A New Approach to Solving Issues

Carla Peay - WI Staff Writer | 11/11/2009, 4:13 p.m.

Several hundred business, political and health care and education leaders spent a Saturday morning and afternoon working on solving problems in Prince George€s County and the state of Maryland.
The Maryland Black Issues Conference, held on Sat., Nov. 7 at Bowie State University, was billed as a €solution-based conference.€

€We€re here to address issues, and to develop a framework for the resolution of those issues,€ said Eugene Grant, the Mayor of Seat Pleasant, Md. and the president of the Maryland Black Mayors organization.
€The school of professional studies [at Bowie State] will analyze the data, match best practices and promote them. People here aren€t just coming away saying €Oh what a good speech€€ Grant said.

The data Grant referred to was collected during the conference, as speakers asked questions

Educational issues were addresses by Dr. Alvin Thornton, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs at Howard University. Thornton emphasized the disparity in educational opportunity for minorities, and the importance of vocational educational programs in secondary schools.

Prince George€s County Health Director Dr. Donald Shell reviews health queries keyed in by over 200 conference attendees at the Black Mayors Issues Conference on Sat., Nov. 7 at Bowie State University. Photo by Maurice G. Fitzgerald
One of the invited guests at the conference was Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who addressed problems at the state level that his office is looking into. Gansler cited the importance of addressing voting problems, the election of judges, and a plan to bring a law school to Bowie State University.

€We may not have a dearth of lawyers, but we do have a lack of African American lawyers,€ Gansler said. He added that the problems of people having to wait in line two to three hours to vote was €not acceptable€ in this country in 2009.

Filling in for scheduled keynote speaker Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was unable to attend, was Rev. Granger Browning, senior pastor of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Fort Washington, Md. Grainger put the discussion of issues and problem solving into a spiritual framework, with a theme of not giving up, regardless of the challenges ahead.

€When you do what God tells you to do, there will be challenges. Sometimes, there are no resources to do what needs to be done. Business people, elected officials, educators, health officers €" you are all trying to do the right thing. Use what you have,€ Grainger told the audience. Invoking President Barak Obama, Grainger called his election €a hopeful step€ for African Americans, but not €the final word.€

The day-long conference was the first of its kind to be sponsored by the Maryland Black Mayors.
€It€s encouraging that people sacrificed their sleep and slumber to come out here on a Saturday to participate in something like this,€ said Alfred Turner, head of the Coalition of Central Prince George€s Community Organizations. Turner is also a candidate for County Council in District 6.

€I wanted to come out here and join people who want to find solutions. Prince George€s County is poised to take the next step, and the people [at this conference] didn€t just come here to talk, but to address the problems,€ Turner said.

€We€re not just hearing things that sound good. We€re hearing things that are good and sound.€ WI