Thursday, November 11, 2010


There are few new public officials that are whiter than Cathie Black. Recently appointed byMayor Michael Bloomberg as school chancellor, Black lacks not only the street credibility but the social interaction with the constituency of whom she will serve. Her own children attended private school in Connecticut.

The New York City public school system is overwhelmingly Black and Latino. At least former chancellor, Joel Klein had the urban experience of growing up in a housing project. Black, on the other hand was raised in the rarefied environment of the comfy middle class and parents who were privy to the intellectual bourgeoisie. Now, that does not exclude her from understanding
the needs of the inner city. But, until proven otherwise, there is little indication that she has a
clue as to how the minority/majority cultural dynamic operates in the Big Apple.

Black was born on April 26, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois, to James Hamilton Black (a food company executive) and Margaret Harrington Black. She has one brother and one sister. Black grew up in a home where current events were openly discussed, so she was exposed to newspapers from a very young age. Black also had ample opportunities to explore the rich array of arts and entertainment available in her home town.
At age 14, Black was deeply affected when her father lost his eyesight.

Not one to give up easily, he overcame this disability. He changed careers and became an investor, continuing to be productive in the face of adversity. "We both have a strong determination to succeed," Black remarked to Paul Farhi in the Washington Post. "We both have outgoing, forceful personalities. I owe him a lot."
Black graduated from Aquinas Dominican High School and went on to get her
bachelor of arts degree from Trinity College in 1966.

While job hunting, she had an interview at the large advertising firm of J. Walter Thompson. She knew the job was not for her when the interviewer dismissed her question about the executive training program. He "practically tweaked my cheek. He said, 'Why would a cute little thing like you be interested in the training program?'" she related to Kristin Choo in the Chicago Tribune. Black would later break through the "glass ceiling" that was in the path of so many ambitious women.

Black is married to Thomas Harvey, an attorney. They have a son and daughter, and make their home in New York City. The five-foot, eight-inch Black has been described as upbeat and perky; she works out to maintain her slim figure. She is on the board of directors at the Hearst Corporation, IBM, and the Coca-Cola Company, and has a number of honorary degrees.

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