Only half the battle
A few weeks ago Mayor Bill Bell declared war on poverty. Many have already begun to complain about how this effort will fail.
I hope to take part in this effort, but I think targeting the financials of poverty is only half the battle. I once heard a spoken-word piece by Wisdom Pharaoh, who at the time was president of the McDougald Terrace community. McDougald Terrace is one of the largest “projects” of low-income housing in Durham where there are vast numbers of single-mother households and high school dropouts, as well as drug addiction, alcoholism and sometimes murders. I don’t remember the entire piece, but at the end, she made a remarkable statement that I will never forget, exclaiming that “the projects is a mindset.”
I would like to take this a step further and challenge that “poverty” is indeed a mindset.
Looking back, in the 1940s and 1950s, many people in the black community lived at or below the poverty level. But the difference was they found their wealth within their outlook on life, community and faith. It wasn’t until the introduction of drugs that the poverty mentality began to deteriorate families and communities.
In East Durham, 60 percent of the residents live in poverty, with 56 percent of the households run by single mothers. I am excited about efforts to create jobs, and provide health care, affordable housing and child care. Along with these, we must build a support system of neighbors who know and look out for one another. We must begin conversations around what poverty is, and not stigmatize those who need extra assistance.
I wonder why after visiting a food bank here in Durham, those who were in need were made to wait outside in the rain as early as 7 a.m. to receive a food box; when the sanctuary where people come to worship, and are told to come as you are, remained locked and closed off to those who waited outside.
School board choices
Durham voters have a lot of choices this election cycle for the four open seats on the Durham Public Schools Board of Education.
Now that the endorsement process is mostly complete voters should be on the lookout for various candidate forums taking place around the county. This is a chance to hear directly from the candidates and possibly ask questions about issues of interest and concern to voters.
The League of Women Voters will be co-sponsoring a forum for all four districts at 7 p.m. April 22 at Hillside High School. The Durham Council of PTAs and the Inter-Neighborhood Council of Durham are also working to promote and organize this event.
Organizations that are members of Durham Congregations Associations and Neighborhoods (CAN) will be able to meet the BOE candidates at the next Public Delegates Assembly. CAN will devote this Assembly to the topic of education. BOE candidates and current school board members will be invited to listen to the education priorities for Durham CAN this year and endorse all, or parts of its education agenda. The Assembly will be held at 2:30 p.m. April 27 at the Nehemiah Christian Center. Over 300 individuals have pledged to attend. The Assembly will culminate in the Souls to the Polls march to participate in early voting.
At 7 p.m. April 24 at E.K. Powe Elementary School voters can meet with District 2 candidates. The PTA at Powe hopes community members will take this chance to meet candidates during this informal meeting.