The Sentinel extends birthday greetings to those who have given of themselves for humanity
by Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi — August 27
Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi is the chief of the Zulu nation and leader of the Inkatha political party in South Africa; he is educated, articulate and has held the position of Minister of Home Affairs in the administration of Nelson Mandela, the first Black president of a non-racial, anti-apartheid country. Like all Black Africans, in the 20th century in general, and the Black South Africans in particular, Buthelezi was born amidst obstacles and barriers, and even though those setbacks were just bumps in the road of his life’s journey, he agonized for his people (the Zulu nation) whom he knew under the apartheid system, and for all Black people in Africa.
Though formally educated, he still suffered the indignities and scourge of apartheid (South Africa’s racism) and armed with a degree, Buthelezi then pursued a legal career. His dreams were first interrupted when he got expelled for his protest activities against apartheid as a member of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. Then he transferred to the University of Natal where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in 1950 and started his political career. He was impatient with the slowness of the anti-apartheid movement but remained committed to the goals of the organization; he finally quit the organization to pursue more aggressive approaches toward reform.
Buthelezi recognized that the ANC (which comprised mostly of the Xhosa tribe), PAC (Pan African Congress) and other Black Consciousness Movements were traveling parallel paths, as the Zulu nation and he were, to reach the same goal–the eradication of apartheid. So he founded the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement in 1975 in Northern Kwazulu, which gradually evolved into the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and by 1990, he was elected president of IFP. Though he disagreed with ANC’s and PAC’s anti-apartheid tactics, he knew that those leaders in prison were political prisoners and he used his speeches to call for their release. He quoted them, which was a banned and punishable offense, but he was adamantly opposed to sanctions that were called for by the ANC, Anglican Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, and other opponents of apartheid.
Buthelezi’s stand on sanctions isolated him and widened the gap between the Zulu Tribe and Inkatha, and the Xhosa Tribe, ANC and others; it also made him seem to be in cahoots with the government and the White business leaders. The forces of apartheid exploited this rivalry and created an environment of Xhosas versus Zulus. To the suffering masses, sanctions could not deprive them from what they did not have; it was the ultimate weapon against apartheid, and they seemed to be for it.
South Africa, a decade after apartheid, hasn’t yet emerged to the point where the masses have been relieved. Men like Buthelezi have placed the country in the right direction in order to systematically eradicate all vestiges of white dominance/supremacy. His contributions have been enormous and he, after over seven decades, still carries the mantle of Chief of the Zulus.
Marva Collins — August 31
The name Marva Collins is synonymous with quality education for Black children–and her methods can be used for all children. Collins was born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1936. At that time, “Jim Crow” and segregation was the law–de facto and de jure. She was denied the use of the public library as a young child and had to learn to read from tin can labels, Bible school books and books that her father brought her from nearby Mobile. She graduated from Eschambia County Training School in Atmore, Alabama and then went to Clark College in Atlanta.
After graduating from Clark, she moved back to Alabama where she taught school for two years before moving to Chicago. It was primarily in the school system in Chicago that she first became dissatisfied with the public school system which led her to open her own school on the second floor of her home with the $5,000 from her school pension fund.With her two children and four other youngsters in the neighborhood, Collins began the Westside Preparatory School in 1975 in Garfield Park, Chicago. She had a unique educational program and it included the public school’s problem children–the mentally challenged (learning disabled), those with special educational needs and even the borderline retarded–society’s uneducable children. Her premise was that any child may achieve, if not taught too thoroughly to fail.
Enrollment blossomed and grades improved at least five times higher than the children were previously experiencing in other (public) schools. Words of encouragement like, “Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it,” were slogans given to the children. Students are taught to have ownership of their education, and are guided in realizing that responsibility is the key. One of the children who was labeled as borderline retarded graduated in 1976 from college “summa cum laude” and some of Westside’s graduates have gone on to Harvard, Yale, Stanford and some of the nation’s finest institution of higher learning. The school has produced doctors, lawyers, engineers, educators and other professions. The CBS program, 60 Minutes, have twice aired segments of Collins’ achievement in the Westside Preparatory School, in 1979 and in 1995.
The “secret” of her success with these mostly inner city children is not a miracle, as some suggest; the answer is in her love for each student, a positive approach to education, her refusal to give up and a complete dedication to teaching. Collins has emphasized that students may know nothing, they may be complete illiterates, but they know when they are loved, respected and taught properly.
Collins has received many awards, commendations and accolades for her outstanding work. A made-for-television moviewas made about her titled, The Marva Collins Story, starring Cicely Tyson that first aired in 1982. Some of her awards are:
The Marva Collins Preparatory School is located on Chicago’s Southside.
Beyonce Knowles — September 4
As an R&B recording artist, actress and fashion model, Beyonce Knowles rose to fame in the 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny’s Child, one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. Beyonce released her debut solo album “Dangerously in Love” in 2003, which spawned number-one hits and became one of the most successful albums of that year, earning her a then record-tying five Grammy Awards. Three years later, she released her second solo album “B’Day” which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. Her third solo album “I Am… Sasha Fierce,” included the anthemic “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” which earned her six Grammy Awards, breaking the record for most Grammy Awards won by a female artist in one night. Beyonce has won 16 Grammys -13 as a solo artist and three as a member of Destiny’s Child. Her acting career includes the musical film Carmen: A Hip Hopera and the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, for which she earned two Golden Globe nominations.
Rep. Kendrick Meek — September 6
As a congressman Kendrick Meek followed his mother, former Congresswoman Carrie Meek to the 17th Congressional District in Florida and has been re-elected for four successive terms with no official opponent. He then positioned himself to run for the U.S. Senate and if elected, he would become the seventh African American to serve in that august body. Meek recently was the winner in the Democratic primary; he defeated Jeff Greene, a millionaire newcomer, as the insider versus the well-financed outsider saying, “I made the case that I am the real Democrat in this race.”
After thanking every Floridian who voted for him, as well as his opponents. Meek said he also has the support of his defeated opponent who had harsh words for him throughout the campaign. About Meek, Greene said, “The contest I had for Kendrick Meek will be a big challenge, but I want you to know that I intend to support him every step of the way,” in his concession speech.
Greene vowed to support Meek because the other candidates, Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist, who left the Republican Party in April to run as independent candidate, will “turn back the clock on everything.”
Meek has the support of President Barack Obama and Senator Bill Nelson, the US senator for Florida, whom he hopes to join in the Senate. The Florida Democratic Party has shown a solid of Rep. Meek since he won the party’s primary nomination last week.
On a visit to the Sentinel, Meek was asked ‘What would you do if elected to the U.S. Senate?’ He replied, “Following and refining the healthcare reform that we have right now, a major first step in putting into place a structure for healthcare.
Poet Sonia Sanchez — September 9
Sonia Sanchez is one of the poets who is generally associated with the Black Arts Movement more so than any of her contemporaries. She was born Wilsonia Benita Driver on September 9, 1934 in Birmingham, Alabama, and has traveled not only through the world of poetry and children’s books but has also been on television, music and plays, having authored numerous books of poetry, books for children and plays during her professional career.
She married a Puerto Rican named Albert Sanchez, hence her surname, but it did not last very long. In the early 60s as an activist, she supported the integrationist movement with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) but was soon frustrated by its lack of meaningful progress. She had heard Malcolm X speak and was influenced by his oratory which she thought was direct and truthful, and it moved her to write blunt, passionate and honest poetry about the Black experience in America. Sanchez latched on to the Nation of Islam’s belief that Blacks would never be truly accepted by Whites in America and it reflected in her writings. She began to focus on her heritage from a separatist point of view.
In 1965, Sanchez began teaching at what is now San Francisco State University where she was instrumental in developing its Black Studies program. She was the first to create and teach a course based on Black Women and Literature in the United States. Her travels outside of America in 1970s broadened her horizon and it fueled an anger, which was seething since the confrontations of the 1960s. She visited China, Australia, the Caribbean, including Cuba, and that along with her brief membership in the Nation of Islam crystallized her views on the world outside that she had gained from others.
Before moving to Philadelphia in 1977 where she became the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, Sanchez had already held teaching positions at the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, Manhattan Community College and Amherst College, and had lectured at several hundred others including Howard University, Morehouse University and Spelman College.
She remained at Temple University as the Laura Carnell chair, Professor of English until her retirement in 1999 and then became its poet-in-residence. During the 1990s, Sanchez appeared on the Bill Cosby Show. She supports the National Black United Front and has edited two anthologies on Black literature, “We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans” and “360° of Blackness Coming at You.” Known for her innovative melding of musical formats–like the blues–and traditional poetic formats like haiku and tanka, Sanchez also tends to use incorrect spelling to get her point across.
The body of her work includes: Poetry, Plays and Children’s Books