Education

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Khadija al-Ghani Graham

By A. Abdullah Hilal
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Sis. Khadija al-Ghani Graham and Sis. Amira al-Ghani Evans are among the students who graduated from college this year.
Sis. Khadija, who is the daughter of Sis. Salwa al-Ghani, received a Bachelor of Education degree in Deaf Studies from California State University - Sacramento on May 23.
Sis. Amira, the daughter of Sis. Safiyya al-Ghani, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism, with an emphasis in Marketing, from Hampton University in Hampton, Va., on May 11.
Both graduates are the grandchildren of Bro. Hasan al-Ghani and Sis. Khadija al-Ghani, pioneer members of the association who now reside in Charlotte.
Bro. al-Ghani is a respected businessman who has been successful in business ventures both as a manager of business efforts in our community and as an entrepreneur. His wife is a retiree from United Airlines.
Both grandparents expressed how proud they are of their granddaughters’ accomplishments and see this as a confirmation that Allah’s Promise to bless our efforts to strengthen our families and communities is real and continues to bear fruit in this generation.

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Marian Wright Edelman

By Marian Wright Edelman

As a brand new law school graduate in 1963 I was fortunate enough to receive one of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF)’s first two fellowships to help young attorneys seeking to practice in the South.

After a year of intensive preparation at LDF’s New York City headquarters under the tutelage of an extraordinarily gifted and committed band of attorneys, I opened a law office in Jackson, Mississippi.

God was headed south to Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia and I went along for the scariest, most exhilarating, most rewarding and most challenging years any human being could hope for.

I moved to Mississippi at an extraordinary moment – just in time to witness firsthand and assist the unfolding of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.

The Mississippi Freedom Summer Project engaged college students from around the country to work together with local Black community members to open up Mississippi’s closed society and demand basic human and civil rights for all Mississippians.

Hundreds of White middle-class students brought visibility to the too long invisible and incredibly courageous struggles of Mississippi’s Black citizens for simple justice and the right to vote.

While attending one of the training sessions at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, designed to prepare the White students for Mississippi’s harsh realities, the horrible news of the disappearance of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner reached us – after the three had left the Ohio training to return to Mississippi to investigate the burning of Mount Zion Methodist Church in Neshoba County.

Mount Zion Methodist Church was a planned Freedom School site in that county. A huge pall and fear swept over all of us after hearing about their disappearance.

Bob Moses urged everyone to think hard about the grave dangers involved in the summer project and whether they still wanted to participate. A very few went home. Most determined to continue in the movement that over the next few months laid the groundwork for transforming Mississippi and ultimately our nation.

The Freedom Schools were designed to keep Black children and youths out of harm’s way and give them a richer education experience than Mississippi public schools offered them.

Some of the student Freedom Summer volunteers were trained to teach in these “schools,” held in church basements, on back porches, in parks, and even under trees. I remember visiting a Freedom School under a tall old oak tree in Greenwood, Mississippi, and hearing Pete Seeger sing.

They provided reading instruction, a humanities curriculum including creative writing, a general mathematics and science curriculum, and even French.

They also taught subjects the public schools did not, including Black history and constitutional rights, and covered the freedom movement in detail – encouraging students to be independent thinkers and problem solvers and become agents of social change in their own communities.

More than 3,000 children, teens and some adults attended the Freedom Schools that summer.

Over 20 years ago, the Children’s Defense Fund began proudly drawing on the 1964 Freedom Schools tradition, and this summer’s CDF Freedom Schools® theme is “Freedom Summer to Freedom Schools: Changing the Odds for Children,” honoring the 50th anniversary of the historic Mississippi Freedom Summer.

The CDF Freedom Schools program seeks to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation, and world today.

By providing summer and after-school reading enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books, Freedom Schools play a much needed role in helping curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps.

The CDF Freedom Schools program also gives children safe spaces and they are taught by college student mentors from the communities where they live and who look like them. It’s hard to be what you can’t see.

The program provides an exciting integrated reading curriculum including carefully chosen developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant books. One child characterized them as “being about our lives and giving us hope.”

Children receive two meals and a snack every day in the summer program. Parents are engaged through weekly workshops and child “scholars” are taught nonviolent conflict resolution and critical thinking skills and required to engage in community service and social action projects.

They learn that they are not citizens in waiting but can make a difference right now.

For a week every June, college age servant leader interns and Freedom Schools site coordinators attend the Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute at CDF’s Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee (near Knoxville) to prepare to teach and lead at Freedom Schools sites.

Approximately 1,450 college age servant leaders and site coordinators will participate this year. The Freedom Schools program is a servant leadership incubator for two generations – the children served and the college servant leaders who teach and serve them.

I am proud that many of our college age servant leaders have gone on to become committed teachers and school administrators. We are eager to help prepare a pipeline of desperately needed Black and Latino male teachers for our nation’s public schools.

The CDF Freedom Schools program helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning – and is a key part of CDF’s work to ensure a level playing field for all children.

In partnership with local congregations, schools, colleges and universities, community organizations,and secure juvenile justice facilities (nine this summer), more than 113,000 children have already had the Freedom Schools experience.

This summer, community CDF Freedom Schools partners will serve 12,500 children in 87 cities and 28 states and the District of Columbia. All CDF Freedom Schools “scholars” will be encouraged to dream big, set high expectations for themselves, and determine what they can do to help make their communities, nation and world better just as children and poor adults in Mississippi did in 1964 with courageous young Black and White leaders.

Young children need to know about the quiet leadership of Bob Moses and Dave Dennis and the courageous sacrifice of the murdered Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

Next year, I am determined to make sure that there is a CDF Freedom Schools site established for the children of Neshoba County at the site of the rebuilt Mount Zion Methodist Church honoring the three young men who gave their lives.

All children and adults must know and share what they did and the legacy they are bound to uphold. Learn more about the CDF Freedom Schools program and how you can help keep the hope and promise of Freedom Summer alive for a new generation of children.

(Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.)

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khadeem

By Khadeem Khalifa Barri
5th Grade Student at KIDSMART Homeschool
Son of Khadijah Muhammad

“You are the best of communities, evolved from mankind, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah.”  Al-Qur’an, Surah 3, Verse 110.
Prophet Muhammed (prayers and peace be upon him) established a model community in Medina.  He lived around the masjid and supported the Muslim businesses.
Medina was a diverse religious community.  The people were allowed to practice different religions, as long as they were not contrary to Islam.
The Masjid was a place for worship and learning.  Learning was very important to the people of this community, including the education of girls.
In Mecca, girls were often treated poorly.  However, in Medina, Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) encouraged girls to be educated.
Imam W.D. Mohammed said that one of the most important requirements of Muslims is that we be sincere.  He also taught that many of the problems that we face in our African American communities are the result of slavery.
He taught his community true Islam and the Real Allah (SWT).  Imam Mohammed also said for us to follow Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) but not to worship him.  Instead, he taught that we should worship Allah (SWT) alone.
There are many good things about my community.  We have Muslim businesses, food markets and a fitness club. There are also some bad things like people not being sincere and trustworthy, not being active in the community, uncleanness and disunity.
I think there is plenty of room for me to be a better person in my community and it all falls under being a good and righteous Muslim.  If everyone does their part, this could become a great community.
Be the model and people will follow you.  I have decided to pick up trash in my community on Wednesdays.  Also, I will try to be a good example to other males by going to the masjid to pray as much as possible. I hope that others will follow.
By following what Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran about being the best community, learning from the example of our Prophet and by listening to the teachings of Imam Mohammed, together we can make this a great community.

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Fisk University HBCU

By James Clingman

Howard University p11 p11 Tougaloo_College HBCUNNPA Columnist

With specific emphasis on Howard University, let’s consider a few solutions to the challenges Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) face.

There are some who say HBCUs are irrelevant and no longer necessary because we are living in a “post-racial” society, mainly because a Black man was elected president of the U.S.

You’ve heard it: He who defines you also controls you; he can set the height of the bar and raise it anytime he wants.

The relevancy and necessity of HBCUs, often promoted by those who have no stake in their existence, is a question that constituents of HBCUs should answer.

Do we value HBCUs?  Have they served us well?  Have they played an important role in American history?  Should we allow them to fade away because a few critics say they should?  Will we define ourselves, or let someone else to do it?

One look at the list of Howard University graduates made me think about the tremendous void in our society that would exist without their contributions and achievements.

There are similar alumni lists for other HBCU’s of Blacks who have contributed to this nation in virtually every category of service, business, media, research, entertainment, politics, education, science, engineering, medical, and legal, just to name a few.

Irrelevant?  Anachronism?  Outlived their usefulness?  Not by a long shot.

Roger Madison, Izania.com, says, “We simply don’t have a history of reaching back to lift up our own and build our own institutions of thought leadership. Our brightest have anchored themselves in mainstream institutions and have felt very little obligation to help raise the level of quality at our HBCUs.”

As I recall, Harold Cruse’s, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual drew a similar conclusion and, more recently, W.D. Wright’s, The Crisis of the Black Intellectual, continues that premise.

Since the critics invariably compare the top HBCUs to Harvard, here’s something to think about:  Hedge Fund Manager, Ken Griffin, recently gave $150 million to Harvard, a school that already has a $32 billion endowment.

I doubt we will see one or two Black super-wealthy individuals do that, but I know that through our collective action, we can meet a similar goal, that is, if we value our schools.

Yes, our HBCUs need money, just as every school does, but they also need other resources, many of which those of us who care can offer.

We can volunteer to teach a class as a guest lecturer, do an online presentation to a class, hold more of our meetings and conferences on HBCU campuses, and pay for their space rather than some other venue.

Current HBCU students could mount continuous PR and marketing campaigns that tell the fantastic stories of their HBCU.

Some do that already, but we need more.  With all of the social media available to students and their never-ending use of it, personal testimonies of how their HBCU helped them could replace many of the 140 character “tweets” they post daily.

No school is perfect; all have positives and negatives.  But we must tell our own stories about the value of HBCU’s and refuse to accept any contention that they are no longer necessary.

We must also work to keep our schools on solid financial ground, the responsibility of which starts with the president and his cabinet.  Good stewardship of HBCU funds is essential.

Just like any business, Howard and all HBCUs must diversify income streams, invest in new information technology, and continue to provide high quality education in the face of rising costs.

One day we may get a Ken Griffin to step up for an HBCU, but until then and even afterward, we must exercise our collective responsibility to support our own schools.  There are probably a million members of Black fraternities and sororities.

A fund could be established in which each one would deposit a minimum of $10 per month to be given to their respective HBCU each year.  Howard University is the alma mater of thousands, many of whom are doing very well financially and probably would donate much more on a monthly basis.

Masons, Shriners, religious groups, business and professional associations could do likewise.  The keys to helping ourselves are commitment, sacrifice, consistency, and sustainability.

We often talk about the “State of HBCUs,” but this is about the “Fate of HBCUs.”  Will we determine that fate or leave it up to others?

By working together in support of our colleges and universities, we can mitigate out-of-reach tuitions, provide more educational opportunities for our young people, and maintain the high quality and tradition of our valuable and valued HBCUs.

A statement made by Howard’s interim president, Wayne Frederick, speaks volumes: “Howard wrapped me in an audacity by believing in me and creating an environment that made me comfortable.”  There’s that word again, “Audacity.”

(Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is one of the Nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.)

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Dr. Rashad Ali Center

Theme: “Journey of the Soul”
By Aisha El-Amin

“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the Remembrance of Allah; for without doubt in the Remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.

“For those who believe and work righteousness is (every) blessedness and a beautiful place of (final) return.” (Qur’an, Surah 13, Ayat 28-29)

NEW MEDINAH, Mississippi – As we are enduring very cold weather, my heart is warmed by the fond recall of previous New Medinah Islamic retreat experiences.
I feel nostalgia and a longing for the blessedness, satisfaction, comfort and peacefulness of this model Islamic community.  The New Medinah Islamic community lives up to its established motto: “An environment which makes it easy to remember Allah (SWT). “
I invite you to visit New Medinah’s website, www.newmedinah.com, and view the slideshow from the 2013 retreat event. Some of the images there are seminars, other sessions, and vendors at work, camping, the banquet and our children at play.
I hope these pictures will inspire you to attend the 2014 retreat. Mark the date: May 23-25, 2014.  More specific information will appear in future Muslim Journals and on New Medinah’s website.  Additionally, on this website user-friendly registration will be possible.
Incidentally, this year will be the 28th year that this small community has sacrificed and worked steadfastly and righteously to create a weekend which will be memorable and rewarding.
Actually, it is a must for my husband, Mutawally, our great granddaughter, Sabre, my brother-in-law, Akram, and myself. We have camped out every year. We strongly urge others to join us and camp near the compound of the El-Amin and Abdul Salaam families.
However, if camping out is not to your liking, feel free to reserve a room(s) at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Columbia, Mississippi; call 601-731-9955 before rooms are booked during that busy Memorial Day holiday weekend. Just ask for the New Medinah Block Group.
I have other desires for this year’s retreat.  I will pray for the greatest possible turnout.  The late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed (may Allah reward him a place in the highest Paradise) supported the efforts of the New Medinah Islamic community.  It would be fitting if all who called him their leader would also promote and support the endeavors of this community.
Support and promotion may be in many forms: Register as early as possible, organize a group to attend, give a monetary donation online or by mail, become a sponsor, purchase an advertisement in the ad brochure and spread the word through announcements in your masjid, social media or submitting to Muslim Journal memorable past retreat experience
The New Medinah Islamic community belongs to all Muslims. Surely, its success is a righteous goal of all of us Muslims.

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Education

By Dr. Jon A. Yasin

On Mon., June 2, 2008, our teacher and leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed met with several members of his Education Committee, including Dr. Hameed el-Amin, Sis. Laila Muhammad and Dr. Jon A. Yasin, to give us additional instructions regarding the Schools. Also in attendance was Imam Attorney Abdur-Rauf Abdullah from Maryland.

Imam Mohammed charged the Committee with developing a national school board, the National Education Council (NEC), for the purpose of insuring that the Clara Muhammad Schools become a permanent institution in our society that will “be here” after each one of us has passed.

Invoking Imam Mohammed’s spirit and language, the Schools should produce right-minded individuals with the necessary skills to assist in developing good family life and good community life for humankind.

To that end, the primary objective of the school board is, through consultation and consensus, to assist the individual Clara Muhammad Schools (CMS) with collective guidance, direction, growth, development and operations within a shared freedom space, according to the instructions of Imam Mohammed.

Before the organization and development of the NEC, the Education Committee, working together since 2001, eventually organized the Consortium of Clara Muhammad Schools, which includes all Clara Muhammad and W. D. Mohammed High Schools operated by the community  and all schools that are privately operated by  individual Believers.

The criterion for participating in the Consortium is that the schools follow the teachings of the Qur’an, the examples of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), and the language and vision of Imam W. Deen Mohammed.

Since the development of the NEC, those community owned schools that are organized and operate according to the instructions of Imam W. Deen Mohammed have been identified as the network schools and participate in the infrastructure of the NEC.

All other schools, those privately owned and organized differently, along with the network schools comprise the Consortium of Clara Muhammad Schools.

The NEC has developed several national policies specifying Imam Mohammad’s instructions, which are designed to unify the system of Clara Muhammad and Mohammed High Schools.

These policies were initially developed by educators working in Imam Mohammed’s schools, other Believers who are educators, and concerned citizens in the community  at a conference at Bergen Community College  in Paramus, New Jersey, in 2011.

In 2012, the policies  were edited and revised,  then  disseminated to each network school, the President of The Mosque Cares, the Convener of the Imam’s Council, and other Believers with certain pivotal roles.

Network schools, those Schools that are organized and run by a community board of Believers (as per Imam Mohammed’s instructions),  should adhere to the NEC policies and practices,  which are  based on Imam Mohammed’s instructions.  Following is a summary of the NEC policies.

School Management Policy: Imam Mohammed gave instructions that each CMS should have its own school board with members chosen by consensus of the Believers affiliated with the community life in which the school is located.

It is important that the school board should be a separate entity from the Masjid board, because the school and the masjid should each have a non-profit corporation status, and federal and state laws governing religions and educational institutions are different. This is for the protection of each institution and all Believers involved.

The school board of each School should be an odd number of Believers responsible for the overall operations of the School, including developing its policies that adhere to the principles of the Qur’an, teachings of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), language and vision of Imam Mohammed, and statutes of the federal and state governments, where the School is located.

The school board, to whom the principal should report, must not micromanage the principal, who is responsible for the School’s day-to-day operations.  The local school board, of course, is responsible for and must seek and provide the necessary resources – human, material, monetary, and so forth – for the operation of the School, which requires working with the resident Imam and all Believers.

Teaching and Learning Policy: Imam Mohammed called for a unified curriculum reflecting the Muslim’s belief in One G-d and the unity of matter. Of course, the foundation of this curriculum is what Imam Mohammed identified and instructed to be called  “creation- inspired.”

“Creation-inspired learning” has at its foundation Allah’s creation, His Instructions in the Qur’an, the example of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), and the language and vision of Imam W.D. Mohammed. The development of this curriculum is currently ongoing.

School Climate and Culture Policy:  The Clara Muhammad School System articulates the necessity for  a healthy school climate and school culture.  Culture is the medium through which spiritual life and national life develop.

Moreover, a healthy school climate includes mutual trust and  mutual respect, along with sincerity,  commitment,  and respect for order. Too, healthy school climate is a result of respect for discipline and authority, moral and intellectual excellence, shared social sensitivities, and shared humanity.

Each school’s ethical principles must be based on the Qur’anic revelations, the example of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), and the ideals of moral life establishing Islamic character, manners and behavior.

This atmosphere of excellence is an inherent responsibility of the family, the community, and the society, which is developed and reinforced through the agency of the Schools.

Student’s Acceptance Policy: The Schools must foster growth and development of spiritual and academic knowledge and skills, as well as insight into the creation, the social and the scientific laws of creation and the Creator.

Each student must be assisted in developing to his or her fullest potential. To that end, each School administration must determine the human resources available for its students. Only students who can and will benefit from those resources should be accepted into that School.

For example, if a student who does not speak, read, write, nor understand English language applies for admission to a given School and if the School does not have a trained teacher to teach English as a Second Language, the student should be referred elsewhere, where he or she can be given the appropriate language instruction.

According to Imam Mohammed, all Muslim children have a right to an Islamic education, and all children have a right to an education in a moral environment.

Each local Clara Muhammad Board of the network schools, which are organized according to Imam Mohammed’s instructions, should organize and develop local policies for its specific School based on these guidelines and policies from the National Education Council.

It is the duty of the NEC to assist each School to the best of its ability regarding these educational matters.  The interim NEC is comprised of the principals from the operating schools.

In the near future, the bylaws for the NEC and a process for electing permanent members shall be completed.  At that time, a permanent board shall be put in place for its term limits.

The other Consortium Schools, all other schools which are private businesses of  Believers or those not organized as Imam Mohammed required,  are welcome to and should collaborate with the NEC, as well, because we are all working for the same cause, ‘to please Allah and to assist our children.”

We welcome letters of inquiry from any of the Believers.  Please write to us at the National Education Council or the Consortium of Sis. Clara Muhammad Schools at:

NEC, P. O. Box 1886, Normal, Ala. 35762

Members of the interim school board are developing additional projects, which we shall soon present to you, the Associates of Imam W. D. Mohammed. May Allah be pleased with him and grant him the Paradise.

 

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Hawkins

COLUMBIA, Md. – The Alpha Achievers is an educational program of the Kappa Phi Lambda Chapter (Columbia, Md) of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  The program was created to foster positive opportunities for assisting young African-American males in grades 9 – 12 in the Howard County Public School System.
The program requires young males to strive to attain, maintain and exceed a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).  It also seeks to encourage and motivate students who have less than a 3.0 GPA to strive toward that goal.

Bro. Rodney Hawkins, a member of Masjid Muhammad (the Nation’s Mosque) in Washington, D.C., and also a member of the Kappa Phi Lambda Chapter (Columbia, Md.) of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and President of Washington Technology Group, Inc. (Silver Spring, Md.), was invited to speak at Project Alpha, a program that provides discussions exploring issues on responsible sexual behavior, to the Alpha Achievers at Hamilton High School.
During the discussion, Bro. Hawkins shared his personal story and experiences of growing up in a single-parent home that was headed by his father, Melvin Hawkins.  He shared his perspective on leadership and expressed the importance of a college education, to which many of the young men in attendance indicated their interest in attending college.
After listening to their dreams, Bro. Hawkins also gave them a challenge: “If you earn a 3.5 GPA or better in your first semester, I will support you in your dreams and pay for your books for the next college semester.”

Six months afterwards, he received an email from Ayo Akangbe. The name was not familiar, but he opened and read it.
Akangbe explained that he was at the presentation on that spring day when Hawkins issued the challenge and wanted him to know that he took the charge seriously and was proud to report that he entered the University of Maryland Eastern Shore College and earned a 4.0 GPA during his first semester.
Akangbe inquired if Bro. Hawkins was sincere in his challenge and whether he would keep his word to help purchase of his books during the second semester.
Pleased to know that someone was listening, Bro. Hawkins wrote back to tell him that he was proud of him and would definitely honor his part of the deal. He told the young man to let him know what books he needed and where to send the payment.

A short time after Bro. Hawkins sent his response, a second email came from Dami Olajuyigbe, who was also an Alpha Achiever at Hamilton High School.  He was writing to report that he had taken his talk seriously and had also achieved a 4.0 GPA for his first semester at Maryland University Eastern Shore.
Olajuyigbe inquired if he would get his books paid as per the agreement.  Bro. Hawkins assured him too that he would honor his promise.
Although genuinely pleased with these young men’s accomplishments, Bro. Hawkins began to think that the young men were talking and spreading the word that he was actually honoring his challenge and wondered how many other young men would reach out to him with their success stories during their first semester at college and exactly how much it was going to cost him.
After verifying the GPAs of the two students, Bro. Hawkins honored his commitment and sent a check for over $1,000 for their textbooks.

Only two young men have come forward to claim their rewards at this time.  This is a small number compared to the number of young men who were present at the discussion.  For Bro. Hawkins, the two young men represent more than the “number 2,” they represent the hope of our future.
Bro. Hawkins’ message, “It is the responsibility of all Alpha men to reach back to help others who are coming behind us. Even more importantly, it is imperative that we demonstrate ‘our word is our bond,’ especially when it is given to our youth.”

The Alpha Achievers Program has been in existence since 1997, seeking to promote character growth and critical thinking as well as develop leadership skills and encourage its members to become full citizens of their schools and community. The Program is in all 12 high schools of the Howard County Public School System.
An endowment fund has been established to support the Alpha Achievers and other education programs of the Alpha Foundation of Howard County of the Kappa Phi Lambda Chapter (Columbia, Md).  If interested in supporting the Alpha Achievers program, send  donations directly to: AFHC, Inc., P.O. Box 2694, Columbia, Md. 21045.

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Marian Wright Edelman

By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington
Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite living in the world’s richest economy with a gross domestic product of $15.7 trillion, America’s children, especially minorities, live in poverty at alarming rates, according to a new study.

The study, titled “State of America’s Children 2014,” is a wide-ranging annual report on by the Children’s Defense Fund, a non-profit child advocacy group that works to ensure a level playing field for all children at federal, state and community levels across the country.

The report tracks the well-being of children living in the United States analyzing data on child population, poverty, family structure and income, housing and homelessness, child nutrition and hunger, early childhood, education, child welfare, juvenile justice and gun violence.

“The greatest threat to America’s economic, military and national security comes from no enemy without but from our failure, unique among high income nations, to invest adequately and fairly in the health, education and sound development of all of our young,” wrote Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, in the foreword to the report.

In 2012, there were 73.7 million children living in the United States and 13.9 percent or 10.2 million of them were Black and 52.8 percent or 38.9 million were White. For the first time a majority of children under 2-years old were minorities and by 2019 children of color will make up the majority.

Today, children of color already account for the majority of all children in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas and the District of Columbia.

At least 50 percent of Black children living in Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin were poor and “nearly half the states had Black child poverty rates of 40 percent or more,” stated the report.

“Black and Hispanic households with children were more than twice as likely as White households to lack access to adequate food in 2012.”

In 2012, 20 percent of Black children lived in extreme poverty compared to less than 6 percent of White children who lived in extreme poverty.

“It is just shocking how bad things are for many of the children in our country,” said Caroline Fichtenberg, research director for the Children’s Defense Fund. “We need to be focusing on all children and particularly children of color as they are our country’s future.”

Programs that serve young children have taken a disproportionate hit in recent years, due to a downturn in the economy and partisan bickering among Washington lawmakers.

“From 2011 to 2012 total federal spending on children decreased 7 percent, and spending on early childhood programs decreased by 12 percent. The sequestration budget cuts eliminated more than 57,000 children from Head Start and Early Head Start in 2013,” stated the report.

According to the report, every 2.5 minutes a Black child is born into poverty and every 4.5 minutes a Black child is born into extreme poverty. Every two minutes a White child is born into poverty and every 4 minutes a White child is born into extreme poverty.

Even though the Black-White poverty gap fell 26 percent between 1964 and 2012, Black children were three times more likely to be poor than White children.

The CDF report found that nearly 9 million children were lifted out of poverty by the safety net and tax credits in 2012, but much more is needed according to child advocates.

The cost of doing less or nothing at all to address the myriad issues that face minority children is crippling the United States.

“Child poverty costs the nation at least $500 billion each year in extra education, health and criminal justice costs and in lost productivity,” stated the report.

The CDF report also found that racial and ethnic health disparities cost the U.S. an estimated $1.24 trillion in medical costs and lost productivity between 2003 and 2006.

Every seven hours a Black child or teenager loses their life as a victim of gun violence, compared to every 10 hours a White child is killed by a gun, according to the CDF report.

“Gun deaths and injuries cost the U.S. $174.1 billion each year, or 1.15 percent of our total gross domestic product (GDP),” stated the report.

The infant mortality gap between Blacks and Whites increased by 14 percent and the child and teen gun deaths gap increased by 111 percent between 1964 and 2012.

Fichtenberg said that until we address disparities in educational outcomes and opportunities, job opportunities and early childhood development learning opportunities in this country by race we’re going to continue to see these kinds of disparities.

“This is exactly why the Children’s Defense Fund is calling for another ‘War on Childhood Poverty’,” said Fichtenberg.

“People need to be calling their representatives and demanding this and calling their local elected officials and demanding this. It is what every other wealthy nation does for its children and we as the leader of industrialized nations should be doing that for our children.”

Fichtenberg said that there is a strong bipartisan consensus that early childhood investments are cost-effective and important for the country.

“The challenge is always how we pay for it and that’s where you’ll see disagreements,” said Fichtenberg.

Some child advocates believe that the additional money for early childhood investments should come from cutting corporate tax breaks.

The CDF study reported that for the value of three days of corporate tax breaks, the United States could provide one year of food stamp benefits feeding 737,000 children who don’t have enough eat.

The report continued: “The amount the U.S. spends a year on corporate tax breaks for private jets would pay the salary of 6,400 high school teachers.”

According to the report, the cost of one F-35 fighter jet could cover Head Start for 17,500 low-income children for a year and “all poor infants and toddlers could have been served by Early Head Start if the government diverted just 18 days of defense spending.”

Edelman called on President Obama and America’s political leaders in every party at every level to finish the task President Johnson and Dr. King began to eliminate child poverty.

“To those who claim our nation cannot afford to prevent our children from going hungry and homeless and prepare all our children for school, I say we cannot afford not to,” Edelman wrote.
“If the foundation of your house is crumbling you must fix it. Education is a lot cheaper than ignorance.”

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Fannie Lou Harner

The debt we owe….

By Marvin Muhammad
Southwest Regional Coordinator
of the American Coalition
 for Good Government
“Sometimes it seem like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom, I’m not backing off.” ~ Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer was born Fannie Lou Townsend in Montgomery County, Mississippi, the youngest of 20 children. She picked cotton and by the age of 13 picked 200-300 pounds daily.
In 1961, without her knowledge or consent, she was sterilized by a white doctor who was part of a plan in the state of Mississippi to reduce the number of poor African-Americans in the state.
Ms. Hamer become active in the Civil rights movement during the 1950s after attending meetings of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. This organization’s efforts were a combination of civil rights and self- help efforts.
During August 1962 Fannie Lou become an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) whose intent was to help people of African descent to register to vote in the South.
These efforts were noteworthy because many of the African Americans who registered to vote were harassed, lost their jobs, were physically beaten, and lynched; nonetheless, Ms. Hamer was one of the first volunteers in this struggle.
She served as a mother figure and motivator for the Civil Right workers and is quoted as saying, “I guess if I’d had any sense, I’d have been a little scared – but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do was kill me, and it kinda seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could remember.”
Ms. Hamer was involved in a number of initiatives while with SNCC that included the Freedom Ballot Campaign, a mock election, in 1963 and the Freedom Summer Initiative of 1964.
She was influential in the founding of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) in 1964 because people of African descent were not allowed in the all-white Democratic Party delegation. She also worked to establish economic independence for African-Americans.
In 1969 she aided in the establishment of the Freedom Farms Corporation, this organization lent land to African Americans until they had enough money to buy.
She was also involved with the National Council of Negro Women, organized food co-operatives and helped convene the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1970.
Fannie Lou Hamer passed on March 14, 1977 and the world lost a true freedom fighter. The American Coalition for Good Government would like to salute Ms. Hamer and acknowledge her tremendous contribution to Humanity.
“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” ~ Fannie Lou Hamer

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American Coalition For Good Government

By Marvin Muhammad
Southwest Regional Coordinator
of the American Coalition
of Good Government
It is time to have a conversation with America.
The landscape of America has changed tremendously and the overall structure of the country continues to change. There was a time when we discussed family, we were discussing the traditional family – father, mother, son and daughter.
Today, the term family has come to mean many different forms of relationships. These alternative forms of family at one time in our society were considered taboo, but today they are considered acceptable.
“It is time to have a conversation with America.”
The racial, ethnic, cultural and religious landscape of America has changed too. In the past when the conversation related to “the great American melting pot” was discussed it was influenced predominately by salt (white) and pepper (black).
However the conversation today (the great American melting pot) is influenced by new ingredients that have created a different flavor of the American way of life.
“It is time to have a conversation with America.”
The question becomes, when this conversation with America takes place what do we discuss? The following are a few topics that can be covered in the conversation with America:
Sacredness of Life – acknowledgement that the human creation is not in conflict with the creation of G-d. Recognizing the belief that human beings are created by G-d equal and life is created with the wisdom for balance and harmony. This includes the open declaration of the oneness of G-d.

Human Dignity – human dignity is for all people as well as the rights that come with human dignity. With our different colors, facial features, languages, political ideas and religion, we all have the same birthrights. The right to share space and the right to dream of a better existence. It is the responsibility of the American public to promote a national respect for human dignity, which includes the lessening of the chance for terror and violence from one human being to another.

Family Life – protecting the rights of family, seeing and defending the due rights of fathers, mothers, children and senior citizens. The family is the first community and it is the foundation of American life.

Education – the intellect of the human being must be respected.
All human beings have been blessed with intelligence, and when encouraged, they will exercise that intelligence to make their own way in life.
Some will become bus drivers and others will become school teachers.
There will be those who strike out on their own course to become employers as opposed to employees. Education is the key to opportunity and the real champion of all forms of freedom.

Community Development/Economic Justice – model communities need to be established that are self containing with, businesses, home ownership, schools, hospitals, services a community needs and good government.
Coalitions should be developed with other community based groups to promote business development.

Responsible Freedoms – religious leaders of all faiths and social advocates are encouraged to include responsible freedoms in their addresses.
Freedom does not give anyone permission to be lewd in public and to be disrespectful in deeds, speech and/or appearance.

These are a few topics that we need to discuss with America. There are many more topics and areas of concern that need to be discussed. These conversations should be initiated at universities, barbershops, places of employment, radio and TV programs and other place of congregation including the Masjid.
“It is time to have a conversation with America.”

Politics

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By Nusayba Hammad, Communications Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (nusayba@uscpr.org) WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an act unprecedented in recent history, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand...
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