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Vincent Harding and Rose Marie Freeney Harding
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.
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
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
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
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
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
President Obama's "My Brothers Keeper"
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
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
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
to See and Hear Coach Dr.
Narcy Jackson Discuss Educating and Saving Boys of
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.
call 773.285.9600 today for this limited opportunity.
students have hand in teacher-parent conferences
Photo provided by The Black Star
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
"It's a lot better than having a
nervous breakdown while the teacher talks to your parents," Zariya Graves
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
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
"It's better for the kids to tell
their parents their grades than the teacher, because it gives a better impact,"
"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
Still segregated despite all society's
By BRIYANA HUBBARD
February 16, 2015
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
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
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.
By Lolly Bowean, Chicago Tribune
February 13, 2015
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
Israel Townsel dances with his daughter Egypt,
4. (Andrew A. Nelles, Chicago
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
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
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
"I'm a dad and I do it all," said
Townsel, beaming with pride. "Yes, I did her hair myself. I picked out the
to Read Full Story and
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to See a Gallery of Daddy
Daughter Dance Photos
to Leave a Comment for The
Black Star Project
to Bring the Daddy-Daughter
Dance to Your City
My Father Means To Me"
IFI Chicago White Sox
Now in its 18th year this popular essay writing contest has attracted more
entries and annually involves more than 700
volunteer readers encompasses three celebrations.
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
students receive a certificate of participation and gifts from IFI's sponsor
of the 156 will also be invited to the June 10th IFI Fatherhood
Dinner Celebration being held at the Union League Club of
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.
will receive BrightStart college scholarships
The top 100
participating schools will receive a
Kit of Fathering Resources, and
deadline for submission is March 6, 2015.
forward this message to your local superintendents, principals, and educators
with an encouraging word to have their students participate.
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