Back to profile

Melvin B. Miller

Stories by Melvin B.

Tease photo

Ali's assertiveness set a standard

Muhammad Ali’s prodigious boxing talent would normally be enough to enthrall his fans, but Ali had the character and the intelligence also to move forcefully outside the ring beyond the confines of America’s racial restrictions.

Tease photo

Nothing less than betrayal

Many blacks believe that Clarence Thomas is more like the quisling in the slave quarters whose function was to preserve the authority of white privilege.

The death of journalistic responsibility

Decades ago, Americans often referred to the press as the Fourth Estate. That was an honorific to acknowledge the critical role of the press in monitoring the nation’s democratic system of government, but that term is not heard so frequently these days as the press has joined with other media to become primarily a significant source of entertainment.

Tease photo

To your health!

According to government data, in 1900, whites lived on average for 15 years longer than blacks. Since then the gap has been closing. In 1990 whites still lived seven years longer, but federal records indicate that the gap narrowed to 3.4 years in 2014. Blacks live an average expectancy of 75.6 years compared to 79 years for whites.

Trump gets it wrong again

Calling Sen. Warren Pocahontas reconfirmed his lack of understanding of American history.

Trump has reconfirmed his fundamental racial insensitivity and his lack of understanding of American history.

Tease photo

Diversity run amok

African Americans still toiling for full equality throughout the nation should not be hampered by the negative implications of diversity that have been sown by Harvard’s ill-advised policy.

Tease photo

Racial equality not a Trump priority

There seems to be very little that African Americans or major Democratic Party leaders can do to change those circumstances that drive support for Trump. The prospect of a Trump presidency should be so horrifying to African Americans, that there has to be a massive commitment to vote in November, and to vote for the Democratic candidate.

Unjust voter suppression

Conservatives have been employing a perfectly legal technique for reducing the black vote. It is actually a two-step process. First, a bigoted criminal justice system convicts blacks of felonies. Then once a felon, the citizen loses the right to vote. However, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, has developed a technique for circumventing this disenfranchisement.

Tease photo

The growing cost of police misconduct

The increasing cost of judicial judgments is now causing major cities to reconsider the proficiency of the police.

Tease photo

A dearth of depth in a complex world

During the civil rights era the issues confronting African Americans were so apparent that there was little room for controversy among the leaders. Segregation, racial discrimination and the restriction of voting rights all had to go. While leaders could disagree with the strategy to achieve those goals there was little difference of opinion on the objectives. Now times have changed. While problems are still determined to be racial conflicts, it should be obvious to most observers that race is not always the primary issue. The controversy is really who will control the wealth and the votes. The nature of discrimination is often so subtle that it can be reasonably asserted that race is not at all the real issue.

Tease photo

An affront to Boston's Black History

Boston Courant now the Boston Guardian

Newspapers still matter - and so does understanding history.

Tease photo

Small contributions combat corporate political influence

The super-rich will clearly do whatever is necessary to preserve their wealth. If as Sanders asserts, social change only comes from the bottom up, then those with limited income will have to donate even modest sums to political candidates who are committed to ending America’s crippling wealth disparity.

Tease photo

Blacks still need effective communications campaign

The nature of the media has changed substantially over the last 50 years, and the technology has become more complex. Blacks should nonetheless find a way to mobilize a media campaign both to counter the attacks of the mass media and to inspire the community to unite and press forward for progress.

Tease photo

The maturing Black Lives Matter movement

The fatal shooting of black men by the police used to be considered a normal aspect of police work, but public attitudes changed last year when several outrageous incidents were videotaped for all to witness. The videos rebutted the police version of events.

What inspired the Massachusetts vote for Trump?

Massachusetts is a very blue state. In fact, it is considered to be one of the national outposts of progressive politics. This is a reputation established by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and is certainly sustained by the present senior Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The red states of the Old Southern Confederacy are looked down upon as backwaters of bigotry. It was something of a shock, therefore, that Donald Trump did so well in Massachusetts in the March 1 presidential primary.

Obama upstages Republicans with court choice

Republicans have snatched defeat from the jaws of political victory and have handed Obama another political coup.

Tease photo

Obama upstages Republicans with court choice

Republicans have snatched defeat from the jaws of political victory and have handed Obama another political coup.

Tease photo

A myth unveiled

A more perceptive analyst might have concluded that undereducated and financially-stressed Trump supporters might be angry because the American Dream has failed them. Many low-income white Americans believe the blame for their failures should lie with immigrants and blacks. Now comes Donald Trump who promises “to make America great again,” and restore the affluent status to which they are entitled.

Tease photo

Education: A correction that combats recidivism

Governments must assure their citizens of protection from criminals. Massive imprisonment is the strategy in the U.S. Unfortunately, it does not work. Recidivism is so high that the convicts are soon back in jail after a short time on the street. But there is a growing belief that providing a college education to qualified prisoners might help to resolve the problem.

Tease photo

Corporations: Inanimate criminals

Americans do not readily accept the idea that a corporation is a person. A corporation does not breathe and eat and think like a human being, but over the years, U.S. courts have attributed more human rights and qualities to corporations. This legal device suits the wealthy who own the capital stock of corporations, but progressives have begun to challenge the concept.

Tease photo

Shifting the burden to Boston’s home owners

If approved, the Just Cause Eviction ordinance will deprive property owners of their rights and diminish the attractiveness of homeownership as a sound investment. Now the City Council has also burdened homeowners with the cost of paying for the detectives’ pay raise.

Commentary: Boston Latin School: A challenging route to success

Boston Latin School has become one of the nation’s iconic institutions. Its list of early alumni appears to be taken from the record of outstanding Americans: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Hancock, George Santayana and others. In the years since its founding in 1635, Latin School has developed its own character and a unique culture.

Tease photo

Black press is key to self-determination

The Bay State Banner’s mission to inform and advocate on behalf of the black community is part of a history of black advocacy that goes back to the early 19th century in Boston.

Tease photo

Citizens crusade needed to end unfair wealth inequality

African Americans must, therefore, vote for the candidate for president who is most likely to mobilize a citizen’s crusade for equity. The election returns from New Hampshire indicate that Bernie Sanders is that candidate.

Tease photo

Battle over growing wealth disparity looms large in Democratic primary

The question now is whether blacks are willing to employ their might at the polls to support Bernie Sanders, a candidate with the temerity to confront the plutocrats to defeat economic policies that keep blacks impoverished. Hillary Clinton is certainly preferable to any of the Republicans, but now is the time to join the revolution to diminish the nation’s wealth inequality.

Tease photo

A lack of civility tolerated at Boston Latin

Black students have every right to file an official complaint of racial abuse, but it is good to remember that it is also demeaning to be considered a whiner. Bigoted whites have every right to dislike blacks as long as they do not violate the blacks’ peaceful enjoyment of the academic process. However, polite society will tend not to embrace those with a disposition to reject others on the basis of race, religion or country of origin.

Tease photo

No more honors for bigots

There is a common practice across America for communities to erect statues or monuments to honor the achievements of local residents. For those whose accomplishments are less prodigious, it is customary to place their names on buildings, public squares or streets. The objective is to imbed in the culture the character of the honoree to serve as a role model for future generations. But now protestors have begun to challenge the worthiness of some of those who have been so memorialized.

Tease photo

Putting a best foot forward

Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up at a time when it was culturally expedient to induce youth to mature quickly. MLK was born on Jan. 15, 1929, the same year that the Great Depression began. This period of economic decay continued until 1941, and it created a sense of urgency about survival among Americans, especially blacks. The life expectancy for an African American born in 1930 was only 48.1 years.

Tease photo

At war with guns

Conservatives tolerate the nation’s horrific gun violence in order not to jeopardize their right to amass substantial personal arsenals. Stricter gun laws might disrupt the conservatives’ plans. America has become a nation at war with itself.

Tease photo

An outrageous defense of white privilege

Opportunities for African Americans in the new year are promising. The economy is improving and blacks appear to be more confident when confronting racial discrimination. Nonetheless, there should be no complacency about the latent opposition. Nothing illustrates the intensity of the white vs. black conflict more than the case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas.

Will self-interest trump bigotry?

It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump’s supporters will move beyond the bigoted tone of that campaign to pursue their economic interests in partnership with blacks, Latinos and Asians.

Tease photo

A new push for empowerment

Rarely do ethnic or racial groups mobilize at the beginning of the year to establish plans to improve their economic status. But Freeze Frame Black Boston has begun the process of establishing a black economic manifesto to do just that.

Tease photo

Toward a spirit of common humanity

Fear, nativism and incivility seem to be on the rise in the United States with ISIS attacks and the vitriol of Donald Trump’s campaign for president dominating headlines. But as we enter the Christmas season, it may be in our best interest to remember the principle of “goodwill to all men.”

A bizarre attack on Obama

From the time that he first ran for president, some Americans have asserted that Barack Obama was not qualified. Opposing whites rallied behind the “birther” movement that claimed Obama was foreign born and consequently failed to meet the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural born Citizen … of the United States.” Also, some blacks complained that Obama was not authentic because his African ancestors did not experience the historical racial oppression in America. Now comes Professor Michael Eric Dyson to assert that if elected president, Hillary Clinton will accomplish more for blacks than Obama ever did.

Tease photo

A shared burden for U.S. defense

With the ISIS inspired massacres in Paris and San Bernardino, the call for more U.S. boots on the ground in Syria has become more strident. The commitment of a massive number of troops from the volunteer U.S. military raises a moral issue. The upper class is sending the poor into battle to resolve the politicians’ foreign policy mistakes.

Tease photo

The growth of politics of confusion

A fundamental principle of democracy is that citizens will vote out of office those politicians who fail to serve their interests. Over the years, conservatives have claimed that African Americans do not adhere to that principle but are captives of the Democratic Party. Now that whites with low incomes are becoming Republicans, the party of the well-to-do, there is considerable speculation about their motivations.

Tease photo

The hard consequences of equality

What struck researchers as so unusual is that the increase among whites did not result from heart attacks or other illnesses, but was the consequence of suicides or alcohol or drug addictions. This indicates that middle-aged whites with limited education may be suffering from cultural ennui or psychological difficulties.

Tease photo

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.

Tease photo

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.

Tease photo

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.

Tease photo

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.

Tease photo

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.

Tease photo

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.

Tease photo

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.