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Measure The Movement
                   Measure The Movement
Created Saturday, April 17, 2010
Published Sunday, April 18, 2010
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This entry was originally created Saturday, April 17, 2010, but posted Sunday, April 18, 2010 (3:57PM)  and filed under Keeba’s
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Keeba Smith is a published writer and desired screenplay artist.  She is the author of “Shades of Bright Pale,” and many other
unacquainted writings. Please visit to find out more about Keeba Smith, read additional critiques and her
unpublished autobiography,
“Spirit in the Dark.”
© 2010
I watched the 2-hour special of Al Sharpton’s Measuring The Movement” conference on TV One
- held at the First Corinthian Baptist Church in New York City.

Although it was two hours long, I have to agree with radio host, Tom Joyner, it was not long
enough.  Those on the panel made some interesting comments and seemed alert and eager.  And
although I was intrigued the entire time, I could not help but wonder if
Tavis Smiley was
watching.  Additionally, I wondered and/or considered the conference comparable to Smiley’s
State of The Black Union conferences.

Before I get into what was discussed, I need to state that the conference on the Black agenda
was arranged by Al Sharpton’s Nation Action Network and hosted by Roland Martin from
Washington Watch and DJ Tom Joyner.

There were several panelists who participated, but the ones I recall the most were as follows:
Warren Ballentine
Dr. Lezi Baskervile
Danny Blackwell, Jr.
Representative James Clyburn
Rapper/Activist Chuck D
Albert J. Dotson esq.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
Dr. Lenora Fula
Hermene D. Hartman
Ben Jealous
Albert Johnson
Jeff Johnson
Tamika Mallory
Marc Morial
AL Sharpton
Representative Calvin Smyre
Dr. Deborah A. Torrey
Faya Rose Toure
Dr. Boyce Watkins
(I will - if necessary – apologize for any misspelled names or any participants I may have missed,
but I was really into the dialogue.)

As I could gather, the talking points were Black involvement in the following areas:
  • President Obama's letter regarding "Measuring The Movement"
  • Health Care Reform
  • Health care jobs
  • President Obama addressing the needs of Blacks
  • Home foreclosures
  • The Recovery Stimulus Package and where the money was used
  • High rate of school closures in Black communities
  • Feeling inferior to whites
  • Lawsuits against banks
  • Blacks paying City, State and Federal taxes
  • Educating Black consumers
  • Being active in our communities
  • Politicians not helping Black communities
  • The net worth of single Black women
  • Voting for ourselves
  • Being accountable for ourselves
  • Holding our local officials accountable
  • Buy Black
  • Create jobs and programs for former convicts as well as job incentives
  • Desires to change the laws regarding not hiring a felon and removal of felonies from an ex-
    convict’s record
  • Programs for tutoring and mentoring gangs
  • The effects on high unemployment and the marriage rate
  • Creating jobs for our youth
  • Keeping young Black students in school
  • Black men wearing saggy pants
  • Increasing the number of Black male teachers on a secondary level
  • Programs mentoring marriages and what it means to be married
  • Programs focusing on the family structure and mentoring
  • Re-energize Black men and lift their dreams
  • Black men mentoring one another as well as supporting one another
  • Mentoring fatherless children
  • Music that denigrate women as well as women’s respect for themselves
  • Read Black newspapers

As a whole, the conference was about encouraging, supporting, enriching and commitment in
helping the Black community.  Moreover, the interchange was about how each panelist would
engage or re-engage the Black community and encouraging Black people to get and remain
Below, are some of the essential discussions along with a few of my comments.

 Some Black people were scared to attend the town hall meetings to discuss Health Care
    Why wouldn't we be scared?  While I watched from the comfort of my
    own home, I watched how white men brazenly wearing weapons.  
    And I thought, if that were any one of us, we would be carried off to
    jail with a quickness.  I then watched whites yell and cause several
    ruckuses while the police stood and did nothing.  Yes, some were
    hauled off in police cars, but there were not many.  And again, I said
    that they would have put us into police cars just for being in
    I agree, as some of the most intelligent people I know, did not have
    all the facts about the Health Care Reform Bill.  They gave different
    conflicting opinions each time it was discussed.  Additionally, I
    believe that all the commotion it received, it scared people into
believing that perhaps it was not good for the people and ultimately, the economy.  On a side note, I personally
blame our elected officials.  Yes, the republicans did their part by adding their distorted facts and scare tactics,
but even our favorite news reporters [comments] were a tad precarious.  It was just too much information and/or
it was not enough information.  Somewhere, the truth was lost and it was not easily explained by either Party.  I
mean honestly, when both Party’s kept repeating that there were thousands of pages to the Bill, it became a tad
overwhelming when the information received was conflicting.

 People may have felt that because President Obama addressed the bleeding issues of the
big companies first, Blacks that have been suffering the carnage for decades felt
hoodwinked.  Blacks did not feel a need to show up at the polls because Obama addressed
Wall Street and not “Back/Black Street.”  Black have now become political spectators.
At first, I had a hard time with this when it was addressed in November, but after careful consideration, I have to
remember that not everyone has or had my parents.  They were avid voters and always encouraged their children
to do the same.  (I proudly state that I have not missed a voting ballot in 25 years.)  Anyway, if a person is hurting
and suffering, they get tired.  They get tired of the pain.  They get tired of hearing someone – especially a lip-
serving politician – provide more empty promises.  The politicians come into the poor minority areas and make a
thousand promises.  And while Obama was a community organizer, well, it was more than just that.  These people
listened to a new politician.  Not just any old politician, but someone who they felt could relate to them because
they shared the same skin tone.
They listened to someone who came from where they were from and currently reside.  Although he’s a Harvard
graduate, his terminology’s and expressions were similar to theirs.  They believed he related to them and that he
was the person they were hoping to lead this Country, so they voted for him.  However, when he did not deliver,
they rescinded – just as they felt he did – and did not support what they saw as another lip-serving politician.  
Will they come back?  Well, that’s something I’m not so sure of.  I believe that some remain hopeful and loyally-
supportive, but others see it as another broken promise and only time will tell.

 The Home Foreclosure Program was a failure.
Although I had heard of the program but did not qualify, I was glad there was some type of assistance for the
people.  Alternatively, I had heard a news pundit say that although there were over 176,000 participants in the
program, there were more than 180,000 people still facing foreclosure.  (I personally did not know for sure it
was a flop.)

 The Recovery Stimulus money was given to the governors and not the mayors and individual communities.
(The money should have been given to mayors, council members, alderman and community leaders…were it
could be used the most and more effectively.)
I agree, as I felt that my governor – Bill Ritter – spent the money frivolously and I felt he could have done more to
help provide for our schools.

 Who’s in charge of the money from the stimulus package?  Who do we hold accountable?

 Black communities only received 1% of the stimulus money.

 Eric Dyson said, “We need to get stimulated.  Stimulate us, not them.”
I applaud Mr. Dyson as he always seems to have encouraging words, but I wonder what will it take to stimulate
our communities as a whole.  Of course, I am aware that there will be some Blacks [in the communities] that will
refuse to comply and join in and ultimately, choose to be left behind, but how do we stimulate and encourage the
majority?  With all the broken promises from our politicians as well as our community activist, how do we tell
them that it’s safe to go back in the water?  Due to the prolonged suffering, I believe that some Blacks will have a
harder time with this.  It is my hope and prayer that our panelists remain strong.

 Tasha from Little Rock sent a message via the net and stated that there is a high rate of foreclosures and
school closures in the area.  It seems as though there is an increase of wealthy whites moving into the Black
communities and pushing the poor minorities out.  Is this a plot to keep these communities out of reach from
minorities?  How do we keep this from happening?
    I was not surprised to hear this, as it seems to be very common.  (It
    has happened in my previous neighborhood.)  However, I do not
    believe there’s anything that can be done.  In my old neighborhood,
    the whites are forcing Black old and owned prominent businesses to
    close and the government is allowing laws to be broken.  It’s
    shameful.  Shameful that whites are allowed to do this and even more
    shameful that some Blacks are not supporting these helpless Black
    I have asked a few of my remaining family members in the area as
    well as previous neighbors what they plan to do about it, but they
    have all said they are not going to do anything.  It sickens me!  
    Unless we unite and fight, then the laws will be allowed to be

 Stop feeling inferior to whites…standup and fight.

 The NAACP stated that because so many banks are practicing unfair business practices, they have filed a
lawsuit against 15 banks.
Ben Jealous said the list of banks could be found on their website at  (Perhaps I might have missed a
few, but I located the following:
1. Accredited Home Lenders, Inc.
2. Ameriquest Mortgage Co.
3. Bear Sterns Residential Mortgage Corp. d/b/a Encore Credit
4. Chase Bank USA
5. Citimortgage
6. First Franklin Financial Corp.
7. First Tennessee Bank d/b/a First Horizon National Corp.
8. Fremont Investment & Loan
9. GMAC Mortgage Group, LLC
10. GMAC ResCap
11. Long Beach Mortgage
12. SunTrust Mortgage

 Deposit monies into Black banks (Farmer Banks).

 Blacks pay City, State and Federal taxes.  We should be demanding our government to put
money in our Black Banks.

 Educate consumers.

 Blacks need to know that the money is there.

 Obama was a community organizer.  We need to get tough and do something.  Don’t just talk about the
problems in our communities, but actually do something.

 One panelist stated that Obama loves criticism.
I honestly believe he’s trying and truly believe he will succeed if the obstructionists would get out of his way.

 Politicians are taking money away from the Black community but not putting anything back in.

 There is a large percentage of single Black women who’s net worth is only $5.00.

 Vote for us and don’t just vote for the president, but in every election.

 We are accountable for ourselves and we should be voting with our bank accounts in mind.

     Hold your local officials accountable.
    I agree, but it seems as though there are not enough Black
    individuals who are willing to call or send their local government an
    email or letter.  I will never understand as to why they won’t.  (Make
    a stand, and speak and shout out…bring enough attention to attract
    your local media.)  Alternatively, some people have the slightest idea
    who their councilman, mayor, governor, senator or State
    Representative is and/or how to contact them.  Again, it goes back to
    educating our selves as well as each other.

     Buy Black.
    Months ago, or perhaps a year ago, I read where a couple and their
    family were on the quest to “buy Black” for 365 days.  At this
moment, I cannot recall everything they reported, however if I believe their observations were positive.
Me, on the other hand, I cannot afford to “buy Black, however I do make note and frequent plenty of Black
owned businesses.  And although their prices might be a tad or even 20% more, I will patronize them on a regular
basis due to their exceptional customer service, and dedication to their customers.  I have and always will
appreciate that.  Like most consumers - Black or White, i have to shop where my dollar will stretch the farthest.

 Create jobs for former convicts.

 Programs that provide jobs for people when they get out of jail.

 When unemployment is up, the marriage rate goes down.  The Urban League is working on this problem.

 Someone sent a message via the web and stated that they have created a lawn service that
employs 22 boys ranging in ages from 11 to 14.

 Roland Martin Representative Clyburn said that the government is creating incentives for a second
chance program.  He said that the incentive is tax credit.

 One panelist said that it should be against the law not to hire a felon.

 Another said that nonviolent former inmates should not have these felonies on their record for the rest of
their lives.  …“It should be removed after 2 years.”

 The Urban Youth Empowerment Program helps felons.

 Charter Schools
At some point in the show, one panelist mentioned encouraging Charter schools.  Oh how the audience became
angry!  They were deeply discouraged and I am one of them!  I do not like the idea of any Charter school in any
prominently Black community as I honestly believe that it takes government money away from those that are not
Charter schools.

 Panelist Jeff Johnson for the urban development has an open project that helps with tutoring and
mentoring those in gangs.  His foundation is working on increasing the number of Black male teachers on the
secondary level.

 Health care is creating jobs.  There is $11 billion for additional community health centers and $2 billion for
community colleges.  If you are a doctor, you will need a plumber.

 Our Black children must stay in school.
I have been very disgusted by the growing dropout rate so much so, that I have lost sleep.  On multiple occasions,
I have discussed the problem with many family members and friends and I have yet to find a viable reason.  
Someone told me that you couldn’t force a child to learn, while another said it has a lot to do with single parent
homes.  I’m leaning towards the latter, but I just know there is something more to this.  It sickens me!  

 Panelist Eric Dyson said that HBCU should stand for Helping Black Children Up.

 100 Black Men of American trains responsible Black men.  It has 116 Chapters around the Country.
The Church should be involved – teaching just because you are married, what does it actually mean to be
...Raising our families
...Teaching and mentoring men how to be dads.

 Panelist Jeff Johnson said, “You call the young because they are strong.  You call the old
because they know the way.”

 We must re-energize Black men.

 Roland Martin quoted something he said on an Essence Blog.  He said,
“No minister should dedicate a
child unless they have counseled the dad, because the dad needs ministering….because the minister needs to
encourage families…a mentoring dad.”

 Panelist Al Sharpton said we must be a dad to those fathers that are not there…that are gone.
Al Sharpton pointed out that he did not have a dad growing up but found other men who helped him along the
way and mentored him.

 Stop allowing music to denigrate women.

 Panelist Tamika Mallory stated, “Young men need to stop wearing saggy pants.  Women need to respect
themselves in order to be respected.

 If we are able to lift the dreams of the young at risk Blacks, then their pants will follow.

 Black men need to tell each other they love each other and support each other. ...Reach out to teach one

 Training for Black men.

 Read Black newspapers.  There is not always degrading news about Blacks, but many Black newspapers
have and report on positive Black ideas.

    After just two short hours, Roland Martin closed with a comment
    regarding the book of Nehemiah.  Roland recalls where God calls
    Nehemiah to rebuild the wall.  Some people helped rebuild… “there was
    some haters but they got it done.  So can we.”  Roland went on to say
    that Obama cannot do it all.  “If you want change, you must make the
    effort…join the fight.

    Finally, at the very end of the program, Roland and Tom (Joyner) said
    that they would check on the group of panelists every 90 days to see note
    their progress – making sure they are being held accountable.

    I recall Roland making a point on Wanda Sykes show when he said that
    Obama has always asked for our help.  Roland then asked the audience
    how many had received and taken advantage of Obama’s implemented
educational incentive college programs.  (There were some hands that went up.)  He then asked how many people have
called to thank their local representatives as well as promote the program to others.  Not one single hand was raised.

I enjoyed “Measuring the Movement” and was deeply enthralled.  However, it made me wonder what I would be; a
spectator or an activist.
Al Sharpton in New York City
Rev. Sharpton promotes National Action Network’s
“Measuring the Movement:
Black Leadership's 12-Month Action Plan”
- April 17th at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem
Marc Morial, Ben Jealous & Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner & Roland Martin
Al Sharpton
National Action Network (NAN) est. 1991