Saving Our Own Community

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Welcome to the first of The Positive Community’s
2016 semi-annual April Education Focus. We
are now well into the final year of two-term
U.S. president, Barak Obama (2008–2016). Consider
this: children 14 years and younger, know of no other
president; how many young people voted for the first
time in the election and re-election of this president? ;
The vast difference in world view of the millennial generation
in contrast to generations before them—the parents,
especially the grandparents—who had first-hand
experience of times when many in the South were
denied the dignity of basic human rights. Add to that,
the unparalleled advances in science and technology
over the past 50 years.
According to historians, 150 years ago, in 1866, at the
end of slavery and the Civil War; at the beginning of
Reconstruction, the two most pressing concerns of the
freedman were: 1) reconnecting with separated family
members and 2) obtaining an education. The early days
of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s)
date back to these times. And many of these schools
were sponsored by our very own faith institutions
The Future
Not long ago my business partner, Editor Jean Nash
Wells and I were introduced to a conversation/concept
about the faith’s community’s role in post-secondary
attainment. The idea acknowledges that the Black
Church has always been a chief architect and traditional
advocate for college education—post secondary education
attainment. Ideals of family life and the church continue
to play a strategic role in providing the spiritual
and cultural grounding for advancement and achievement
among young people. The times demand that we
make certain moral, ethical, cultural and social adjustments
to meet the challenges of a rapidly expanding
economy and society. Post-secondary attainment simply
expands options for continuing education opportunities
for young people graduating high school. We’ll share
more about this in future issues.
Our cover story introduces Mr. Obie McKenzie (page
37), a Wall Street asset manager who shares his knowledge
about financial capital and Bible Economics: wealth
creation, wealth management, individual and collective
prosperity through faith, hard work and God’s blessings.
In addition to financial capital, we should also be aware
of other kinds of non-monetary capital: human capital,
social capital, institutional capital and cultural capital.
Indeed, we are a people of enormous wealth with a vast
reservoir of opportunity to be harnessed if only we were
to leverage our natural resources toward community
progress. Instinctively we know these things to be true,
but to secure our place in the future we must now learn
about them for ourselves. These values and ideals must
then be taught to the children. Let us take stock of our
own group assets, talents and abilities—now!
Nothing can be more destructive to the people’s
progress and well-being than idleness—it is the destroyer
of self-respect. Idleness is a root cause to myriad social
ills with absolutely devastating consequences on family
and community-life: poverty, violence, crime, homelessness,
mental illness, addictions, child neglect etc, etc.
The tragic result: increased homicide rates and mass
A Beacon of Hope
In today’s media dominated society, what can we do to
inspire a hunger for knowledge and a true thirst for
righteousness in our young people? We must begin to
explore every possible avenue of opportunity for
progress. All able bodied men and women must be
encouraged to find work; to fully develop one’s character,
skills and abilities; and strive to be a “credit to the
race.” Through our combined “capital” management,
we will rediscover for ourselves the community-building
ideals of self-acceptance, self-reliance and self-respect.
And finally, The Positive Community pays a special tribute
to our friend Rev. Dr. M. William “Bill” Howard,
Pastor Emeritus of the mighty Bethany Baptist Church
congregation of Newark, NJ (page 31). In 2011, Dr.
Howard leveraged his cultural capital, social capital and
institutional capital as he joined with Al Koeppe, then
president of the Newark Alliance of local corporations
and private and public institutions, and the late
Professor Clement A. Price of Rutgers University-
Newark to establish The Positive Community’s Newark
Leadership Roundtable Series (NLRS): Thoughtful,
solution seeking conversations—education, health and
business—from a glass half-full perspective. Now in its
fifth year, NLRS shines on as a beacon of hope and
opportunity; possibility and potential. It remains our
most popular community outreach brand.
We are grateful for Bill Howard’s years of service to
our community as the former president of New York
Theological Seminary in Harlem, and as a beloved pastor,
effective and wise leader and teacher!