Ghetto Organizer Urges Self-Reliance
Urban programs must create jobs for blacks within the ghetto rather than outside it, Felix Obinani, Director of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Training Program, said last night.
Speaking to an audience of over 150 at Hunt Hall, Obinani described a program he has initiated in the Brooklyn ghetto of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The program seeks to allow "local residents to control their own community."
Obinani said he randomly selected 80 residents of the area last October for a training program aimed at "making them aware of the possibilities and limitations of the community." He emphasized that the ghetto's unused resources could be used to revitalize the community.
Supported by private industries and a $200,000 Labor Department grant, Obinani and his trainees have begun establishing corporations that, will create jobs within the ghetto. Sixteen trainees are working with the Bed-ford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and have established community centers to hear an act on residents' complaints.
Obinani blamed the present ghetto condition of Bedford-Stuyvesant on "anti-poverty landlords who exploit the ghetto" and professional planners with no social conscience." He added that the training of the 80 people, most of whom had no city planning experience, was preferable to the use of professional planners "who have been involved in making the situation in the ghetto what it is today."
"These professional planners have never addressed themselves to Negro or Puerto Rican communities," Obinani declared. "They waited until a crisis occurred and then planned a new neighborhood; that doesn't solve the problems of the ghetto."
He was skeptical about the value of Harvard students--and other white college students--to projects in ghetto areas. Students will always go back to their own environments, Obinani concluded.