Celebrating Black History and Other Months

Today, February 1, marks the beginning of Black History Month. A month when we focus on the history and achievements of Blacks in the diaspora. Black History Month was originated in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland. In 1926 the first Negro History Week was celebrated in the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.  As the years went on and as the Civil Rights Movement evolved, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976 (www.history.com/topics/black-history).The rest is history (pardon the pun).

As we celebrate Black History Month, let’s remember that the United States is the greatest nation in the world because of our diversity. We will have a series of activities throughout this month and hope you will join us in our celebrations.  Please also take note that there will be other celebrations of our diversity and culture throughout the year. These include but are not limited to:

March – Women’s History Month, Irish-American Month, and Greek-American Heritage Month

April – Arab-American Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Celebrate Diversity Month

May – Asian Heritage Month and Jewish-American Heritage Month

June – Caribbean-American Heritage Month and LGBT Pride Month

July – French-American Heritage Month and American Heritage Month

August – Family Heritage Month

September – National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct 15) and German-American Heritage Month

October – Filipino-American Heritage Month, LGBT History Month, and Italian-American Heritage Month

November – Native-American Heritage Month

December – Human Rights Month

Please make a special effort to join us in celebrating all of our history, culture and achievement. After all, that is what has made this nation what it is today.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – A Day on, not a Day off: A Commitment to Community Service

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is undoubtedly one of the most influential people of the 21st century, if not of all time. Monroe County Community College will observe Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday for the first time this coming Monday. It is just the right thing to do to honor this great American. The evening that our Board voted in support of this holiday, we had more community members at our Board meeting than I have ever seen at any meeting – that is how important Dr. King’s legacy is to many members of the Monroe community.

As we observe Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday, I encourage all of us to observe it as a day of reflection and a day of service, i.e. “a day on, not a day off”.  Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” I encourage all of us to find a project in OUR community that weekend and during that week (it is not limited to that day or week) to impact others positively. There are so many individuals in our community who need our help and can benefit from our generosity of time, talent, and treasure. There are opportunities to mentor youth, volunteer at a food bank or hospital, visit the elderly, deliver food to the sick and shut-in, and volunteer at a church or any place of your choosing. Once you have done this, you may decide to commit to doing it on a regular basis. More specifically, here is a limited list of some local organizations that need your help:

God Works! – serves meals to community members throughout the week at various locations

Oaks of Righteousness – also serves food and has numerous volunteer opportunities

Arthur Lesow Community Center – opportunities to tutor and mentor youth

Bed Race to Aid Children, Inc.  – opportunities to deliver beds to needy families

Habitat for Humanity – opportunities to build homes and help organize at the ReStore

We at MCCC will celebrate Dr. King’s legacy throughout the entire week with a Diversity and Service Fair, a march, and various diversity presentations during the week.

There are many more opportunities and I encourage you to look in your local paper or search the internet for them. I end with one of my favorite quotes, from Marian Wright-Edelman: “Service to others is the rent we pay for living on this planet.” We all have something to contribute to our community – time, money, talent, love. So, please resolve to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate in 2017.

Monday Morning Musings — Service to Others…

Until a couple of weekends ago, my weekends had been filled with millage campaigning for several months. Now that I have my weekends back, I find that they are filled with numerous community activities, so sometimes I say “Thank God it’s Monday!” (TGIM). While my community activities are all self-imposed, I cannot help it because that is my orientation.  I have so much to be thankful for that I cannot help but to continue giving my community a portion of my time, talents, and treasure.

This past Saturday, I  stood on Telegraph Road hawking Good Fellows papers as part of my duties as an Exchangite. My goal was to raise $50 in two hours; I raised over $100. Most of the funds raised will go towards student scholarships. The weekend before that, I was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, as part of my duties as a Rotarian. There are so many opportunities to serve my community that I cannot keep up. Truth be told, I prefer this to campaigning door-to-door.

I do what I do because I strongly believe that to whom much is given, much is expected; and I have much to be thankful for. Marian Wright Edelman said, “Service to others is the rent we pay for living on this planet.” There are so many “others” who need our services, and so as we go into the Holidays, let’s remember the less fortunate and give whatever we can to support them.

Monday Morning Millage Message

This weekend, as I continued to internally celebrate our millage victory, I was reminded of the lesson we learned two years ago (when the millage did not pass) and the message I sent after that to the campus and community. I remained positive in the face of our loss and stated in my email to the campus that I was “eager” to confront new challenges. I was criticized for saying that.  I also stated at the State of the College Address to the community that we did not lose the millage, we were simply learning a lesson from it. I said “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”. I was criticized for that statement in the paper.

You see, leaders have to remain positive, even in the face of the direst of circumstances. Without that positivity, we would not be victors today! Vindication!

Below is part of my email to the campus after our “lesson” two years ago.

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)….

 Sincerely,

 Kojo

 We have overcome!!

 That email was followed by an article published in the Monroe News on November 7, 2014. The last part of the article is below.

….

The college has a significant maintenance backlog in major areas of the

physical  plant, such as major heating and cooling, plumbing and electrical

systems that will have to be addressed.  Roofs are already leaking and

basements have flooded. Delaying repairs is no longer an option. 

The information technology infrastructure at MCCC is in need of major

updating and also must be addressed.  Lack of investment in this area will

have a major impact on student success.

We understand that the election was not a referendum on MCCC. 

The quality  of the programs we provide and the many lives that we

transform and enrich have never been in question.  The college

continues to be a vitally important resource in the community.

I can assure you that MCCC remains committed to providing

high-quality  higher education for the residents of Monroe County. 

But we must maintain this commitment within the limits of the

funding we have  available. As we re-evaluate the MCCC budget

to meet our new challenges,  I value your input and welcome you

to share any questions and concerns with me. Please email me at

kquartey@monroeccc.edu or call theOffice of the President at

(734) 384-4311.

 Dr. Kojo A. Quartey is president of Monroe County Community College.

Yes, indeed. This is a quality institution in a quality community, and by voting “YES”, our community has entrusted us with the safeguarding of this community gem, which is MCCC.  We listened, we engaged, we embraced our entire county, and they have come through for us. We must remain fiscally responsible and accountable and utilize the funds responsibly as we take this college and the entire community to the next level.

I am Thankful for….

Next week is Thanksgiving. Wow! What happened to summer? The elections are over, we have a new president of the United States, and Monroe County Community College now has a capital improvement millage. We won! I am thankful for a lot of things during this Thanksgiving period. They include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. God for protecting, guiding, and blessing me to have a family that I love and a job that I love
  2. God for giving MCCC a victory in our millage campaign and the faith to persevere to victory
  3. All my friends and relatives
  4. The gift of life
  5. All those who assisted, supported, and voted yes! for our millage
  6. All those who paved the way for me to be in the position that I am in now – Dr. Ron Campbell, Jerry Welch, Audrey Warrick, and Dr. David Nixon – the first four MCCC presidents.

As our nation transitions from one president to another, I pray for peace to prevail. These are difficult and trying times all over the world, and our nation needs to be a stabilizing force.  What is happening now, in the greatest nation in the world, is not setting a good example for other nations.

I am thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy in these great United States, and did I mention that I am thankful for our millage victory?

Voting Intelligently and Supporting your College

We have six days until Election Day! Last night, we held the sheriff’s town hall here at MCCC in our cafeteria. It was literally standing room only! The two sheriff candidates are, Sheriff Dale Malone and Mr. David Uhl. Our format was very simple.  I served as moderator and began by asking the audience to “vote yes!” for our millage. I then asked them to make opening statements, asked a couple of questions, and then took questions from the audience. To avoid controversy and back-and-forths, we asked the audience to write down the questions on note cards, and I read the questions. There were more questions than I could ask in the hour-and-forty-five minutes,  so I used my discretion to vet and purge the questions.

There were times during the town hall when things got a bit contentious, as would be expected.  However, overall it was civil and controlled. We ended by again asking the audience to “vote yes!” For MCCC. When I left that evening, I was much more knowledgeable of their positions/platforms. Are you? As Tuesday approaches, please go online and read more about the platforms of the various candidates so you can vote intelligently. Whatever be the case, please encourage everyone you know to exercise their vote and vote to support MCCC. While I cannot say “vote yes!” for MCCC in this email, I did say it to them yesterday in my capacity as a private citizen.

 

Monday Morning Musings — Millage or Million?

This past Saturday, as I prepared to begin my door-to-door campaign efforts, I reflected on the impact of what we plan to do with this millage, if it passes. I thought about the thousands of students whose lives will be enriched and transformed, and the overall impact of the impending projects on the Monroe County community, the region, state, and nation.

For some reason, as my mind drifted and as I thought about the challenges we are currently facing here at MCCC, I asked myself, if it were an either or situation (and I realize that it can be both) “would I rather win a million dollars or pass this millage?”  Anyone who knows me knows that my answer is unequivocally, undoubtedly, the MILLAGE! There is simply no comparison for me. It is a no brainer. It is all about the greater impact.  Those are simply the values I have developed as a result of my background, experiences, and spirituality.  This millage is bigger than all of us and will transform not only this college and community but the future of Monroe County. None of this is about Kojo, it is about changing the world. One million dollars would change my life, but I want to change the lives of hundreds and thousands, that’s what a successful millage will do. Its impact will be felt for the next 52 years and beyond. No, I do not want a million dollars, I want a successful millage because I care more about my college and community than I do about myself.