Loraine Ballard Morrill is the award-winning Director of News and Community Affairs for Clear Channel Radio in Philadelphia. She's the host of Insight which airs on WDAS FM Sundays from 6:00-7:00 AM and on Power 99 FM from 7:00-7:30 AM.
WDAS FM - Sundays, 6:00-7:00 AM
Power 99 FM - Sundays, 7:00-7:30 AM.
When I was first starting out in life after graduation - the minimum wage was about $4.25
an hour. I managed to survive just fine with three roommates splitting the rent and expenses. We took turns cooking every night and we ate well. I had a pair of jeans I rotated with another pair of jeans. My parents (who were far from rich) made sure my tuition was paid for so I didn't have crushing college debt. I was single and marriage and a child were still far off.
If the minimum wage was indexed to inflation – today it would be around $10.55 an
hour. (some suggest it would have been much higher. ) It’s far from that. In Pennsylvania it’s 7.25 an hour. For the working poor life becomes a juggling act of making daily decisions between paying the rent, food and other necessities of life.
President Barack Obama has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015. Earlier this month, two congressmen introduced a bill to gradually increase it to $10.10 an hour, or nearly a 40 percent increase. Both plans would index the wage to inflation each year and raise the minimum wage for tipped a worker, which is now $2.13 an hour, for the first time in about 20 years. Advocates say a higher minimum wage would put more money in customers’ pockets and help all types of businesses. Critics claim it would burden
employers and hurt hiring. I had the chance to speak to Acting US Labor Secretary of Labor Seth Harris who addressed the issue in a recent edition on Insight. Hear the interview by clicking here.
The extraordinary musical Fela! based on the life of political activist and internationally acclaimed Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti has returned to Philadelphia for a week. I caught the opening night performance at the Merriam Theater yesterday and was reminded of how relevant his music remains. Fela was one of the first Afrobeat artists I came to know, whose music made powerful statements about political oppression and corruption, violence, corporate misdeeds and police brutality. He released the album Zombie in 1977 using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian Military. It was a smash hit that so angered the government that they attacked his compound, threw his elderly mother out of an open window killing her. Fela himself was almost killed. He continued to make politically charged music and his life is captured brilliantly in the musical Fela! playing through Sunday at the Merriam Theater.
Sitting in my seat at the Merriam Theater I listened as slowly instrument by instrument the distinctive Afrobeat sounds built up with the polyrhythmic drums to the blasting horns. Dancers entered the stage one by one and finally the actor Adesola Osakalumi who plays Fela appeared. From that moment on the audience was all in - joining in the call and response moments, joyfully dancing and in my case wiping away tears not only because of Fela’s suffering and tragic death by AIDS but by the names on the little coffins placed on the stage that represented the troubles and challenges of the world. One bore the name Trayvon Martin. For info about the artist Fela click here. For my interview with Adesola Osakalumi click here and by all means see Fela! before it leaves Philadelphia.
I met Nuala Cabral at recent event I hosted for Women's Way about the impact of media on
Women and Leadership. I was immediately struck by this young woman's eloquence
and the work she is doing as co-founder of an organization called FAAN Mail -
Fostering Activism & Alternatives Now. FAAN Mail is all about raising
awareness of how women of color are ignored, stereotyped or degraded in
mainstream media. So much of these negative messages are reflected in our
music, our movies, TV shows and video games which are in turn are promoted by
major corporations. FAAN Mail believes we all need to be more aware of the
media we consume and promote media literacy.
So how do you make a difference in the face of multibillion dollar
companies including the big record labels and media giants like Radio One and
even my own workplace - Clear Channel. FAAN Mail believes by "talking
back" to media and creating new alternatives with each other and young
girls through media literacy and activism - the needle can be moved. How can
you not respond to individuals who have so much passion for social change? I
invited Nuala Cabral and Chantelle Bateman ( that's Nuala on the left and Chantelle on the right) from FAAN Mail for an interview. I love their powerful commitment to making us all think critically and take action when we experience media that undermines women's power.
Click here for the interview that aired on Insight.
One of the great pleasures of being around for awhile is getting to see how people you really admire grow and transform. I've been lucky enough to watch the upward trajectory of Donna Frisby-Greenwood. I first met her in her twenties when she started a youth group and have watched her as she went from one amazing job to the next including heading up Rock the Vote and working with Arnold Schwartnegger in his after school initiative. Everywhere she goes and everything she does has made a huge impact and now she's the Program Director in Philadelphia for the Knight Foundation. One of her excellent projects is BME - Black Male Engagement Project which highlights the positive things African American males are doing in their communities and allowing them to tell their stories their own way. A select group of these men will also get grants to help support their projects. The deadlines's coming up soon. Here's the interview I did with Donna and one of last year's recipients Alex Peay. Here is by clicking on this link. If you'd like to know more aobut BME and apply for a grant - click here.
Also I promised last week I'd post the link of my interivew with Writer Solomon Jones. Click here to listen.
I don't exactly remember the first time I met Solomon Jones but I was impressed with this stylishly dressed, thoughtful and eloquent man. Seeing him you would never suspect he once dwelled at the bottom - drug addicted and homeless. But his - is a story of ultimate redemption. Solomon started his writing career for the Philadelphia Tribune while living at the Ridge Avenue Shelter. He went on to publish in Essence, Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer and more. Solomon has written eight bestselling novels, worked for Congressman Chaka Fattah, started a youth writers program "Word on the Street, " writes a column for the Philadelphia Daily News. He's also a wonderful husband and dad. Like I said - the hardest working man - period. I interviewed Solomon about his latest project as a contributor to a new locally based multimedia news site called axisphilly.org. So often we read about or hear about a shooting victim. Just another murder - let’s keep it moving. But for every person killed there's a story about how that death impacted friends, family and community. I interviewed Solomon about this and more. You can hear the interview this Sunday on Insight airing on WDAS 6-7 AM and Power 99 FM 7-7:30 am. I'll post the complete interview on Monday. You can also check out my Interview about the Knight Foundations Black Male Engagement Project, a great female leadership program for girls sponsored by United Way and on WDAS only - an interview with singer Terrance T who wrote a book about dealing with arrest and incarceration. If you want to see Solomon's excellence video on axisphilly.org click here.