. Their minds, their future and their votes will be wasted. And that is a critical problem. In the forthcoming elections, every vote counts. 

From the Web Page “Your Vote Counts” it verify ‘voting in any type of election, from local elections to Presidential primaries, provides an important way to voice your opinions regarding elected leaders and overall policies; voting also helps you decide your own future by electing a person who might reflect your own views. The ability to vote exists as one of the most cherished Constitutional Rights that many fought for, marched for, and died for over the centuries.’

Could these three students make a difference in the November elections? Would their votes support the candidate that will help them survive? How and when will they be convinced that education is the key to their survival, and their opportunity to fulfill their dreams and ambitions?

I am convinced Mitt Romney was referring to them and maybe their parents when he stated “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what these are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

I do not know what high school my students graduated from but I think they are from one of the unaccredited institutions that I mentioned earlier. 

In 1935 W.E.B.DuBois wrote: ‘ race prejudice in the United States today is such that most Negroes cannot receive proper education in white institutions. Many public school systems in the North where Negroes are admitted and tolerated but they are not educated, they are crucified.

These three young people did not have to endure what Dr. Dubois described, but somehow their conditions are worse. They do not appear to have a dream or a vision of success. Are they spoiled or misguided?

The four who are studying, conscientious and dutiful may look forward to an industrious and creative life with many monetary rewards. The three that I focused on I am sad to say, I am not so sure.

I hope all of my students will have a productive future and I hope they will get involved in the electoral process and register to vote, and personally I hope if they do not vote for Mr. Obama, they will cast a vote against Mr. Romney. It’s my personal opinion and desire.

I sincerely hope the inattentive three will stop wasting my time, their time and their parents’ money and become the great leaders they are able to become.

Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am and 4 pm on WGNU-920 AM, or live on the Web @

And please watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am and Sunday Evenings at 5:30 pm on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.

I can be reached by fax at (314) 837-3369 or e-mail at:

Be Ever Wonderful!

Resurrecting Community Pride

August 23, 2012
BH 423  

During the modern day civil rights movement African Americans were proud and energized. We encouraged our family and friends to pick up trash while walking in their neighborhood.  We were also asked to report any suspicious activity along their route, sidewalk problems that would affect pedestrians, missing or damaged street signs, pot holes in streets, and any other issues that made our streets unsafe and unattractive.

We were full of pride.

We were especially uplifted walking or driving on streets, boulevards and avenues that reflected the names of our heroes and heroines. It was a movement that produced a new black cultural identity and were strutted black and proud.  After 1968 we were particularly pleased with thoroughfares bearing the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But that was then.

It is hard to believe that on April 4, 2012, forty-four years after Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, the city finally dedicated a street named in his honor.

More than 900 U.S. cities have streets named after King. The largest concentration is in the South, led by Georgia which, according to an article by Derek H. Alderman of East Carolina University in the New Georgia Encyclopedia, has more than 70 roads named after the Atlanta native. History is often bound up in street names and when the majority of these dedications were made the streets and neighborhoods had a vision of perpetual care with immaculate interest. But what happened? How did the dream of honoring the civil rights idol deteriorate? What happened to the pride of honoring Dr. King? How did these places in so many communities decline to conditions that have become the foundation of jokes and disrespect?

The comedian Chris Rock famously advised, 'If a friend calls you on the telephone and says they're lost on Martin Luther King Boulevard and they want to know what they should do, the best response is ‘Run!’. Is that funny or pathetic?

One magazine defined streets named for the martyr as: ‘A street in every major American city, commonly inhabited with large amounts of unemployed African Americans. In most cities among the top ten streets involved in gang shootings, drug busts, car thefts, and older white women and blacks of all ages’. How dismal is that?

But there is a movement to restore the streets and roads bearing Dr. King’s name. It is called ‘Beloved Streets of America’.

Headed locally by Melvin White, Kawana Williams and Barry Jarmon, the organizations missions is “bound by a united vision, Beloved Streets of America fosters collaboration among individuals, groups, and organizations and generates resources to revitalize and conserve streets bearing the honorable name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”.

White said ‘we envision a future wherein every street within the United States of America bearing the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is vibrant, beautiful, and prosperous.”.

Melvin White in a guest column in the American wrote : ‘A fight in the parking lot on 3100 MLK ends in the shooting of a 17-year-old boy in Cleveland, Ohio. Police in Oakland, CA are looking for suspects as shots were fired in the 2900 block of MLK; one person wounded and taken to the hospital. In Milwaukee, WI, at the corner of MLK and North Avenue, a victim, 28, is killed in apparent robbery attempt'.

These are so familiar stories of violence and poverty that echo across St. Louis and across America. Another familiar story is that these crimes all happened on streets named after our hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Why is it that a legendary figure like Dr. King is associated with so many crime-ridden, poverty-stricken areas that plague our nation? This is not fitting for a man who devoted his life to uplifting people and building community partnerships

Beloved Streets of America is out to change the perception of these MLK streets from being unsafe and dilapidated to beautiful and prosperous.

Beloved streets of America is a St. Louis-based non-profit organization that fosters collaborations among individuals, groups and organizations and generates resources to revitalize and conserve streets bearing the honorable name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is sponsoring Race to Revitalize: The National MLK Street Initiative. We aim to bring investors back to the community, start educational programs for youth, promote safety on the streets, bring culture back to these neighborhoods, create jobs, educate about the importance of green technology and more.

That’s why August 25 is so important. That’s when the inaugural MLK Legacy Walk will take place. We will meet at the St. Charles Rock Road Metrolink station at 8 a.m. this Saturday. The intention of the event is to bring city, county and all races together to bring these streets and King’s legacy the respect and honor they deserve. Help support this very important National movement. Let us all join the race!’

There is hope and perhaps again when we venture in any city or village or town that has a road, street or any path bearing the name MLK or Martin Luther King, we will feel good and swell up with glee and delight.

Let’s make it happen.

Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am and 4 pm on WGNU-920 AM, or live on the Web @

And please watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am and Sunday Evenings at 5:30 pm on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.

I can be reached by fax at (314) 837-3369 or e-mail at:

Be Ever Wonderful!