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Making Meaningful Contributions

Making Meaningful ContributionsThe last week in June proved to be one of those weeks you have to call on all of your wits, instincts and emotions to survive. During the span of one week, we were taken on an emotional roller coaster as we breathed a collective sigh of relief when the long-awaited decisions in the University of Michigan cases were rendered.
Later in the week, however, Black Issues got the sad news that a true giant and advocate for graduate education, Ike Tribble, had lost his long and courageous battle with cancer (see tribute, pg. 14). We also lost the pioneering (former) mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson, who, among his many accomplishments, played a pivotal role in making sure Black contractors took part in the building of Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. As we reflect on the lives of these two men, we’re reminded of what can be accomplished for the common good when minorities are given a meaningful opportunity to make a contribution. Wouldn’t it be great if this would take place without resorting to the courts? But it seems that the courts are the place of choice in seeking justice and equity.
As Ronald Roach’s article “Taking Stock, Reversing Course” points out, you never really know what any court, particularly the U.S. Supreme Court, will do with a case. Predictions were mixed about whether this court would affirm Bakke. And speaking of courts, it seems the issue of who will eventually control the extremely valuable Barnes art collection as featured in Kendra Hamilton’s “Battle Over Wills,” could very well be decided by the courts. In Kendra’s reports from Lincoln University and Philadelphia, we’re all reminded of how tenuous “ownership” can be sometimes. That’s why it’s so important that complacency be eradicated from our communities. The curse of complacency has proven to be a very destructive force in our society but especially in the Black community.
When we think about people like Ike Tribble and Maynard Jackson, we should all rededicate ourselves to working even harder to hold on to the gains already made, transferring meaningful values to future generations while continuing in our quest for academic, professional and personal excellence.
Few people work harder and are as generous as Oral Lee Brown. In 1987, this Oakland realtor began setting aside $10,000 a year out of her annual salary to send 22 first-graders to college. Two of those students graduated from college this year and there are more to follow. Brown’s generous spirit has transformed the lives of these students who might not have pursued higher education otherwise. Be sure to read Lydia Lum’s article on Brown and the opportunities she has given a group of young people in her community.
Lastly, Ben Hammer introduces nine award-winning retention programs, which were recognized by Noel-Levitz at their annual conference on student retention earlier this month. As Ben points out, retaining incoming freshmen is one of the most critical issues colleges and universities face, particularly among minority, poor and first-generation students. Universities take many different and innovative approaches to prepare students for the rigors of college life. The most effective programs, however, seem to be the ones that focus on early attention and intervention. Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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