A Woman on the $20 Bill? Make Her an Entrepreneur

by David W. Almasi

There’s a campaign underway to remove President Andrew Jackson’s face from the $20 bill and replace it with a woman as a way of “promoting gender equality.”

The group Women on 20s wants Jackson’s portrait removed in time for the 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. They also, of course, want to “make our money more egalitarian, inclusive and an affirmation of American values.”

This group, however, doesn’t just want any woman. They want a woman of their own choosing. They will send President Barack Obama the specific woman they think should grace a future $20 bill. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks, abolitionist Harriet Tubman and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt were selected through an online vote from their 15 top choices. A fourth, Wilma Mankiller, the first female elected as a Native American tribal leader, was added “by popular demand” and as an obvious statement about the harsh Native American policies during the Jackson presidency.

All of these candidates share the distinction of being feminist icons, well-known historical figures or both. If this must be done at all, why not make a bold choice — one that’s free of a political agenda?

Since it’s money, how about having the first woman immortalized on paper currency be the first female self-made millionaire in American history?

Madam C.J. Walker is that woman, and her inspiring story makes her an ideal candidate.

Born on a Louisiana plantation in 1867 to newly-freed slaves, the future Madam Walker was an orphan by the age of seven and hard at work in the cotton fields. Her situation improved only slightly after moving to St. Louis, where she made just $1.50 a day doing laundry and cooking meals.

This drudgery led to her losing her hair and discovering a cosmetic product that helped her grow it back. She got a job selling the product to others, and later started her own company to market her own similar product. Walker’s “Wonderful Hair Grower” grew from a product sold door-to-door to being offered in mail-order catalogs. It eventually became the flagship for a whole line of beauty products targeted toward the black community.

Walker persevered in a male-dominated era where separate-but-equal Jim Crow discrimination was the law of the land. She saw how other businesses ignored black customers, and she stepped in to fill the void and became a success.

At the same time, she created jobs and new wealth in the black American community. She founded institutions that educated tens of thousands of “Walker Agents” and built factories to make her products. In 1914, Walker told the National Negro Business League: “I am not merely satisfied in making money for myself, for I am endeavoring to provide employment for hundreds of women of my race.”

She also wasn’t stingy. Her philanthropic efforts built homes for the elderly, funded scholarships and helped build the YMCA in Indianapolis. Her inheritance helped foster the famed Harlem Renaissance.

She funded the newly-formed NAACP and National Conference on Lynching — lobbying President Woodrow Wilson herself late in her life to promote a federal ban on lynching.

The memories of Tubman, Parks and Roosevelt are already immortalized in statues, awards, street and highway names and buildings. Rosa Parks even has an asteroid named for her! Madam C.J. Walker was on a postage stamp in 1998, but all of the others, with the exception of Mankiller (who died in 2010), similarly had stamps issued in their honor.

Rather than just pushing a name people already know, making Madam C.J. Walker the new face of the $20 bill would be an inspired choice. It would honor a clever entrepreneur, job creator and philanthropist. It doesn’t simply fulfill a political agenda and potentially foster division.

Madam C.J. Walker is someone everyone should admire and a fine candidate to represent American women on our currency.

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David W. Almasi is Executive Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org .

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.

Sheriff David Clarke on the Role of Law Enforcement

While at CPAC2015, I had the opportunity to meet and interview Sheriff David A. Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.  He is a charming and charismatic individual with a disarming smile, who takes no nonsense.

While America watches the growing disturbances in Baltimore, he has been providing insights to Fox News regarding the riotos in Baltimore, and how he might handle a similar situation.  He is very familiar with quelling disturbances, as he recently coordinated and marshalled forces to calm disturbances at their state capital of Madison, WI.

Following is my interview with Sheriff Clarke, where he talks about national security and the role of law enforcement.

Values, Beliefs Lost on Election Day

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by Archbishop Council Nedd II

In post-election post-mortem mode, many so-called Christian conservatives wonder why President Obama won so decisively. They similarly scratch their heads over same-sex marriage victories in Maryland and Maine and defeated pro-life candidates in states once thought to be reliably conservative.

I contend everyone has lost focus on the modern relationship between politics and faith.

The moral vacuum created by a declining faith benefits liberal politicians and policies.

In the final days, I became too vested in the recent election. I began believing the election of the wrong person would immediately and adversely affect my life. This is just not true.

While I disagree with Obama’s vision and find his logic on the economy, health care and foreign policy to be flawed, I don’t believe his reelection will immediately lead to the chronically ill dying in the streets for lack of health care. Fortune 500 companies will not vanish into thin air right away. I sleep confident that I won’t awake to a North Korean invasion imagined in the remake of “Red Dawn.”

But there are serious issues our nation must address, and my daily prayer is that President Obama permits the Lord to work in his heart to find the solutions. The nation won’t collapse overnight, but a prolonged decline will undoubtedly make things a lot more uncomfortable.

Yet I still remain firmly convinced our nation will endure. Why do I stand fast in this belief? I do so because, from America’s founding through today, our fate has rested on the shoulders of Jesus Christ.

The Lord made His face to shine on our great land. There are still so many signs He has not removed his favor from us.

Conservatives seem to have forgotten his divine presence. That’s a mistake.

I support Tea Party advocates bringing good economic issues to the forefront of America’s political discourse. I fear, however, their efforts may suffer the same fate as the Whigs in the mid-19th century. Focused on economic matters, the Whigs did not seriously address slavery, the crucial social issue of the day. They eventually found themselves cast into political obscurity and now are only a political curiosity from America’s past.

Tea Party activists embrace tax reform without readily accepting that wealth is a gift from God, from whom all blessings flow. Seeking the gift without acknowledging and honoring the gift-giver is selfish secularism. Unabated, this will either end in people worshiping wealth as a false idol or encourage the notion that God is no longer necessary.

Separating faith and morality from the governing process secures a liberal agenda.

Many conservative friends from my former political life readily admit they do not regularly attend church. They claim offense at billboards mocking God and similar rhetorical jabs from liberals, agnostics and atheists, but they don’t exactly live a Godly lifestyle themselves. They protest elements of Islam being integrated into mainstream America, but they will not profess their own faith.

It’s not really a tenable position. There is not enough guile in my body to criticize the religious beliefs of others while making no attempt to practice my own.

After deciding I was too vested in this election, I determined my role is to pray I am a good citizen in God’s kingdom. I must focus on the job that He has for me. I also pray others realize where their true focus should be.

Obama and Romney chose to strive to reach the pinnacle of a modern day Tower of Babel. Billions of dollars were spent in a feeble attempt to glimpse the face of God. The result reminded me of something one of my political mentors told me almost 20 years ago. Romney could have spent one dollar on his presidential campaign and achieved the exact same result.

As God spoke to Solomon, one of the most wise and wealthiest humans ever to live: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

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Archbishop Council Nedd II, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church and the chairman of In God We Trust.  Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org .

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.

False Bravado and Feminization

by Archbishop Council Nedd II

I’ve had several unfortunate opportunities to observe the consequences of single mothers raising male children without the influence of positive male role models.

Many boys who are raised by single moms can acquire the skills and maturity to lead healthy, full and productive lives. But they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. There are too many boys these days who are either feminized or reliant on false bravado.

My criticism is not to find blame with single mothers. They often do the best they can with limited resources. But I do believe many single mothers need to rethink their parenting philosophy.

My first substantial exposure to significant numbers of boys from families without fathers was while teaching at a public charter high school in Washington, DC.

It was easy to see basic problems, such as when boys earnestly asked me to teach them the proper way to shave, tie a tie and help them pick out clothing for job interviews. More disturbing was a 17-year-old boy who asked me to help him put in his earrings. It’s funny that he needed another man to help him put on his jewelry. It’s difficult to be gangsta when you ask another man to help put in your earrings.

I now live in an small town in rural Pennsylvania, where the problem changes from black to white. I routinely see young men calling girls the “b-word,” without realizing such crude remarks are the hyperbole and satire of old television reruns. With households devoid of encouraging male role models, they seem to have no other choice but to mimic what they see on television and from their peers.

The absence of fathers in both places leads to an exponential increase in “momma’s boys.” This occurs because a mother’s instinct to overlook a child’s character flaws goes unchecked. She instinctively defends that child’s bad behavior, and seldom wants to take corrective action.

The pampered momma’s boy often has few or no responsibilities around the home. His mother buys his clothes, cooks his meals, does his laundry and financially underwrites and countenances bad habits. She comes to his rescue, fights his battles, speaks up for him and even speaks for him. She blames others and protects her boy from harm, despite the fact he is old enough to be responsible for his own behavior.

These mothers need to cut the umbilical cord, and — to paraphrase Scripture — they should be dining on meat and not milk because they leave their boys unprepared for real life.

From my own experience, these unchecked household problems can have deadly consequences. Of the approximately 150 boys I taught over a two-year period in D.C., I know of 17 who have already died by gun violence.

From personal conversations and Facebook postings, I see that few of my former students sought education past high school. Of those who did, many never finished college but are saddled with the tuition loans. They lack careers and rely on hourly wages and few (if any) benefits. Many are involved in the underground economy of the inner city.

In rural Pennsylvania, the situation is remarkably similar. Many boys who grow up without fathers aspire to work in the coal mine because their friends work there. Some are involved in a booming underground economy where the drugs of choice are crystal meth and heroin. Unmarried girls push baby strollers. Young men spend too much money on pick-up trucks.

The common ground between these two seemingly very different groups of young men is that they are still living with their mothers. They dare not venture too far from the person who has always provided for them.

Single mothers must ensure their boys have positive male role models in their lives. This may take some effort, but the reward is worth it.

Boys may lack fathers, but they require real men to learn from.

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Project 21 member Council Nedd II, the bishop of the Chesapeake and the Northeast for the Episcopal Missionary Church, is the honorary chairman of In God We Trust (http://www.ingodwetrustusa.org), a group formed to oppose anti-religious bigotry. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org .

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.