BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
Besides having over 300 people celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bethlehem Baptist church, nationally recognized journalist, and syndicated radio host, Roland Martin, gave specific directions, as to what he thought, African Americans in Toledo could do to better their overall circumstances.
“Empowering our past, empowering our present, and engaging our future,” was the theme of the banquet celebration held at Parkway Place, 2592 Parkway Plaza, Maumee, on the evening of Friday, September 29.
Linda Williams, chairperson of the anniversary, told The Toledo Journal that the night would consist of the presentation of various resolutions from government leaders, praise dancing, and singing, and Roland Martin’s keynote address.
“Black America must save America, again,” was the title of Mr. Martin’s address. He explained to his audience that the contributions of African Americans have helped make America great.
“There’s no better patriot than African Americans. We will fight for this country, knowing that we don’t have rights. Don’t let anyone say you’re not a patriot,” he said. He added that all the wars, even more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan, blacks have fought and died, knowing that they would return to America facing discrimination.
Mr. Martin, then, specifically focused on Ohio and how early voting stations across the state were either eliminated, or had limited hours; all in the hopes of discouraging blacks from voting. He added that the various groups African Americans belong to could’ve prevented that from occurring if they, uniformly, worked together.
He then focused on three groups, in which he asked members of those groups to stand. Mr. Martin first focused on graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, HBCU. He explained that many of those colleges are having financial problems, and are at risk of closing. He strongly encouraged that those who attended those schools help out financially. He gave figures of approximately, less than 12% of those graduates give back to their alma mater.
He then asked Pastors to stand, which, they slowly did, but only after Mr. Martin continued to ask them. “I bet if you all were receiving an offering, you would move a lot quicker,” he scolded the Pastors. Mr. Martin, who is himself a Reverend, then said, “If you all opened your churches to tutor children nightly, and free of charge, the problem of low test scores, or under-educated black kids would be solved almost overnight.”
“We need to stop being soft with our Bibles,” he said. “I’m not interested in soft churches who say, ‘Jesus will do it all.’ Well, the Bible says you have to get out and do the work,” Mr. Martin said.
The last group he asked to stand was members of black fraternities, and sororities, who are, collectively, known as “The Divine 9.”
Mr. Martin said that there were enough chapters/members, throughout the state of Ohio, that could work together to help get various legislation on the ballot that would protect the rights of African Americans.
And, although Mr. Martin did focus on those groups, he said that doesn’t mean others are excluded from trying to better the circumstances of African Americans.