Not just a Spike Lee film, "Do the Right Thing" is also this Columbia leader's motto
COLUMBIA, 12/11/11 (Op-Ed) -- In every community there are moral voices urging better choices, and in Columbia, William "Gene" Robertson is one of them.
Robertson starts off our extended profiles of Columbia's Top Ten Black Leaders.
In dozens of editorial columns over the years for both local newspapers, the Columbia Missourian columnist
and Mizzou community development professor emeritus consistently argues that the highest charge of human life -- our prime directive, as it were -- is to do the right thing. That may sound like a simple mandate, but as one look at Robertson's wisdom shows, doing right by yourself and others may be the hardest job in the world.
He wants to do away with a common Columbia charade
: City Hall starts a new "public" planning process like Visioning, only to blow it off behind close doors. "Too often [well-intentioned task force members] find out that the citizen participation process was only a ruse
to give the appearance that citizens were considered when programs were developed or discontinued," Robertson wrote.
Representing the First Ward, Robertson was a member
of Columbia's Ward Reapportionment Committee after the 2000 census. A few years later, he was arguing to make the city's new recreation center -- aka the ARC -- accessible to low income persons
who, Robertson noted, paid for it with their taxes just like everyone else.
"My designation as a black American affirms my high regard for other people of all colors, cultures and continents. I am a willing partner with every other living being. We share a common human denominator," Robertson wrote about being black in America.
"Each of us is a closet leader whose leadership potential is waiting to be unleashed," he wrote about leadership. "Our fate is in our hands. We are the leaders of our fate."