Finneran: Black History Month

Friday, March 02, 2018
Tom Finneran, GoLocalProv MINDSETTERâ„¢

There is so much to learn.

I like to think that I’m a history buff of sorts but that is really an ill-informed vanity. The more I read the more I realize the vastness of my ignorance.

We have just concluded another Black History Month here in the United States. It’s an important month in the education of all Americans. Its value is certainly not limited to black Americans. Its value is that it is history, real history, our history, part of the history of all Americans.

To state that black Americans see the United States through a unique lens is to state the obvious. That fact remains true even in the aftermath of black dreams realized— the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Bill, a black President, a black Supreme Court Justice, black Cabinet Secretaries, black Governors, black Mayors, black legislative leaders, black generals, and black CEOs.

As America ponders its racial progress—steadily forward? glacially slow? sliding backward?—one cannot help but notice the divisions in our midst.

I do not have to subscribe to the need to be “woke” regarding justice. Nor do I have to subscribe to the charge of “white privilege” as affecting my principles and perspectives. Some day, hopefully soon, people will realize that there is already far too much accusatory rhetoric regarding current issues of race. As Rodney King plaintively asked, “why can’t we all just get along?” The early-morning gym rats I work out with certainly engage and enjoy each other’s company. As do my black and white neighbors.

What I emphatically subscribe to is the instructive importance of history. In that regard at least, I join some famous names---Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Douglass, Lincoln, Santayana, Booker T. Washington, William Trotter, Malcolm X—all of whom emphasized the urgent necessities of knowledgeable citizenship in a republic.

A grasp of history---of men and women, of events and follies, of crimes and noble deeds, above all, of human nature---is essential to navigating the present and preparing for the future.

There is, as noted, so much to learn. PBS helps the journey.

Consider the offerings over the years, not just during Black History Month......

“Tell Them We Are Rising”, about the founding and evolution of black colleges and universities;

“The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross”;

“Freedom Riders”;

“Slavery by Another Name”;

“American Creed”;

“We’ll Meet Again—Freedom Summer”;

“The March”;

“The Talk—Race in America”, about black parents talking with their children about interactions with the police;

Some of the scenes from these productions are brutally violent. Others are of the highest inspiration. Still others are achingly sad. All are instructive. The nation’s better angels have often been missing in the march to full equality for all Americans.

Yet America, for all its shameful and bloody history, for its ugly accommodation of slavery, for its past glaring hypocrisy to its Judeo-Christian principles, remains somewhat of a beacon in the integration and assimilation of different races, cultures, and creeds. Africa’s oft-warring tribes, Asia’s sullen and hostile suspicions of all “others”, and the Middle East’s ancient feuds show us that man’s inhumanity to man is not headquartered in the United States. The history of Europe itself has been a history of violent invasion and conquest. The brotherhood of man has been missing-in-action throughout human history. Perhaps, in our lifetime, that brotherhood, along with its twin the sisterhood, will rise to truly fulfill the American ideal.

And so we strive---to listen, to learn, and to do better. Black History month is an important part of that effort.

There is so much to learn.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio

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    Sample: N=403

    Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

    Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

    Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

    Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

  • Are you registered to vote at this address?

    Yes: 100%

  • When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

    Unaffiliated: 49%

    Democrat: 32%

    Republican: 15%

    Moderate: .4%

  • Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

    Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

    Definitely be voting: 78%

    Probably be voting: 13%

    50-50: 9%

  • In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

    Right track: 39%

    Wrong track: 45%

    Mixed: 10%

    Don't know/Refused: .6%

  • What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

    Jobs and economy:  21%

    Education: 12%

    Taxes: 12%

    Roads: 12%

    State budget: 9%

    Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

    Healthcare: 3%

    Governor: 3%

    Homelessness: 2%

    Immigration: 2%

    Other: 7%

    Don’t know: .9%

  • Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

    Changed for the better: 35%

    Changed for the worse: 16%

    Not changed at all: 43%

    Don't know/Refused: 5%

  • Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

    Changed for the better: 26%

    Changed for the worse: 19%

    Not changed at all: 54%

    Don't know/Refused: 1%

  • Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

    Net: Approve: 28%

    Definitely approve: 15%

    Probably approve: 14%

    Net: Reject: 67%

    Probably reject: 19%

    Definitely reject: 48%

    Don't know: 4%

  • Could you please tell me your age?

    18-24: 7%

    25-34: 15%

    35-44: 15%

    45-54: 20%

    55-64: 17%

    65+: 25%

    Don't know/refused: 1%

  • What was the last grade you completed in school?

    0-11: 2%

    High school grad: 16%

    Technical/Vocational school: 1%

    Some college: 23%

    College grad: 34%

    Graduate degree: 24%

    Don't know/refused: 1%

  • The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

    $50,000 or less: 27%

    More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

    More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

    More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

    $150,000 or more: 13%

    Don't know/refused: 17%

  • What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

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    English: 13%

    Italian: 13%

    Irish: 12%

    Black or African American: 6%

    Latino/Hispanic: 6%

    French: 6%

    Portuguese: 3%

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    German: 1%

  • Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?

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    Good: 12%
    Fair: 14%
    Poor: 57%
    Never heard of:  0%
    Cannot rate: 3%

  • Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

    Excellent: 22%
    Good: 29%
    Fair: 23%
    Poor: 15%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate: 6%

  • Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

    Excellent: 17%
    Good: 22%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 28%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate: 7%

  • Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

    Excellent: 9%
    Good: 29%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 27%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate:  8%

  • Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

    Excellent: 7%
    Good: 30%
    Fair: 20%
    Poor: 18%
    Never heard of: 13%
    Cannot rate: 11%

  • Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

    Excellent: 6%
    Good: 28%
    Fair: 30%
    Poor: 31%
    Never heard of: 1%
    Cannot rate: 3%

  • Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?

    Excellent: 3%
    Good: 16%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 8%
    Never heard of: 26%
    Cannot rate: 25%

  • Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?

    Excellent: 3%
    Good: 20%
    Fair: 28%
    Poor: 17%
    Never heard of: 13%
    Cannot rate: 19%

  • Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

    Excellent: 4%
    Good: 18%
    Fair: 24%
    Poor: 13%
    Never heard of: 21%
    Cannot rate: 21%

  • Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

    Excellent: 5%
    Good: 21%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 10%
    Never heard of: 20%
    Cannot rate: 23%

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