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STEP UP here!

2/10/2010, 8:10 a.m.
“Man, I knew it was time for me to step up!”

STEP UP here!

With this issue the Banner launches “STEP UP – Focus Your Steps Toward Success,” a monthly supplement. The objective of STEP UP is to provide high school students with the information and inspiration needed for academic achievement.

In addition to being inserted in the Banner, copies of STEP UP will be distributed to Boston public high schools. With the help of the Banner, students can more assertively take responsibility for their own academic success.

It is time to focus greater attention on student achievement in their academic work and the arts. And students must be informed about the community resources that are there to help them succeed.

Not too many years ago there was a strong belief in the community that education was the way up. Those students who embraced this idea created opportunities for themselves. It is time to revive the community commitment to academic excellence.

Response to Coakley letter

African Americans vote overwhelmingly democratic. This is because most blacks do not find Republican policies helpful. Nonetheless, there is a gnawing concern in the black community that Democrats take the black vote for granted.

Many blacks in Boston felt ignored by Democrats in the Jan. 19 election for U.S. senator. There was so little activity on the streets that it was easy to be unaware that a political campaign was underway. Kevin Cullen, the street wise Boston Globe columnist, was able to find only three signs for Martha Coakley along Blue Hill Avenue, the main thoroughfare from Roxbury, through Dorchester to Mattapan.

Gail Jackson-Blount, the former chief outreach strategist for the Coakley campaign complains in the letter below about the Yawu Miller story criticizing the campaign in the Jan. 28 Banner. However, her comments miss the point — there was almost no street activity. There were few signs or standouts, no readily accessible campaign office in the community, and no effective get out the vote campaign.

Jackson-Blount seems to take pride in the fact that Coakley came within three percentage points of winning Boston in the primary. But this is no indication of her support among African Americans who voted decisively for Rep. Michael Capuano. In Ward 12, Capuano had 50.4 percent of the vote compared to 29.2 percent for Coakley. In Ward 14, Capuano had 48.7 percent with 32.9 percent for Coakley. While Coakley outperformed the other two candidates, she was soundly defeated in the black community by Capuano.

This should have been a signal to the Coakley campaign that much work was needed to generate enthusiasm for her campaign. Indeed, Coakley won the black vote in Boston on Jan. 19 — 94.9 percent in Ward 12 and 99.4 percent in Ward 14 — but the turnout was meager. Only 34.9 percent of voters went to the polls in Ward 12 and 32.6 percent in Ward 14. The statewide turnout was 53 percent.

A greater turnout by blacks in Boston would not have won the day for Coakley, but a more assertive campaign in minority areas across the state could have made a difference. Coakley’s tepid campaign let victory slip away. The stakes in the senatorial race were huge. Is it any wonder that African Americans feel slighted by a lackluster campaign that put their interests at risk?

Click to read Coakley letter.