Terri Sewell seeks jobs for 7th districts

By Heather Smith

TUSCALOOSA–Congresswoman Terri Sewell spoke at a luncheon Tuesday provided by the Rotary Club at the Indian Hills Country Club on McFarland. One of the main points in her speech was strengthening the job market in Alabama.

Voted the first African American Congress representative for the 7th district of Alabama, she is the only Democratic in Alabama’s delegation. She is a freshman in the 112th Congress and a member of the House committees of agriculture and science,space, and technology. Raised in Selma, Sewell went on to attend Princeton University, Harvard Law School, and Oxford.

Sewell has many notable achievements, but she focused on her story about escorting the president during his inaugural address. She was able to speak with him about her home state a few minutes before his speech.

“I went on to tell the president about the 7th Congressional districts, while one of the poorest districts in the state of Alabama … and one of the poorest in the nation. We also have a high unemployment rate–high drop out rate–but what we lack in economic prosperity, I told him that we more than made up for in heart and in spirit and fight. And that I am convinced that what we need in the 7th Congressional district are just resources and opportunities.”

One of the opportunities focused on the TRAIN ACT. Sewell defended her decision to vote for the bill because of the potential damages Alabama’s workers and businesses could suffer if it did not pass.

The TRAIN ACT, H.R. 2401, pits the environment against jobs for Americans. The proposed bill would stop the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) from strictly regulating carbon emissions and would continue the use of coal as one of our main energy supplies. The EPA mandates could affect the price of energy consumption and potentially affect the labor forces.

“The environment, while very important, I just think is a luxury when you’re taking about saving jobs in this kind of economy,” she said.

Sewell was one of 18 Democrats that voted with the Republicans to dismiss the TRAIN ACT. The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate.

However, there is another potential move that could bring 15,000 jobs to Alabama in the next five years. Sewell said that the free trade agreements with Panama, Columbia and Korea could help the economy. Congress will take up those discussions in the next few months.

Obama’s job plan is another way to boost the market. She went on to say that there needs to be more tax reliefs for small businesses and believes that corporate tax structure has to be re-examined. Sewell also said that the state or the government should not limit pale grants because they are essential to building the future of this country by allowing students to earn higher educations. She was adamant that she would not have been able to attend college without one.

“The only way I believe we can out educate, out innovate, out compete with the rest of the world is that we invest in all that is good in America.”

Obama’s bill has hit a wall, however. The Wall Street Journal covers the story. It might not be as easy to generate jobs as the Congresswoman suggested. Now that the bill has passed that severely restricts illegal Latino immigration into Alabama, there are more jobs for Americans but no one wants them.

Marcy Bonebright wrote about the difficulties now facing the construction companies. “Hispanics, documented and undocumented, dominate anything to do with masonry, concrete, framing, roofing and landscaping,” Bob McNelly, a contractor with Nash-McCraw Properties, told the news service. “There are very few subcontractors I work with that don’t have a Hispanic workforce… It’s not the pay rate. It’s the fact that they work harder than anyone. It’s the work ethic.”

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Emmanuel Church hosts programs to help Latino families

This is my first attempt at a stand-up. I do not want to confess how many times it too me to choke out a few sentences, but I got through the project. I think it turned out to be a decently told story about how life was for Latino families living in Wood Village mobile home community.

I had to learn to work around the limitation of not filming the children’s faces, however. Because I did not have parental consent, I could not identify the kids in the video.

New niche is expanding for Latino journalism

It is interesting to watch Caucasian men and women report on a story about children in the ghettos or drug wars on the Mexican border. They seem out of place and disconnected to the plights they are reporting on. Would it register with audiences more to see Latino journalists walking the deserts paths of drug runners or African American newscasters investigating education in poor neighborhoods? Or is that considered stereotypical? After all, several ethnicities could be affected by any story.

Historical segregation and racial prejudice has undoubtedly played a part in hindering minorities in social and professional environments. Just as minorities are gaining ground in the political arena, the same battle is being fought in journalism.

On the Daily Grito, Rubon Soto counted down 10 news reporters and anchors in American journalism. They are all in highly populated Hispanic cities such as L.A., San Antonio, Miami, New York and Chicago.

George de Lama, associate managing editor for foreign and national news at the Chicago Tribune, notes in his article “There’s a Need at the Top for Latino Journalists” that there is a significant need for minority reporters that has not been filled. He was the second Latino to work at his paper and explains how his predecessor and mentor was promoted to editor.

“The need is visible across the country; the rise of Latino influence on American politics, popular culture and society is exploding onto the nation’s consciousness before most news organizations are ready to handle it. Today no serious newspaper can pretend to serve its community without sophisticated reporting about Hispanic affairs.”

There are opportunities in small community news and large organizations to push racial and ethnic borders. There are talk shows, magazines and newspapers all to support the growing number of immigrants in the U.S. NewsTaco is a blog led by four journalists that deliver information from Latino points of view. Fox News also has a site dedicated completely to stories centered on Hispanic interests.

Now that doors have been opened, the problem becomes education for minority children. They often are born into homes with parents who speak little English and work minimum wage jobs. It is a constantly struggle financially and socially as the kids are required to adapt to a culture much different from their own heritage. Competition for college acceptances, internships and entry-level positions may only heap more stress and insecurity onto an individual struggling to overcome discrimination.

However, enduring and succeeding these obstacles molds a stronger character, which then produces better journalists. The tougher and more stubborn resolve, the harder a news reporter digs to uncover the truth of a critical story.

Lama offers a snippet of advice when it comes to young Hispanics waiting to burst into a career field.

“For young Latino journalists today, whatever your choice, learn from the experience of others, then make your mark by breaking your own new ground. Whichever way you go, whatever you decide to pursue, remember that fresh approaches to stories and new insights in reporting and writing are at the heart of excellent journalism, the kind that best serves our readers—and that provides the greatest possible career opportunities.”