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THE VOICE OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY
THE WEEK OF AUQUST 14, 1997
VOLUME 22 NO. 48
ALSO SERVING CABARRUS, CHESTER, ROWAN AND YORK COUNTIES
Still keeping the faith
Oxford, N.C., native Benjamin Muhammad was in Charlotte Monday to publicize Oct. 16 as a day of atonement for African Americans.
Muhammad, formeriy Benjamin Chavis, helped organize the Miiiion Man March in 1995. The Day of Atonement is on the anniversary
of the historic raiiy in Washington, D.C., one of the largest gatherings of Americans in the nation’s history.
Former NAACP director
organizing for Oct. 16
Day of Atonement
By John Minter
THE CHARLOTTE POST
Muhammad, in Charlotte to
talk about the 1997 Day of
Atonement, said he hoped his
conversion to Islam would serve
as a bridge between Christians
In his first interview with The
Post since he converted to the
Nation of Islam, the former
Benjamin Chavis said he was
disappointed when the United
Church of Christ stripped him
of ministerial privileges.
“When I speak I speak from
both books (the Muslim Qu’ran
and the Christian Bible),” said
Muhammad, who led a revival
service at Muhammad’s Mosque
‘T am trying to talk about one
God that can be found in both
books. I did not renounce Jesus.
Jesus is found in the Bible and
the Qu’ran. If black people can
understand the oneness of God,
I think we can better under
stand the oneness of humanity.”
He said he hopes this year’s
Day of Atonement will feature
interfaith and ecumenical
prayer services bringing
Christian, Mushms and other
faiths together in reviving the
spirit of the Million Man March
Muhammad is on a nation
wide speaking tour as a special
assistant to Nation of Islam
leader Lewis Farrakhan. His
mission is to organize the
dozens of Day of Atonement
events that will be held Oct. 16,
the second anniversary of the
Million Man March.
Charlotte will be one of the
cities with planned Day of
Atonement/Day of Absence
events, which could include
marches, teach-ins and meet-
See NOI on page 2A
Benjamin Muhammad makes a
point at a rally while holding
the Bible in one hand. The
Qu’ran is in the other hand.
By John Minter
THE CHARLOTTE POST
Racial diversity can be achieved in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
along with shorter and more equitable busing if the system follows a
comprehensive pohcy of pupil assigmnents.
So says a 33-member citizens group which studied the system’s racial
integration practice, which is based on achieving racial balance by
making periodic changes in the schools to which students are assigned.
Bertha Maxwell-Roddy co-chaired the committee.' Other African
Americans on the panel included Bob Davis, chair of the Black Pohticril
Caucus, architect Anthony Hunt and neighborhood activist Barbara
'The committee reached consensus on what is one of the most emo
tional debates within Charlotte-Mecklenburg - balancing busing for
racial integration with a growing desire for neighborhood schools.
In a report to the school board Tiesday night, the group reconunend-
ed practices such as building schools in zones that would limit bus rides-
for aU students to about 30 minutes.
Other recommendations include equalizing school resources and
fadhties, establish neighborhood schools in integrated communities,
fair distribution of busing and limits m student reassignments. The
school board should use whatever incentives and powers of eminent
domain necessary to help encourage development of economically and
racially integrated neighborhoods.
On the issue of diversity, the committee said, “We recommend that
CMS enhance the degree to which students are assigned to schools ip
a desegregated and integrated manner to create diverse school popula
tions representing racial, socioeconomic and cultural diversity.
“We recommend that immediate priority be given to addressing
socioeconomic as well as racial diversity in those schools which contain
a disproportionately large number of students who receive free or
See DIVERSITY on page 3A
U.S. welfare rolls
shrink in first year of
federal reform law
Local Urban League earns national honor
By John Minter
THE CHARLOTTE POST
Charlotte’s Urban League has
earned an award from the
National Urban League for
improving community race rela
The prestigious Whitney M.
Young Jr. Leadership Award on
Race Relations was presented at
the group’s national convention
in Washington, D.C.
League president Madine Fails
accepted the award, which
includes a $10,000 check to help
the group’s efforts in Charlotte.
National Urban League presi
dent Hugh Price cited the local
league’s persistence in pointing
out racial inequities in Charlotte
as well as its contribution to posi
tive change by promoting interra
cial “Race Day” lunches and gath
“We owe a great deal to the
courage and vision of Joe Martin,
who first inspired us with the con
cept of Race Day,” said Fads.
“That goes not only for the Urban
League but for the entire commu
Martin conceived Race Day,
weekly interracial or interethnic
lunches, when he accepted the
local league’s Whitney M, Young
Award in March.
“We have shared Joe’s ideas
with other chapters and with con
cerned citizens finm ad over the
United States,” Fads said. “And
people are beginning to under
stand that societal change can
only take place when each one of
us changes what's in our hearts.
We intend to be the agency of that
change in the Charlotte area.”
The award’s significance shines
in light of the recent emphasis on
racial reconciliation, including
President Clinton’s appointment
of a race relations committee
headed by John Hope Franldin
and planned race summits in
Charlotte this fad.
By John F. Harris and
THE WASHINGTON POST
One year after a far-reaching
welfare reform law ended 60
years of guaranteed support for
the poor, the Chnton administra
tion released figures Tuesday
showing pubdc assistance rods
continuing to decline sharply with
the percentage of people on wel
fare at its lowest level since 1970.
Nationwide, there are 10.7 md-
don welfare recipients, a number
that has dropped by 3.4 mddon,
nearly 25 percent, since President
Cdnton took office, and by 1.45
mddon in the past year alone.
The decline, at a rate of 200,000
a month, is the deepest and most
sustained in U.S. history.
Although welfare caseloads are
plunging across the country - 29
percent in Tfeimessee, 49 percent
in Wyoming in the past year - no
one knows for certain what is
causing the decdne or where the
people are going. How many are
taking jobs and destitution? ;
Critics of last year’s welfare
overhaul said they suspect much;
of the decdne results from people;
being forced off welfare or turned
away because of tightened statg
edgibdity rules. J
But Cdnton, who signed the;
welfare bid amid a fractured;
Democratic Party, said the ne\i?;
figures offer vindication that his!
approach emphasizing work and
training is paying dividends as it
is implemented at the state level.'
“A lot of people said that wedai’e
reform would never work because-
the private economy wouldn’t do
its part or the government would
n't do its part or we couldn’t figure
out how to get people from wel-
See WELFARE on page 2A
UPS strike disrupts more than work
By Winfred B. Cross
THE CHARLOTTE POST
Howard Alford’s routine has
been the same for about 15 years.
He gets up, goes to work, jumps
in his brown United Parcel
Service truck and makes hun
dreds of dedveries.
That changed 11 days ago. Now
Alford is either home or walking
a picket line on Cottonwood or
the Interstate 85 access road off
of Graham Street with other
members of Tfeamsters Local 71.
And it looks like he may be
there for a whde.
“I don’t ready agree with hav
ing to resort to this kind of thing.
but we had to send a message to
Corporate America,” Alford, 35,
The strike has sent companies
which use UPS scrambling for
alternative ways to ship product.
The U.S. Postal Service has start
ed Sunday package dedvery in
some areas, whde UPS’ chief com
petitor, Federal Express, has been
Union workers voted to strike
because UPS plans to hire more
part-time employees to essential
ly do fud-time work. The strikers
also want better working condi
tions and hands off the Tfeamster-
run pension plan.
Alford started at UPS as a part-
time worker whde a student at
Johnson C. Smith University. He
said part-timers don’t get the
same pay or benefits. “Basicady,
you have places in the U.S. where
part-time workers are pulling
fud-time hours,” he said.
About 60 percent of the union
ized jobs at UPS are part-time.
The part-timers average $11 per
hour. Fud-time workers make
$19.95 per hour. Tfeamsters want
to reduce part-time jobs by com
bining them into fud-time posi
tions. The company has said it
would create 1,000 new fud-time
jobs during the five-year contract
and give part-timers first shot at
See STRIKE on page 3A
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United Parcel Service employees have picketed the package deliv
ery company around the clock since the strike started nine days