Tom Joyner

Maria Scruggs

Dear Editor,

Last week Happy Worker’s Learning Center, Inc. had the pleasure of being one of the sponsors for the Tom Joyner meet and greets tour at that took place at Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant.

While the Happy Workers’ S.M.A.R.T. Board of Directors was excited about the marketing opportunity for the daycare, as the chairwoman of the board, I could not help but wonder what long term impact could have been made in Midtown. What if instead of utilizing their celebrity status to shake hands and take selfies, Joyner and his crew used those two hours to sit down with elected officials and community sponsors with a goal of determining how they could have strategically loaned their voices, finances and access to aide in furthering education in Midtown?

Many of these celebrity types that we love and who have risen to celebrity status as a direct result of the love and support we have shown them, have become so caught up in their celebrity status that they have lost sight of their journeys to success.

Some certainly will believe that it was by their own merit that they achieved the level of success they did, but this is where they err. Had it not been for the many folks, black, white, old, young, rich and poor that took beatings and even death, many of the civil liberties and opportunities that African-American superstars experience today may still have been nothing more than a dream.

I am certain that many of these celebrity types will purport that they have not-for-profit organizations that were created for the purpose of giving back, but it would be my guess that once it is all said and done, many of these organization headed up by these celebrity types serve more as a tax benefit as opposed to substantive strategies that could serve as a catalyst for improving the quality of life within the African-American communities.

I know that Tom Joyner has one of the most notable reputations for charity as a result of his commitment to historically black colleges; however, like we’re seeing with South Carolina State, his money can’t do it alone. Those who purport to offer charity in minority communities have opportunities galore to make long term sustainable impact on African-American communities if they sought to utilize their celebrity status in much more strategic ways.

For example, Tom and his crew, along with hundreds of other celebrity types, including President Obama and his family, converged on Selma, Ala., to participate in the commemorative activities for the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, which ultimately resulted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 being signed.

The weekend was filled with speeches, interviews, church services from March 5- 9. Yes, there are still activities occurring, but now that the cameras have left Selma, where are all the celebrity types? Everybody that was anybody was in Selma for five days, but outside of the preferential treatment and the barrage of photo ops, what will be the story for the people of Selma 50 years from now as a result of having a healthy representative of A-listers converge on their city.

One can only imagine the emotions felt by those celebrities who were in Selma the weekend of March 5 and more specifically when they marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge! However, our celebrity types must remember the march did not cease on the Edmund Pettus Bridge; the march continued on to Montgomery for five days and 54 miles! If we are going to reenact our story we must remember the entire story!

– Maria L. Scruggs

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