So, what’s on my mind? Over the last few weeks, MCCC has lost a millage, I have visited classes, made comments at events, interacted with students, faculty, staff and many others, and contemplated what our next “Current Affairs Series” discussion should be. I am not sure, but I do know what’s in the news.
The world we live in is full of so much strife – protests in New York, riots in Ferguson, people dying of Ebola in some parts of West Africa, beheadings in the Middle East, not to speak of the natural disasters that continue to devastate many parts of this planet. All that brings to mind, a song recorded by the Nigerian artist, Sunny Okoson, “Fire in Soweto”. Okoson recorded this song in 1977 as a protest against apartheid. It begins with the lines, “Fire in Soweto, burning all my people, fire in Angola, a burning all my people, riot in Mozambique, affecting all my people, fighting in Namibia, crushing all my people….”
Okoson’s words are especially apropos in light of the recent shootings and killings here in our own U.S.A – our people are dying. Even here in Monroe, with the drug epidemic and other issues – our people are dying. We have already had a forum on “Ferguson and Beyond”, and just this week we held a “Drug Summit”; I am unsure how edifying or illuminating another discussion on the “fires” around our nation would be. What is important at this time is that we keep all those individuals who are being consumed by these “fires” in our thoughts and prayers.
When I contemplate the numerous challenges that many around the world are facing, I realize how grateful and blessed I am.
There are so many challenges locally, regionally, nationally and globally, yet many of us are so fortunate that our circumstances are what they are. During this Thanksgiving Week, let’s remember the following: the family of Chelsea Bruck, who has been missing for weeks; those in our community who are facing the challenges of drug addiction; the many bereaved families on our campus and in our community; the family of Michael Brown and others in Ferguson, Missouri; those families and nations besieged by the Ebola crisis; those families who have suffered and continue to suffer the pangs of terrorism; and many others around the world who are less fortunate than we are.
As we feast on turkey and other delectables this week, let us remain cognizant of the fact that there are many who have very little or nothing to eat, and many who either are without families or cannot be with their families or loved ones.
Yes, let’s consider all that and more and give thanks for our many blessings and fortunes.
Below is the email I sent to the MCCC family after the election results came out last Tuesday. I remain positive and eager to move on to the next challenge.
Dear MCCC Family,
I hope you are all well on this post-election day. I am sure you may know by now that our millage request was unsuccessful. I was disappointed by the results but remain enthusiastic (and positive) about the future. This election was not a referendum on MCCC and the quality of programs we provide here and the many lives that we continue to transform and enrich.
Thanks to all of you who worked so hard on this campaign. This is a quality institution with quality people in a quality community. I woke up this morning eager to come to work and face new challenges to take MCCC and this entire community to the next level. We fought the good fight, the struggle continues, and we shall overcome (l know, lots of clichés).
I want to also take this opportunity to congratulate the winners of the Board of Trustees election, Bill Braunlich, Mary Kay Thayer, and Lynnette Dowler. I look forward to working with them and the other Board members as we regroup and take on new challenges together.
Today is Election Day, and so many of us have worked so hard leading up to and including today. There are those who stood or walked outside in the cold, went door-to-door handing out brochures and putting up signs. There are those who canvassed their neighborhoods and encouraged their neighborhoods to support the college. There are those who posted on Facebook and urged their friends to support MCCC. There are those who simply said prayers for MCCC and “talked up” the millage. To ALL of you I say thank you, merci, danka, midawasi, asante, daemawoo, xie xie, gracias, arrigato, obrigado, gracie, spasibo, we sure do appreciate y’all. Let’s stay positive and keep working until the polls close tonight. It is well!
Last night we had a presentation on the Ebola virus. Dr. Phillip Wahr and Dr. Maris Fonseca provided excellent information on the biological aspects of Ebola; I spoke to the political, humanistic, and sociological implications. Yesterday’s presentation is an example of how collaboration can help MCCC further educate, edify, and illuminate this entire community.
As I listen to and read media reports on this deadly plague, I continue to be incensed by the media reports. Why? This disease continues to be mischaracterized as affecting “West Africa” and “Africa.” That is wrong! Ebola is not impacting “West Africa”, the current outbreak is concentrated in ONLY three countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (NOT West Africa), there are several other countries in West Africa with no outbreaks (my family lives in Ghana, West Africa, where there has not been a single incident of Ebola). Also, please realize that Ebola is a serious plague/disease and is not a joking matter – people are dying and we need to keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
The MCCC millage is what I am living and breathing these days, as we approach Nov. 4 – election day. On this campus alone, we have a potential 3,000 plus votes! That can make or break any election in a town such as Monroe. It is imperative that we go out, vote, and encourage our students to vote also. It is a civic right and responsibility for which many have died.
I have been speaking everywhere I can about this millage. The last one we asked for was 34 years ago, and it passed by one vote! Yes, one vote! What does that mean? Every vote counts. I have spoken to every civic group in Monroe – Kiwanis, Exchange, Rotary, Altrusa, Soroptimist, and several leadership and political organizations. I have visited and spoken to three senior citizen groups and to anyone who will listen to my story about the value of MCCC to this community. We are the only college in this county and as MCCC goes, so goes Monroe County – this county would not be what it is without MCCC and it cannot rise to the “next level” without MCCC. Most people understand that.
Believe it or not, I have received no negative feedback and do not expect any because individuals in this county realize the value of higher education. Next week, I begin visiting our libraries to speak to and hear from anyone who shows up; perhaps that is where I will hear some negatives, but I do not expect to.
Monroe County believes in and has supported MCCC for the last fifty years, and I expect them to continue supporting MCCC for another 50 times 50 times 50. MCCC is this county’s college and come November 4, county residents will show why they founded this college 50 years ago.
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the greatest weapon with which we can change the world.” We must continue to invest in education if we want to change the world. Recently, I have been speaking at every function I attend (when allowed to), I am doing radio, television, and the street corners too. What am I speaking on? I am, simply put, selling education! The cure for ignorance, the cure for poverty, the key to success, the great equalizer, and the road map to prosperity. That is what I am selling!
Now, having said that, those who know me probably are aware that I am as apolitical and non-partisan as they come. I eschew politics to the extent that I can and only deal with politics in economic terms. I have never run for political office and do not plan to. Now I find myself heavily involved in a form of politicking. Why? Because I want to change the world, I want to transform and enrich lives; I want to make a difference in my community. How do we change the world? We must begin at home. We must continue to believe in and invest in education, realizing its transformative power. As we invest in education, our community will gradually begin to rise to the next level, which will then have a positive impact on its residents and businesses and the entire world — community by community. That is where it all begins.
An investment in education will change the world; we have the weapon, let’s use it!