Thursday, February 19, 2015

Freedom's Sacred Dance with Vincent and Rose Marie Harding; InDenver, "My Brother's Keeper" Summit; Become An Electrician; Students HaveHand in Parent-Teacher Conferences; Little Has Changed in SchoolSegregation

Freedom's Sacred Dance
My Brother's Keeper in Denver
Become an Electrician
Schools Still Segregated After All These Years
2015 Daddy Daughter Dance
Illinois Fatherhood Initiative Essay Contest
Freedom's Sacred Dance
By Vincent Harding and Rose Marie Freeney Harding
October 20, 2001
Nearly 40 years have passed since the summer of 1961, when we left Chicago to enter the powerful and transformative world of the southern Freedom Movement. We had just celebrated our first wedding anniversary.
Rosemarie, who was born in Chicago, was working as an elementary school teacher and church-based social worker when we met. Vincent had come to Chicago from New York to study history at the University of Chicago and to serve as interim lay pastor at a small, southside Protestant congregation.
All during that period, our children, Rachel and Jonathan, were with us. They were often in our arms or on our backs during the marches. They slept through the long meetings, but not before they had been greeted by our friends and co-workers who became their uncles and aunts along the way.
And everywhere in the South they shared with us the marvelous hospitality of black and white homes. They eventually grew old enough to participate in such activities as leafletting on behalf of the first African-American mayor of Atlanta. Deeply embedded in them were the songs of the movement and the spirit to which those songs gave witness.
From our earliest days in that struggle, we realized that the world of deep religious seeking and the world of expansive democracy-building were one world, grounded in the grandest hope and possibilities of the human spirit.
Indeed, for many of those active in the Freedom Movement, the motivation to enter the struggle, the courage to move relentlessly forward as nonviolent soldiers against the terror of the white status quo, and the vision of a new, desegregated social order were all fueled by great spiritual and religious resources.
So when some leaders, like our friend Martin King, identified a central goal of the movement in terms of "the beloved community," and others, like our friend Ella Baker, envisioned and modeled a participatory, expanding democracy, we knew that politics and spirituality belonged together, two manifestations of the same empowering reality.
Everywhere we went, this dialectic of hope, this sacred dance between the spiritual and political, appeared at the heart of the movement. In the jails, where songs and prayers overcame moans and shrieks of pain; in the church-based mass meetings, where action reports and sophisticated strategizing melded into freedom songs, fervent prayers, and testimony sessions; on streets and roads, where protest marches became spiritual pilgrimages "moving on to freedom land," the dance continued.
We were encouraged in this dance not only through encounters with southern movement veterans such as Bob Moses, but with other veterans of hope, such as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama; Julia Esquivel, the Guatemalan poet and pro-democracy worker; Grace and James Boggs, the Detroit-based political philosophers and organizers; Delores Huerta, the powerful farm worker organizer; Howard Thurman, the African-American mystic and visionary; Jim Wallis of Sojourners; Sulak Sivaraksa, the lay Buddhist pro-democracy leader from Thailand; and our longtime friend, the poet Sonia Sanchez.
The Veterans of Hope Project is a response to these urgent calls. The Project began in 1997 as an experiment in education for humane, spirit-grounded social change. Based at the Iliff School of Theology, we sponsor courses, a series of videotaped interviews, lectures, retreats, and other programs that address the links between religion and social transformation. The first series of the edited videos includes conversations with men and women, almost all of whom remain deeply engaged in hard, demanding work for change: including James Lawson, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Ruby Sales,Zoharah Simmons and Andrew Young.
Such are the people who keep us going, and we know that our work is for them and their great grandchildren. The dance belongs to us all.

Vincent Harding and Rosemarie Freeney Harding, themselves veterans of the southern Freedom Movement, are co-founders and co-chairs of the Veterans of Hope
Click Here to Read Full Article and to See Early Pictures of the Hardings. Vincent and Rose were the uncle and aunt of Gloria Smith and Phillip Jackson of The Black Star Project.
In Denver, Colorado
President Obama's "My Brothers Keeper" summit

By Beyond Athletics
February 16, 2015
Denver is answering President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper Community Challenge" for cities to ensure that all youth, including boys and young men of color, have opportunities to improve their lives and overcome barriers to success.
This past Saturday, February 14, 2015 eighty young men of color met at the Youth on Record facilities on 10th and Navajo, Denver to discuss issues of concerns as well as make suggestion as to how to resolve these issue. Organizations Athletics & Beyond, Youth on Record, Steps for Success, Boys & Girls Club (Montbello H.S.), the City of Denver's Office of Children's Affairs and other community organizations helped coordinate this summit.
Youth leaders from Athletics & Beyond, Kappa League, Youth on Record, Project Voice, Omega Leadership Academy Mentorship Program, just to name a few, led in discussions ranging from the education system, police relations, workforce readiness and areas of their passion.
Some of the key topics covered at this past weekend's planning meeting were relationships between young men of color, teachers and the Denver Police Department. Students expressed concerns over the dismal representation in the schools where over 80% of the teachers and administrators for Denver Public Schools are white, teaching 80% students of color.
The other issue expressed was their interaction with the police department. The unanimous solution suggested was building better relationships and cultural competency training for teachers and police officers.
Next Saturday, February 21, 2015 various city officials will have an opportunity to engage in open dialog from My Brothers Keeper Youth Leaders. Invited guest will include: Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver Public Schools Superintendent, Lt. Gov., a couple of Supervisory Superintendents, School Principals, Denver Police Chief, as well as others.

Click Here to Read Full Story
Click Here to See and Hear Coach Dr. Narcy Jackson Discuss Educating and Saving Boys of Color!
Call The Black Star Project
If You Are A Man or Woman
in the Chicago Area
Who Wants To Become An
You must be interviewed, have a valid driver's license, be drugfree, have proof of citizenship, have a social security card, be at least 17 years old, pass a basic skills and academic test, be in good physical shape, clear a background check, and a have a letter of recommendation. Limited slots available for a March 2, 2015 interview.
Please call 773.285.9600 today for this limited opportunity.
In Decatur, Illinois,
Dennis students have hand in teacher-parent conferences
Photo provided by The Black Star Project
Valerie Wells
February 13, 2015
DECATUR - Parent-teacher conferences can be stressful for everyone. At Dennis School, students run their own conferences, presenting their grades and records to their parents and guardians themselves, with the teacher in attendance.
"It's a lot better than having a nervous breakdown while the teacher talks to your parents," Zariya Graves said.
Students have already done this once, during fall parent-teacher conferences, and it worked out so well that they're preparing to repeat it, said Jennifer Parks, who teaches fifth-grade math. She had one student who had been goofing off in class and distracting other students, and his grades reflected that. And he was the one who had to explain that to his parents and admit that he hadn't been doing his best.
"He made a real turnaround after that," Parks said.
The students have binders in which they keep track of their own progress, and they know where they're excelling and where they need work. They set their own goals and are responsible for reaching them, she said.
"I want you to really pretend this person is your parent, your grandparent, whoever is going to be coming with you to conferences," Parks said as the fifth-graders prepared to do a practice run with their classmates on Friday. "Let that data really guide your conversation with your parents, and be honest with them. If you're not doing so well, you know why that is."
"In all the books that I've read, understanding your weakness and where you need to improve, this is the key to you becoming a better student and a better learner," Principal Matt Andrews said.
Grace Deetz and Mea Abbott worked together practicing for their conferences, and while both girls said the pressure is on when they have to account for themselves, they also think it's a good idea.
"It's better for the kids to tell their parents their grades than the teacher, because it gives a better impact," Grace said.
"If you had a bad grade, it's easier for the teacher to tell the parent they had a bad grade than it is for the kid to do it," Mea said.
Putting the conferences in the hands of the kids supports the school's student-centered learning, making the students responsible for their own work, Andrews said.
"This is absolutely essential," he said. "They know what they need to work on, and they can set goals specific to themselves."
In Berlin. Maryland
Still segregated despite all society's advances
February 16, 2015
Briyana Hubbard
Recent incidents at Stephen Decatur High School are heartbreaking to me, yet unfortunately do not shock me. The racial slurs were all over Twitter and Instagram. One post saying "Hang 'em high and hang 'em low" also featured two swastikas.
I think what really sent chills in my body was when one student said the Instagram post was " blown out of proportion." Denial is the devil. People want to act like racism doesn't exist, so instead they believe others are being dramatic.
The principal's reaction to the events, however, I found disturbing. He was more concerned about the posts being deleted than addressing underlying issues at the school.
Many people can screenshot images on their phones today; deleting the posts makes no difference - and it does not solve the problem. People already saw the posts. The issues are not like a picture - you can't just delete it and think it has gone away.
If the issues are never talked about they will always be there. Principal Thomas Zimmer said he doesn't believe race is an issue. Yet videos and social media posts feature racial slurs.
Racial issues at that school are obvious. I think it is easy to say there is no issue when you fear confrontation and conflict. But you will never solve an issue without some conflict and communication.
If race really was not an issue, why do you think this picture is receiving so much controversy?
One student mentioned there was a fight like this before that was swept under the rug. This reveals how these issues have always been there, but were just not publicized. The student also mentions there were death threats and fights at the school.
I wonder when the students and school system are going to actually confront these issues? There needs to be more action taken, big time.
I think this incident needed to be publicized to show how racism doesn't only happen in specific areas. I believe some people would rather not know (or deny it) so they don't have to face reality. If we want to truly move past racism, we have to get uncomfortable and talk about it.
We may not be physically segregated anymore in schools, but we still are mentally separated.
Briyana Hubbard is a senior at University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Please call Superintendent Jerry Wilson at 410-632-5021 or Principal Thomas Zimmer at 410-641-2171 and give Ms. Briyana Hubbard positive support in managing this issue.
As the mellow sounds of soul music played, Willie Bailey grabbed his 7-year-old daughter's hand and twirled her in a circle. He pulled her close, placed a hand on her shoulder, and the two bopped back and forth in a two-step, laughing and giggling.
"I feel so happy," Bailey's daughter, Taniya said after they stopped moving. "I feel pretty."
Bailey and his daughter were among dozens of father-daughter couples gathered on the South Side recently at a party designed to spotlight the role of black fathers in their daughter's lives. For Bailey, the event was a way to celebrate his love for his youngest daughter. It was a reason, too, for her to get dressed up and be the center of attention for a day.
"I wouldn't miss this for the world," said Bailey, 45, of Oak Park, who has attended the event three years in a row. "I love it because it gives us a chance to spend time together, just us."
In recent years, African-Americans have started to host and participate in the social events as a way of highlighting the role fathers play in helping their daughters develop self-esteem and feel supported and validated.
The Black Star Project, which has hosted such events for six years, had its biggest turnout this year, officials with the education advocacy group said. Another Chicago group that hosts a similar affair also reported an increase in interest. At Haley Elementary Academy in the Roseland and West Pullman communities, school leaders have planned their first father-daughter dance for later this year, Principal Sherry Pirtle said.
That growing interest in father-daughter dances comes amid a long-standing push in African-American communities to keep fathers involved in the lives of their sons.
In Illinois, 74 percent of black children in 2013 were being raised by single parents. But just because many black children are being raised by single parents doesn't mean that their fathers aren't involved or aren't the primary caregivers, according to Waldo Johnson Jr., an associate professor in the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration.
The dance started with a meal and featured a performance by a magician. Then it was time to dance.
Several girls do a line dance during the event Feb. 7, 2015, at Little Black Pearl in Chicago. (Andrew A. Nelles, Chicago Tribune)
From the day his daughter was born, Israel Townsel has been her primary caretaker, he said. His relationship with his daughter's mother didn't work out. But he wanted to make sure his daughter was brought up in a stable home with her father as provider and biggest supporter.
"We get such a bad reputation for what a few men have done," said Townsel, 37, of Bronzeville. "It feels good to be in a room full of men who love being fathers."
Besides bringing his daughter Egypt, 4, to the dance, Townsel brought his niece, Dyamond Roberts, 11. The girls were dressed in coordinated magenta gowns with black and silver necklaces.
"I'm a dad and I do it all," said Townsel, beaming with pride. "Yes, I did her hair myself. I picked out the dress, shoes.
Click Here to Read Full Story and Leave a Positive Comment for the Chicago Tribune
Click Here to See a Gallery of Daddy Daughter Dance Photos
Click Here to Leave a Comment for The Black Star Project
Click Here to Bring the Daddy-Daughter Dance to Your City
Illinois Fatherhood Initiative
Fatherhood Essay Contest
"What My Father Means To Me"
2015 IFI Chicago White Sox
Fatherhood Essay Contest
Now in its 18th year this popular essay writing contest has attracted more than 400,000 entries and annually involves more than 700 volunteer readers encompasses three celebrations.
All school-aged Illinois children are welcome and encouraged to participate by writing an essay about their; father, stepfather, grandfather or father-figure to the theme
All students receive a certificate of participation and gifts from IFI's sponsor partners.
12 of the 156 will also be invited to the June 10th IFI Fatherhood Dinner Celebration being held at the Union League Club of Chicago.
4 of the 12 will also be treated to a Chicago White Sox baseball game where they will have a special on-field experience and throw out a ceremonial first pitch to their dads.
12 students will receive BrightStart college scholarships
The top 100 participating schools will receive a
Starter Kit of Fathering Resources, and
The deadline for submission is March 6, 2015.
Click Here to download entry materials.
Please forward this message to your local superintendents, principals, and educators with an encouraging word to have their students participate.

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