Long March to the Dream

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, better remembered as the day on which Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech to the largest crowd — over 200 000 – ever, at that point, assembled in the American capital.

President Abraham Lincoln had proclaimed the freedom America’s African slaves a century earlier on January 1, 1863. President Barack Obama will speak, as Dr. King did, from the steps of the gleaming white temple dedicated to Lincoln’s memory.

The power of Dr. King’s speech has made it easy to forget the march was as much about economic rights as the civil kind. Demands included a national minimum wage and a public works and training programme for the unemployed. Continue reading “Long March to the Dream”

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Show them the money

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Richard Branson, former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and several dozen other current or soon to be emeriti last week asked the government of Bangladesh to stop bullying microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank. The New York Times did not consider this newsworthy.

It did, however, join the parade of influential publications – Forbes, the Atlantic, Fast Company, Slate, Harvard Business Review and the Washington Post – to publish glowing pieces about Columbia University economist Paul Niehaus and his philanthropic start-up, GiveDirectly (www.givedirectly.com)

Move over, Grameen. With Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes on its board and a $2.4 million Global Impact Award from Google, GiveDirectly, looks like becoming the next big thing in development circles. Continue reading “Show them the money”

Bezos and the Post

My son wants to follow his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps into newspapering. Until last week, I feared he might just as gainfully launch a buggy whip business. Then Amazon founder Jeff Bezosdecided to spend some pocket change, $250 million of his estimated $25 billion net worth, to become a press baron.

Washington Post Co. chairman Donald Graham, son of the legendary Kay Graham, grandson of Eugene Meyer who bought the Post in a bankruptcy sale in 1933, and uncle of the present publisher, Katharine Weymouth, has always tried to do the right thing.  He has never let vanity get in his way.

He served in Viet Nam when he could have avoided the draft. He became a beat-trudging cop to get to know his readers and their city at street level. And when it became clear the family could not take the business from the analogue to the digital age, he went looking for someone who could. Continue reading “Bezos and the Post”

Seamless and Transforming

Let it be “seamless” is the Obama administration’s party line on the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act before it expires in 2015. President Obama’s new US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, wants to add another word to the talking points: “transformative”.

How the act might be made more so will be debated at the 12th annual AGOA Forum, which gets under way in Addis Ababa on Friday. Mr Froman will launch a review of 13-year-old law and how it might be updated to reflect new realities. Continue reading “Seamless and Transforming”