Deadline NOW: John C. Jones
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Deadline NOW: John C. Jones

Friday, February 4, 2011

John C. Jones, the President and CEO of the Greater Toledo Urban League (GTUL), is Jack Lessenberry's guest this week.

The GTUL seeks to improve the social and economic conditions of each person in the community, particularly African-Americans, other minorities and those that are disadvantaged through the provision of quality programming and effective advocacy.  The GTUL targets its efforts in the areas of education, employment and enriching families.

On the web:

Beginning this week, WGTE will post Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for each edition of Deadline NOW. Here are his Final Thoughts for February 4, 2011:

I woke up on my sixteenth birthday to the news that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot and killed the night before.

I often wonder today what he would have made of the condition of black America -- and indeed of all America -- today.

Would he be primarily overwhelmed with happiness that we have an African American president? Or that there are any number of black millionaires and corporate executives and congressmen?

Would he be gratified that no intellectually superior black student is turned away from any of our nation’s colleges? Or that nobody these days would dream of putting up any legal impediments to any person of color dining anywhere or staying in any hotel?

He would be pleased, no doubt, by many of those things. But I also think he would be very unhappy about other things -- maybe even shocked. Half a century after the Freedom Riders, the vast majority of Americans live in what are still segregated neighborhoods.

Too often, as an upper middle class black friend of mine says, integration is only the time between the first black family moving in, and the last white family moving out. Worse, the same pattern tends to prevail de facto in America’s schools. Far too often, we still have public schools that are largely separate and largely unequal.

Perhaps still worse is that there is now a vast divide in the black community itself. True, a portion of black American has an upper-class status that was almost nonexistent fifty years ago.

Nobody pays much attention these days to announcement sof new black astronauts or senators or supreme court judges. But there is also a portion of black America that has fallen between the cracks, people who if anything have less hope and are less part of the American dream that the poor rural sharecroppers in Martin’s time.

Then, we all thought we knew the problems and the solutions. Turns out the solutions were more complex than we hoped.

For today’s NAACP and the Urban League, the task involves finding them, achieving them. Keeping the dream alive -- and keeping America‘s eyes on the prize.

I hope you’ll be back with us next time. For Deadline Now, I’m Jack Lessenberry.