(l-r) Blair Taylor, President & CEO, Los Angeles Urban League, journalist Mike Barnicle, anchor Joe Scarborough, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, musician John Legend, Rev. Al Sharpton
Stomping for education in the Black community
As president of the Los Angeles Urban League, among Blair Taylor's priorities is education as it impacts the quality of life and the future of the Black community.
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
There has been a swirling controversy that is re-igniting around the proper education of Black children. Blair Taylor, president of the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL) was recently on the Morning Joe national television show along with Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network (NAN), entertainer John Legend, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and others "stomping" for education. (This fire has been raging since Brown v Board of Education - before and after 1954).
Since Taylor has taken over as president of LAUL, he has set education as one of his highest priorities. He spoke to the Sentinel about his goals and objectives. He said, "The approach is one that recognizes that education, and particularly high school education, is at the heart of a community and in order to really change any community economically, you've got to focus on education .... you've got to change the outcomes of the schools." In a big way, Taylor has tackled the problems at Crenshaw High School, very likely as a pilot project, and is determined to turn things around.
He continued, "The outcomes in the schools are closely connected to other things that are happening in the community. For example, if you don't have safe streets around the school, it's really hard for the kids ... for young people to go into the school and learn. Or, if you don't have healthcare services for young people, and they are not getting physical exams, and access to mental healthcare services, they are not going to be able to go into a school and perform up to the highest academic standards." (Hopefully the President's signing of the landmark Healthcare Reform bill will have a meaningful impact on Taylor's work eventually).
In commenting on some of Taylor's many activities, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. executive publisher of the Sentinel and chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers' Association said, "He represents us well as it relates to the future of education in the Black community; his efforts on behalf of Black children are commendable and he ought to be applauded for doing an excellent job."
"What we've really done is that we've said 'okay' let's start with number one" the school is the heart of the community, but if that community has all of these other issues," said Taylor, "you've got to take some time to co-ordinate addressing those other issues. That's what the neighborhood that work (as a model) does. It says the school is definitely the heart; you've got to focus on changing academic outcomes at the school. But you also have to focus on safety, health and employment ... all those thing, that allow not just the students but their families to be able to be relieved of some of the burdens."
Pamela Bakewell, LAUL's chief neighborhood officer in adding to Taylor's summation said, " Crenshaw High School is one of the gems in the community and we have an obligation to maintain its standing at the top of LAUSD schools, and at Urban League, we are committed to doing that in a partnership with USC and the Bradley Foundation."
Taylor 's focus on Crenshaw High School has produced dividends which he hopes will continue and be duplicated elsewhere.