Lifetime achievement? 

At 12:36 p.m., Ju

At 12:36 p.m., July 14, 2005, in Indianapolis, Ind., Indiana Black Expo honored President George W. Bush with an award called “Lifetime Achievement” at its Annual Corporate Luncheon. Black Expo has no officially declared political persuasion. It claims neither liberal nor conservative leanings.

As reported in the NUVO cover story of July 6, Expo is the once-a-year most comprehensive exposition of cultural, health care, economic and educational resources by and for African-Americans anywhere on the globe. And top entertainment at free concerts to boot! It is a highly respected and credible organization and at this 35th anniversary we’ve never seen it better.

The Corporate Luncheon was over and word of the award was global news by 1 p.m. By 1:01 p.m., e-mails and phone calls began coming from equally perplexed parties all over Indianapolis from every region of America and many other continents: “What are the achievements that are being honored? Huh?!?” No Expo press release clarified. So, for answers we began talking with Expo attendees.

Ms. Mashariki Jywanza has been a regular attendee at Expo events since its founding three decades ago. What have Bush’s noteworthy achievements been over a lifetime? “Not a clue ...” she said, twice. Jywanza seemed amused at the question. But it was serious.

Black Expo board member the Rev. Paul Barrett regularly attends board meetings. But, he said, “I found out about it the same time that you and the rest of the public did. Sorry, I’m not exactly sure what it’s for ... what they said at the luncheon was what the U.S. is doing in Africa, with previously incarcerated prisoners and education.”

We observed that the only official reports on Bush’s personal achievements with prisoners were two well-documented and official complaints from Amnesty International, the first in 1999 when he was governor of Texas and the second a few months ago for his infamous “Gitmo.”

As for education, the most recent reports on “black students closing the achievement gap” notwithstanding, Bush’s educational officials have altered the tracking data so there is no way to accurately assess this claim. Of Africa, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the rest of the world have been begging Bush to actually do something of substance.

Rep. Bill Crawford is an Expo board member, one of the more thoughtful and effective legislators in Indiana, and had a comprehensive set of reasons for the award. If what Crawford says is true, George W. Bush is on the verge of becoming the most effective president of the past 50 years.

Joyce Rogers, the president of Expo, noted that “Mr. Bush is president of the United States and came to Expo once in a lifetime.” Yes, that is indisputable logic, but, what’s the achievement?

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