An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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“For Why!!??”  you ask.

The answer:  Perhaps because it’s about time.

In recorded U.S. history, only one woman has appeared on American paper money.  Martha Washington’s picture was on $1 silver certificates back in the 1880’s.  Since then it’s been all men..all the time (and not all presidents).

There is a movement afoot to put a woman on the U.S. $20 bill — and bid farewell to the face of our 7th president Andrew Jackson — a renowned American military hero.   But why give Andy the ol’ shoe dance?   According to the website Women On 20s, there are two reasons:

1. Jackson’s support of Congressional action to remove Native Americans from their southeastern land to make room for European settlers.  The Indian Removal Act of 1830 is commonly referred to by historians and Native Americans as “The Trail of Tears”.

2. Jackson’s preference of gold and silver coin currency over the central banking system model of paper money displays — for many — the irony of having Jackson’s image on U.S. currency today.

A list of 15 women were in the first round of voting,  That has since been reduced to a final four.  Among those that didn’t make the cut were: veteran of the dollar coin Susan B. Anthony (abolitionist and suffragist), Clara Barton (creator of the American Red Cross), Shirley Chisolm (1st Black woman elected to Congress) and controversial choice Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood).

No…Oprah was not in the running!

Below are the four finalists — one of which will be submitted to the White House for consideration to appear on the $20 bill.  The descriptions are from the Women on 20s site.  They are (alphabetically):

 

1. Wilma Mankiller

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Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and first elected female Chief of a Native nation in modern times. Her 10-year administration, from 1985-1995, revitalized the Nation through extensive community development, self-help, education and healthcare programs for the Cherokee Nation’s 300,000 citizens. Read more.

 

2. Rosa Parks

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Saluted by Congress as the “first lady of civil rights,” she challenged racial segregation by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her arrest, and the ensuing Montgomery bus boycott, became symbols in the struggle for racial equality and civil rights in the United States.

 

3. Eleanor Roosevelt

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Redefined the role of First Lady. Used her newspaper column, radio and speeches to champion civil and women’s rights, often in opposition to her husband FDR’s policies. As a UN delegate and “First Lady of the World,” she drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

4. Harriet Tubman

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Born a slave, she fled North to freedom, later making 19 trips back to the South as an Underground Railroad conductor, leading some 300 slaves to freedom. A nurse during the Civil War, she served the Union army as a scout and spy. She was active in the women’s suffrage movement after the war.

 

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on who the choice should be, if there’s someone who was left out, or — perhaps — if there should even be a choice at all.

Ready..   Set..   Discuss.

 

 

 

 

(Bull)dogged By Troubles at South Carolina State

It would be such a shame.

South Carolina has only one state-funded historically black university.   South Carolina State University in Orangeburg has taken pride in its heritage of educating African-American students from across the state and nation and..as its mission statement says..prepares “highly skilled, competent and socially aware graduates to enable them to work and live productively in a dynamic, global society”.

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As of late..money problems have put the university’s future maybe not in doubt — but certainly in question.

The school is more than $23 million in debt, has had six presidents since 1986, and has a campus which — for the most part — looks like you’ve stepped back in time a couple of decades (save a few renovations of dining halls and the football stadium).  I haven’t visited the school in many years, but I’m sure the changes have been few.

The school’s leaders recently asked the South Carolina General Assembly to erase the school’s deficit.  For the record..legislators only granted the school a bump of slightly more than a million dollars  in its new budget.

School trustees have also recently passed a plan to kick off a $20 million fund drive.  As my wife points out..with a $23 million dollar deficit, what makes you think you CAN raise $20 million?

There was also a plan in the works (and supported by some legislators) to shut down the school for anywhere from one to two academic years to allow it to financially reorganize (although there are signs of legislators backing off of that).   Here’s a question:  What happens to the current students…the FUTURE students?  What happens if the school never re-opens?

Legislators want the current board of trustees out — lock, stock and barrel.  That board would be replaced with a new overseeing board to be selected by Gov. Nikki Haley and legislative leaders

To me…the first thing that needs to be done is to stabilize the university’s leadership.  And I would agree with one of SCSU’s most influential alumni, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, that someone one with solid financial acumen be hired for the job.   Clyburn was quoted in The Herald referring to the Harvard-educated investment banker,  Patricia Miller Zollar, that leads North Carolina A&T’s board of trustees:

“Put some people down there who are not political hacks,” Clyburn said. “Put some people down there who understand what this is all about.

Here’s another option to perhaps consider down the road (and I offer this without knowing how financially feasible and how fast it can happen).  The University of South Carolina has seven schools in its system – among them USC-Upstate, USC-Beaufort, USC-Salkahatchie and the like.  What about an eighth?  If South Carolina brings SCSU under its umbrella, it can then use its resources to improve infrastructure, attract faculty and keep a tighter rein on the purse strings.

There is  public relations benefit here.   Imagine the positive press that will come with South Carolina — long mired in the controversy of flying the confederate flag over its statehouse — becoming the caretaker (and perhaps savior) of a historically black college.

There is also the economic benefit.  An article from late last year in the Orangeburg Times and Democrat puts the annual economic impact of SC State on Orangeburg at $187 million.  You can read that article here.

Something to think about.   Like I said at the top…to let the problems continue would be a shame.