It was wonderful to see so many Black History Month observances and celebrations around the community this year. From the school room to the courtroom, it was a time to educate all of us about the struggles that African Americans have gone through in this country and the many scientific, cultural and other contributions that have been made by African Americans, which have contributed to the high quality of life that all Americans enjoy.
      There were too many celebrations to get to this year,  which is a wonderful thing. I was very disappointed to miss the annual  Wright Middle School celebration, which, to me, is the crown jewel of Black History Month celebrations. What impressed me the most was the all-school assembly at John Muir Elementary School. All of the students were seated on the floor of the cafeteria while students gave presentations on Black History in a quiz show format. It was obvious that the students -- and  the staff -- were having great fun while learning choice nuggets about Black History. It was a common, bonding experience that I hope the students continue to share as they grow older and begin to experience the racial  issues that now divide our nation.
      And as was said before in this column, we hope that the spirit of Black History carries through to the whole year.  African American contributions to American society were not just done in February and so there is no reason that recognition of these important contributions should be limited to February as well. In many areas, the African American experience is the American experience, from the oppression of slavery to the attainment of the American Dream by some. Until we recognize this as a community and it becomes an intricate part of our textbooks and becomes a part of the everyday knowledge of most Americans on a par with George Washington and Betsy Ross, we will continue to be a nation divided. And with the coming challenges that our nation will face in the global economy and a world where violence knows no boundaries, we can not afford the division no longer.
***
      While it would only affect about a fifth of the nation's workers because many states have passed their   own legislation, the federal minimum wage hike that is now stalled in Congress would benefit many working poor families, a disproportionate number of who are people of color. The plan is to raise the current minimum wage of $5.15 per hour to $7.25. While both the Senate and the House passed minimum wage legislation -- that's the thing that grabbed the headlines in January -- it isn't even close to becoming law.
      While the House passed a bill only concerned with the minimum wage, Republicans tacked on $8.3 billion in tax cuts to the Senate version of the bill. The Senate and the House have not been able to reconcile their different bills and the Republican Senators have filibustered the Senate  -- preventing the Senate from considering a modified bill -- every time the bill has come to the Senate floor. Wasn't it just a   short few years ago that Senate Republicans were in the majority and threatened to get rid of the filibuster because it impeded consideration of the people's business? It's funny how principles change as the      political climate changes.
      It is morally imperative, in my view, that the minimum wage hike is passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. As income levels continue to become skewed in this country, it is important to temper this trend with a minimum wage so that many families and children are not left behind. As a country, united we stand and divided we fall. The lack of economic initiatives like the minimum wage allows the divisions in our country to grow ever larger that some day even all the police and prisons in the world will not be able to bridge to create social order. The time has long passed to hike the minimum wage. The federal government   should follow the lead of the states and pass this vital legislation this spring. Anything less is an abrogation of their duty to provide for the general welfare of the American people.
      Pass the minimum wage now!
March 7, 2007
Articles & Columns


* The Literary Divide: Obamania reaches new heights,
by Dr. Paul Barrows

*
Camille Carter: Working in the money lane,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Justice Louis Butler: Personal Black History,
by Jonathan Gramling

Judge Paul Higginbotham: Leading the way (Part 3),
by Jonathan Gramling

Marc Bamuthi Joseph (2): Deconstructing hip hop,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Politicas de Hoy: La pesadilla de las licencias de conducir,
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

*
Asian Wisconzine: (An interview with MaiZong Vue & Peng Her) Understanding the Hmong culture,
by Heidi M. Pascual
(
www.asianwisconzine.com)

*
A "woman of distinction,"
by Heidi M. Pascual

*
Simple things:
Raw material,

by Lang Kenneth Haynes

*
Voices: Dichotomy of powerlessness,
by Dr. Jean Daniels

*
Carol Lobes & Joe McClain: Love and activism without boundaries,
by Laura Salinger

* Random Order: Poetry,
by Tracie Gilbert

* Creative Syncopations:
Spell B-E-E
,
by Ramya Kapadia


Johnny Winston (2): A look at minority student achievement,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Boomtown Madison,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
China Dispatch: The journey continues,
by Andrew Gramling

*
Edgewood buries the 'N' word,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Colier McNair,
by Jonathan Gramling

* Black History Month in Madison
[Center Spread]



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Black History & the minimum wage

VOL. II No. 5                         March 7, 2007
Kathleen Falk is Dane County's Longest Serving Executive
Last County Executive Standing