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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Defying the Odds

In The Black Man on March 17, 2010 at 9:35 am

Tim King, founder and CEO of Urban Prep in Chicago, has reason to be proud: his vision of reclaiming young African American boys from the streets, drugs, and gangs and putting them on a path of manhood and productive citizenship is underway. “A role model doesn’t have to be a parent, but if you don’t have someone who looks like you, who has a similar background, about whom you can say, ‘He did it and I can do it,’ then you never will believe it. That’s why all these kids want to be basketball players or rap stars –those are the people they see who look like them.”

So, King decided to become more visible, become a star in his own right, he founded Urban Prep Charter Academy, the nation’s first all-male, all-African American charter school in the Southside of Chicago. 107 seniors are graduating, and out of that 107, all have been accepted to four year colleges or universities. According to abcnews.com, when the school opened four years ago, only 4 percent reading at grade level. Duaa Eldeib of the Chicago Tribune quotes King as saying that “There were those who told me that you can’t defy the data. Black boys are killed. Black boys drop out of high school. Black boys go to jail. Black boys don’t go to college. Black boys don’t graduate from college. They were wrong.” But the job is not done. King sees this as just another accomplishment in the journey of life. Now the focus shifts to seeing that these young men attend college: King said that “If we fulfill our mission, that means they not only are accepted to college, but graduate from it.”

And for graduating senior Bryant Alexander, “we’re breaking barriers and that feels great.”

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The Future of Black Politics?

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Growing up in the Memphis area, I was acutely familiar with the Ford family-Memphis’ and Tennessee’s version of political royalty. And for many African Americans, the Fords were the face of progress and a future that many only dreamed of. Now, Harold Ford, Jr., former Tennessee Congressman is contemplating a run for the New York Senatorial seat.

Following the modern civil rights movement, arguably the faces of Black politics shared Harlem roots. In an October 2009 article, Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times reported that “For decades, Harlem has been the lodestar of black politics in New York City and beyond. From Harlem came the city’s first black mayor, David N. Dinkins, the state’s first black governor, David A. Paterson, and generations of other influential black politicians and operatives. To Harlem went presidential aspirants and other future stars of the Democratic Party, eager to pay homage and seek blessings. But now the once-vaunted Harlem political machine is on the verge of collapse.”

The election of Barack Obama as President shifted the balance of power in Black politics–as Confessore notes, Chicago is fast surpassing Harlem as the base for Black leaders. And at one point, Harold Ford, Jr. was considered to be apart of the new generation of African American leadership. After his failed bid in 2006 for Senator of Tennessee, Ford, Jr. may use New York as his avenue to the Senate. Not a native of Harlem, not a native New Yorker, but Ford, Jr. is a political historian. In a New York Daily News interview Millard Drexler observes, “He’s a guy who’s loved politics and a guy who likes to be in on things and I would bet at some point he was going to run for some office somewhere.” Call it timely, call it opportunistic, call it maybe–for Ford, Jr. nothing is done by happenstance.

Finding the Right Way to Go

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Derrion

Derrion Albert (Picture courtesy of CNN)

Words cannot express how saddened I am by Derrion Albert’s death. A senseless crime that truly did not have to happen. Derrion was an honor student at Christian Fenger Academy High School in Chicago. Derrion was his grandfather’s pride and joy, to which he said “we lost a really dear friend in my grandson. He was a blessed child.” Derrion was a kid who did not allow his environment to change him, but he sought to change it for the better. Derrion’s will to succeed and thirst for knowledge was matched by other young African American youths’ anger, loss of direction, and hopelessness.

Derrion’s murder has many calling for assistance, help to save those who have succumbed to a life of crime. In a Chicago Sun-Times interview, Charles Barkley, a graduate of Fenger echoed what many are feeling: “Our community needs to be saved…We need to reach out to our youth and let them know the right way to go…”

Finding a sense of community, unity, and peace will be difficult, yet we can no longer lose another Derrion to acts as this.