The Billboard Music Awards celebrate the superficial value of celebrity in global, consumer society. Fashion, light shows, and loud sounds persuade young adults that fame and wealth function in response to the party life. As a result, every recent generation – from X to Millennial – believes that lives of diligence, education, and patience are forms of social death, unworthy of appreciation because they require hard work. The Enlightenment Youth Arts Festival in New Jersey this weekend extended the process of reversing this social damage. It laid a foundation for businesses owned by students, who create value and organize income growth by the time they finish high school.
As part of a global renaissance, innovative educators like Julian Chambliss (Rollins College), Jiba Molei Anderson (Griot Comics), Yvonne Short (CC3DP), and Jenise Grice (Newark-NJ) have opened doors to inspire families with these ideas. Professor Chambliss pioneered the use of interactive media in history classrooms to show students that their concepts can change the world. Anderson’s work on the Horsemen comics reaches elementary and middle school readers, shaping their ideas about world politics and cultural diversity. Short teaches cutting-edge design and programming skills to teachers and students who need new skills to compete in the global marketplace. Grice provides dozens of families with resources and insights to overcome declining resources and dysfunctional politics. These solutions to widespread apathy about the future hold the keys to energizing creativity. They initiate a process of dismantling the systemic inequalities families have experienced for generations, while creating new standards and scaffolding to raise ideas about excellence and achievement moving forward. Research like Suburban Erasure shows how the structures of national and corporate benchmarks failed millions of families through the twentieth century. It also opens the door to create more innovative and inclusive societies, especially for the next generation.
The next stage of the global renaissance is the recognition of sustained sacrifice and ambition. Activists at Villanova University led a transformative campaign almost two decades ago. The “African Americans at Villanova: A Tradition of Success” campaign printed t-shirts to show students and alumni that their work to make diversity a core value of the university was not in vain. The project was a high point that led to structural reforms in both the leadership and the educational model of the institution. Today, a new campaign begins. The “Civil Rights Veterans” campaign is an ongoing effort to connect multiple generations around the world to the existing efforts to realize equitable schools and economies at the local level. Partner organizations can use the brand to raise funds and recruit supporters to improve local conditions.
Leading non-profit organizations like the Norristown Men of Excellence, the Police Athletic League, and the Greater Norristown Ministerium are invited to join this campaign along with thousands of other small businesses and individuals everywhere. More information is available on Facebook and Twitter, and the initial celebration connects Memorial Day (May 26) and Juneteenth (June 14). Those two weeks will introduce the initiatives available through the “Civil Rights Veterans” campaigns and enter a phase of global development in July through the Oxbridge Academic Programs at Barnard College.
The time for innovative enterprise is now.
Dr. Walter Greason is the Chief Executive Officer of the International Center for Metropolitan Growth (www.icmetrogrowth.com) and the author of Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement. His work is available on Twitter (@worldprofessor1), LinkedIn, Facebook, and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).