Black Perspectives; The Black Agenda in 1988
Good evening welcome to black perspectives. A half hour feature focusing on black issues information and lifestyles in the communities of Boston in the cell sure. I'm your host Charles Desmond. Tonight my guest is Charles CNC city counselor for the city of Boston who was recently elected to chair the committee on public education counseling N.C. is no stranger to black perspectives he has been on the show before we've had the opportunity to talk with him in the past and so we're glad to have you back with us again tonight. Well you know it's always a pleasure to be with you because you provide a very important service to people in Massachusetts. Black perspectives has always stimulated a lot with provocative topics and personalities always honored to join you. Well we're always glad to hear from you as well and anyone who stays as close to the community as you do always has good things to talk with us about an important issues for us to pay attention to. So we're glad that this evening that you were able to come with us and to talk a little bit about some of the ideas and issues that you are seeing impacting on the city and what role you have been playing on them
and what kinds of prognostications you can make about the welfare of the city as we move into the latter part of 1988. Well Charles I know we only have a limited time on your program so I want to just touch upon a few issues. The city of Boston has the. Very fortunate situation of being in an area where the infant mortality rate is higher than many of most third world countries around the world. That information was revealed. Recent news conferences across the country which indicate that in spite of the fact that the city of Boston is the center of a very extreme medical institutions our children are dying at a much higher rate than countries with without these resources. Something is fundamentally wrong. With the how to health delivery system. Something is fundamentally wrong with the city's priorities or state priorities concerning national priorities where you have the Reagan administration
failing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. In Central America to defeat a democratically elected government while at the same time cutting funds which could avert the catastrophe that's been experienced by our Too many families in the city of Boston who have understood the pain that comes with the loss of an infant child. And I think that it's really a criminal state of affairs. Charles we have other problems as well. The city of Boston is still plagued with. Preponderance of guns and drugs which is devastating not only the black community but virtually every community in the city of Boston and the extent to which we do less then we can with with regards to crime in the city of Boston particularly the pervasive drugs and the availability of guns. In the case we're going to continue to condemn many of our teenagers who more
often are victimized by these guns in drugs to very short lives and very painful lives. And it's our responsibility to address those issues. On a much more positive note 1988 represents three hundred and fifty years of black presence within Boston in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And during that period of time people of African descent have made fantastic contributions to this country into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And I'm reminded that back in 1770 a young man by the name of Crispus Attucks was the first person to die for the independence of this country. March 5th 1770 and I'm also reminded that. Back in 1986. A young man who I had the honor and privilege of meeting and giving a city council resolution to Dr. Martin Magnus died in that terrible accident of the Challenger
space shuttle. Which exploded back in January of 86. He was a brilliant young man and he loved to work with children in the Boston area. We can go on and we can talk about Malcolm X in the years that he spent in the city of Boston and that's how some good times and bad times in the city of Boston led him to a career where he awake in the consciousness of millions of people particularly blacks across this country to teach. Blacks we certainly should be proud of our heritage and we should never relinquish our dignity and self-respect. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent many years in Boston a fact he met his wife in 1952 in the city of Boston. And that union produced some fine children and also gave him the support that home he needed to fight the battles on the national and yes even an international basis. So I know I'm covering the waterfront but there is so many
exciting things in the history of blacks particularly in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that few people aware of. Well one of the things that we always try to do one black perspective is particular is to draw attention to the contributions that blacks have made in the Commonwealth. As well as the issues that impact their lives and obviously as a result of impacting the Allies influence to society as a whole there's nothing that happens in American society today that doesn't directly or indirectly not affect black people here in the United States and throughout the world and one of the issues that we're trying to look at is to how those relationships take place and I think while your introductory statement may have seemed broad I think it's absolutely essential that people understand the complexity of what it means to be a Black in American society. And therefore how American society must involve blacks in all these various issues that make up the fabric of our community.
I agree. I mentioned Christmas Alex and the fact that he gave his life before anyone else for the independence of this country. It's ironic that he could not vote. Because he was black and come of Massachusetts and of course many people many blacks and others participated in the Revolutionary War. Back in the late seventeen hundreds because they believe there was a just thing to do that the British Empire should no longer dictate the destiny of people who are living in the United States of America. Ironically it took more than a hundred years before people of color could vote in the United States of America and even longer before women could vote in states of America. So it's very important for us to understand that to the extent to which we fail to challenge and then just status quo is the extent to which we will continue to suffer under that type
of tyranny. And I also remind you that when the city of Boston. Went to the Boston public school system and I recall back in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. walked up Lawrence Avenue to visit the school that I went to I had graduated at that you know by that particular time but he was not allowed to mention this to the PAC tittie Campbell school. So after his assassination I was. Very honored to be a part of a committee which changed the name of the PAC to Campbell school to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. middle school. I thought it was very poetic that the very school building would not allow which he could not. I could not gain entrance to it now bears his name. And I think that has some relevance to what's happening today because many of us know that across this country there's a young man by the name of Jesse L. Jackson running for
president of the United States and we hear every day how he cannot win when people say that Jesse Jackson can't win because he is black he cannot gain admission admission to the White House because he is black. That is what we hear all too often but ironically we find that in poll after poll taken Jesse Jackson said most well-known of our candidates running for president and he has a position in the polls which is higher than most if not all of the other candidates. And it would be tragic indeed for us to accept the rhetoric in the propaganda which says that a black person cannot become president of the United States. This country has an opportunity to demonstrate it. It's not not his compassion by this good sense to elect someone who is very articulate on virtually every issue facing this country who has a solid record of involvement in challenge to injustice not only in the
United States but around the world. After all when the president turned his back and Lieutenant Goodman who was shot down in mid east it was Jesse Jackson who while I'm home. Jesse Jackson has discussed national and international issues for more than two decades and he's met with most of the world leaders and he is recognized around the world and respected. And I can think of no other person who could bring about a change in the morality of this country. And its priorities better than Jesse Jackson. And I say that within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts knowing that my good friend Michael Dukakis is also running right. Well let me say that I know that a black perspective does not and is not a program that engages in political. Support or candidates or whatever but I think that the issue and the connection that you're making that that a black candidate for office in America would be singled out simply because of his color
and therefore his qualifications to hold office could be questioned because of his color his Indeed that type of an issue that we need to deal with here in black perspectives and especially here in Boston Massachusetts which is lovingly referred to as the city on the Hill and the intellectual center of the United States of America. You know him What have you that that these types of issues that separate black from white and the races as they do still continue to dominate the front pages of our newspapers in the airways and television ways in our community is very important. Insight into the nature of American civilization at the start. I agree and I also understand that w is not in the business of endorsing candidates. Non-partisan but Charles you're talking to a member of the Boston City Council.
Very appreciative of the high level and high quality support I receive from people from across the city and when I ran for State of the cross the state so I cannot profess to be nonpartizan. I know Jesse Jackson with a great deal of enthusiasm and I certainly expect him to do well in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and particularly in the other states during Super Tuesday on March 8th. And while I'm on the subject let me also urge your listeners to register and to vote to vote your conscience vote for Mr. Dukakis if that's the person you want to see as president of the United States. But if Jesse Jackson is the person you want to see as president of the United States vote for Jesse Jackson. I'm sure that all of the people who are listening to the show. We'll get and have gotten and I really do believe that it is a matter of objectivity in to weigh the facts as they present themselves and to consider very seriously what all of the candidates have to say relative to their special interest their special needs and hopefully people will not be influenced by prejudice and
discrimination and other types of pressures that in many instances cause people to take actions that aren't in their own best interests and which sometimes can be harmful to their own best interests. So I do think that your basic suggestion that people should register first of all since if you know register you clearly cannot vote. But most importantly I think that all of the people in the listening audience need to get out and register and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice. Let me tell the listening audience that you are listening to WM B. Ninety one point nine FM. This is Charles Desmond I'm your host for black perspectives and this evening we're talking with the city council of chiles PNC. We're going to take a brief break right now when we return with our discussion shortly. Hi this is Joe Kennedy. If you have trouble keeping up with the high cost of heating your home in the winter we'd like to help. Citizens Energy Corporation working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and community based fuel assistance providers can try to get you the fuel assistance you deserve. If you need help keeping warm this winter. Write to me Joe
Kennedy care of Citizen's Energy Corporation box nineteen hundred Boston 0 2 2 0 5. No one should be left out in the cold. We're back from a brief intermission and FM ninety one point nine. I'm your host Charles Desmond and you're listening to black perspectives. My guest tonight is child CNC city council for the city of Boston and chair of its committee on public education. Charles before we took a break you. Highlighted a number of issues that you're particularly concerned about here in the city of Boston which also have national implications which lead you into the discussion about the important decisions that we all have to make with regards to what's happening with the presidential elections that I mean up this year. Let me refocus you back in on. Two of the issues that you raised and hopefully we can conclude the program talking about the third the first issue you raised was the question of country mortality particularly as it related to young children of color black kids Hispanic kids Indian kids Asian kids here in the city of Boston who are dying at rates much
higher than that for the population as a whole. Yes. How do you explain that then. You point was that we have the best hospitals in the United States we have the best teaching hospitals in the United States we have more universities and better rated universities than exist in place of the United States yet we have a disease that happens only in the most ignorant places in the world. What do you use to explain this situation. Well I believe that the same phenomenon would result in an infant mortality rate higher than most third world countries in the world exists in our public education system as well. And the economy in general and that is to say that the benefits of a wealthy economy and a wealthy society does not always go to the most vulnerable within our society. Many teenagers have had children you know teenagers themselves teenage mothers
may not be that well informed in terms of. Steps that they should take to protect the bunch. The conditions and the which many families are forced to live in because of the critical housing crisis we have in the city of Boston require that people make choices very painful choices between paying for health care vs. buying food up paying the rent. And we live in a very Unforgiven society with Reka with regards to the housing market. So I think there's a combination of factors which conspire to to literally kill our children. Has the city council itself held hearings on this particular issue of this infant mortality issue in the city and if so did anything come out of those hearings. Well the hearings were held concerning the health and hospitals and different programs in existence to ameliorate this
crisis in terms of what came out of it. The administration did increase allocations to the well baby program last year and some steps and I have to say modest steps were taken to focus on the issue. I thought it was particularly ironic that this time last year I was embroiled in a battle with the Dukakis administration around the allocation of. Funds going to neighborhood health centers have a street Health Center was on the verge of closing down before we intervene and the governess people that no way are we going to sit back and allow a cut in this particular program which is situate in the heart of an area with the highest infant mortality rate in the country. It's unconscionable. Unfortunately some funds were restored. But there's so much more that has to be done. And I do believe that there is a very strong and direct connection. Between the problem of infant mortality and the fact the
problem of homelessness and our national policy when this program the day this program was being taped I sat in on a committee meeting with my colleagues who chairs the committee on homelessness and the hungry. And he was bragging about the fact that he's a close personal friend of Mr. Reagan and I was in the same breath state he can understand why we are even dealing with homelessness because this is the wealthiest country in the world we should be able to provide housing for our people. And I told him that I can very proudly not a close personal friend of Mr. Reagan and if he's such close friends to Mr. Reagan he should give him a call and tell him that his priorities have led to the suffering and death of a lot of people because while he's fighting to spend a hundred million dollars and to defeat the government in Nicaragua and to mind his harbors and to buy guns our children are dying of malnutrition in the city of Boston.
What can the people in the city of Boston do. It seems as though to me that one of the things that I've learned from being in the city as long as I have is that it's clear that when Bostonians get mobilized about an issue and when it is made a top priority for them the intellectual the social the political All of these forces come together to create the type of pressure that makes things happen. It seems as though to me with all I mean and I and I mean this with regards to the second issue that you raised the question about young people carrying guns feeling the necessity to have to have guns in schools on the streets that they walk down every single day that if they can't get drugs guns they're taking drugs to such an extent that they're basically nonfunctional citizens in any way that it seems as though to me that when the people get mobilized to really be concerned about these things that something probably would happen and it's and I'm asking this question sort of as a play I'm saying do you believe that the people in Boston are really mobilized about these issues. No I don't believe the people of Boston are cowardly mobilized. I believe as
you expressed that most people in the city of Boston want to do the right thing and want to make positive contributions. And I think that was demonstrated by the intervention of Mr. Robert Sullivan and Mr. way down to Johnno and seven hero and black children teenagers who are being attacked by a group of terrorists. 1:7 here they demonstrate when you do take a stand you can actually change will of other wise men a very tragic consequence. Here you have two. I presume they were white men. Yes who intervened in an attack by white youth against blacks youth. That's correct and you may recall 1980 to Mr William Atkinson did not have the benefit of that type of assistance and was killed and seven hero. I believe in part because an environment existed which allowed that type of behavior to take place where people were being attacked simply because of their race. I'm very proud of the fact that Mr Sullivan and Mr John O too.
White residents. Who are in the position to help out those those individuals who have been attacked and may have averted of a fatal consequence of a fight that was taking place in Seven Hills. I thought it was unfortunate that the media did not focus on the fact that we have a lot of good people in Savin Hill and I would say the majority of people sadly all of a positive good thinking individuals who have compassion for their fellow human beings. But the fact that a group of kids can and attack in the video and smear an entire community I think is unconscionable. And I've called upon Senate president. And the certainly the state reps and the City Council is to make a statement condemning racial violence and all types of violence and applauding those individuals who do the right thing. Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Johnno did a few weeks ago I believe that the larger
issue you raise is a very fundamental one and that is the question of leadership. We have a lot of people who want to make positive contributions but we don't have a lot of people articulating the issues and agonizing people to address the issue of drugs guns of violence and of malnutrition and homelessness in the city of Boston. Those issues are not sexy issues that have issues people are living in nightmares because of the circumstances that they find themselves in. And I believe that we can mobilize people I will certainly call upon the powers that be and the city of Boston both in the public and the private sector to actively get involved and challenge the drug trafficking in the city of Boston. Now how can a private citizen do them. Well if you see a drug transaction taking place can be in the streets of south Boston the streets of Dorchester the streets of Hyde Park are in the boardrooms in downtown Boston.
Make sure that you call the proper officials and report it. Now the official being members of the police department or even the federal or state government ignore the issues. Then I think it's the obligation of the media to focus attention on them. And I don't believe that we could have a serious problem as we do with regards to drugs. If people if some people simply did not look the other way when I was taking place and there is the drug trafficking that's valued in the hundreds of millions of we have the billions of dollars which contribute to the proliferation of guns that we have a society and we certainly have to do something about and I believe this with an hour each of us have the power to to deal with this very very. Critical problem in the city of Boston. I know that you yourself have a number of people who volunteer to work in your various activities around the city whatever. What if a person said I like this guy Chelsea and say I'd like to really get involved in what he's doing. I'm willing to help out. I know that each year the Education Committee public
education committee in the City Council many people are concerned about the quality of education as many people if given the opportunity would probably want to get involved. How do they get involved if they are concerned about the stuff they want to do something in some way to try to figure out how to channel these energies. What do they do. How do they get involved in supporting the city council as efforts to try to improve the quality of life in the city of Boston. Well I desperately need help from we have. I can get it. And I would just stay right now my telephone number if any of listeners will like to contact my office I really will welcome you and your support in your input and your ideas. My telephone number in City Hall 7 2 5 3 1 3 1 7 2 5 3 1 3 1. If you don't remember the number yes call the main number at city hall and ask Will Council Yancey. But let me also point out. I know we're getting towards the end of the program that our children are our future. And I think it's appalling that we do not have a
system in Boston which will give our children a voter registration certificate upon graduation along with their diploma. I also am struck by the fact that our children are not well-versed in politics are even in basic geography in the city of Boston and I'm sure we're going to do a lot about that. I know that Lavar Wilson superintendent schools is working very hard to improve the quality of education. I also know that parents want to become much more involved in what they are. And I would welcome that and I look forward to working very closely with the parents the teachers and administrators to ensure that the city of Boston has the best educational system in the country. We certainly have the ingredients to do it and I believe that we can exercise the leadership to pull out those gradients together so that our children working in the best possible educational environment with the highly motivated so they can make
some very important contributions not only to the city of Boston the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but United States of America and perhaps the world. But I think that that note is the type of note that I want to try to conclude this program and I know as we look to the 300 50th anniversary of the black presence in the city of Boston there have been many events that have spoken to the historical contributions that blacks have made in the city and they are too numerous to mention here. But I know that there are a number of important books that will be published next this year in 88 that will be looking at the contributions of blacks in the city of Boston. And I think that the listening public should to the extent that it can make itself aware of these books because I think this is a rich history to which people need to be exposed. But as we look to the future I see that the roles that we play now critical to the next 200 50th anniversary which will which will take place in time and that I think that then people will look back at the types
and things that we're doing now the same way that we look back to what Crispus Attucks two hundred years ago. I think that all of us have to engage ourselves responsibly and energetically in trying to address some of the concerns that you have raised. They are it's totally beyond comprehension that the types of issues that you're raising would continue to be contested here in the city of Boston I think that we do have some tough fighting to do and some battles to fight ahead but if there's anyone who's committed to doing this Charles I think that you know the person who can get our attention makes me a log you certainly want to point out that March 8th as I mentioned earlier is the lection day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It's a presidential preference. And as you mentioned earlier this is a nonpartisan program. I just want to make sure that people throughout the commonwealth of Massachusetts particularly in the communities of color in the progressive communities that they come out and vote and very strong numbers. I'm supporting Jesse Jackson for president
- Black Perspectives
- The Black Agenda in 1988
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- Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey discusses priorities for Boston's black community in 1988, including lowering the infant mortality rate, reducing the prevalence of guns/drugs, and marking the 350th anniversary of black presence and contributions in the city. Yancey also discusses Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign, the importance of voting, the problems of poverty and homeless, and how listeners can can get involved with education issues.
- Black Perspectives is a public affairs talk show featuring in depth conversations about issues of interest to the African American community.
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Guest: Yancey, Charles
Host: Desmond, Charles
Producer: Pierre Louis, Gary
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- APA: Black Perspectives; The Black Agenda in 1988. Boston, MA: WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-345-53jwt0g9