Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

May 24, 2008

New day dawning for the NAACP

I was disappointed to read NAACP board member Amos C. Brown's comments criticizing the board's decision to elect Benjamin Todd Jealous as the organization's 17th president ("NAACP head hopes to mobilize voters," May 18).

The statement by Mr. Brown that the NAACP is moving into an era of "anti-preacher sentiment" is the type of irrelevancy that has caused the decline in the organization's membership and its failure to sustain the political power needed to change African-American communities significantly.

Mr. Brown and other dissenting board members and supporters of the old regime of the NAACP must realize the need for the organization to be relevant in these vulnerable times of high gas prices, rising utility costs, foreclosures, immigration challenges, war and other crises.

The organization needs a new agenda that will capture the attention of the 20-to-50 age group of African-Americans by addressing the societal pressures that are affecting our communities directly - e.g., the rising tide of discrimination, unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, drug addiction and HIV/AIDS.

Now is the time for the elders of the movement and organization to get behind and support Mr. Jealous with the wisdom and counsel and, yes, even prayer that will be needed to advance the new agenda that Mr. Jealous and the NAACP have set forth to revitalize the organization.

The preacher and his or her pulpit is still a mighty instrument to use to speak to or challenge public policy of any sort that is morally wrong, that disenfranchises a segment of our citizenry and that goes against Christ's teaching to "love thy neighbor as thyself."

But a preacher does not need to be at the helm of the NAACP to do his or her work for God.

Passion, commitment and vision to better the lot of our people have always been what are needed to lead the NAACP, and age has never been a requirement to determine if a person possesses these qualities.

Let us all support Mr. Jealous and the NAACP in moving forward to a new day.

Verinda M. Birdsong, Baltimore

Harris' record a threat to bay

I'm from Rep. Chris Van Hollen's district in Montgomery County, and I was proud to read that my congressman was at the center of the recent battle to secure hundreds of millions of dollars for Chesapeake Bay restoration in the recently passed federal farm bill ("Congress doubles funds for bay," May 16).

Mr. Van Hollen's district isn't on the bay, yet he went to bat for the conservation of our great estuary and its vital resources that mean so much to Marylanders.

I'm also a volunteer at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which is in the 1st Congressional District. And I couldn't help but wonder if Republican state Sen. Andy Harris would have voted for this bill.

Mr. Harris is the Republican congressional candidate in District 1, which includes much of the bay.

Mr. Harris' friends at the Club for Growth would have hated this type of federal spending. So would Mr. Harris have voted against the farm bill to make them happy?

I think all the farmers and conservationists in District 1 should think long and hard about what they would get if Mr. Harris is elected to Congress.

His environmental record is certainly nothing to brag about - in fact, it's one of the worst in Annapolis.

And with the Club for Growth pressuring him to cut spending, Mr. Harris could end up being the one Maryland politician who acts like he hates the bay.

Lisa Mayo, Germantown

Act to rehabilitate juvenile offenders

With due respect to state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and Juvenile Services Secretary Donald W. DeVore, I must question some of the comments in their letter "Working to keep all teachers safe" (May 17).

I believe the citizens of the community are entitled to know exactly what steps will be taken against the students who are involved in incidents of inappropriate behavior in the schools run by the DJS.

These student offenders should be placed in a rehabilitation facility staffed by highly qualified educators and security agents.

There, these students could be educated in self-discipline and respect and be able to pursue a high school diploma and perhaps further education for the more able students.

Society has an obligation and responsibility to salvage the lives of these troubled youths.

Quinton D. Thompson, Towson

Talks can block war and terror

What is "appeasement"?

Dictionary.com says it is "to yield or concede to the belligerent demands of (a nation, group, person, etc.) in a conciliatory effort, sometimes at the expense of justice or other principles."

To those who claim that what Sen. Barack Obama would do as president or the overtures former President Jimmy Carter has made to Hamas are appeasement, I say the facts do not support that allegation ("Bush was right on appeasement," letters, May 21).

Talking with your adversary is not appeasement.

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