Category Archives: Social Issues

Social causes, activism, and projects

“Two people at a time” – Remembering Bill! – by Terry Howard

I didn’t know Bill Nordmark. And I’m probably not alone. That is until his name appeared on the obituary page of a local newspaper. “Bill Nordmark fought polio as a child and racism as an adult, all the while believing that one person can make a difference,” the opening paragraph read. Two years ago he embarked on a mission to forge better race relations – two people at a time – through what became known as a “Friendship Initiative.”

You see, that line and the rest of the story about Bill Nordmark (I’ll get to some of it further down), conjured up for me a line from one of my favorite authors, William Faulkner. “You move a mountain one stone at a time!”

Continue reading “Two people at a time” – Remembering Bill! – by Terry Howard

The 2018 Baptist Street Block Party – by Terry Howard

NOTE: In part one of this series, My Neighborhood, the author traced his experiences growing up in a small town in segregated America. Part two, The Powerful Voices of Momma Nem, replayed the voices of the black women who raised and held families together during those times. Those two narratives culminated in an idea for a block party. Here is part three of the story.

For us, the block party trek started on one corner and was interrupted along the way to a corner on the far end by surprised looks on faces, hugs, frequent pecks on cheeks and a bite to eat.

On July 4th this year nearly 100 of us participated in the first Baptist Street block party in historic Staunton, Virginia, where folks roamed the bristling street snapping pictures, looking over arts and crafts, chowing down on chicken wings and fried fish, playing games and reconnecting with family and friends they’d not seen in years, decades even. Tears meshed indistinguishably with perspiration as temperatures soared into the low nineties.

Continue reading The 2018 Baptist Street Block Party – by Terry Howard

Make Some Noise for Urban Planning! – by Deborah Levine

NOTE: Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
by Deborah Levine

The education I received getting my Master’s urban planning degree in the 1990s had less to do with the classroom and more to do with developing the Windy City. That’s the nickname given Chicago more than a century ago, not for its weather, but for its gusts of political hot air. The hot issue of my time was planning the city’s high rise developments and rapid growth into nearby neighborhoods. A major land parcels under debate was home to inner city housing projects. The projects were built with the intent to alleviate poverty but had become African American islands battered by desperation over the lack of good schools, public transportation, decent jobs, and grocery stores.

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Mandela’s Legacy – Personal, Pivotal, & Pioneering – by Deborah Levine

NOTE: This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.

On what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday the world will revisit his extraordinary leadership after his 1990 release from twenty-seven years in prison. Yet, Mandela’s influence was far-ranging long before the 1990s when he pulled together the South Africa that we know today, negotiated a rainbow nation, and became its first black president. I want to honor Mandela’s early impact and emphasize the global involvement in South Africa’s apartheid government and in its demise. The role of international financial institutions in the Mandela story is key for me both historical and personal. Lobbying the banks to divest in South Africa was the catalyst for my involvement not only in the anti-apartheid movement, but in the advocacy of civil rights over a life time.

Continue reading Mandela’s Legacy – Personal, Pivotal, & Pioneering – by Deborah Levine

Global Goodwill Ambassadors – by Richard DiPilla

A civilized world, living in peace can only be attained through an understanding and acceptance of a diversified world. With this in mind, I founded an initiative using the LinkedIn social media forum called Global Goodwill Ambassadors.

The initiative has a simple mission. To recognize people from every nation, race, color, and socio-economic caste; who do goodwill toward others. The only thing Global Goodwill Ambassadors, looks at is the volunteering, charitable, or humanitarian works of any individual. We exercise no bias. We also have only one commodity, that of Goodwill. We are not commercialize in any way. We are apolitical and free of hatred.

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Dialing 911 on Black Folks – By Terry Howard

DATELINE: Police questioned a black graduate student who fell asleep while studying in a dormitory common room.

I picked up a local newspaper and was confronted by this headline: “Harassment for ‘being black’ gains attention.”

My blood started to boil.
I took in a deep breath, cussed to myself, and slowly exhaled.

There’s not a day that goes by without more evidence of how tough it is for many African Americans to go about their daily activities – any activity it seems. We’ve gone from DWB (Driving While Black), to SWB (Shopping While Black), to BWB (Barbequing While Black), to SISWB (Sitting in Starbucks While Black), to SIADWB (Sleeping In A Dorm While Black). Insanity is too mild a word to describe this racial mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

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Retailers Dishonor Military on Memorial Day – By David B. Grinberg

As America pauses to reflect on Memorial Day, the retail and e-commerce industries are once again too busy reflecting on how to lure consumers into holiday shopping sprees.

Yet shouldn’t retailers be more mindful of the countless sacrifices of the U.S. Armed Forces and the many lives lost over the decades in service to our nation?

The retail sector continues to send the wrong message by using revered military holidays simply to boost sales and profits. The true message of Memorial Day is about showing remembrance and gratitude, not greed and profit-mongering.

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The Cosby Teachable Moment – by Terry Howard

Hey predators, Bubba awaits!
“Rubbernecking,” is the act of staring at something of interest; a trait that’s associated with morbid curiosity. It can be the cause of traffic (and cyber) jams as drivers (and readers) slow down to catch a glimpse of what happened in a crash. It seems that the more grisly the scene the more we stare. Now I naively thought I could do a smooth pirouette around the recent “crash” – the guilty verdict in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial that is – but nah, I had to do a U-turn and pivot back to it for two compelling reasons – the truth and the teachable opportunities it provides.
(Now Cosby fans, you may want to skip the next paragraph).

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Cheer Not Sneer: Black Gen Z Success – by Elwood Watson

Anyone familiar with the rituals of college life knows that we are in the midst of college acceptance and rejection season. Recently, Lamar High School student Micheal Brown of Houston, Texas made national headlines when he gained acceptance to all 20 colleges and universities he applied to, including four Ivy League institutions: Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. Stanford, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins and 13 other top-notch colleges and universities said “welcome,” as well.

The story doesn’t stop there. Each institution awarded him a full scholarship – a remarkable accomplishment, indeed! Videos of the young Brown yelling ecstatically as he was surrounded by equally ecstatic friends upon learning the wonderful news made headlines across the globe.

Continue reading Cheer Not Sneer: Black Gen Z Success – by Elwood Watson