Tuesday, August 22, 2006


When I was invited to WRCG radio to appear on "TalkLine" two weeks ago, co-host Antonio Carter gave me a flier inviting me to a news conference. I was unable to attend it Monday, because of work commitments. But that may be OK, because Carter wants young people to be committed to work much more than simply hanging out.

Antonio Carter's Government Center news conference announced the launch of The N.J.G., or "National Joshua Generation." In another part of the country, those initials might refer to the New Jersey Giants football team -- because it doesn't really play in New York, you know....

Let's make something clear right away: Antonio Carter told me Monday night the National Joshua Generation is NOT connected with the National Action Network, with which he's been aligned. In Columbus, I'm not sure that group stirred up that much action, anyway.

The National Joshua Generation is an entirely new group, of which Antonio Carter is President. He says the goal is to "raise the standard" for African-American people. So who came up with that phrase first - Carter's group, or Vice President and Columbus Council candidate Charles Weaver?

Antonio Carter says the initial goal of his group is to fight a "culture of decadence" in the African-American community. I'm not sure he should stop there. Plenty of decadent white people appear on Jerry Springer's talk show every day.

The decadence Antonio Carter is concerned about includes young people "wearing their pants down around their knees" and using filthy language. Trade low pants for high skirts, and you'd give me a flashback to when I was in junior high school.

Antonio Carter says the National Joshua Generation wants to show African-American people it's wrong to dream of being a "thug or a pimp...." Hmmm - to borrow from that Oscar-winning song, it may get even harder out here for a pimp.

Antonio Carter also is concerned that only 35 percent of the African-American men in Georgia graduate from high school. Some of us are concerned about a related issue -- where will the 65 percent go when they start tearing down the Baker Village Apartments?

The National Joshua Generation has several slogans. One of them is "whenever, wherever, however" - which is quite different from most young people today, who seemed skilled in saying "whatever."

Another theme of the N.J.G. is "turning pain into power." This leans toward two of the group's emphases, health and politics - or have you noticed how many doctors have been elected to Congress in recent years?

You may be surprised to learn Antonio Carter does NOT blame many of the problems with African-American youth today on white people. He says his own ethnic community has failed in many ways. I will resist the temptation here to mention the racial makeup of the Northern Little League Team -- and leave that for Kaffie Sledge.

The National Joshua Generation's web site has a statement from Antonio Carter, in which he says the new group was based on a "recent revelation." Based on some of his initial goals, I'm tempted to say the revelation came from Bill Cosby....

The picture on the home page of the N.J.G. web site appears to come from the January 2005 march in support of Kenneth Walker's family. At least Antonio Carter has started some new things since then. Pastor Wayne Baker seems to have done little more than build an addition to his church.

While no Columbus TV stations seemed to attend the news conference announcing the National Joshua Generation, Antonio Carter says about 40 people were there. The group included both candidates for Mayor - so maybe both of them are holding a "race card," and they're waiting for a Chattahoochee "River card."

Antonio Carter says he hopes the National Joshua Generation will expand, with chapters nationwide. I would imagine he'll have to get used to one question above all others - why there's no one on his board named Joshua.

As our phone chat concluded, Antonio Carter said something surprising to me: "Thank you, brother." Wow, maybe his TalkLine co-host Robbie Watson is right - he IS moving toward the political center.

By the way, Antonio Carter may be displeased to learn Tavis Smiley was taken off Georgia Public Television Monday night. Smiley's talk show apparently has been replaced by Charlie Rose - but at least Rose interviewed a couple of Democrats, so calm the viewers' emotions.


The Premiere Weekend of Power Frisbee of Georgia is almost here! Opening night is Thursday in Augusta, with matches coming to Columbus later in the fall. Check the schedule and learn more about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments at the P.F.G. blog.

Because the countdown is near to my big new other project, I'll have to stop there and move to some final thoughts from Monday:

+ Judge Robert Johnston ruled Chattahoochee County commissioners went too far by cutting the Sheriff's budget by 60 percent. At least Columbus Council was a lot more subtle than that with public safety pay....

(County commissioners denied they're trying to eliminate the Chattahoochee County Sheriff's office, by spending more money on a county police force. There are more civilized ways to handle this, of course - such as helping former Marshal Ken Suddeth move to Cusseta.)

+ The Columbus Boy Choir announced its name is changing to "Voices of the Valley." For all these years, I wondered why WRCG radio didn't take that slogan first.

+ WRBL reported Skate-a-Rama in Phenix City has lost its lease, and will close this weekend. We hope the skateboarders on the Riverwalks enjoy the extra company next week.

+ The Northern All-Stars had a day off at the Little League World Series, so some of them went go-kart racing. How quickly these baseball players forget about Ben Roethlisberger....

(The Muscogee County School Board passed a proclamation honoring the Northern All-Stars. The team is officially considered to be on a "field trip" - and as long as they don't trip on the field, they should be fine.)

+ As if the Columbus Catfish didn't have enough problems, the evening news showed Sunday's thunderstorm knocked over part of the outfield fence at Golden Park. City crews plan to put up replacement fencing in time for a home stand on Thursday - otherwise, a hard hit to the outfield really MIGHT roll for days.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.69 a gallon at Big Cat, Buena Vista and M.LK.... the song "So Long Self" by MercyMe.... and the Northern All-Stars to make Lemont lament....

COMING WEDNESDAY: A follow-up to Sunday's item about Columbus construction workers....

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