Category Archives: Africa

Tomorrow’s column a few hours early

Duluth School Board District 2 candidate Harry Welty speaks during a candidate forum sponsored by the Duluth News Tribune and the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. The forum was Sept. 24 at the Duluth Playhouse Family Theater at the Depot in Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Candidate’s View Column: Look back to move Duluth public schools forward
Written By: Harry Welty | Oct 16th 2019 –

Ten years after the Supreme Court legalized “separate but equal,” my grandmother rode her horse to an all-white Monroe Elementary School in Topeka, Kan. Fifty-six years later, the Supreme Court ruled that Monroe, now a segregated all-black school, was unconstitutional. The court ruled that even if white and black schools were treated equally, forbidding black children from attending schools with white children treated them as inferiors.

Three years after Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education, I attended another all-white elementary near Monroe. In the first week of school, 100 black children from segregated schools were shepherded into our classrooms. Five years later, I was one of 14 white children in a sixth-grade class with 17 minority students. As the Supreme Court had hoped, I was vaccinated against any thought that I was superior to my black classmates.

My social DNA was formed in that integrated school, but my school’s integration was the exception. Over the years to follow, our nation’s schools re-segregated. When my dad was offered a job teaching law in Mankato, Minn., I found myself in an unfamiliar sea of white children.

Nevertheless, the issue of equity had taken root and came with me to Minnesota. In 1968, the year Martin Luther King was assassinated, I slept in a room with the first black student ever enrolled at Mankato High School. Bedru, an Ethiopian exchange student — and a Muslim to boot — was our family’s guest for the year.

I moved to Duluth to teach in another all-white Minnesota school 45 years ago and learned Duluth’s dirty secret. A 1920 lynching kept black Americans away until the Cold War gave Duluth a military base.

Among my Red Plan warnings was its uneven division of Duluth. It would re-segregate an integrated district. Along with this it traded 100 teachers ($10 million annually) for new buildings. Today, Duluth is not only more segregated, it endures overcrowded classrooms.

No one can fix our schools in 500 words, but I have spilled millions of words on this subject into a blog after retiring from my first eight years on the Duluth School Board. Since then I’ve served four more years. I’m once again offering my considerable experience to Duluth.

As bleak as our school’s current situation may seem, there is an opportunity to restore our schools with a new superintendent and School Board. We can have schools that rival the best public schooling Duluth has ever offered — despite the Red Plan’s bond repayments.

As we work toward this new birth, we must remember the rising of the oceans, the land’s parching, paving and flooding, and a sixth extinction that all are coming with climate change. Our children must be prepared.

I read that Duluth’s St. Mark’s church, founded by freed slaves, is inspired by the African principle, “Sankofa,” which means “to look back in order to move forward.” If I am elected to a fourth term on Nov. 5, that is the spirit I will bring to the Duluth School Board.

Harry Welty is a candidate to represent District 2 on the Duluth School Board. The seat is up for election on Nov. 5. He wrote this at the request of the News Tribune Opinion page.

Dr. Kirby’s column is something of a laundry list. He didn’t miss anything and you can read his comments in the Tribune here. By the way, The Doctor’s wife, a fellow general practitioner, oversaw the nurse who gave Claudia and I flu shots at the Mt. Royal Medical Center today.

More books one purchased one read and another reviewed

I had Claudia order this book five or six months ago. As she’s been stuck at home recuperating from her heart surgery she suggested I read it to her. Its quite slim. By Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon, was completed in about 1931 but only recently published. A Barracoon was a place where African prisoners were held before being put aboard the ships of Scottish and Yankee slave traders. Hurston learned of the last living slave from the last shipment of slaves to the United States (the ship “Cudjo” was transported on ran a Civil War blockade) and went to interview him about his life.

The book faithfully records his simple dialect for the sake of authenticity. It reminded me of something I have been thinking about recently. Black Americans sound different today than they did when I was a kid fifty years ago. Although a few blacks have sounded “white” since the days of house slaves; the vast majority, deprived of educations and sequestered in slave quarters, developed a distinctive patois. In the 1960’s Julian Bond was an exception with his then distinctive Middle American voice. (Here he is in 1982 making some sound observations about Socialism that would echo in the face of today’s Republican hysteria on the same subject.) Today the acting world is re pleat with black actors whose voices betray only the slightest hint of growing up in an inner city or south.

Here’s Cudjo talking about the Barracoon: Continue reading

Race and the GOP today

I’ve thought about this issue a lot; far more than this short post will give any sense of.

I’ll rely on Rush Limbaugh’s formulations because he is the only commentator for which any criticism by a Republican will lead to a near death experience. Ergo he must be the GOP ideal.

When Barrack Obama’s nomination seemed a very distant possibility in 2007 Rush had a field day beating up Hillary Clinton by suggesting that Democrats would be too timid to attempt to nominate the truly stellar Obama. In this odd way Rush practically dared Democrats to nominate Obama and court defeat at the hands of a nation of racist voters. As an Obama supporter myself I made a mental note of this. It occurred to me that this was a not very subtle way to encourage the Democrats to do what GOP strategists wanted them to – nominate a black candidate and lose.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the voting booths that Rush and company never expected. Continue reading

Putting things in perspective

To me the Red Plan has been much more about the practice or mispractice of democracy than anything else. If it is a great success good for Duluth. If it is a great failure the hillside will not fall into Lake Superior. This is my home and I have felt compelled to take a stand for principle’s sake but compared to a Haiti or Ache Province in Indonesia its small potatoes.

Every day I read about people who have much more to worry about than we do in Duluth and this helps keep things in perspective.

Its the second eye opening story I’ve read recently by John Hari. I’m excerpting a small sample so shocking that it may very well deter folks from starting at the beginning. That would be a shame because it is one of the most hopeful and distressing stories I’ve run across lately. Hopeful in showing what a few people can do when determined to make the world a better place and distressing because it shows the fragility of a good cause when it threatens the powers that be.

As the meetings went on over the years, their demands for equality swelled. Why should women’s vaginas be mutilated? They screened a video of a female “circumcision” taking place for the men. One passed out; four vomited. “The rebellion just grew and grew,” Boge says. At a wedding in 2003, the bride and all her bridesmaids wore signs saying: “I am uncircumcised.” It was a Spartacus moment, and the women here weep as they remember it.

Not surprisingly, the distress comes from the impulse to shut down democracy by people for whom it is a great inconvenience. As Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Googling Porter

I didn’t know who Janet Porter was and Vic sent me a succinct email suggesting I not watch such “kooks.” So, I just googled her. She’s a heavyweight in her bailiwick. If she’s a kook she’s being given a lot of attention.

Similar Christian leaders, who know what God wants, have become heavyweights in GOP circles and have traveled to Uganda to encourage the passage of a law that would permit death sentences to be carried out against gay Ugandans.

Ignoring such people only lets them grow and thrive in the dark like bread mold. As I told Vic, I feel a need to shine a flashlight on them.

What happens when you buy a cell phone or a play station?

It starts with a ward full of women who have been gang-raped and then shot in the vagina. I am standing in a makeshift ward in the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, the only hospital that is trying to deal with the bushfire of sexual violence in Eastern Congo. Most have wrapped themselves deep in their blankets so I can only see their eyes, staring blankly at me. Dr Denis Mukwege is speaking. “Around ten percent of the gang-rape victims have had this happen to them,” he says softly, his big hands tucked into his white coat. ‘We are trying to reconstruct their vaginas, their anuses, their intestines. It is a long process.'”

Polygamy – yet another link pilfered from Sullivan’s Daily Dish

A new television program will soon be showing an apparently happy polygamous family. If, one might ask, if gay marriages are OK why not marriages with multiple partners? A very thoughtful article on the why nots starting with all the men who won’t get wives.

In summary:

“The problem in China and India is sex-selective abortion (and sometimes infanticide), not polygamy; where the marriage market is concerned, however, the two are functional equivalents. In their book, Hudson and den Boer note that “bare branches are more likely than other males to turn to vice and violence.” To get ahead, they “may turn to appropriation of resources, using force if necessary.” Such men are ripe for recruitment by gangs, and in groups they “exhibit even more exaggerated risky and violent behavior.” The result is “a significant increase in societal, and possibly intersocietal, violence.”

Crime rates, according to the authors, tend to be higher in polygynous societies. Worse, “high-sex-ratio societies are governable only by authoritarian regimes capable of suppressing violence at home and exporting it abroad through colonization or war.” In medieval Portugal, “the regime would send bare branches on foreign adventures of conquest and colonization.” (An equivalent today may be jihad.) In 19th-century China, where as many as 25 percent of men were unable to marry, “these young men became natural recruits for bandit gangs and local militia,” which nearly toppled the government. In what is now Taiwan, unattached males fomented regular revolts and became “entrepreneurs of violence.”

This sounds a lot like what’s happening in much of sub-saharan Africa today.