Had they known they were slaves

Harriet Tubman was truly an American hero. She provided freedom for slaves via the operation of the Underground Railroad. Daily, she risked her life so that others could escape the savagery of human bondage. She also provided great service to the Union Army during the Civil War. Her written reports on Confederate troop movements proved to be very valuable to union generals such as Grant and Sherman and probably hastened the Union victory.

After the Civil War and the newly won freedom of slaves, there was a formal retirement ceremony for this great lady. Her last public words were: \”In my career I saved over 1000 slaves. I would have saved thousands more only had they known they were slaves.\” Yes, many times you can get comfortable with your plight and consider it the norm. You can accept it and never improve your plight. Today, we have a different form of slavery, a high tech version. Many of us don’t have chains but are restricted by negative attitudes and defeatism. They accept the difficulties thrown at them and will not fight to overcome them. Won’t fight them and certainly won’t try to go around them.

America has now been blessed with a visionary and a person of courage. These times are very tough but, alas, we have someone who is not fidgety and confronts the matters head on. He has introduced to us the Stimulus Bill, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This bill has an enormous amount of opportunities to help unserved and underserved communities begin to \”level the playing field\”. There is nearly a trillion dollars in contracts, grants and programs to address our local infrastructures, schools, housing, businesses, environment, etc. This will be the biggest program in the history of the United States and it has been made very clear that equal opportunity and the US Civil Rights Act will be strictly enforced in its implementation and there will be total transparency every step of the way. Never before has such been offered to us and never before can we just go to \”sleep\” on this one. It is time to go to work and change the status of our communities. My brothers and sisters we must seize this opportunity as we owe it to our children and grandchildren. The Stimulus Bill is an equalizer if we do it right.

It is startling to have found that so many local officials in our communities do not share this optimism. Their minds have been molded that Blacks will not be included in any program and that we are destined to be last even with a Black president and a Congressional Black Caucus that isn’t afraid of anything. When I meet these individuals and hear their negativism I want to slap them upside their head and shout WAKE UP! Instead I compose myself and state \”Would you mind if we try to bring some of these grants/contracts to your community so that we can prepare your community for the future and bring opportunity to your businesses and youth?\” They squirm a little bit and roll their eyes and finally state \”I won’t fight you and I hope you win.\” This isn’t about me; it’s about us! I don’t care what your racist governor said and how your state legislature has been treating you. There is a new \”sheriff\” in DC and his administration is the real deal. What do we do with these types of doubters? Ignore them and move on. When the victories roll in they will be there cutting the ribbons; making the speeches and issuing the plaques as if they helped do it from the start. The point is: Let’s get it done.

Let us all, the positive thinkers, get in and start the progress. We have at least until the end of year 2010 to take advantage of these programs and change our communities for the better. Jobs by the thousands, revenue by the billions and a quality of life that has been missing in our environment are some of the things at stake. Freedom is not free and power concedes nothing without a demand. Let us not doubt and sit and watch these opportunities go by. Yes, it is going to take a lot of hard work but that is the nature of the world. Nothing that is worthwhile is easy. After all, hard work is something that is in our heritage. So now, let’s honor our ancestors with a very intense effort and mountains full of hard work.

Harry C. Alford to President Barack Obama: \”Mr. President, we are all very impressed with your hard work and tenacity.\” President Barack Obama to Harry C. Alford: \”You haven’t seen hard work yet. We are just getting started.\”