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Social justice and Philander Smith 

Social justice and Philander Smith

Philander Smith College, the historically black institution founded to educate blacks in the post-slavery South, got a big boost last week. The Kresge Foundation awarded it a $1.2 million grant to establish a center for social justice. Expect Philander Smith to be seeking your help. It must raise $300,000 as part of a challenge grant for the program.

Philander President Walter Kimbrough says the college will infuse social justice into curriculum campus-wide, hire visting professors who focus on social justice and begin an incentive program to encourage students toward "civic engagement." This has been a focus of the Kimbrough era already. He led a student group to a mass demonstration for the Jena Nine. The campus has also hosted a conference on the aftermath of school desegregation in education.

Are things looking up?

The Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock offered some hopeful news about the Arkansas economy last week. It said preliminary data indicated a 4 percent increase in taxable sales during the second quarter of this year, the third consecutive quarter in which data indicated a rise in retail sales. Better still, U.S. numbers showed a lag in the second quarter, but "in contrast, the preliminary data for Arkansas suggested ongoing expansion – at an accelerating pace."

Credit where due

It seems only right to give former Gov. Mike Huckabee, the Florida-based talk show host, credit where due. He did himself proud last week in an interview for National Public Radio. He defended his support as governor for legislation that would have allowed college assistance for Arkansas high school graduates who came into the country illegally as children. He also refused to join a growing Republican call for a change in the 14th Amendment to prohibit automatic citizenship for children born in the United States. He also said all children of illegal immigrants should have a path to citizenship. "You do not punish a child for something the parent did," he told host Tom Ashbrook. "...I'd rather have that kid a neurosurgeon than a tomato picker."

Bravo, Mr. Huckabee.

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