Rocky Mount NC – City greases rails for Crossing at 64 grants

So will Bojangles come to Edgecombe side of Rocky Mount? C. Dancy II – DCN Publisher

The Rocky Mount City Council on Tuesday approved a deal to spur retail growth at a planned 85-acre mixed-use development.

The council approved an agreement with a developer designed to pave the way for government grant money to fund water and sewer mains to serve the Crossing at 64 development. (Rocky Mount Telegram)

Wilson NC – Bar names 3 nominees to replace judge Governor must make decision by June 1

Attorney Lamont Wiggins didn’t make the cut, I wonder why? C. Dancy II – DCN Publisher

The Seventh Judicial District of the N.C. Bar Association submitted three names Tuesday for Gov. Bev Perdue to consider as potential replacements for former N.C. District Court Judge Robert Evans. (Rocky Mount Telegram)

Rocky Mount NC – Weatherization Assistance Program

Weatherization, a program to assist people with weatherizing their homes, is accepting applications.  Applications can be picked up Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at St. Mark AME Church, 1150 Tarboro St. between the hours of 10:00am – 3:00pm.  Applications may be picked up on Thursdays at the Nash County Extension Center.  For information call 252-977-7941.

For information on the Halifax Weatherization Program please contact Gail Walker at (252) 537-1111.

Speaking Truth to Power – The Reverend Leon Howard Sullivan “The Man with the Plan.” Literally Community Self-Help by Richard Parker Jr. Columnist

Don`t be concerned President Obama. The Reverend Dr. Leon H. Sullivan received over fifty honorary degrees, and, President Obama you have already influenced more lives, I do believe, than anyone else. You will surely catch up.

The Reverend Dr. Sullivan influenced my personal life far greater than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did, though Dr. King had greater influence in my professional life. But, of four people, I have held The Reverend Dr. Sullivan as my greatest role model.

Yorktown. A creation of the City of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the FHA and HUD. Lesson learned: Always know what the city/town planners are up to. Ask that our councilmen keep our ward citizens informed.

In 1964 I moved my family back to Philadelphia from Richmond Virginia. Having found good employment I started looking for permanent housing. My cousin and family had purchased a new home in Yorktown(of 650 townhouses) and thought there may be a few left in the 1500 block of 13th Street. I took a look and there were just two left, 1502 and 1504 at 13th and Jefferson Streets. One block from Broad Street. The entire city blocks between 13th and Broad north of Jefferson and south of Jefferson were empty otherwise. Little did I know that I would be in a position to daily watch history in the making. I bought 1504 N. 13th Street. Beyond my backyard there was nothing but wasteland all the way to Broad Street. The future home of the first Progress Plaza Shopping Center.

In the 1400 block of Broad Street, just south of Jefferson, the 1st OIC was to spring forth. The story of these two giants is nothing short of amazing and almost unbelievable until one begins to understand the man and his dream, behind it all.

The Man – Leon Howard Sullivan

Born October 16th, 1922 in Charleston West Virginia.

At age 3 his parents divorced. At age 12 he stopped at a drugstore on Crystal St. in Charleston to buy a coke. A white man told him, “Stand on your feet boy. You can`t sit here”. The Reverend Sullivan said that incident set his life course. At age 18 he became a Baptist minister, some 6ft., 5in. tall . In 1943 Reverend Adam Clayton Powell brought him to New York to serve as assistant pastor. 1n1947 Reverend Sullivan received his Masters degree in Religion at Columbia University . 1950 – 1988 he was pastor at Zion Baptist Church, Broad and Venango Sts. in Philadelphia, where he quickly earned the title “the Lion of Zion”. Over the years his membership grew from 600 to 6,000.

1940s Helped organize a March on Washington.

1958 Reverend Sullivan asked businessmen of large companies in Philadelphia to start hiring African-Americans. Only two responded. So, along with other Baptist churches, he organized “Selective Patronage”. Polite words for boycotts. At the time the city was 20% Black. The slogan was “Don`t buy where you don`t work”. In 4 years thousands of jobs opened up. The boycotts were so successful that Dr. Sullivan advised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. But this was not good enough for the Reverend Sullivan. He said, “ I found that we needed training. Integration without preparation is frustration”. So in 1962 he organized Zion Investment Association.

The Dream

It happened one Sunday morning in 1962. The Reverend Sullivan had this vision for community self-help, due to all the poverty and despair he saw all around him in North Philadelphia. On this Sunday he preached about Jesus feeding the 5,000 it is said , “with a few loaves and a few fish”. He said to his congregation that he would like to do something similar with their help. He asked if he could get 50 members to invest $10.00 a month for 36 months, toward forming Zion Investment Association. The Reverend figured that would be a reasonable number to start with. After all, he reasoned to his congregation, this would be an investment for the next generation. He wanted to build a community-owned economic base, he told them. Not 50 but over 200 signed up that morning.

Just 16 months later Zion Non-profit Charitable Trust (ZNPCT) was created, parent for Community Development Corporation. Thus, OIC was born. They wanted to start training people as soon as possible, with no profit motive. Opportunities Industrialization .

After 20 more months a FOR-profit corporation was formed, named Progress Investment Associates . The first 10-36 investors each received one voting share with a promise for dividends in the future. The KEY to all of this was a sense of ownership and a stake in the common good for the community.

Progress Investment Associates made their first investment in 1964. They bought a 8-unit all-white apartment building in an all-white neighborhood.

In 1965 the 10-36 Plan was opened to new subscribers (church members) and 450 more joined up. These subscribers made Zion Baptist Church a financial force to be reckoned with. This same year Progress Investment Associates built Zion Gardens, a middle-class garden apartment complex in North Philadelphia. A one million dollar project, it was leveraged with 10-36 funds, a loan from the FHA and a grant from HUD.

The Reverend Leon Sullivan convinced the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to DONATE the wasteland behind my backyard, that 1500 block on the East side of Broad St., to Progress Investment Associates. A whole city block facing Broad Street. Now it was time to go to the bank, the First Pennsylvania Bank. He saw the chairman and asked for a construction loan. The banker told Reverend Sullivan to come back in two, three or four years and they could talk. The Lion of Zion was ready for that one. He asked his treasurer to open the sack. Out came $400,000.00 worth of equities. The Reverend said the banker`s eyeglasses fell off his face. He jumped up, came around the desk and said they can talk. They shook on it. The Reverend said,” I found that $400,000.00 makes a difference in race relations in America”.

Thus, in 1968 the first Progress Plaza Shopping Center was opened, virtually in my backyard. First Penna. Bank opened a branch there . A&P opened a very nice super market there. OIC was at 1415 North Broad Street, south of Jefferson St..

A Jobs training center was opened on the 2nd floor of the main shopping center building, just behind my backyard. There was a 10-foot brick wall then a service street between me and the Shopping center. This training center was heavily funded by the Ford Foundation. The non-profit arm, the Community Development Corporation, also built a Human Services Center. They leased space at below market value in order to get a Social Security Office, Unemployment Compensation Office, Police Training Center and Health Services Center run by Temple University, located in a more convenient location for North Philadelphia citizens.

The rest is history. OIC went international (OICI). Progress Plaza(PIA) went international. There are the Global Sullivan Principles.

The idea behind the Zion Investment Associates` creation was to have something community-owned, to pass along to the next generation. Plain and simple. With today`s economic situation it is all the more reason to want to “gather together with a few loaves and a few fish,” and try to feed the 5,000. $10.00 a month today is not much for those of us with incomes, to give and then to pass along to the next generation. To paraphrase the Reverend Dr. Leon H. Sullivan, money makes it much easier to improve race relations in America.

My County Commissioner Viola Harris suggested last year in a meeting that members of this organization I belong to contribute $10.00 a month so we would not be forever begging for donations , and we could build a cushion for unforeseen expenses . I have been doing that ever since and it does not hurt at all. I would gladly give another $10.00 a month to an organization with community self-help in mind.

After leaving Zion Baptist Church in 1988, The Reverend Dr. Leon H Sullivan spent many years working in Africa against injustices and abject poverty.

The Reverend Dr. Leon Howard Sullivan passed away on April 24th, 2001 at age 78 .

Richard H. Parker Jr.

Tarboro NC 27886-5117

Speaking Truth to Power – IS “AFFIRMATIVE ACTION” ON THE ROCKS AT THE RNC? by William Reed Columnist

The thought was that the Republican National Committee’s “Affirmative Action” would be an example of the party retooling its image, message and appeal to young voters and minorities.  But the RNC’s election of Michael S. Steele as Chairman of national political operations is now under question, and the concept of “affirmative action” given another set-back.  The nation’s affirmative action incentive is to promote equal opportunity “toward maximizing diversity, along with its perceived benefits, in all levels of society”.  As the 63rd chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), and the first African American, Michel Steele is among the highest levels of America’s political industry.

The RNC provides the party’s national leadership.  The Office of the Chairman is responsible for developing and promoting the political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy.   The RNC is a 168-member body comprised of the chairs of each state committee.  Michael Steele has the background regarding responsibilities of the GOP’s top job.  He has been chair of a Maryland county committee and the state committee.  He headed GOPAC, a major organization focused on recruiting Republican candidates to run races at state and local levels.  But questions now abound regarding Michael Steele’s management and decision-making.  When he took over at the RNC Steele brought in his personal assistant from other jobs.  It raised eyebrows of the RNC when the body learned Steele gave her $85,615 a year, a salary nearly three times the $29,240.88 her predecessor made.   Mr. Steele hired another prior associate, Angela Sailor, to be the party’s outreach director at a salary of $180,000, more than double her predecessor’s compensation, though new responsibilities have been added to the job.  Republican state party chairs cited “cronyism” and instigated confrontation over who controls the party’s purse strings to the point that Steele relinquished some controls.

Instead of carrying forth the banner of affirmative action, Steele & Company are now “in the weeds” fighting off questions about his management style and decision making.  "These salaries are way out of line for what staff should be paid for working for a political party, which most of us think of as a cause," said Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Willis Lee.  The “outreach position” has long been a cause of consternation among the GOP.  Ms. Sailor’s salary is $97,000 more than the $83,000 a-year paycheck the previous outreach director, Shannon Reeves, another African American received.  The Outreach Director is responsible for increasing the presence of minorities in the party, but based on results toward that goal to date, RNC members have reason to question why Ms. Sailor’s salary is more than that of the second-highest ranking elected official on the committee, Co-Chairman Jan Larimer, who makes about $140,000?

Before mob-action to force his resignation, it can’t yet be officially said that Steele has squandered his time in the seat.  When he was elected RNC Chairman in January, one of the major concerns in the professional political class was whether he could raise the sort of money to keep the RNC competitive.  Fundraising has been Steele’s strong suit.  The RNC has outpaced the DNC in campaign contributions the first four months of this year.  The RNC raised $31 million in the first third of 2009, compared to the DNC’s $22.3 million.  Steele’s RNC raised almost $5.8 million in April and ended the month with $24.4 million on hand.

Whether Steele’s chairmanship records as the RNC’s “affirmative action success story”, or its “faux pas”, remains to be seen, but it should not be perceived as sufficient redress to party discrimination toward blacks.  With, or without Steele, the Republican Party is not close to serious competition with Democrats for African American votes.  Blacks are not on the GOP’s A-list and its single digit performances among African Americans in two of the last three presidential elections are emblematic of a party with serious outreach problems.  Michael Steele’s tenure has not been a boon for the black image in the party and unlikely to bring about a change needed in Republican leadership’s mindsets.

(William Reed –

Washington DC – Sotomayor Would Be First Hispanic on Supreme Court

President Obama this morning will announce that U.S. appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York is his pick to replace retiring justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court, White House officials said. (Washington Post)