That Black Expo report and Amos Brown's take....

Dateline: Thu 14 Feb 2008

In the Feb. 1 issue of the Indianapolis Recorder, columnist Amos Brown ("Just Tellin' It") shed needed light on the recent provocative Black Expo report on youth -- the one that caused the Star to lead Jan. 24's newspaper with the headline: "About 80 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers." (The figure is 77.9 percent).

Brown took a slightly different angle. "Instead, my attention was focused on Expo's report documenting the deterioration of agencies providing programs to Indiana's black youth," he wrote.

"Expo reported that in 2003 there were 1,838 youth-serving agencies or programs in Indiana. Two years later, there were just 829. A 54.9 percent reduction."

Brown went on to note his bitter criticism of Lilly Endowment and the Central Indiana Community Foundation for their decision to "squander cash on a Cultural Trail, a multi-million dollar boondoggle benefiting an elite few; while thousands of youth and families need help."

He also rapped the city's business leaders for barely meeting their United Way goals while pouring $25 million into a Super Bowl bid.

These are debates worth having, but Brown's attention to the dearth of services for black youth is on target. I spoke to Pastor Ronald Covington of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on the Westside, in the Haughville area.

His church runs a day care and a food pantry. Three years ago, he said, the church took over a Boys' Club building in the area, after the agency decided it could not afford to keep the building up.

"I am a product of the Boys and Girls Clubs," said Pastor Covington, born in 1953 on the Westside. "But their funding sources were reduced in Indianapolis."

That's the sort of can-do attitude the city should be supporting. Perhaps the Star should do a follow, about the lack of athletic and recreational for the city's black youngsters.

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