2015 February

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The T. Wendell Williams Story (For Students)

By | Family | No Comments

This is a story about a Black pioneer in the city of Flint, Michigan, who shared his well thought-out dreams with his family, friends, community, and country. Dr. Williams, a humanitarian, was extremely sensitive to the needs of children; a man of dignity whose visions were realized.

His contributions as a citizen prompted me to research and share this story with the students enrolled at T. Wendell Williams Community School.

The aspirations and goals Dr. Williams set for himself, at a very early age, will serve to motivate the doubters and dreamers at T. Wendell Williams School.

As the history of this great American is carved, my desire is that each student will develop a sense of pride in their school and their community, while simultaneously learning to become precipitators, motivators, and educators for tomorrow’s endeavors.

-Dorothy Hitss-Robinson, Principal
(December 1988)

The T. Wendell Williams Story

Family Life

Wendell Williams, the second of five children, was born on June 29, 1922, in the college town of Due West, South Carolina. Williams, a teacher, were devout Christians who instilled a sense of pride, compassion, honesty, self respect, and love of family in their children. He had three brothers: Asbury T., George and Joseph, and one sister, Helen Blanche.

Due to the Great Depression, there was not a lot of money in their household, yet the environment flourished with ingredients essential to strong character development. The ministry work of his father required moving the family from city to city every few years. T. Wendell, as a result, attended several schools in the State of Michigan.

Childhood and Teenage Years

While living in Battle Creek, Wendell walked ½ mile to school each day and carried a humble lunch of biscuits with peanut butter and bologna. The family was later determined eligible for subsidized meals, and he then received hot lunches at school.

Wendell enjoyed school and was a good student, doing his homework with the encouragement and support of his parents. They stressed the importance of obtaining a good education. All of the Williams children graduated from college. The close relationship Wendell shared with his mother was evident in the caring and sensitive manner in which he interacted with his brothers and sister – encouraging them and being supportive of their endeavors.

Wendell’s hobbies were playing checkers and working with model airplanes. He liked sports too. As a junior in high school in Ypsilanti, Michigan, he was the first Negro to try out and make the swim team. One day while swimming in a lake, Asbury developed leg cramps. Wendell, a strong swimmer, was able to rescue his brother and tow him to safety. Wendell also was active in the Boy Scouts.

A man of vision, Wendell clearly understood the value and importance of the dollar. He possessed the ability to save money even under adverse conditions. Like most children, Wendell found ways to make money to buy some of the things he wanted. He delivered flyers door to door and sold newspapers, earning only ten or fifteen cents for a day of work. Wendell also worked as a carryout clerk for an A & P Grocery Store in Flint, and even as a show shine boy. He later earned a good job by first volunteering his services for 8 hours a day in exchange for an apprenticeship in a clothes pressing plant. Reluctant at first, the owner soon found Wendell to be extremely dependable, and industrious worker, and very proficient at pressing clothes. The owner then offered Wendell employment and he worked and saved money to defray the expenses he would incur in pursuing a higher education.

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The Public Should be Outraged!

By | Accountability, Flint, Leadership, Michigan, Quality of Life | No Comments

As a concerned citizen, and a lifelong resident of the city of Flint, I am saddened and disappointed about the situation we find ourselves in, in 2014. To listen to the rhetoric, the noise coming from the Emergency Financial Manager, Darnell Early, and the recommendations coming from the twenty two members comprising the Blue Ribbon Committee is outlandish.

 

First and foremost, the legitimacy of the committee is in doubt. According to The Charter Revision Handbook, Michigan Municipal League, page 5, a change in form of government requires a charter revision. More specifically, “revision of city charters may be initiated by a resolution adopted by 3/5 of the legislative body or by petition signed by at least five percent of the registered voters, unless the present charter provides otherwise.” Whichever way this is achieved, the decision to revise the charter is one that is voted on by the people.

 

Additionally, a nine member commission committee must also be selected to do the revisions, and none of these committee members can be an elected or appointed official. The committee must also be voted on by the people. These are just a few but very important violations committed by this Blue Ribbon Committee, which was put in place by the EFM.

 

Where is the outrage over such terrible violations of the city charter and the rights of the people of the city of Flint? Where is the open meeting discussion from the people? To take it a step further, city council asked for a special meeting to give the people and themselves adequate time to discuss the recommendations in a public setting, their request was denied as well. It’s beginning to be more shameful and ridiculous that this kind of behavior is being forced on the people.

 

We are being told that these are recommendations that we are going to vote on. The question in one’s mind is: are these legitimate recommendations by an illegitimate group? This has the perceived spirit of a return to 50 years ago; to fall under this kind of dictatorship! In order to not go back 50 years, the public should be well versed, and it should be openly discussed among Flint voters, not just 22, but 80,000 plus registered voters. The entire voice of the Flint residents should be the Blue Ribbon Committee. Are some of the recommendations good? That has yet to be determined; the process certainly was not.

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Equality and Enforcement Looms Large at Candidate Forum

By | Flint, Michigan, Quality of Life | No Comments

Marriage equality and police enforcement in Flint proved to be hot topics at the 34th District Candidate forum at the Flint Public Library on Tuesday, June 24, 2014..

 

The forum was sponsored by the Flint NAACP, and co-sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Concerned Pastors for Social Action and the League of Women Voters.

 

Dr. Karen Williams-Weaver served as moderator. The forum gave all 34th District candidates an opportunity to share their views on pre-selected topics and questions from the audience. Candidate Bruce Rogers did not attend the forum.

 

Those candidates present were: Jeff Bean, Flint teacher; Donna Calvin, Community Activist; David L. Davenport, Community Activist; Eric Mays, First Ward City Councilman; Nathan R. Moorish, EMT; Quincy Murphy, Community Activist; Sheldon Neely, Sixth Ward Flint City Councilman; and Omar A. Sims, Genesee County Commissioner.

 

The forum covered many topics such as public school/charter schools, post-secondary education, increasing the minimum wage, and voting rights. However, the overarching conversation appeared to center around marriage equality in Michigan and police enforcement in Flint.

 

In 2004 Michigan voters approved a ban on same-sex marriages in Michigan. Since that time, the issue has been challenged. Legislators have now moved to introducing legislation that would allow same sex marriage in Michigan and acknowledgement of same-sex marriages from other states.

 

Candidates were asked to offer their opinion on the issue of same sex marriage and how would they address the issue in Lansing.

 

Bean: “There should be a separation of church and state and that Civil Law shouldn’t interfere with what a church choices to do or not to do. So, if a church chooses not to marry couples, they should not be forced to. If a church chooses to marry gay couples the state should not be allowed to get in the way.”

 

Calvin: “I don’t really have an opinion on that. That is for God to judge. The constitution says marriage is between a man and a woman. I wouldn’t support it if it says that it is marriage because marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman.”

 

Davenport: “The bottom line is if you pay taxes you should be able to follow the law whether you choose to marry a man or woman. As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord..”

 

Mays: “I am a Christian, I believe in the Bible. I am going to stick with what the Bible says, when I vote, I am going to vote my conscience. You might be surprised how I vote.”

 

Morrish: “I 100% support marriage equality. My partner and I of 14 years both have children that we have raised and they have two dads. The way to address it in Lansing is to tell the Governor and Attorney General to quit wasting the tax payers money.”

 

Murphy: “This is a hot one for me, I was molested when I was little. I was called gay. If it’s with a man or woman that’s their choice. I believe in civil rights. I believe it is their right to do whatever they choose to do.”

 

Neely: “I have no problem with people choosing who they love and want to marry. I am a faithful man of God. I would not judge a person for who they love. I would support the legislation in Lansing to allow people to be with who they love.”

 

Sims: “In 2006, the people of this state coted on that issue. I am happily married to my wife, Donyale, that’s my choice. I strongly support a man and a woman because that’s the Bible way and that is my teaching. That is not going to change when I get to Lansing.”

 

Another issue discussed was the state police presence in Flint. In 2010, the City of Flint requested of then Governor Jennifer Granholm for an increased police presence in the City. At that point, Michigan State Police tripled its patrols within the city during peak crime times in high crime areas. Four years later, the State Police presence remains. Candidates were asked if they were in favor of continuing to use state troopers in Michigan municipalities or would they prefer to find funding for local police officers?

 

Bean: “A police officer is much like an educator, relationships developed will create the quality of the product. We need to increase our numbers of local police to increase the number of relationships.”

 

Calvin: “Finding funding for the police officers would make the difference. Crimes committed are mostly murders. You have to have investigations to solve murders. We need funding to investigate.”

 

Davenport: “We need our local city police. I think we should find funding for a mentor grant. Retired police officers could ride with officers which would give us more protection.”

 

Mays: “I don’t mind the state police being in Flint as long as they are doing things properly, but they have been doing things unconstitutional, such as profiling and stopping individuals walking. The proper way is with detectives and undercover officers.”

 

Morrish: “Since 9/11, our country has taken the stance that we have zero tolerance on terrorism. The crime in Flint in my eyes is a form of terrorism. I am for having the state police here in a harmonious working relationship. We need to put a stop to crime. I think with the state, county and local police working together we can do it.”

 

Murphy: “I don’t believe in racial profiling. I believe and many believe that the state police officers are profiling African Americans. I prefer a millage to hire people instead of more police officers.”

 

Neely: “I prefer local police officers and local municipalities as lead agency for law enforcement. We need the support of the county sheriff and state police to help reduce crime in our local municipalities.”

 

Sims: “I was a victim [of racial profiling] three years ago while on my way to a neighborhood meeting. I support the state troopers, but we need them to know the difference between Avenue A and Atherton. I am in favor of providing funding for local police officers. The officers should live in the city of Flint. It is not helping our tax base when they take money back to Clarkston or wherever they live.”

 

The 34th District seat, currently held by Representative Woodrow Stanley, is 91% democratic seat. Stanley, after serving three terms in the seat, is term limited and may not run for the seat again.

 

Councilman Mays emphasized absentee voting and encouraged attendees to vote.

 

The primary election is on Tuesday, August 5th and the general election is on Tuesday, November 4th. The deadline for unregistered voters to register to vote in the August 5th primary is July 7th. Check with your local clerk or http://www.Michigan.gov/sos for polling place information.

 

As always, have a blessed week and remember only what you do for Christ will last.

 

This article, written by LaDon G. McNeil,  was originally published in the Courier of Flint, Michigan on June 29, 2014.

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