50 years later, the plague of substandard lifestyle prevails

 

Dr Martin Luther King Jr whose "I Have a Dream" speech and March on Washington were honored by President Barack Obama on the 50th anniversary.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr whose “I Have a Dream” speech and March on Washington were honored by President Barack Obama on the 50th anniversary.

By Carmen Glover

As the sea of faces gazed across the Washington Mall on Saturday, August 24 and Wednesday, August 28 in the two marches held to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington, many eyes were transfixed on the myriad of speakers. Those at the podium eloquently described the urgent issues that need to be addressed in this era:more quality jobs, better educational options, equitable pay, quality housing, affordable health care, elimination of stop and frisk, gun violence, voter suppression and Stand Your Ground laws.

President Barack Obama speaks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in celebration of Dr King's "I  Have a Dream" speech.

President Barack Obama speaks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in celebration of Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“We need jobs,” said the Revered Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network, in conjunction with Martin Luther King III, organized Saturday’s march.  “Yes we will raise the minimum wage because you cannot survive on $7.25,” said NAACP President Benjamin Jealous.

Attorney General Eric Holder addresses the crowd.

Attorney General Eric Holder addresses the crowd.

Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Myrlie Evers-Williams.

Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Myrlie Evers-Williams.

Nine-year-old Asean Johnson, who hails from President Barack Obama’s home state of Chicago, was the youngest speaker on Saturday. Johnson said he was marching for “better schools, peace and no racism in the world.” Fifty years prior, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, at 23, was the youngest speaker and today is the only person alive who spoke at the March of 1963.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis makes a point.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis makes a point.

 

Georgia Rep. John Lewis waves to the crowd.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis waves to the crowd while standing next to the historic bell, a remnant from the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr King with a younger John Lewis in 1963.

Dr King with a younger John Lewis in 1963.

“I am not going to stand down and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us,” Lewis stated passionately as he invoked the painful memories that litter the nation’s history of the struggles blacks experienced in their battle to vote. Attorney General Eric Holder elicited the most applause when he said: “The struggle most go on. The quest must, and will, go on until every eligible African- American exercises his or her right to vote.” Adding her voice to the theme of voting rights, Myrlie Evers-Williams was resolute: “We must be sure that nothing is taken away from us,” she said.

Christine King Farris, Dr King's sister, addresses the crowd.

Christine King Farris, Dr King’s sister, addresses the crowd.

Yet despite the various social, economic and judicial issues that continue to plague African-Americans, there have been some significant areas of progress. Many people went to the polls in 2008 and again in 2012 to elect and re-elect President Obama, while still being uncertain that their votes would matter. Obama steadfastly rises above a Congress that has repeatedly articulated being invested wholeheartedly in diminishing his achievements.

Reverend Al Sharpton shares a moment with Martin Luther King III.

Reverend Al Sharpton shares a moment with Martin Luther King III.

Congress has held the country’s jobs bill and economic agenda hostage, prompting the African-American community and supporters of fairness to become even more energized to ensure Obama’s success. Many who marched on Washington, whether 50 years ago or this week, could never before envision a president who is half black and half white. Many at the marches could not envision the inroads that  African-Americans have made by graduating from high school in larger numbers, earning college degrees, embracing political careers and impacting society in the many areas that they have.

Anthony Billups, his sister Mylene Marlin ans his mother Darlene Marlin hold their signs at the march.

Anthony Billups, his sister Mylene Marlin and his mother, Darlene Marlin, hold their signs at the march.

But, like Attorney Holder stated, “the struggle must go on.” In the same way that the younger generation went out in droves to elect the president, so too have they re-energized the civil rights movement. The youth have marched and led protests, such as the actions being taken by the Dream Defenders in Florida as they agitate to end Stand Your Ground laws. Students from all over the county converged on Washington to make their voices heard. Howard University students, in particular, were front and center.

Anthony Billups, a graduate of Northeastern and Arizona State Universities, with undergraduate and master’s degrees in Math, marched on Saturday with his family, who reside in New York’s Staten Island community. “I attended both inaugurations of the current president and I wanted to be a part of this historic march as well,” he said.  Billups’ 12-year-old sister, Mylene Marlin, was excited to participate in the march and proudly displayed her sign which read “I am empowered,” while their mother looked on.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both addressed the crowd.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both addressed the crowd.

So when President Obama addressed the crowd on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, people of all colors and backgrounds listened intently. President Obama reflected on the March of 1963 by describing the “courage” that it took and the need for continued “vigilance” to keep the fight going.

“Change does not come from Washington, it comes to Washington,” Obama said, adding: “In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.” In the same way that young people marched in 1963, President Obama called on the youth today to become active in the effort to ensure that “all people get a fair shot.” Making the connection between disenchanted youth and the damaging impact on society, President Obama said “the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth.” He called on the “imagination and hunger of purpose of the young,” as critical ingredients for a revitalized call to action. “We now have a choice: we can continue down the same path of we can have the courage to change,” he said.

Myrllie Evers-Williams speaks to the gathering.

Myrllie Evers-Williams speaks to the gathering.

President Obama celebrated the achievements that have been made in the country since the first March on Washington but he emphasized the areas that still need fixing. “Black unemployment remains twice as high as whites,” he said, and he cited economic equality as “our great unfinished business” from 1963, which makes “upward mobility harder.” A plethora of speakers united to make the commemoration memorable and when Dr King’s family rang the bell at 3:00 PM in honor of his memory, the act was symbolic because the bell came from the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where in 1963, shortly after the March on Washington, four black girls were killed in a bombing initiated by a white supremacist. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter added an important context to the day, especially since on the day of the 1963 March; the president chose to avoid the event.

Media icon Oprah WInfrey shares her thoughts.

Media icon Oprah Winfrey shares her thoughts.

Among the notables in attendance to hear President Obama’s speech and add their thoughts were: Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Jamie Foxx, Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador Andrew Young, Christine King Farris who is Dr King’s 85-year-old sister, Dr King’s surviving children and grandchild and many of the speakers from Saturday’s march.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to the crowd as they leave the event.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to the crowd as they leave the event.

The legacy of Dr King’s lifelong activism and the brilliance of his oratorical skills will live on but like President Obama stated, change takes courage. It remains to be seen how many will heed that call and demonstrate the courage that is needed to address the substandard lifestyle that prevails in many minority communities today.  –OnPointPress.net

 

 

Respected, beloved, Jamaican diplomat prepares to return home

Jamaica's High Commissioner Aloun-Ndombet-Assamba embraces Minister-Counsellor Lincoln Downer.

Jamaica’s High Commissioner Aloun-Ndombet-Assamba embraces Minister-Counsellor Lincoln Downer.

 

By Carmen Glover

There is an adage that underpins most successful careers: If you do what you love, you will always succeed. For Lincoln Downer, a Jamaican diplomat with a vast repertoire of foreign relations experience, that adage holds true. Downer has dedicated his life to serving the Jamaican community as a diplomat, accepting assignments across the globe and adroitly making spectacular contributions while simultaneously strengthening his legacy and sterling reputation. As his latest assignment in England comes to a close, Downer is focused on returning to his native Jamaica, eager to explore the new adventures that await him in Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Downer shares a joke about being "The High Commissioner's Consort" with the audience.

Mr Downer shares a joke about being “The High Commissioner’s Consort” with the audience.

“I started my diplomatic career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs years ago,” Downer stated in a recent telephone interview from England. He served as a protocol officer for three years in that ministry, processing documents for senior government officials as they prepared for meetings overseas. In that capacity, he also translated documents that were necessary to enhance the preparation process for those officials. “I have always enjoyed using my skills to make a meaningful impact and effect change, no matter what the assignment,” he said.

Mr Downer stands with Ms Beverly Lindsay who chairs the Association of Jamaican Nationals in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Mr Downer stands with Ms Beverly Lindsay who chairs the Association of Jamaican Nationals in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

 

Mr Downer stands with Mrs P. Patterson of the Northern Region, and shows off gift to the audience.

Mr Downer stands with Mrs. Pancy. Patterson of the Northern Region, and shows off gift to the audience.

Those who have worked with him agree. “Lincoln Downer may be referred to as the ultimate protocol expert,” said Deputy Director of Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) Mr. Ephieum Allen. “His contribution to matters relating to Jamaica’s immigration, citizenship and passport has been integral to the vision of the government of Jamaica.”

The audience listens as Mr Downer delivers his farewell speech.

The audience listens as Mr Downer delivers his farewell speech.

For the past five years, Downer has worked at the Jamaican High Commission in London, England, in the role of Minister Counsellor for Diaspora and Consular Affairs. “My primary functions for the past five years have been to engage the Jamaican community, provide resources and services, build on relationships and manage the operations of the consular portion of the High Commission,” he said, reflecting on his achievements in the position. “I think I would say my proudest achievements in this post  are completely revamping the consular operations by implementing procedures that resulted in greater transparency and accountability as well as improving the relationships and access for the local Jamaican community so that the consular operations are not as mysterious.”

Mr Downer poses with Ms Lindsay and other well-wishers at the Birmingham event.

Mr Downer poses with Ms Lindsay and other well-wishers at the Birmingham event.

Intrinsic to Downer’s success in the tapestry of his diplomatic career has been a humble, authentic personality that has allowed him to win and maintain the trust and admiration of the constituents that he serves as well as his peers and superiors. His affable nature, caring interactions and willingness to lend a helping hand, offer a word of prayer or simply share a word of encouragement has won him acclaim, love, support and respect. None of which he takes for granted.

 

Diaspora Advisory Board Member Celia Markey, chair of Jamaicans Inspired Nathaniel presents gift

Diaspora Advisory Board Member Celia Markey and  Nathaniel Peat, chair of Jamaicans Inspired. present gift to Minister Counsellor Mr Lincoln Downer.


“From the outside looking in, it’s not easy to understand some of the opportunities I have been fortunate to experience,” he said, reminiscing on his assignment immediately before he assumed his current post. “When I worked at the Jamaican Consulate in New York as a vice consul from 1998-2001, it never crossed my mind that I would return there as acting consul general from 2007-2008 before coming to England,” he stated, adding, “that is why it is so important to get along with people from all walks of life because you never know where you will end up.”

Minister Counsellor Mr Lincoln Downer with members of Jamaica National Council,  Huddersfield, England.

Minister Counsellor Mr Lincoln Downer with members of Jamaica National Council, Huddersfield, England.

Downer earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, in 1995 and a certificate of translation in Spanish and English in 1997. But for Downer, who prides himself on learning as much as possible to effectively serve in his various posts, education is an ongoing process. Inspired to keep his skills sharp and evolving, he earned a diploma from the International Organization on Migration in Argentina in 2005 on inter-American migration, followed in 2007 with certification in the performance management training system.

Members of the Jamaican Community, London, Reading, England.

Members of the Jamaican Community, London and Reading, England.

“I look forward to returning to Jamaica to see what lies in store for me,” said Downer, whose time in England ends this weekend.

Jamaican author Deanne Heron presents Minister Counsellor with a copy of her book, Pardner Money Stories.

Jamaican author Deanne Heron presents Minister Counsellor with a copy of her book, Pardner Money Stories.

The real measure of achievement for professionals who are committed to their craft is the regard with which they are viewed in the community that they serve. For Downer, who has been enjoying a month-long farewell tour replete with receptions, gifts, hugs and embraces, the measure of his impact is felt profoundly among an audience who view him with mixed emotions: torn that he is moving on, while being comforted by the knowledge that wherever he goes next, his steps are ordered and he will be in the right place at the right time.—OnPointPress.net

NABJ13 in Orlando was a mixture of fun, networking and information

 

OnPointPress.net Editorial Director Carmen Glover interacts with CNN Anchor Don Lemon at the  Awards Gala.

OnPointPress.net Editorial Director Carmen Glover interacts with CNN Anchor Don Lemon at the Awards Gala.

By Carmen Glover

For years I have mulled over the idea of attending the NABJ Convention and Career Fair but something always came up, pushing the thought into the deep recesses of my mind. But this year was different and I am very happy that I decided to attend the convention in Orlando, Florida from July 31, to August 4, 2013. During the opening night ceremony, New York’s Chapter won professional chapter of the year and Syracuse University won student chapter of the year. Afterwards, we enjoyed a spectacular presentation and block party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, replete with tasty dishes, lively music and a special Disney show.

OnPointPress Editorial Director Carmen Glover is flanked by Billy Blanks Jr and his wife Sharon after winning raffle.

OnPointPress Editorial Director Carmen Glover is flanked by Billy Blanks Jr and his wife Sharon after winning raffle.

The next morning, I staggered out of bed to participate in the workout session led by Billy Blanks Jr. and his wife Sharon. However, after surviving the grueling hour-long exercise routine, I nearly fainted from shock when I won a raffle held for workout participants. I also enjoyed a delicious mango/pineapple smoothie, courtesy of the McDonald’s booth. Later in the week, I stopped by the Healthy Pavilion to have my Body Mass Index (BMI) read and get dietary tips.

Throughout the four-day convention and career fair, I attended various seminars, met new friends, re-connected with longtime colleagues and had a good time. Among the most compelling sessions were “Conversation with Civil Rights Legend Simeon Booker”; Prudential’s “Cultivating Personal Wealth” moderated by Sharon Epperson of CNBC and featuring panelists such as Ivory Johnson, founder of Delancey Wealth Management, LLC, Michelle Singletary of the Washington Post and LaToya Smith of Black Enterprise; “Talking Heads 2.0” featuring Michael Smith and Jemele Hill of ESPN’s Numbers Never Lie, Arianne Thompson of USA Today and moderated by entertainment reporter Kelley Carter;  “Ethics in Media,” moderated by Randall Pinkston and featuring Trayvon Martin’s parents, “The “Branding of You,” moderated by former NABJ President Will Sutton and featuring Herb Lowe of Marquette University and Paula Madison of Madison Media Management LLC and “A Look at the Future of Magazines,” moderated by Yanick Rice Lamb of Howard University, with panelists including Vanessa Bush, editor-in-chief of Essence, Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, senior editor of Ebony and Keith Reed, senior editor of ESPN the Magazine/Treasurer NABJ.

Adrienne Samuels Gibbs of Ebony, Vanessa Bush of Essence and Keith Reed of ESPN The Magazine discuss the future of magazines.

Adrienne Samuels Gibbs of Ebony, Vanessa Bush of Essence and Keith Reed of ESPN The Magazine discuss the future of magazines.

I especially enjoyed the Awards Gala and the Sunday Gospel Brunch because both events made it easy for attendees to interact, and had great hosts: Don Lemon of CNN and Cari Champion of ESPN for the former and Syan Roberts of WESH-TV and Rod Carter of WFLA-TV for the latter.  It was also interesting observing folks swarming around singer Tyrese at the screening of the upcoming movie Black Nativity. The screening of the film, 12 Years a Slave was poignant while subsequent discussion with its stars Alfre Woodard, Lupita Nyong’o and the film’s director, Steve McQueen, was enlightening. During the Sports Task Force Scholarship Jam at the House of Blues, Hugh Douglas had unflattering words for his Numbers Never Lie co-host Michael Smith.

Bob Butler was voted the new NABJ President at the event.

Bob Butler was voted the new NABJ President at the event.

Bob Butler, who participated in the workout session, became the newest NABJ President, in an election that had an alarmingly low participation rate of less that 45% of the overall membership. Tv One’s Roland Martin was named journalist of the year and Gregory L. Moore of the Denver Post received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Disney’s Carmen J. Smith accepted Dr. Shelley Stewart’s Community Service Award on his behalf. Several of the moderators listed in the journal were no shows at the convention but the events went on smoothly. I left the convention loving the world of journalism even more, while being concerned by the changes looming on the horizon for print journalism. See you in Boston next year!  –OnPointPress.net.