Beyond The Rhetoric: So Much Hate, So Little Tolerance

Political rivalry is as much a part of Americana as “Red, White and Blue.” We expect it and cheer on whatever side we support. Throughout the history of our great nation, elections would bring much debate and comparisons as to whose side or positions would be best for the future of our nation.

I remember fearing the thought of Barry Goldwater becoming our nation’s president. I thought he was a maniac— a civil rights hating racist and a war monger. Not too long after that 1964 election cycle, I would be depending on Senator Goldwater to save my future.

We were in Army basic training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. From there we would go to Infantry Officer Candidate School in Ft. Benning, Georgia. President Nixon decided that we were going to withdraw from Vietnam and thus, the Army needed to reduce its manpower.

They were determined to stop us from going to Officer School (i.e. renege on our contracts with the US Army).

It seemed like we were destined to be “screwed.” However, one of our compatriot’s mother worked for Senator Goldwater. He called his mother about the betrayal and she quipped, “I will tell Uncle Barry about this.” The next day our contracts were back in force. Barry Goldwater had compassion for us and stepped up to protect us. He wasn’t that evil, “fire breathing” mongrel I thought him to be.

The above experience taught me to understand that American politics should be restrained from hatred. There should be tolerance of other views. We should choose our political sides, debate and then elect a winner. Whoever that winner is, becomes our leader for a set period and will be re-elected or not depending on the popularity of his performance. We move on regardless of the outcomes. This is about the prosperity of America and how we do it is up to the voters. We win some. We lose some. But life goes on under the sweetness of democracy and the guarantee of freedom and individual rights.

Sadly, since the latest federal election something has happened to our current state of minds. The political sides— Democrats and Republicans— have become intolerable of each other.

The Democratic Party seems to be hurt from the 2016 election. They were so sure of victory that the defeat is not being accepted too well. In more peaceful times we would all say, “If you don’t like it, deal with it at the next election.” That type of patience does not seem to be tolerable any more.

Democratic party members are becoming venomous in their attitudes and the making of their new platform. They are so anti-Trump to the point of it being an attitude of resistance, obstruction and hatred of anything that supports our current Administration.

TDS – Trump Derangement Syndrome— is real. Families are being broken up or becoming dysfunctional because of the last election.

The current Supreme Court nominee selection process is a great example of this. No matter who President Trump

selects for nomination, the Democratic wing of Congress is going to oppose it in a fanatical matter. Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh seems to have an impeccable record since becoming a judge.

His over 300 judicial decisions are mainstream and without question illustrate good juris prudence. However, he is a Trump nominee and thus, must be stopped by any means necessary, according to the Democratic side of Congress. They have not “thrown the kitchen sink” yet, but just about every trick, ethical, unethical or even illegal, is being tried.

One example is encouraging a mentally challenged individual to place a formal complaint of sexual assault against nominee Kavanaugh. An alleged act that happened over 36 years ago. She requested discretion about the handling of this. What did they do? They leaked her accusation to the national press and paraded her on national television and gave her a questionable legal representative. They have put an “accuser” who needs medical help and privacy in a position of traumatic exposure. You must feel sorry for her.

If that is not enough, they have two more “accusers” who claim either sexual indiscretion or down right gang rape. Yes, they are trying to paint a sleezy, criminal picture on a human being who has played by the rules and has lived a great, impressive American life. Hopefully, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will settle this matter soon. He has already successfully completed six previous FBI investigations covering the same period of time. However, it would not be too surprising if they try some more shenanigans, moral or immoral, legal or illegal to stop this nomination from going through.

The Democratic Congress is going through a mental crisis at the expense of our normal political process. Somehow, I hope this will straighten itself out through the next elections that are coming up. Dear Lord, may our voters and elected officials come to their senses and end this hatred and lack of tolerance.

Harry Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO, of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. For more information, visit: and to contact him, email:

Beyond the Rhetoric

It has been a good span of fair weather in the Gulf Coast of the United States. However, that lull has ended. After 12 years, a major hurricane has landed on the shore lines. Hurricane Harvey has swept through the southeast coast of Texas including metropolitan Houston. It appears that a continuation of the storm will rebuild off shore and then move on into Louisiana. Prudently, the Governor of Louisiana has declared an emergency and it was quickly approved by President Trump. In contrast to Katrina, local, state, and federal government seem to have their act together.

When this is over, the rebuilding will begin. Billions of dollars will be involved in the process. Contractors from all over the nation and perhaps some international firms will be coming in to compete for the myriad of contracts. Every home with water damage will have to be “gutted” and retrofitted with new wirings, drywall, roofing, plumbing, etc. Warehouses, department stores, schools, etc. will need the same makeovers. From our lessons from Katrina we must be organized, vigilant and unrelenting in making sure our businesses will receive their share of opportunity.

There will be excellent opportunities for apprentice programs to train people who are unemployed to enter the workplace. Both Texas and Louisiana are right to work states so therefore we don’t have to worry about racist construction unions trying to apply their Project Labor Agreements. They are going to try but no one in Texas and Louisiana is going to give them the time of day. My phone is ringing off the hook already. People wanting to know what the process is. That is to be determined and from our experiences with Katrina we are going to do this with precision. Let’s hope!

It would be helpful to reflect on the Katrina process. First, the local officials of Louisiana were in disbelief about the magnitude of Katrina. It was doing a “bee line” straight to New Orleans and the local officials would not sound the alarm. There was no evacuation order given in time for the city to mobilize. There were hundreds of school buses that could be used to form an organized evacuation heading north to higher land. Unfortunately, the order was not given and the storm hit the city with full flurry. What were they thinking!

History has shown that New Orleans is in a very vulnerable place when it comes to flooding. History shows that political leaders will protect the commerce of the French Quarter of the city at any costs. Back in the 1930’s when there was a great flood flowing down the Mississippi River and heading to New Orleans the government decided to use dynamite to blow up a levy and redirect the flooding waters through Plaquemines Parish to save the New Orleans French Quarter. During Katrina, when the levy broke and diverted the deluge into the 9th Ward, many believed it was a similar process and mindset. That is still being debated.

Fortunately, we will not have that type of decision to make this time. During the Katrina clean up Black voices and concerns were not heard. In the beginning, the Army Corps of Engineers started slinging major contracts without a fair bidding process. They were handing them out to some of the largest companies in the world like they were dealing them out at a card table. When Congresswoman Barbara Lee, representing the Congressional Black Caucus, demanded to see a minority participation report the Corps sent a report that showed plenty of minority participation. I studied this and concluded it was a sham. They grab some Alaska Native Corporations to front on some of the major contracts. All they were doing was fronting for the major construction companies who were passing out the subcontracting to their “friends”.

We protested loudly. Soon, President George W. Bush received two sincere letters. One was from Congressman Al Wynn and the other was from Congressman Ed Towns. They both pleaded for the President to work with the National Black Chamber of Commerce to ensure adequate diversity in the rebuilding. During that time President Bush would have bi-monthly meetings with business associations -large and small. The NBCC got invited to one and I was given a “say” as to the status of my constituency. I was very frank and yet mannerly. The President who was waiting for this said, “Harry, tell your contractors to go back to those same doors that would not open and try again. If they don’t open this time get back with Karl Rove immediately. Wait three weeks and then do it.”

We started sending out our contractors and, low and behold, the world changed. We started getting contracts like crazy. FEMA would keep an updated report for Black participation and send it to me weekly. I could verify the numbers with the actual Black contractors. It was real! HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson let out $1.5 billion in contracts within a year. In all, Black contractors received over $3.2 billion in three years. This was the NBCC’s finest hour!

I am confident that we are going to have similar success this time. My Board of Directors is planning a new program. Stay tuned!

Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President, and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: Email:

How to end construction union racism— start a black union!

— It has been 45 years since my mentor, Dr. Arthur A. Fletcher, implemented the Philadelphia Plan, a federal program used to integrate unions. From the beginning, the construction trades resisted with violence and Jim Crow style segregation. Take the pipe fitters’ union halls in Chicago, they have been successfully sued various times but still will not integrate their halls. It is this way across our nation. Therefore, the National Black Chamber of Commerce will not support pro–union Project Labor Agreements.

Then, why do most civil rights organizations and local black elected officials support such instruments of racism? That is simple. They accept donations from the very construction locals who discriminate against us. Sometimes they will claim that they will start an Apprentice Training Program that will result in black youth starting careers in productive union jobs. Many have gone through these programs; graduate and sign onto a union hall; and wait forever. There will be no jobs and there will be no career. It is a sham. This is a national disgrace. If they do it all the time in Washington, D.C., the Capital of our nation, it is happening everywhere. Forty-five years and there is no progress. Construction unions were “skipped” during the Civil Rights Victories. Now the unions will allow general laborers and cement workers to integrate which provides cover for the higher paying trades.

Last week at the request of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, I visited something I never envisioned. I sat in a meeting with a group who introduced themselves as an international construction union. The U. S. Department of Labor accepts them. Their members are black and they have active apprentice training programs. The key to this is that they are “International” and are not affiliated with the Jim Crow unions. I said to myself, “Finally Lord, we have found the way.”

This meeting took place at the historic Altgeld Gardens, a public housing neighborhood under the management of the Chicago Housing Authority. I have been into hundreds of public housing facilities but this one was quite different. It is like a subdivision. Two story homes housing 3,400 residents. It is clean, quiet with all the residents speaking to one another. Unique would be an understatement.

Section 3 of the HUD Act (24 CFR part 135) was enacted in 1968, right after the first Watts Riot in Los Angeles. It was updated after the Rodney King Riot in 1992. Unlike the 95 percent of HUD facilities, which ignore Section 3, Altgeld is compliant with Section 3. Section 3 provides on the job training for all projects that have “some” HUD funding. That HUD funding could be in a shopping center, hotel, football stadium, etc. Those projects are to contract 10 percent of that funding to Section 3 companies. A Section 3 company is one that hires at least 30 percent Section 3 workers (people that live in public housing or Section 8 rentals.) Altgeld should be a national model.

So here we are— a black union running apprenticeship programs through Section 3 construction contracts and using Section 3 workers. Keep in mind that Altgeld is the largest public housing facility in greater Chicago. Their tenants’ association works hand in hand with this black union. They have a working calendar which keeps everyone busy improving their lives. It is more like a happy town.

This progress reminded me of a classic James Brown hit, “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing! Just open up the door and I’ll get it myself. Do you hear me?!!”

The union has big plans of spreading their “gold medal” process. They contract with a large public housing unit; complete the project and run apprentice programs at the same time utilizing Section 3. Keep in mind a journeyman drywall installer makes $80.00 per hour in the Chicago area. Before long the residents of public housing will be saying “Bye, Bye” to poverty, drug trafficking and despair.

These guys knew about the Section 3 classes we were producing across the country 25 years ago, that is why they wanted to meet the NBCC. Their plan is to spread this model across the country city by city. Chicago is their second city. They got their start in New York City.

Well, the NBCC will collaborate with them. They will make a formal presentation at our annual conference in July. Our chapters located in urban areas can bring the prototype of this program back to their communities.

In conclusion, I will quote a more melodic singer: “God bless the child who has his own,”— Billie Holiday.

Harry Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. For more information, visit: and to contact Harry Alford, email:

Beyond the Rhetoric: Have Hip-Hop and Wall Street destroyed Soul music?

— Black people have always had a strong affinity for music. Soon after our forefathers were let off the slave ships and sold to plantations we started singing. Much of that was developed in the “Mother Land.”

During a visit to Kenya, I went to a music event. One of our hosts told us that the entertainment was from the Congo. I started to hear some similarity with Afro-Cuban jazz. Later, the host said that they prefer Congo music as opposed to Afro-Cuban Jazz. The rhythm is pure and unadulterated Congo. It was slaves from the Congo who brought it to Cuba.

Blues and Jazz were probably the first commercial genres of Black music. Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey did a lot to promote that “rot gut” type of blues. Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and the great Lena Horne were leaders in jazzing the genre up. Blacks became some of the best Jazz singers and musicians. Eventually, Soul evolved from those two genres. There wasn’t much money in the business for Blacks. But when it was copied by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis among others) white radio stations became the biggest vehicle in getting the general population to embrace it. Even goody – goody Pat Boone would wait and copy Little Richard releases and profit handsomely. This type of exploitation was immense. Find hot tunes recorded by Black artists and redo them with acceptable white artists; blast them through white radio stations and ban the original Black artists from radio play.

It wasn’t until 1956 that a Black owned radio station, WCHB in Detroit (Inkster, MI), went on the air. This would be the start of the immense popularity of Black music. Soon Black stations would start popping up across the nation. Sales of Black music were jumping. Thus, white owned stations were pressed to start playing Black music. Before then they would only play “acceptable Black artists” such as Nat King Cole, Eartha Kit and Ray Charles.

A big milestone was the great Berry Gordy’s founding of Motown in 1959. His artists had a silky smooth style of music (compared to Rhythm and Blues). It became known as “Soul.” I was eleven years old and immediately fell in love with Motown hits (so did the vast majority of Blacks). What was significant was that whites, Hispanics, Asians etc. were equally in love with this Soul music. There were many Motown subsidiary labels such as Tamla and Gordy. Eventually, Al Bell would rise to become the owner of Stax Records. White businesses would launch Atlantic, which triggered many investors to launch their own labels.

The above became a multi-billion dollar industry. There was just one big problem. Where was the money going? Very few of the artists were becoming wealthy. Most lacked proper legal representation. Many of the principles were predatory and managed the lion’s share of the business. A popular arrangement would be the artist would get 2 -3 percent of the sales and much of that was doctored. Black labels were being preyed upon by major record companies. If they wouldn’t sell their companies for a discounted rate, then the moguls would steal their artists for a signing bonus. Go see the play “Motown.” It explains what Berry Gordy had to go through in keeping his company. Principal writers like Holland, Dozier and Holland would leave for a nice bonus and then turn on Motown with the aim of ruining them. Popular singer Mary Wells left Motown for a White-owned label. When she realized it was a mistake she tried to blame it on Motown and a long lasting suit was filed. She would soon die of lung cancer – broke and broken. All of her hits still belong to Motown as well as the many Holland, Dozier and Holland blockbusters.

Then came cable television and video programs. MTV was immensely popular but they would only play Prince and Michael Jackson. That would change when the great entrepreneur Bob Johnson would change the landscape with Black Entertainment Television – BET. Soon Black artists were as successful on television as they were on radio. The bright future was just ahead as soul music was accepted as mainstream.

But then came a negative shift. Hip-Hop was born in New York City in the 1970s. As the crack epidemic exploded in the 1980s, drug-dealing street gangs began to pop up in every city and town. The merging of these two things became a cult. Wall Street saw this as a vehicle to take over or even kill the ever-growing soul music industry.

According to Village Voice: “The Hip-Hop movement has become increasingly mainstream as the music industry has taken control of it. Essentially, from the moment ‘Rapper’s Delight’ went platinum, ‘Hip-Hop: the folk culture,’ became ‘Hip-Hop: the American entertainment industry sideshow.’”

Soul music is disappearing from radio as conglomerates control the radio population and are beholding to Wall St. investors. Television is no better. Even with many of the Black-owned stations spending valuable time showing old reruns of Black family shows, soul music is going away.

According to Time Magazine: “In 2013, no African-American musician had a Billboard/Hot 100 number one. This was the first time there was no number one in a year by an African American in the chart’s 55 – year history.”

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: Email:

Is Barack Obama the most reluctant president in history?

— Whether or not that title will stick to the legacy of Barack Hussein Obama will be determined in decades to come. Right now there is much doubt that the legacy will be anything that is praise worthy. The troubling aspect of his actions during the first seven years of his presidency is his inability to take responsibility and not be afraid of initiating courage and seeking the truth no matter what it may be. He never would be a subject character in President John F. Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage.” He doesn’t step forward and take the path of resolve and brings it to a conclusion that American citizens will feel secure and safe.

Instead, he ignores our populace and moves to the position of stubbornness and hides behind a press that miraculously protects his odd positions and decisions. That support is seeming to wane as his term starts to end. The scandals of the IRS, State Department, Veterans Administration and a host of others are starting to take its affect. When this president makes a position it is usually for the betterment of an opposing Muslim led government, racial strife (not reconciliation) or sharply leaning towards a “Cowardice Profile”. Crimea, Ukraine, the new Iraq, Kurds, Libya, Syria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, on and on. The United States is no longer a “leader in the world”. Our allies cannot look to us for support and strength. We have become failures to our friends and weaklings to our foes” The egregious government of Iran has proven us to be “push overs” and the Assad regime of Syria is showing us that his friends are braver (not stronger) then us.

If you don’t show up at the daily morning Intel briefings like all other presidents would religiously do, you are going to make big public mistakes. Mistakes like not knowing enough about ISIS or their current intelligence assessment. He publicly proclaimed ISIS to be a “JV team” and nothing for us to worry about. Meanwhile, they penetrated Iraq and parts of Syria like General Sherman ripping through the South during the Civil War. He didn’t have a clue! In our absence Russia has stepped in as the “Avenger” and now France is acting responsibly in light of their recent terrorist assault. Where is the United States, Mr. President?

So now for the big question we have for our first president of some African lineage. President Obama what have you done for the betterment of our Mother Africa? The National Black Chamber of Commerce has a board seat on the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) a group of 34 national organizations. PACCI has been compelled to address the aforementioned question.

Here is their response as stated in their recent newsletter, dated October 28, 2015:

“On both programs (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act –AGOA, and Power Africa) the continent has been disappointed by President Obama’s scant focus to his father’s ancestral home, especially in comparison of former president Bush whose effort to fight HIV/AIDS has made him a hero in Africa. Or even Former President Carter who pushed to tackle a horrible NTD – guinea worm bringing down the cases from one million in 1989 to about 25,000 in recent times.” “The AGOA program which was conceived by President Bill Clinton fourteen years ago, partly as a means to spur growth of domestic industries in Africa, particularly in the textile sector, has not happened to a significant degree. Only modest gains in textile production has been noted in the years following implementation of AGOA in a few African countries, including Kenya.”

“As it is, textiles and clothing account for only two percent of African exports to the US.”

“On Power Africa, of the $7 billion that Obama set aside for the initiative, $5 billion fell under the auspices of the now-defunct Export-Import Bank, which guarantees loans to foreign companies buying U.S. made products. Just $132 million in transactions had been approved before the bank’s charter expired last month, and now it cannot approve new ones. he Export-Import Bank was an important part of that effort. Yet on June 30, the bank lapsed for the first time in its 81-year history. So now, Power Africa depends on Congress reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank. President Obama faces the challenge of matching the Africa legacy of his White House predecessors. As of today his administration has nothing to show to Africa.”

“AGOA Summary

• A study by the Washington-based Centre for Global Development showed that sales of oil, minerals and South African manufactured goods dominate the US-Africa trade picture.

• The study also found that more than 90 percent of AGOA-covered exports to the U.S. come from half-a-dozen countries, most of which are oil-producers.”

Isn’t that so disappointing? All we wanted was change.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: Email:

First Lady pays tribute to Tuskegee Airmen

— Last week, I received an email from my friend, NNPA News Service Editor-in-Chief George E. Curry. It was a White House press release and a copy of First Lady Michelle Obama’s May 9 commencement address at Tuskegee University. My first thought was: Why is George sending me this?

For some reason, I stopped everything to read it. I almost fell out of my chair when the First Lady started talking about our famous Tuskegee Airmen. George knew that as a veteran and son-in-law of one of the first four Tuskegee Airmen, Charles DeBow, it fills me with great pride every time I hear something about these heroes.

The first lady said:

“And I’d like to begin today by reflecting on that history – starting back at the time when the Army chose Tuskegee as the site of its airfield and flight school for black pilots.

“Back then, black soldiers faced all kinds of obstacles. There were the so-called scientific studies that said that black men’s brains were smaller than white men’s. Official Army reports stated that black soldiers were ‘childlike,’ ‘shiftless,’ ‘unmoral and untruthful,’ and as one quote stated, ‘if fed, loyal and compliant.’”

“So while the Airmen selected for this program were actually highly educated – many already had college degrees and pilots licenses – they were presumed to be inferior. During training, they were often assigned to menial tasks like housekeeping or landscaping. Many suffered verbal abuse at the hands of their instructors. When they ventured off base, the white sheriff here in town called them “boy” and ticketed them for the most minor offenses. And when they finally deployed overseas, white soldiers often wouldn’t even return their salutes.

“Just think about what that must have been like for those young men. Here they were, trained to operate some of the most complicated, high-tech machines of their day – flying at hundreds of miles an hour, with the tips of their wings just six inches apart. Yet when they hit the ground, folks treated them like they were nobody – as if their very existence meant nothing.

“Now, those Airmen could easily have let that experience clip their wings. But as you all know, instead of being defined by the discrimination and the doubts of those around them, they became one of the most successful pursuit squadrons in our military. They went on to show the world that if black folks and white folks could fight together, and fly together, then surely – surely – they could eat at a lunch counter together. Surely their kids could go to school together.

“You see, those Airmen always understood that they had a ‘double duty’ – one to their country and another to all the black folks who were counting on them to pave the way forward. So for those Airmen, the act of flying itself was a symbol of liberation for themselves and for all African Americans.

“One of those first pilots, a man named Charles DeBow, put it this way. He said that a takeoff was – in his words – ‘a never-failing miracle’ where all ‘the bumps would smooth off… [you’re] in the air… out of this world… free.’

“And when he was up in the sky, Charles sometimes looked down to see black folks out in the cotton fields not far from here – the same fields where decades before, their ancestors as slaves. And he knew that he was taking to the skies for them – to give them and their children something more to hope for, something to aspire to.

“And in so many ways, that never-failing miracle – the constant work to rise above the bumps in our path to greater freedom for our brothers and sisters — that has always been the story of African Americans here at Tuskegee….

“Those Airmen who rose above brutal discrimination – they did it so the whole world could see just how high black folks could soar. That’s the spirit we’ve got to summon to take on the challenges we face today.”

She talked about the greatness of Tuskegee and then returned to DeBow:

“That pilot I mentioned earlier – Charles DeBow – he didn’t rest on his laurels after making history. Instead, after he left the Army, he finished his education. He became a high school English teacher and a college lecturer. He kept lifting other folks up through education. He kept fulfilling his ‘double duty’ long after he hung up his uniform….

“And if you rise above the noise and the pressures that surround you, if you stay true to who you are and where you come from, if you have faith in God’s plan for you, then you will keep fulfilling your duty to people all across this country. And as the years pass, you’ll feel the same freedom that Charles DeBow did when he was taking off in that airplane. You will feel the bumps smooth off. You’ll take part in that ‘never-failing miracle’ of progress. And you’ll be flying through the air, out of this world – free.”

The first lady of our great nation was paying tribute to the person I love and whose blood flows through my wife and sons. For this, I am so appreciative and forever grateful. Charles DeBow is smiling down on us.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: Email:

Je suis Charlie

— What recently happened in Paris was more than a typical act of Islamic terrorism. No, this was the latest addition to the making of a very vicious and vile monster that hides under the shield of an organized religion. This is starting to take a form that we have never imagined. President Obama and Vice President Biden have tried to explain away the acts of terrorism as something short term and under control, but their claims were just deception.


Harry C. Alford

This movement that is taking place is more than one man, Osama Bin Laden, and greater than one group, Al Qaida. Some of the best street level guerrilla warfare specialists are merging with ruthless, cold hearted gangsters. They put dressing on this dogma by convincing the naïve that it is something “holy” – a purpose blessed by God. Their god is actually a devil. He is a devil that condones mass murder and gives no respect or honor to females.

There are various “tribes” blending into this movement. The leadership is diverse and fully independent of one another. Not too long ago we could assume management coming from the Middle East. The Al Qaida clique that organized the 9/11 attack on our nation were mainly of Saudi Arabian heritage. Eighteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and their leader, Osama Bin Laden, was from a very prestigious family based in that nation.

The recent attackers are coming from various parts of the world. They can be as third world as Somalia or as upscale as downtown Paris or London. Our investigative units are talking to one another and are sharing information as they try to get a handle on the “monster,” but nothing seems to be effective right now. How can two individuals slowly steal two different cars, stroll down a street in Paris shooting AK -47s at police and kill 10 people working in an office, all within minutes, and then escape out of Paris and into the outback forest?

The recent group known as ISIS may be influencing the development of the “monster.” ISIS may have shown the world that you don’t need an industrial base to ignite a war. If you need weapons go steel them. If it is money that keeps an army moving then go rob some banks. Rely on impressionable youngsters as your recruiting base. Through high tech methods communicate to this base of young thugs and organize them through social media and bring them to action.

Apparently, there are hundreds of thousands of possible recruits who are willing to do anything in the name of promoting terrorism. ISIS is recruiting about 5,000 new troops per week. It has a treasury of billions of dollars (stolen, ransom, etc.). They come from the living rooms of middle class families from around the globe and are somewhat educated. They fly over oceans to get to a designated sight to initiate their training. They are fighting established armies and, for the most part, are gaining ground while, at the same time are causing havoc within civilian populations. Among these devils, ISIS has become a “best practices model.”

President Obama and his security team could not imagine what has been happening over the last 10 years. Our allies are shaking their heads and wondering what has happened to the great American pride and courage. Somehow, a new hero from our side of this fight is going to have to evolve. God will see us through this but how many of us must suffer and die before that happens? That will depend on us who live on the good side.

It is time for us to take this very seriously and deal with it straight up. The fact is we are at war! The one who wins at war is the most organized, strongest and bravest one on the battlefield. Right now, our president is afraid of the battlefield. Somehow he is going to come to the reality that this is a serious war and it will be incumbent upon him to rise up and lead the charge against the devil. If he keeps stalling our casualties will rise to pathetic levels. We have various presidents, prime ministers, chancellors from our allied side of this war but none of them seem to have much courage and leadership. Meanwhile, the devil is growing and striking in Australia, Canada and Nigeria. Who will be next?

The thing we, the faithful, must understand that as each battle is waged, the pain will fall on all of us. We must fight and fight ruthlessly if we are to survive. Remember like the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, we were all attacked and thus, there is the choice between the devil or Charlie. I am Charlie: Je Suis Charlie!

United States late in courting African leaders

In 2008, the whole world applauded the United States for electing its first African American president. No part of the world was happier than the continent of Africa with its 54 nations. After all, this president was half Caucasian and half Kenyan. He was a direct child of Africa, not just a descendent but to everyone’s surprise and disappointment, President Obama during his first four years showed very little love for his father’s homeland. In fact, when African heads of state (President/Prime Minister) would request a meeting with this new president, they were denied. Even the First Lady of Kenya requested a short meeting with our First Lady and she was told in so many words, that will never happen.

As we visited various nations in Africa, we noticed that the disappointment started morphing into anger. We all thought that relations between Africa and our business entities would improve based on the person elected to lead the largest economy on earth. No, it didn’t happen. China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, etc. saw their relationships with African nations improving. It is only natural that you love the one who loves you back. So, the billions of annual dollars that Africa trades with started to go at an increasing rate to nations other than America.

What really woke us up is when our Millennium Challenge Account awarded $800 million to Ghana to build a national highway. They named the highway the George W. Bush Highway in honor of the president who gave them the funding. However, when it came to selecting a construction company for this project, they chose a Chinese firm at the request of the president of China. This underscores the anger in the leaders of Africa.

With the United States having an African American president, our business competitors picked up their game. China kicked it off with an “African Summit.” Every African president was invited to come to its capital Beijing and receive heavy love. They entertained them lavishly. Even gave one big state dinner in the historical Great Hall. They gave them $20 billion in financial aid with a promise of another $10 billion. The president of China promised to provide financial loans for every major project they plan as long as a Chinese firm was performing the contract.

Next came Japan, which hosted its African Summit in Tokyo. The Japanese president gave 15-minutes of personal time with each of the 46 participating heads of state. The nation chipped in $30 billion in financial aid plus the funding of 10,000 internships for young African entrepreneurs and students.

India and the European Union had their African Summits also. Even Russia is now getting into the “Love Africa Movement.” They are providing financial aid and lending power to the continent. They are leveraging this positive relationship to gain needed votes at the UN as they start attacking their neighboring nations.

Yes, everyone jumped into the game ahead of us. We cannot get mad any time we hear of China, India or whoever else doing gigantic business with the richest continent, in terms of natural resources, on earth. They worked it and deserve it at this point. We have been so stupid. It is a major embarrassment and it is hurting our international trade.

Evidently, as President Obama reflects on his legacy, he has decided to do something— even if it is token. If he needs to make up for lost opportunities, he had better do something fabulous.

However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Finally, he has called for an African Summit— August 4 to 6, 2014. All of us leaped in joy but as the itinerary is being formed, there seems to be a lot missing.

As opposed to the summits of our competitors, no African head of state will receive a one-on-one with our president. They will be herded into a room for some “interactive dialogue.” What? They are supposed to come all the way over here for a lecture? The Senate will hold some meetings with them. Cabinet secretaries have been instructed to have some meetings with the contingent. This is insulting. A president is supposed to meet with the other presidents. A cabinet secretary is a subordinate to a president.

The next event has me scratching my head. They are going to, at last, have a state dinner. But it won’t be in the formal White House. No, these African presidents will be escorted to the lawn of the White House. Where’s the love? They can’t even sit on the White House furniture and eat with exquisite china and such. No, it’s the lawn for these black politicians.

Finally, I see no item in the itinerary that will afford them a meeting with our Congressional Black Caucus. That seems eerie. Our competitors must be laughing. African presidents are not laughing.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. The website: To contact Harry C. Alford, email:

COMMENTARY: Gainful employment rule a disadvantage for black students

— Last week, the Obama Administration declared war on one million underserved students pursuing higher education throughout the United States. While the president and first lady launched their campaign to make it easier for low-income minority students to access college, the Department of Education has launched an unprecedented assault on this same community through a new proposal that will cut thousands of college programs that disproportionately serve poor communities, single working mothers, veterans and other at-risk populations. At a time when American

employers desperately need an educated, skilled workforce to sustain economic recovery, a confused and conflicted White House is hurting the underserved communities it claims to support.

On March 14, 2014, the Department of Education published its new proposed “Gainful Employment” rule. The rule is a rehashed patchwork of regulations concocted several years ago in an attempt to prevent abuse of the federal financial aid system. Rejected through legislative process and shot down in federal court only a few years ago, the administration has nonetheless resurrected the policy and repackaged it in an 841-page proposal that will decimate college programs and career-focused vocational training currently serving one million students.

The proposed regulation, which applies primarily to proprietary (for-profit) colleges and universities, would make academic programs ineligible for federal Title IV financial aid if they fail to meet arbitrary formulas primarily related to student debt and earnings a few years out after graduation. Put more simply, students who don’t command high enough starting salaries relative to their student loans will find their programs eliminated without any solution for continuing their educational career.

If the rule is enacted as proposed, thousands of vocational training and educational programs will disappear, creating an $8 billion shortage in the higher education market and many aspiring students left out in the cold. Students pursuing careers in public service, which often pay lower starting salaries, like teachers, social workers, nurses and other allied health careers will be barred from receiving the same federal aid as their peers seeking high paying jobs. The same is true for those pursuing their passions in culinary training, design,

animation and other careers in the arts. This will hurt employers like hospital systems, hotels, restaurants and food service companies who heavily recruit qualified talent from programs threatened by the rule.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the ill-conceived Gainful Employment rule is that it discriminates against programs that are sought primarily by low-income minorities and other non-traditional students. From poor working families, to single mothers to veterans and other special needs communities, there are millions of Americans who don’t fit the mold or plainly weren’t accepted for a typical college experience.

In order to gain the skills, training and credentials needed to secure and maintain a job, many of these individuals enroll in proprietary vocational programs. President Obama’s Gainful Employment rule penalizes these programs almost exclusively while applying completely different standards for private non-profit schools with the exact same curriculum. At the same time, the schools that serve more affluent populations of traditional suburban teenagers are protected from the president’s biased standards.

Not only is the Department of Education proposing an unprecedented program that discriminates against certain types of schools, the Obama administration has not produced any plan to compensate for the loss of six million students who will be displaced and dejected before the decade is over. No regulation of this type and this complexity has ever been enacted in higher education. The collateral damage of this proposed rule is great and the risk to these communities and to our fragile economy is very real.

Another reality is the plight of ex-felons. Finding full time employment is a very difficult thing to accomplish when you have a record. The only professional

license an ex-offender can earn is that of a barber or beauty license. With this a person can find work or even become an

entrepreneur by way of owning his/her own establishment. It can be a lifetime of progress. But no, this rule will end any chance of that happening anymore.

As the United States continues its slow economic recovery, it’s critical that the public and private sectors collaborate closely to provide all individuals with the resources they need to get the education and training required to participate in our modern workforce. As we have seen time and again, aggressive, ambitious policies designed to improve social programs for the underserved should be applied fairly and pursued carefully after thorough due diligence.

The Obama administration’s current rule will immediately and unfairly target one million underserved, at-risk college students throughout the nation, and ultimately discriminates against the communities it proposes to serve. This will hurt employers, vulnerable students and our economy. If the president truly seeks to protect and expand low-income

access to college while addressing the issue of student debt, he needs to start by rethinking his misguided Gainful Employment crusade.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce: To contact Harry C. Alford, email:

Detroit has finally hit bottom – let’s rebuild!

It has been a long and rocky ride down the economic slope for the Motor City. The first time I moved to Detroit was 1974. I was just discharged from the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and motivated to excel in my new civilian career. Procter & Gamble hired me out of the University of Wisconsin as I graduated in 1970. Knowing I was about to be drafted they placed me in Toledo, OH for training and assured me that I would be placed in Detroit after my service. When I was discharged I found the sales office to have left the city of Detroit and moved to nearby Dearborn, MI. This was part of a big migration by corporate Detroit which had given up on the city and its firebrand mayor, Coleman Young.


Harry C. Alford, NBCC president/CEO

That was the beginning. Year after year and decade after decade the businesses, white middle class and then Black middle class left for the suburbs or across the country. The declining tax base, increasing crime rate, blight and debt beyond belief became too common for any good. Authorities “kicked the can” down the street on an annual basis (pretty much like our federal government today). Now Detroit is in very dire straits. It has a debt of $20 billion and can only generate about $1 billion per year for its annual costs. Bankrupt indeed!

I am glad to see the “bottom” because now we can only go up. Detroit is too big of a city with a great heritage for us to turn our backs on it. This is the stuff great things are made of. What we need now is a Project New Detroit Commission appointed by the Michigan Governor. Members of this panel should be made up of nonpoliticians and credible business managers. If I ruled this matter here is how I would throw down on the bleak situation.

There is rampant corruption. All city officials involved in any process where money is involved such as licensing, procurement, taxation, etc. should take a lie detector test and undergo a background check (revenue exceeds noticeable income). If anyone resists it should be considered a resignation. This should be handled by the prosecutor’s office after he and his office goes through the same scrutiny.

Gangs are the biggest distributors of drugs and the violence and crime related to it. Gang leaders (captain level and above) are to be identified and then prosecuted for Racketeering under the RICO statutes. No more leaders; no more gangs. Good riddance!

More than half the property tax owners do not pay their tax bills. Give them 90 days to catch up or make strict arrangements. Failure should lead to property seizure and quick auctions. This cash flow is critically needed for the city treasury.

The school system of Detroit is one of the worst in the nation. Effective immediately, there should be a Charter School licensing system. All schools charter and tax funded must teach literacy and mathematics with some science to grade efficiency beginning with first through twelfth grades. Elementary public schools can be replaced with these charter schools whenever practical. High schools should be considered for merger with others or just closed when literacy and math levels are inferior. Libraries will be privatized. You can’t have a great city without a quality workforce.

Detroit is the Capital for unions. This will end. All city related union contracts should be voided immediately and payroll and benefits will be in accordance with the Bankruptcy Committee and the ability to pay by the employers and shareholders.

The city will no longer be responsible for the parks and recreation facilities. The ownership remains with the city but the maintenance, grounds keeping, security, etc. will be privatized via a Request for Proposal process (3 year terms).

All utilities and hospitals will be privatized. RFP’s will be renewable on 10 year terms. City or county commissions will provide oversight and regulatory enforcement.

In regards to empty buildings and vacant lots, proposals will be accepted and reviewed. If viable and up to code, proposals will be approved deeded for $1. Development must begin immediately. 90% of workforce during the developmental stage and permanent hiring thereafter must be residents of Detroit.

City and schools bus systems will be privatized as soon as possible. Revenue sharing will be between the new owners and the city. Ownership can be for the entire city or particular zones.

The new Department of Transportation will be responsible for upkeep and repair of city streets, alleys, roadways and snow removal. A multiple or single privatization process will be applied with oversight done by a citywide commission.

Well, I think the above is a good start. Any comments or additions are welcomed. Here’s to a safe, vibrant and family friendly Detroit – devoid of corruption and blessed by our Lord.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: Email: