THE BLOG
12/22/2014 05:42 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

On the "A" w/Souleo: Rev. Jesse Jackson Takes on Silicon Valley

For anyone who thinks it is poor timing to host an economic summit focused largely on increasing diversity in Silicon Valley during a climate of protests against police brutality, here is a rebuttal: the two are connected, according to Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The civil rights leader is gearing up for his 18th Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit taking place January 13 to January 15, 2015 in New York City. For him the recent demonstrations following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner represent frustrations with numerous societal injustices.

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Rev. Jesse Jackson/Credit: Margot Jordan/Courtesy: Rainbow Push Wall Street Project

"Some of the anxiety around the marches has to do with disparity gaps in economics, education and the justice system," he said. "Some of the marchers are in the 99 percent and have student loan debut, credit card debt, lost their homes to banks or need a higher wage. They want a computer science degree and to get a job when they graduate. It is all part of the same struggle."

At the core of the summit is what Jackson hopes people will realize to be the influence of the Black dollar. By 2015, the buying power of African-Americans is expected to reach $1 trillion. Jackson believes it is crucial to leverage that power for greater economic and political justice.

"When we were fighting to use the restroom we were fighting for basic decency. Dr. Martin Luther King said 'Many of our freedom allies may not be our economic allies and fight for us to get our fair share of supplies,'" he recalled. "We have to build a different consistency."

Recently Jackson has met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in the hopes of forging partnerships that will lead to Silicon Valley leaders investing more resources to address the racial and wealth gap in the high-tech sector.

"There is nothing in Silicon Valley we cannot do," said Jackson. "It's not that they can't find Black and Brown people doing this, it's that they are not looking in the right places. If you really want Black engineers then invest in having that taught in schools. It is not at a talent deficiency, it is an opportunity deficiency."

Historic Negro League baseball site is granted new reason for hope

Hinchliffe Stadium, where Negro League baseball thrived is one step closer to being returned to its former glory. Last week Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would guarantee the site's preservation and protection by being included in the Great Falls National Historical Park system. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on or before December 22.

"We expect that this law will be a catalyst for ongoing preservation efforts and assist the City of Paterson, NJ and stakeholders to raise non-federal funds for its renovation," wrote Tom Cassidy, vice president for government relations and policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP).NHTP identified the stadium as a national treasure in 2010.

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Hinchliffe Stadium/Courtesy: Duncan Kendall

While the situation is looking more positive for Hinchliffe Stadium, the bill does have some disturbing news. One provision will allow for lands from Tonto National Forest to be used for mining purposes under private ownership, thereby threatening the sacred sites of Indian tribes. Terry Rambler, the chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe could not be reached for comment.

A bilingual mural opens door to conversation on language, culture and identity

A discussion that was billed as one about language and culture quickly delved into issues of identity and race. The event was presented in partnership between Pratt Institute and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and featured the award-winning mural, "Plata or Plomo (Money or Lead)," created by Pratt alum Eduardo Palma. During the reception, hosted by Hennessy V.S., Palma led guests in experiencing his interactive installation as they peeled away its outer layer to reveal the work underneath that addresses the dichotomy of rich and poor societies.

Following was a discussion with Palma, writer and Pratt Associate Professor of Creative Writing Ellery Washington, and acclaimed visual artist Shantell Martin. Maria Hinojosa, anchor and executive producer of the National Public Radio show "Latino USA" served as the moderator. Check it out here.

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The weekly column, On the "A" w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture entertainment and philanthropy in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company Souleo Enterprises LLC.