The effects of Johnson’s “War on Poverty” 50 years later. SBT’s Conversation on Race.

Sharon Russ largeEditor’s note: The Sunbeam Times has invited people of good will to engage in conversations here aimed at a reconciliation on racial tensions in our community. Sharon Russ, a black activist in Midtown St. Petersburg, offers her perspective. Those interested in participating should contact Within Sharon’s Biosketch is a powerful observation on racial issues.


By Sharon Russ.

Early childhood development is crucial  to the academic achievement and social and emotional development in the later years of a child’s life. Poverty has no color or boundaries. Most learning occurs before a child enters school. Consequently, black children enter school at a development disadvantage from the start and are never able to catch up.

Studies have shown that the early developmental years from birth to 3 are crucial to  literacy, language, cognitive, and social and emotional development later in life. Brain development is rapid during the first three years.  Children who are not exposed to a nurturing and learning environment during the first three years of life are prone to violent behavior in their later years. We must invest in high- quality early childhood programs for at risk children.

Unfortunately, government funded child care facilities are failing to provide proper nutrition, parental education, cognitive, and the social and emotional security that builds a foundation for kindergarten readiness and academic achievement in the later years of life.  Third grade is pivotal for children. Too many at-risk children cannot read on grade level by third grade. Education is the key to ending generational poverty and violence among youth in urban areas.

Hillary Clinton’s speech today at the NAACP convention in Ohio on the need for prison reform, police training, and the disproportionate amount of blacks in prison was a desperate attempt to bring black voters to the poles.( Ms.) Hillary spoke in a tone that insinuated that Republicans are the blame for the increase in the prison population among black youth and adults. The break down of the black family caused by democrat ran polices keep blacks on the plantation and voting democrat.  Public housing projects and horrific government child care programs that fail to meet developmental milestones in the early years are the root cause of the problems facing blacks in America.

Housing projects such as Jordan Park in South St. Petersburg, where many generations of black families have lived was rebuilt with a $25 million Hope VI grant 15 years ago to improve conditions after the 1996  riots. Currently, the residents are living in rat and roach infested housing. Where was the oversight?  We must put an end to public housing  that has bred generational poverty, violence and crime.  An educated black populous is the Democrat Party’s worse night mare because they will leave the urban plantations and understand that God created all men free. Republicans must do more to ensure that black children are able to take advantage of  educational options that improve education for at-risk children in order to fight poverty and crime.

The discord, division, and hate that is happening in our streets is not a civil rights movement. Sadly, it is directly related to getting black people to the polls at the cost of innocent lives and families being destroyed. Martin Luther King JR. led a peaceful movement that did not center around violence, disrespect and the killing of  law enforcement officers  As a result, it brought people of all races together based on love for humanity. One of the main goals of the 1960’s civil rights movement was equal education.  Blacks need a president who will reform urban education and  poverty programs.

This may be one of the most important presidential races in the history of America. We are facing turmoil all over the country. The survival of our nation is at stake. We must stand on our creed that ” ALL men are created equal, they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ” God Please Bless America, Again.

Sharon  Russ Biographical Sketch: I am a educator and urban activist.  I earned a B.S. in Educational Studies with a focus on Interdisciplinary Studies. I advocate for the restructuring of urban education with a strong emphasis on the formative years of early childhood education and early development. I ran for office in order to help build real solutions to urban poverty through education.  As a single mother, I understand that education is the best  weapon in fighting urban poverty.  My son is an educator in urban South St. Petersburg.  I have a strong belief that  the root cause of urban poverty and the violence and discord that we are currently facing among races and in our streets is because of failed government programs and the breakdown of our educational system in America.  The breakdown of  America’s educational system has  failed both urban and suburban families and has led to the current crisis in America. The fight for America is contingent upon future generations of a educated and a united populous.  This division among races will open us up to terrorism both at home and aboard. Our enemies understand that together Americans stand and divided we fall.


3 Replies:

  1. Art Zekenak

    A very thoughtful and honest commentary. I wish the politicians could be this honest. If they were, all of us and our country would stand a much better chance of prosperity. But, power and money have corrupted them. They really don’t care about the average folks.

    Thank you!

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