Category: Youth Written by Rebecca Nuttall - Courier Staff Writer
National NAACP president
When Jotaka Eaddy was a teenager working at McDonalds she read a newspaper article about a 16-year-old who was going to be put to death. This article inspired her to take action and over the course of the next 10 years she worked with the NAACP leading grassroots efforts to eliminate the juvenile death penalty in numerous states.
The Supreme Court went on to abolish the juvenile death penalty in 2005 and today Eaddy has moved on to become the senior director for voting rights of the NAACP and special assistant to the president and CEO of the NAACP. The organization’s president, Benjamin Jealous, told Eaddy’s story to a group of local high school students on March 13, hoping to inspire them too to join the NAACP movement.
“We believe that in this room are people who will be great leaders,” Jealous said. “Think of all the Black parents listening to their children say I want to be president and knowing that just couldn’t be. Think of all the fathers listening to their daughters say I want to be president and knowing that just couldn’t be. Your generation is the first one where that is possible.”
Jealous’ visit to Pittsburgh was part of a Pittsburgh Public Theater event at the O’Reilly Theater where local high school students attended a performance of “Thurgood,” a play named for Thurgood Marshall, one time chief counsel for the NAACP, and a lawyer in the case of Brown v Board of Education that lead to school desegregation. Marshall later became the first Black U. S. Supreme Court justice. At a forum prior to the play they examined the history of the civil rights movement and were told about the civil rights struggle still being fought today.
“I’m not talking to you about fears that are not still with us,” Jealous said. “I get death threats monthly because I’m fighting for you. We get death threats for fighting for the right to vote; we get death threats for talking about gun control.”
The event was sponsored by Imani Christian Academy whose students attended alongside students from Gateway, McKeesport, Pittsburgh Perry Traditional Academy, Pittsburgh Obama, and Winchester Thurston. Prior to Jealous, Judge Timothy Lewis, an Imani board member, gave the students a history of the struggle to desegregate schools.
“Even today, 58 years after Brown vs. Board of Education we are still trying to breathe life into that promise,” Lewis said. “We have come far but this is unfinished work. Some of that work begins with you students and some of that work begins with you teachers.”
Jealous agreed saying school segregation is more present then ever with inequities in achievement and discipline between White and minority students.
“Our schools are rapidly re-segregating. More than 80 percent of what we call an achievement gap is a resources gap. A large portion of the resources gap is teachers, not having high quality teachers,” Jealous said. “If you’re a Black child, you’re more likely to be punished and be punished harshly. If you feel like its happening at your school, you should have a discussion about that.”
Pittsburgh NAACP President Connie Parker also greeted the students and gave them information on how to become involved in the Pittsburgh Unit. Together with Jealous, the two urged the students to realize the power of their voice.
“Organized people can always beat organized money,” Jealous said. “Rich people can get together and say this is what we want to happen, but you can decide whether or not it happens with your vote.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 09:31
Category: Youth Written by Terri Schlichenmeyer
Your friends all know better.
They know they’re wasting their breath when they try to tell you to do something. They can make suggestions, offer opinions, or say how they’d act in your situation, but tell you what to do?
In “Time to Shine” by Nikki Carter, pushiness can backfire for a boy, too.
No drama for the rest of the school year.
That’s what Sunday Tolliver said and it was a great idea, except it didn’t work. Drama started with the Atlanta wedding of Sunday’s mentor, Mystique and the rapper Zac, but when Zac’s baby-mama dropped his son off at the reception, that didn’t make Mystique very happy.
And then there was Sam, who was Sunday’s ex.
When she caught him in a lie a few months before, Sunday told Sam that she couldn’t tolerate an unfaithful man but he kept saying it was all a mistake. He wanted Sunday back and everybody thought she should give him a second chance, but there was no such thing. Even though she had to work with him, she simply didn’t want any lying man around.
She didn’t want Sam around, partly because of DeShawn, who was Sunday’s buddy. Seriously, just friends, except that DeShawn was cute and funny, and he totally understood Sunday. She wasn’t ready for another man in her life – freshman year at Spellman College was too much fun to tie herself down – but she wasn’t ready to let DeShawn go, either.
Then, to this personal drama, add the little spat between Sunday’s roomie, Gia, and her boo, Ricky. They were being celibate but Ricky hated that and Gia wasn’t sure she could live without him. In the meantime, besties Piper and Meagan learned that they were dating the same man and that caused other ugliness. Sunday’s “entourage,” in other words, was breaking up.
Above all, though, Sunday had to keep her eye on her career. She was an award-winning singer-songwriter and was up for more awards. Life would’ve been good, if only her cousin Dreya stopped scheming and Sam stopped dreaming of reconciliation.
Yep, Sunday Tolliver wanted to keep drama out of her life for awhile.
Too bad it wouldn’t be possible…
Want a teen novel that snaps with energy and crackles with sass? Then you want this latest book in the Fab Life series.
Author Nikki Carter takes a little bit of normal teen life and sprinkles it with fame, paparazzi, and fortune. I’ve always liked the good mix of characters that Carter offers: black and white, adult and almost-adult, completely without violence and with relatively tame boy-girl interaction. That all makes this book darn-near perfect for teens ages 14-17.
If you’re up for a fun teen novel, grab “Time to Shine” and read it.
(“Time to Shine” by Nikki Carter, Dafina Teen, $9.95)
Last Updated on Monday, 18 March 2013 09:32
Category: Youth Written by Debbie Vargus
Assistant Pittsburgh Police Chief
While education experts continue to debate the long-term impact of early childhood education in schools, more than 5000 law enforcement leaders from around the country recently endorsed a report claiming early childhood education is key to reducing crime.
The report released by the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Pennsylvania on March 5, determined that high-quality early childhood education can help African-American children do better in school, avoid future criminal activity and even save taxpayers money.
“The kids we arrest who are involved in stealing or drugs are getting younger and younger. You can’t start when they’re 13 or 14,” said Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. “What I like about this whole concept of Pre-K is it gives children a chance to be socialized into the school setting. A lot of times kids aren’t really ready to go into school because they don’t have a home environment that was really structured.”
The report studied a group of at-risk, low-income children, ages three and four, enrolled in the Perry Preschool Program in Ypsilanti, Mich., and a group not enrolled in early childhood education. By age 27, the children who did not attend the program were five times more likely to be engaged in criminal activity with five or more arrests.
By age 40, those in this group were two times more likely to become chronic offenders with more than 10 arrests and 50 percent more likely to be arrested for violent crimes. They were four times more likely to be arrested for drug felonies by age 40, and seven times more likely to be arrested for possession of dangerous drugs.
“Early on if they don’t like school and they don’t fit into it, they’re never going to like school. Preparing children gives them an opportunity to learn the rules, to give them a reason to behave,” said Bryant. “That’s, a lot of times, what’s lacking, especially if they come from a dysfunctional home situation, especially if you have young teenage mothers. They don’t have what it takes to give them that discipline and structure.”
The report also looked at 989 children enrolled in Chicago Child-Parent Centers, compared to a group of 550 similar children who were not in the program. Children in the later group were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. By 26, they were 27 percent more likely to have been arrested for a felony and 39 percent more likely to have spent time in jail or prison.
The same Chicago study found that high-quality programs can provide a return on investment for taxpayers, nearly $11 in benefits for every $1 dollar invested. Of the $11 in benefits, $5 results from lower costs for crime and corrections
“For NOBLE our focus is on our children because if you invest in them at an early age, you don’t have to deal with them later on,” Bryant said. “Policy makers, the people who designate where dollars go, need to realize the importance of investing at an early age in the success of children. If you really want to change things, you have to make an investment.”
Locally, the report found that in Pennsylvania, the percentage of kids in the Pre-K Counts Public-Private Partnership program with developmental delays dropped by more than 60 percent from the time of entry to program completion. The number of 3-year-old children with conduct or self-control problems fell by more than 80 percent.
“In order to change negative behavior, you have to reach them earlier,” Bryant said. “With the whole neighborhood thing (in Pittsburgh), we’re kind of separated to where you can’t venture into this neighborhood because of this or that, but in a school setting kids learn to get along. They learn to play together and get along so if you can instill something early on, it makes a difference.”
The findings of the studies illustrated in the report mirror research that shows 60 percent of children with high levels of disruptive, aggressive behaviors in early childhood will manifest high levels of antisocial and delinquent behavior later in life.
“If you’ve never learned the basic rules and how to socialize with other people, you just are going through the motions,” Bryant said. “The chances of you not doing well in school or dropping out or being involved in a life of crime, that’s what you fall into. When you don’t fit in, you look for other people who don’t fit in.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 07:31
Category: Youth Written by Associated Press
FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE--Modjeska Pleasant, 19, talks about the racial incidents that occurred recently at Oberlin College Tuesday, March 5, 2013 in Oberlin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
by Thomas Sheeran
Associated Press Writer
OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) — Scrawls of racially offensive graffiti and, more recently, a report of someone wearing what looked like a Ku Klux Klan-type hooded robe on campus have shaken students at historically liberal Oberlin College, one of the nation's first universities to admit Blacks.
A day after the school canceled classes and students marched on campus, many remained worried about their safety.
"I just really feel uncomfortable walking alone anywhere," Modjeska Pleasant, 19, a first-year student from Savannah, Ga., said Tuesday.
She said she became upset after hearing a few White students suggest that the racist graffiti first found a month ago and anti-Semitic and racist messages on campus since then were just a prank to get out of classes.
The college canceled Monday's classes after the early morning sighting of the hooded robe.
President Marvin Krislov and three college deans told the campus community in an open letter that they hope the ordeal will lead to a stronger Oberlin. Students and professors gathered Monday afternoon to talk about mutual respect.
Hate-filled graffiti and racially charged displays are hardly unusual on college campuses. But what makes this string of incidents so shocking is that it happened at a place tied so closely with educating and empowering Blacks in America.
Oberlin began admitting Blacks nearly 180 years ago. Among its graduates are one of the first Blacks elected to public office and the first Black lawyer allowed to practice in New York state.
The city itself was a stop on the Underground Railroad that aided escaped slaves.
The college, with nearly 3,000 students, remains a liberal oasis in the middle of northern Ohio, surrounded by conservative farming towns and rust belt cities. Cleveland is about 30 miles away.
Isaac Fuhrman, a psychology from Lexington, Mass., said the incidents were upsetting, especially for black students.
"I guess for them, Oberlin doesn't seem like such a safe haven perhaps," said Fuhrman, who is white.
There are no fraternity or sorority houses at Oberlin, and athletics isn't a big part of campus life. Instead, students come to study music, art and creative writing.
Notable recent alumni include Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series "Girls" — a show featuring several characters who met at Oberlin.
Dunham wrote on her Twitter account Monday that she was saddened by the hate-filled incidents.
"Hey Obies, remember the beautiful, inclusive and downright revolutionary history of the place you call home. Protect each other," she wrote.
Associated Press writer John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 17:52
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