Sunday, November 10, 2013

Shall we Incarceration or Educate?

November 7, 2013   
BH 436

The Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club have formed an alliance to keep children in school and out of the criminal justice system with a new program recently implemented at their North St. Louis location.

Last February Mathews-Dickey President, CEO & Co-Founder Martin Luther Mathews launched the “It’s Better to Educate than to Incarcerate” campaign at the Club’s 53rd anniversary celebration.  Fifty-three legal representatives and 53 educators inked a pledge signed, sealed and delivered by Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley supporting the Club’s efforts to keep young people on the right side of the law and achieving success in the classroom.

Mathews-Dickey spokesperson Barbara Washington said the tactic is committed to dismantling the pipeline to prison through education and by expanding programs that work in the community.
The ACLU, The NAACP and the Children’s Defense Fund have initiatives challenging the "School to Prison Pipeline," or the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline”, but according to Martin Mathews, the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren into the juvenile justice system must end and he and his staff along with the area leaders and educators will provide positive influences to direct them to the correct path.

Mathews noted that America now has the unsavory distinction of leading the world in prison population and on any given day, about one in every 10 young male high school dropouts is in jail or juvenile detention, and it’s a drag on America’s economic competitiveness, and while boys are five times as likely to be incarcerated as girls, there also is a significant number of girls in the juvenile justice system. He argues this rate of incarceration is endangering children at younger and younger ages.

The pledge reads: “As government officials, members of the St. Louis area education and legal community, we pledge our support of the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club’s important work to educate children on the front end to prevent them from falling victim on the back end to incarceration.

We pledge to instill within children the importance of giving respect to gain respect.  We will embrace the community’s children as if they are our own so we can provide positive influences to guide them onto the right path and encourage them to respect their parents and those in positions of authority within their communities.”

The oath also encourage youth to always use restraint regardless of the situation, and to teach youth the importance of being responsible to ensure peace and harmony, and to prevent violence in our society.

Cultural heritage is defined as traditions, beliefs, or a way of life practiced by a group of people, and passed on from generation to generation, so we must increase our  efforts to preserve resources of educational and historical heritage, such as The Mathews –Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ club.
 Mathews-Dickey offer hundreds of formal and informal learning opportunities for people of all ages and is more than merely a rite of passage. It is an exceptional place in the African American community.

It has been revealed that the club is currently facing a financial predicament that could cause some of the workers and staff to face layoffs, and the cancellation of several vital programs for the members. It would be a tragedy to lose such a needed and essential establishment. The Mathews–Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club must remain as the important and essential enriching institution that it is. The community must act.

The best way to preserve our cultural heritage is to share it with others. Sharing your cultural legacy helps to enrich the lives of others through the gift of discovering diversity so we must support this vital community resource and we must not let the Mathews–Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club close. They need your help and support.

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, and follow me on Twitter: @berhay and view my Blog  @

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

Religious Entertainers!

September 26, 2013   
BH 434   

Has the African American Christian Church lost its influence? Has it become weaker? Do some pastors spend too much time hiding in their churches? These are questions many people are asking so it is time to examine and consider the power the Black church and the black preacher has had on our religious, urban, and social lives and history.

In this column I am writing about mostly African American Protestant denominations including the National Baptist Convention, the National Baptist Convention of America, the Progressive National Convention, the African American Episcopal Church, the African American Episcopal Zion Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the Church of God in Christ and the United Church of Christ.

Theologian James Cone writes “The black church is the single most important institution in the black community. Beginning in the late eighteenth century and continuing to the present, it has been the oldest and most independent African American organization.  Its importance is so great that some scholars say that the black church is the black community, with each having no identity apart from the other”. My question is are African American clerics doing enough?

There are some black preachers on the battlefield daily, fighting for justice and freedom, administering to the masses and overseeing medical aid, but the numbers are too few. We know the few that concern themselves with these topics but are the masses leaving the work to a dedicated few?  Is your minister or cleric involved? Is he or she marching for liberating causes? Are they urging you to register to vote? Do they have food pantries?

Nearly every black preacher in America had comments and opinions and even preached sermons regarding the death of Travon Martin, but are they addressing a culture of violence, the phenomenon of sagging pants and disrespect to our elders and women? Are they attending and asking their congregations to attend school board meetings and addressing issues concerning black student transfers?

Some time ago major media outlets focused on and identified the black church as monolithic, and told the world that the symbols of leadership of the black community were Sweet Daddy Grace, Rev. Ike, Prophet Jones, Father Divine and Mother Divine. 

Those media very seldom, if ever, mentioned the fact the role the black church played in nurturing and shaping African American leaders such as Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Joseph Lowery, Jeremiah Wright,  Adam Clayton Powell, Malcolm X, Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson Sr. and others. That apparently would not be to their mission or to their advantage.

The late Rev. James Bevel, an adviser to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who led the “children’s crusade” in Birmingham, Alabama, and one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was once a frequent visitor to St. Louis and he referred to Sweet Daddy Grace, Rev. Ike, Prophet Jones, Father Divine and Mother Divine as ‘religious entertainers’.
He suggested also that black preachers of today who preach on Sunday and are invisible the rest of the week are also religious entertainers. They are seen and outspoken mainly at conventions, and at home, promote their anniversaries and gospel programs at their own houses of worship.

The African American church has always focused on the message of equality and hopes for a better future. Sermons and lectures by African American preachers have persistently inspired, educated, and excited their congregations through slavery, Jim Crow and the various transformations of racism and that must continue. Today’s ministers must be strong and continue to lead respectfully and provide the leadership that is essential for a community to survive and flourish. 

We know and understand that there is no single set of beliefs to which all African Americans vow, and African American women leaders are emerging more in some denominational churches than in others and we must all work together. The preachers from their pulpits must address AIDS/HIV, teenage pregnancy, sagging pants, murder, education and politics. These are the African roots and the principles of black preaching. Is your pastor ministering? Is he or she involved? Are YOU involved? We all know the clerics who are activists, and we know those who are invisible. It is time for action, not entertainment. 

My column in The American of April 28, 2005 was titled ‘The Mockery of the Black Church!’ I hope I do not have to write another. I scrutinized the African American Christian churches this time but I will also examine other faiths and religions in future columns. Are you offended?

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, and follow me on Twitter: @berhay and view my Blog  @

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