Black leaders

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

When the Southeast Missourian spoke with five of Cape Girardeau's black leaders, they had a spectrum of viewpoints.

Traditionally, many black leaders have come out of the churches. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the obvious example, but almost every community in America looks to the pulpit for black leaders. In Cape Girardeau, the Rev. Cecil B. Thomas, the Rev. William Bird Sr. and Dr. A.G. Green have different ideas about how to lead. Thomas is outspokenly critical of the lack of unity in the black community and about the state of racial equality in Cape Girardeau. Bird thinks the pastor does better to follow the lead of the community. And Green, a former NAACP leader in Sikeston, Mo., says the lack of leadership in the black community could be rectified by restarting Cape Girardeau's moribund NAACP chapter.

NaTika Rowles, president of the Southside Optimist Club and executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Girardeau, worries about the lack of coordination between the ministries and organizations attempting to provide programs for black people. Marvin McBride, vice president of the Southside Optimist Club, says the south side of the city badly needs a community center. He wonders where the black leaders are from outside the churches.

No one person can speak for the black community in Cape Girardeau, but these voices are loud and clear in saying more people need to step forward and lead.

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