A native of Boston, Melvin B. Miller has been actively involved in political and public affairs for more than 40 years. In 1965, he founded the Bay State Banner, a weekly newspaper advocating the interests of Greater Boston’s African American community. Miller has served as the Banner’s publisher and editor since its inception.
Prior to the establishment of the Banner, Miller was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. In 1973, the State Banking Commissioner appointed him as the Conservator of the Unity Bank and Trust Company, Boston’s first minority bank. Under his stewardship the bank’s operations became profitable for the first time. In 1977, the Mayor of Boston appointed him as one of the three original commissioners of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. He later became chairman of the commission in 1980, and managed its operating budget of $193.2 million.
Miller was also a founding partner in the law firm of Fitch, Miller and Tourse, a primarily corporate law firm and he engaged in the practice of law there from 1981 until 1991. He was also Vice President and General Counsel of WHDH-TV, Boston’s CBS affiliate from 1982 until 1993.
A long-term trustee of Boston University, Miller became a Trustee Emeritus in 2005. He served in the three-member National Advisory Council to American Companies doing business in South Africa under the Sullivan Principles until the council was disbanded after the fall of apartheid. Miller is also a trustee of the Huntington Theatre Company and a director of OneUnited Bank, the largest African American owned and operated bank in the U.S.
A graduate of Boston Latin School, Harvard University and Columbia Law School, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred on him by Suffolk University and Emerson College.
Research by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the University of Wisconsin revealed that only 3 percent of books published last year had black characters and only 2 percent of the writers were black. The industry’s response to the data is that black books just don’t sell. Nonetheless, it has been found that the absence of characters in children’s literature that look like the blacks learning to read is discouraging to them.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Over the months there will be numerous celebrations of various aspects of this legislation that changed the course of American society. Yet even after 50 years many African Americans do not accept the notion that the civil rights war is essentially over and they have won.
With lightning speed the Massachusetts House recently approved stronger measures against domestic violence. Unfortunately, the legislative enthusiasm waned and there has been no change in the rules of conduct for representatives. There is still no requirement for the summary expulsion from the House of any member convicted of a misdemeanor. Consequently, the sudden sensitivity for the long ignored rights of abused women does not launder the loss of reputation the House suffered because of the unjustified eviction of Carlos Henriquez.
Republican sycophants gathered at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to audition for Sheldon Adelson’s political support only a few days before the U.S. Supreme Court published its opinion in the McCutcheon case. The 5-4 decision lifted any restrictions on the amount of money an individual can contribute in an election cycle. Adelson had reportedly contributed $93 million in the 2012 presidential campaign, and potential candidates for 2016 were seeking his financial support.
“Never let your enemies define you!” That is sage advice often given by the elders to young black men generations ago. When understood, it enabled males to steel their psyches against the “slings and arrows” of aggressive bigots. Perhaps this advice could benefit the students who developed the #ITooAmHarvard campaign.
The life expectancy of its citizens is one measure of determining the standard of living in a country. One would expect that the industrialized nations would top the list. However, the United States, the greatest industrial power in the world, is by no means number one. According to the United Nations World Health Organization statistics, the U.S. ranks 35th, behind Iceland, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Costa Rica and Slovenia, and just ahead of Chile and Cuba.
When the Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman overdosed on heroin in February, America discovered that the nation has a serious drug problem. Until then, many people thought that drug addiction was essentially an affliction of black, urban communities. After all, published reports indicated that blacks were as much as 13 times more likely than whites to go to jail for the same drug offenses. The natural conclusion was that drug trafficking is much more severe in black areas.
In speaking about an alumnus of Harvard University it is sometimes said in jest, "you can always tell a Harvard man, but you can’t tell him much." This comment refers to the aura of self-confidence and assurance that seems to go along with the Harvard bachelor’s degree. This attitude, sometimes approaching hauteur, is fairly general and is not limited to graduates based on race or family wealth and status, and undoubtedly now includes female alumnae. Now "#ITooAmHarvard" plans to change attitudes at the institution.
Some problems are so huge that they seem to be unsolvable. The dire statistics of the plight of urban black boys indicate that a lost generation is inevitable. But President Obama is not giving up. He has recently announced "My Brother’s Keeper," a major national initiative to turn the tide. Obama has called on foundations, corporations, business leaders and entrepreneurs to develop strategies to rescue black youth from failure.
Conservatives have two basic reasons for their opposition to government programs that benefit lower-income citizens. The first is that financial support for the programs will come from taxing the affluent. The second is that the beneficiaries of entitlements will lose their motivation to become independent and self-reliant.