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“The Cavalry is Not Coming”

John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM | 10/31/2016, 11:02 a.m.
By the time many of you read this column, the election will have concluded and the United States will have ...
John E. Harmon, Sr

First let me start by thanking the South Jersey Journal and its readers for selecting me as one of “The 25 Most Influential African Americans in New Jersey.” This was truly a humbling experience for me and a recognition that I will cherish for life. Furthermore, to then be selected amongst a group of five to be recognized as “People That Make a Difference” at the recent Awards Dinner held at Rowan University, concluded a very amazing month me for me personally and the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

Now I would like to turn my attention to the 2016 Presidential Race; Clinton vs Trump. By the time many of you read this column, the election will have concluded and the United States will have a new Commander in Chief. Leading up to this climatic conclusion was what I would describe as an unprecedented and unorthodox approach to campaigning led by Donald Trump of the Grand Old Party (GOP). Trump outlasted a field of 16 experienced and well recognized politicians, some of which had a significant amount of money to spend.

However, the Democrats offered up less than a handful of candidates who fought very competitively but in the end, the presumptive nominee, Hilary Clinton became the party’s nominee.

At the time of this writing the race was still close in some of the battle ground states with Secretary Clinton holding a slight lead, nationally.

So my question to the African American population in New Jersey, are you confident that either candidate will execute an agenda that will significantly change the state of “Black New Jersey” as depicted in the chart below in their initial four year term? My response is probably not. This is not to say that your vote does not count; however, what I am saying is that African American residents and business owners must get unified on a course of action that will have a direct impact on our educational, societal, judicial and economic relevance. I chose these categories because each are aligned with mainstream principals and policies which when executed at a favorable level, with prudence and fairness, there is minimal probability that we would experience the results reflected in the charts below.

2014 Annual Average

Municipality/Poverty Rate/Unemployment Rate

Trenton/ 31.2% /16.5%

Paterson/30.7%/6.6%

Camden/36.5%/12.4%

Newark/28.2%/15.3%

The statistics that are depicted above represent a snapshot but the outcomes have been similar for several years. Which unfortunately means the cycle is continuous and will require deliberate action to bring about a change.

To further illustrate my point, the late speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neil said “All Politics Are Local.” Again, not to discount the significance of the 2016 Presidential election, but The Calvary is not coming to engage and assist in repositioning the African American community for a better life in New Jersey or the United States. The required steps to bring about better outcomes rest squarely on our shoulders to make it happen.

There are a multitude of stories from the past which show the resilience of our ancestors who mustered the courage and embarked on a strategy to either right a wrong or to prove that we can perform at a level equal to or greater than any other human being on this earth. Let me start with the Supreme Court Case: Plessy vs Ferguson in 1896, this case was very similar to the case of Rosa Parks in 1955, however, it preceded it by 59 years and was about sitting in a segregated train car versus a bus. Homer Plessy, a man of mixed race purchased a first -class train ticket in New Orleans, LA., with the hopes of sitting in the segregated car of the train designated for “whites only.”