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Rev. Edward Pinkney.
PHOTO /brett jelinek

By Dorothy Pinkney

    The real question to make good to the people of Benton Harbor is the promise of the Constitution. Slavery in this country was original sin. It infected the Constitution at its conception. It took more than 75 years after the Constitution was adopted and a bloody civil war, before civil rights was added to the Bill of Rights. It would take another hundred years after that before laws were passed outlawing racial discrimination in employment, housing, education and voting.

     The promise of fair and equal treatment for Black people remains frustratingly elusive in the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, expecially in Berrien County. Our schools are segregated and profoundly unequal, more than before the U.S. Supreme Court 1954 decision in Brown versus the Board of Education. Equal, adequate, public education is far from a reality in Benton Harbor. The city has substantially fewer resources than white schools in every area from teacher qualification to money spent on school books. This is because of the inequality in school funding, which is based on property taxes. The federal government must provide equal funding for every child.

     As far as the so called “war on drugs” in Benton Harbor, police officer Andrew Collins and Berrien County prosecutors knew drugs were being planted on Benton Harbor residents. Over one hundred people were sent to jail or prison because of this.The war on crime disproportionately targets Black men and one-third of all Black men in their twenties are either behind bars or on parole in the city of Benton Harbor  because of the corruption in the Berrien County court system.

     On highways and in neighborhoods in the city of Benton Harbor people are regularly subjected to stop and search procedures based on racially biased drug courier profiles for just being black. Frederick Douglas’s question of making good the promise of the Constitution must be answered with a resounding yes! By any means necessary, for all of our people. So you must keep your mind on your freedom and freedom on your mind.


Rev. Pinkney was released from tether in an Appellate Court victory. But he still must pay court costs, aimed at breaking a defendant, in the amount of $6,405. Send donations to BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Editor’s Note: Belinda Brown is a leader in the struggle for a just Benton Harbor. She was interviewed by Joseph Peery of the People’s Tribune.

PT: Talk about your fight with the corporations as a business owner.

Belinda Brown: I originally started my business in the early 90s before I was awakened to what was really going on. I was on a pursuit to incubate other businesses for the community. But I came to find out that the Chamber of Commerce is tied into Whirlpool; it was called Cornerstone Alliance at that time.  I gave them my business plan to bring jobs to the community. Disturbingly, I soon found out that all businesses that take their business to Cornerstone Alliance are automatically sabatoged. This happened to me and to friends of mine. Whatever anybody tried to do that didn’t fit into their plan of their 25-year take over of Benton Harbor is automatically sabotaged. There’s no way to compete with these corporations. You are going to get kicked to the curb. If you don’t fit into their plan, you’re going to fail.

PT: Could you talk about how to get youth involved in the struggle?

BB: We’re excited. We feel that our new Benton Harbor chapter of the NAACP is going to make a great impact on our young people. Pastor Pinkney is the President and he is a fighter. He is going to make something happen with the situation we’re facing. We’re focusing on the education issue and trying to get our young people involved to be a powerful movement to take back our city. We feel that we have had enough. It’s not too late and if we work hard and expose to the world what happens when you rise up and take a stand against the forces that be, no matter how powerful they are, we can win. Our young people are excited about this.

PT: What kind of a new America, new Benton Harbor, could we have?

BB: Now that the young people have educated themselves to what happened and how it happened, the fight is on. I mean the fight to change this world in regard to how people are treated. Young people hate that they are subject to this type of struggle in this century. They looked at the conditions that their parents suffer from because of this planned take over of Benton Harbor by the corporations so they are looking for opportunities to keep it from happening to anybody. Because they had to experience this, they can be a model to help educate. This generation is fearless and ready for something different.This is what is going to be needed to see a new America. They are saying we’re going to make something better happen.

Fighting The Corporations     A new pamphlet published by the People’s Tribune discusses the victories and next steps in the struggle against the corporations in Benton Harbor. A battle has been won, and this should be celebrated, but there is still a war going on. Will America have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty under the heel of open corporate power? Will the American people move to take over the corporations before they take over society?  Place your orders now. Send $3 for each pamphlet or order 10 for  $20 to People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.



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