On Monday, the UR Black Students Union held a model State of the Black Union panel in celebration of Black Solidarity Day, which is observed annually the day before Election Day.

The presentation began with a viewing of a YouTube clip from the 2008 State of the Black Union Address, hosted by Tavis Smiley. At the address, social activist Dick Gregory joked, ‘I thank the white dude from Walmart for my cousin,” he said. ‘This past Christmas, their prices were so low that he didn’t have to shoplift.”

He also talked about the importance of remembering the unknown people who fought in the Civil Rights movement.

The panel, moderated by Valeria Sinclair-Chapman of the political science department, addressed key issues impacting the African-American community. Students addressed panel questions as representatives of famous black figures.

The first two questions dealt largely with family involvement. Senior Michael Muhammad, sophomore Maurice Carter and sophomore Fatima Richardson played the roles of up-and-coming rapper Lupe Fiasco, actor Bill Cosby and writer Maya Angelou, respectively.

The first question asked, is the increasing leadership role of the woman in African-American families a crisis? Richardson affirmed that the remarkable sacrifice of the mother is a testament to the dedication of the black woman. Carter acknowledged the role of the mother, but also emphasized the importance of a stable marriage to the family. Muhammad argued that women cannot replace men.

Both Carter and Muhammad pointed out the underlying socio-economic situation that makes it extremely difficult for African-American parents to devote the proper amount of time to raising their children, which leads to misguided youth.

The next question similarly asked, ‘Who’s responsibility is it to change the message of rap music?” Richardson answered that it starts with the larger system, like the music promoted by corporations. Such music usually glorifies drugs, violence and gangs.

Muhammed stressed the importance of the role of the family in instilling values in youth so they will not be misguided.

Richardson went even further, advocating a strong community to support the younger generation.

‘It takes a village to raise a child,” she said. She advocated that a strong community a place where youth can turn to for growth and support is crucial in today’s society.
The third and final panel question addressed education, one of the hottest issues in Tuesday’s election.

For this panel, Raymond Poultre, senior Kyvaughn Henry, senior Tony Broyd and senior Brittany Carter represented W.E.B. DuBois, former Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, historian Carter Woodson and Princeton University Professor Cornel West, respectively.

The panelists once again agreed on the importance of the family in teaching the value of education to youth.

Poultre pointed out that public-school funding is largely based on property tax, contributing to the aforementioned socio-economic disparity.

Furthermore, higher spending does not necessarily guarantee higher efficiency. New York is among the highest-spending states in education, yet its standardized test scores rank among the nation’s lowest.

Broyd said that, presently, too many people take the linear path forgetting their roots, they seek education and employment for their own benefit. This includes, for example, people who move from inner-city slums to affluent suburbs.

He then brought up the model of Barack Obama, who followed the circular path of giving back to his community. Upon graduating from Harvard Law School, Obama turned down lucrative jobs to serve as a community organizer in Chicago. Carter praised Obama as a race-transcendent leader who pursues a broader social justice agenda beyond African Americans.

Khan is a member of the class of 2012.

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