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Melvin B. Miller

Stories by Melvin B.

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Too outstanding to be marginalized

People of low social status in the United States and elsewhere have historically been limited to unskilled jobs. Back in 1940 the black population of Boston was only 3 percent of the total. It was then impossible to develop the political clout necessary to end racial discrimination in employment. However, the assertive dignity and academic achievements of African Americans prevented whites from reasonably characterizing Boston’s blacks as outcasts.

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Roxbury man makes history

Clifton R. Wharton Jr. probably will not be celebrated as an ethnic hero during Black History Month, but his achievements deserve such accolades despite the fact that he is not so well-known. According to a journalist writing in The New York Times of March 27, 1988, “Clifton Wharton had become something relatively new under the American sun: a black member of the Establishment rather than a member of the black Establishment.” Wharton’s memoir, “Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer,” provides an elaborate account of his arduous trek.

Changing of the guard

During his 32 years as a Boston City Councilor, Charles Yancey sought numerous improvements in the community. With a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s degree from Harvard University, Yancey well understood the importance of higher education. He pushed for modern libraries in his district and every year he had a successful program to provide books for youngsters in order to encourage reading.

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Hold the police accountable

Any police officers who are reluctant to perform their duties because of fear of criticism should find another kind of work. At the salary levels now available to the police, citizens can no doubt recruit and train a competent police force that understands their primary duties as public servants.

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A compelling case for an intact family unit

Many black children begin life with a great disadvantage. About 72 percent are born to unwed mothers. As a result, about 91 percent of them will live in woman-headed households. There is a high incidence of poverty in that kind of household. In addition, it is believed that boys growing up without a father present suffer more developmental problems than girls.

A moral divide

A solution for Charles Street AME Church

Charles Street AME Church is unable or unwilling to repay its loan from OneUnited Bank, and one of Boston’s major law firms has provided pro bono legal services to facilitate a major default on one of the nation’s leading black-owned banks.

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The 99 percent movement lives

Four years after the Occupy Wall Street movement, 99 percenters are backing presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is advancing a vision of shared prosperity in the U.S.

The way to get ahead

Costas Cavounidis and Kevin Lang of Boston University have produced a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research that demonstrates the impact of bias on unemployed blacks.

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Vote Tito Jackson for District 7

The re-election of Tito Jackson is critical for the economic progress of greater Roxbury at a crucial time.

A free market held hostage

Conservatives opposed Obamacare that provides health insurance for the indigent on the basis of preserving economic “free market” theories. Now they are no longer interested in opposing monopolistic pricing that flouts those principles. One has to conclude that the conservatives have little interest in the welfare of those who are less affluent than they.

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Distorting history in Texas

A McGraw-Hill textbook in public schools stated that Africans were brought to Texas from the 1500s through the 1800s as workers on large plantations. There was no mention that the blacks were enslaved although the book mentioned that many Europeans also came as indentured servants.

Commentary: Roxbury residents were right to reject shelter

The condemnation of the bridge to Long Island was disastrous for the people who relied on the refuge for the homeless there. Long Island was an opportune site because there were no abutters who had to endure the disturbance of those with addiction or social problems. The Radius Hospital on Townsend Street in Roxbury was an extremely inappropriate alternative.

The fall of a divisive symbol

For generations, South Carolina has been at the forefront of America’s racial conflict. Now Gov. Nikki Haley has mitigated that role by removing the Confederate battle flag from a place of honor at the state capitol.

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Vote on the candidate’s merits

African Americans have developed a wonderfully democratic attitude over the years. A candidate for public office will not benefit substantially from the achievements of his or her family. Similarly the alleged misconduct of family members will not be an impediment. For example, Andrea Campbell candidate for Boston City Council from District 4, has a pristine record and voters should evaluate her without any consideration of the possible misdeeds of family members.

A formidable challenge

Once they are elected, city councilors representing Boston’s districts tend to hold their seats until they voluntarily give them up. But Charles Yancey, who has been elected to 16 two-year terms, might be facing his political demise on Nov. 3.

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The true cost of incarceration

The federal and local governments in the U.S. spend $80 billion per year to maintain this high rate of incarceration. Until recently, little was known about the economic and social impact on families with one of the members in prison.

Judicial abuse of power

A new study highlights how bail in the nation’s court systems has a disproportionately negative effect on the poor.

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Even black PhD’s lives don’t matter

The brutal police assault on former tennis star James Blake underscores the fact that social status does not make blacks immune to police aggression.

New rules invalidate the Massachusetts business model

The National Labor Relations Board ruled that when an employer exercises considerable control and direction over a so-called contractor, then the employer is held to be a joint employer with the staffing company.

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A culture of impunity for the rich

Those wealthy enough to own controlling shares of corporations are able to influence elections and are also exculpated from personal responsibility for crimes and regulatory violations.

One million strong

Farrakhan has called for another march on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, to present to Congress proposals to improve conditions for racial minorities in America.

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Towards mental health

The growing awareness of mental illness in the United States is helping many families maintain mental health.

A lesson not yet learned

In past decades, blacks have fought for their rights for democratic representation. In the case of Carlos Henriquez, who lost his Massachusetts House seat under legally questionable circumstances, blacks did not mount a defence.

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The greening of America doesn’t include workers’ pay

While many corporations are embracing sustainability, few are advocating paying their lowest-paid workers a sustainable wage.

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A strategic blunder for "Black Lives Matter" demonstrators

In a strategic error, “Black Lives Matter” demonstrators forced Sanders from the stage when delivering a speech in his campaign for President.

Vote Tuesday, September 8

The Boston 2015 preliminary balloting will be held September 8. The only contested races for district City Council seats that will appear on the ballot Sept. 8 will be in Dorchester’s District 4 and Roxbury’s District 7. Regardless of the anticipated outcome, it is important to vote. Be somebody and be counted.

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Consistent voter turnout is key to building real political power

Although their numbers are in decline, Republicans have executed a strategy to maintain political power by dominating state politics, occupying the governorship in 31 states and controlling 28 legislatures. African American voters have gone to the polls in high numbers during presidential races, but have failed to do so in local elections, ceding political ground to Republicans.

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Holding police to a higher standard

Insulting, hostile and violent police supported by oppressive criminal justice systems have had a devastating impact on urban black communities. It is no wonder that the slogan “Black Lives Matter” has gained such acceptance and support.

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Conservative ideology strangles Social Security

Conservative opposition to government intervention in capital markets has hamstrung Social Security, barring the program from investing in U.S. or foreign corporations and limiting its capacity to earn interest.

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Too much collateral damage in war on drugs

Despite the substantial expenditure of funds, it is estimated that no more than 10 percent of the illicit drug traffic is interdicted. There is an ongoing debate, about whether we have lost the war on drugs.

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Racial conflict obscures common concern over wealth

The Confederate flag was removed in Columbia on July 10, 2015. At that time the wealth and income disparity in America was as great as during the Great Depression of the 1930s and, with their greater population, the number of white Americans living in poverty was almost twice the number of blacks. Let the fall of the flag mark the date when Americans of limited income began to work together for the general good.

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Trouncing Trump

The riposte to Donald Trump’s remarks by the Hispanics was so effective, African Americans should now look beyond the tired strategies for protest that were developed in the civil rights era.

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The Charleston massacre: A symbolic act of racial hatred

It was no accident, according to Sanders, that Roof drove 120 miles to launch his attack on June 17, exactly 193 years later to the day that Denmark Vesey’s revolt was crushed. Before he pulled the trigger, Roof is reported to have said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go.” Roof left one person alive to tell the story. The intention was to strike terror in the hearts of African Americans.

Meaning of Texas’ Juneteenth lost in Boston

Juneteenth was originally a celebration for Texans. Efforts to extend it beyond the Lone Star State create a historical conundrum. The date that should be celebrated for the legal abolition of slavery in America is Dec. 6, 1865, for the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

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Obamacare: Health insurance for all Americans

In a dispositive 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court recently rescued 6.4 million Americans in 34 states from the loss of their health insurance. The Affordable Care Act, derisively referred to as Obamacare by its opponents, included language that would deny benefits to those otherwise eligible but who had purchased their insurance from the federal marketplace instead of state-owned exchanges.

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The challenges to successful fatherhood

For many black men, Father’s Day was a time for poignant memories rather than unbridled joy. Life in America for many blacks is challenging and full of frustration. The standard for attaining full manhood always seems just beyond reach, and black males are frequently blamed for many of society’s ills. Also, the criminal justice system is unjustly severe. A recent study by USA Today finds something that blacks have always observed — there is a “staggering disparity” in the arrest rates of black men across the country.

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Police brutality fuels growing anger

Reports about police brutality against blacks are now so common that even fervent advocates of aggressive law enforcement are beginning to question police behavior. The once common attitude was to assume that the person victimized by the police had broken the law and thus deserved such mistreatment. Even many blacks had acquired that point of view. But now modern video technology has made every citizen a witness to the violent incidents. The recent killing of Usaamah Rahim in Boston foretells some of the perils to society created by excessive police aggression.

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A valued investment in African democracy

The decision of the U.S. State Department not to extend funding for the African Presidential Center (APC) at Boston University could be financially fatal for the organization and thus be at odds with the policy of major nations to increase their international presence.

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A protected class of criminals

Corporations are endowed with the rights of an individual under U.S. law, but often enable individual wrongdoers to escape punishment for malfeasance. What kind of system of justice does the nation have when felons can defraud the world, essentially with impunity, because they control enormous wealth?

Baltimore prosecutor sets higher standard for police conduct

Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s grand jury indictment against the six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray demonstrates that district attorney’s can secure justice in cases against police.

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Bernie Sanders candidacy pushes Democrats to left

The political campaign has begun to elect the successor to President Barack Obama. It is still much too early to engage the interest of the voters, the decisive election is not until November 2016. But before then, the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders should arouse considerable press coverage. While most campaigns are between Democrats and Republicans of varying stripes, Sanders is an avowed democratic socialist who is running as a Democrat.

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Job market still tight for black college graduates

The economy has improved so the unemployment rate for young college graduates has declined, but unemployment is still too high for black graduates.

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The erosion of public confidence in police

With high profile police killings of unarmed blacks increasingly publicized through cell phone videos, the public may no longer be willing to support the exorbitant salaries many officers earn.

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No justice, no peace

The Baltimore protests, and the violent police incidents that precipitated them, raise important questions about racially discriminatory policing.

Police violence: A corruption of public service

For some time the nation has been concerned about police violence against black men. Since the police officers involved were the white minions of a white government, it was assumed that the incidents were simply racial oppression. Then came the recent death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black citizen of Baltimore.

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There are some who stood up

During the civil rights era, outstanding black athletes were often called upon to use their celebrity for the cause of racial equality. For various reasons, some failed to answer the call, but those who did attained heroic stature. The consequences for speaking up were often quite severe, and it is appropriate that those of us who benefited from their courage should hold them in great esteem.

Bringing back Dudley

At a time when men of their vintage would be seeking greater leisure, Cecil and Kenneth Guscott have just launched a major real estate development project for Dudley Square.

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It’s time to build black wealth

America is suffering from a substantial wealth gap. A small number of residents control a disproportionate amount of the nation’s wealth. With the publication of “The Color of Wealth in Boston” report, the issue of wealth disparity took a shocking twist. This study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that while white households in Boston had a median wealth of $247,500, African American households averaged close to zero.

Forrest County: An early battle for voting rights

Little attention has been given to the role of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in exposing the egregious discrimination in the voting rights of blacks.

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Uncovering white privilege

A recent Australian experiment documented preferential treatment whites receive, a rare glimpse at the seldom studied but pervasive privileges afforded whites.