Education

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Dr.-Patricia-A.-Hardaway

By Dianne Hayes?

Special to the NNPA from

The Westside Gazette

Only three months into the academic year and headlines have been littered with announcements about HBCU leadership turnover. There have been a plethora of reasons, including university presidents being fired, being encouraged to leave their posts by their boards of trustees or opting for retirement.

Gone are the days of decades of top-down leadership, now replaced by a need for charismatic personalities who are well-skilled at fundraising while navigating internal needs and external stakeholders, as well as politics and long-standing traditions.

Exiting leaders:

While some may have seen the handwriting on the wall, others stepped down under arduous circumstances or planned for their next career move since the start of the 2013-14 academic year.

For example:

Tuskegee University: Two weekends ago, the fall meeting of the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees was rocked by Dr. Gilbert L. Rochon resigning from his role as president.

By the following Monday, Dr. Matthew Jenkins was posted on the university’s website as acting president. Rochon served three years.

Howard University: On Oct. 1, university President Dr. Sidney A. Ribeau abruptly stepped down after months of wrangling over the management and financial health of Howard University.

Ribeau served five years and extended his tenure through December. His departure comes on the heels of a drop for the university in a major national ranking and a downgrade in its credit rating, as well as a 5 percent fall in enrollment.

Stillman College: On Sept. 6, one day after the fall convocation, the university announced that Stillman College President Ernest McNealey was removed from his position by the Board of Trustees. McNealey served as president since 1997.

Despite his accomplishments, critics blamed him for enrollment declines, high employee turnover and poor relations with the business community.

Shaw University: In September, President Dorothy Cowser Yancy announced that she would retire after serving since 2011, when she was tapped to fill the post after former president Irma McClaurin resigned.

She also served as interim president for 15 months prior to McClaurin and was credited with restructuring the school’s finances during that time.

Norfolk State University: In August, after a lengthy closed door session, Dr. Tony Atwater was fired by the Norfolk State Board of Visitors in a seven to four vote that took Atwater by surprise.

Atwater described the news as “sudden and disappointing.” He served for two years with ten months remaining on his contract. According to reports, the university’s accrediting agency had signaled trouble at the HBCU.

Wilberforce University Dr. Patricia A. Hardaway is slated to retire in December after serving as president since 2009.

Alcorn University: President Christopher Brown of Alcorn State University resigned abruptly in December.

The burning question that remains is about the fate of HBCUs and how to stop the trend that’s making it difficult for presidents to lead.

“If you look at the landscape now for all of us, it’s a tough landscape,” said Hampton University president, Dr. William R. Harvey. “There are a number of factors impacting all HBCUs, including the federal government debacle on the Parent Plus Loan situation, [and] support is down for Title III, which strengthens HBCUs.

“All of the support for HBCUs across the board is down. In addition, there are some institutions that don’t have enough students there. It’s a tough climate right now.”

            New demands for HBCU presidents:

The pride and traditions of HBCUs is a source of its strength and legacy, but navigating the gauntlet of closely held traditions while fulfilling the requirement to bring new life and resources to the university can be a daunting task for presidents.

Some describe it as a juggling act of trying to please too many masters, including boards of trustees who, at some institutions, have significant influence and demand compliance. Some presidents have operated in-dependently of boards until problems occur.

At one time, HBCU presidents served for lengthy tenures and not only were held in high regard but also wielded more power and influence.

Today, with HBCUs closing and talks of mergers, disproportionate budget cuts, anemic enrollment figures, a financial aid crisis, inequitable federal research appropriations and the mere fact that gifted African-American students have many university options the expectations of the HBCU president are changing.

The new requirement for today’s HBCU president includes a personality and gift for raising money for the university while maintaining the traditional connection to faculty and students.   A president is required to keep his/her finger on the pulse of the university’s life-line of recruitment, retention and graduation rates, as well as changing technology, including online education.

At Hampton University, Harvey has become among the rare breed of presidents who have successfully navigated a long-term presidency due in part to a symbiotic relationship with his board.

“The [university] president needs to understand that the board represents his or her bosses. You may be the CEO, but the board is your boss,” Harvey said. “The board needs to understand that their job is to make policy, not to implement the policy. Sometimes boards want to get involved in the implementation and that’s wrong.

“When people forget their roles, that’s when problems occur,” Harvey said.

Harvey attributes his success to mentors like Dr. Norman Francis at Xavier University in New Orleans and others who helped pave the way for him, and having entrepreneurial parents.

“When I came to Hampton, we couldn’t balance the bud-get,” said Harvey. “I traveled three and a half days a week for five years to raise money. Thirty-six years ago, we were not in the position we are today. We did something a lot of institutions weren’t doing, whether HBCU or not – we ran the university like a business. You bring in revenue on one side and manage expenses on the other.”

Harvey appealed to board members to let him institute entrepreneurial approaches to fundraising.

“I’ve had four chairs on my boards during my tenure,” he said. “They have been excellent and supportive. I take every-thing to the board – the good, the bad and the ugly. I have not always gotten my way be-cause I understand the role of the board, but I have not run the university in a vacuum. On a couple of instances, I’ve had to call board members to task on something because it was not their role.”

His advice to presidents is to “garner respect, use the team approach, engage alumni and faculty and get them to take ownership in your vision.”

Harvey, an entrepreneur who owns 100 percent of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Houghton, Mich., has taken an innovative approach to managing resources at Hampton. Its investments include university-owned commercial development consisting of a shopping center and 246 two-bed-room apartments.

When Harvey arrived, the university’s endowment was $29 million. Now it exceeds $250 million. The university’s first capital fundraising campaign in 1979 had a goal of $30 million. That campaign raised $46.4 million. Its most recent campaign had a goal of $200 million and raised $264 million.

            The politics of leadership:

The cry for help was heard loud and long when Howard University trustee Renee Higginbotham-Brooks sent a letter with a dire warning that the Washington, D.C.-based institution “will not be here in three years” if “crucial decisions” are not made promptly.

As vice chair of Howard’s governing board, she sent the letter on April 24, which was leaked to various news outlets.

“I can no longer sit quietly, notwithstanding my personal preference to avoid confrontation, and therefore, I am compelled to step forward to announce that our beloved university is in genuine trouble and ‘time is of the essence,’” Higginbotham-Brooks wrote. She called for a vote of no confidence in the board chairman and the university’s president.

Higginbotham-Brooks’ letter was unprecedented and, for some, seemed like a betrayal of airing HBCU dirty laundry, but to others it was a foreshadowing of what has begun to unravel.

Howard University’s decline in rankings in U.S. News and World Report and Moody’s downgrading its credit rating, and enrollment decreases due to changes to the Parent Plus Loan requirements, has created a perfect storm.

While Howard faces many of the same challenges as other HBCUs, the difference is its international reputation as “The Mecca”  the “Black Ivy League” top-tier institution that draws students to the nation’s capital with its host of celebrity alumni.

Howard’s challenges have stirred conversations about the profile of a candidate who can bring money to the institution along with their credentials. Names have been thrown around, including Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., as a measure to garner significant financial contributions.

Camille and Bill Cosby’s $20 million gift to Spelman College 25 years ago during Johnetta B. Cole’s presidency continues to be one of the largest individual gifts ever given to an HBCU. Universities are faced with creating a new donor base.

Entertainment moguls Andre Young (Dr. Dre) and Jimmy lovine raised some eyebrows and criticism with their recent $70 million gift to the University of Southern California, instead of an HBCU. An anonymous donor established the Nasir Jones HipHop Fellowship at Harvard and insisted that the fellowship be named after the artist Nas.

Undoubtedly, fundraising is a significant part of the job description; however, the reality of fixing some of the areas that may be broken can come at a high price.

Former Alabama State University president, Dr. Joseph H. Silver, was fired after serving only three months for what some describe as challenging suspicious university financial information. According to his statement, “I discovered some items I considered questionable and troubling, at best, and a conflict of interest at the least.”

His allegations set off a controversial 36-page preliminary forensic audit report and investigation by state’s governor that is now underway.

            Future for HBCU presidents:

Historically Black colleges and universities continue to play a significant role in the college retention and graduation rates among African-American students. For example, HBCUs make up 3 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities but produce 50 percent of Black public school teachers, 80 percent of Black judges and 40 percent of baccalaureate degrees awarded to Black students in STEM fields.

While their role is still relevant, change may be required in how the institutions are governed to address the economic environment.

In an open letter, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous laments the closing of Saint Paul’s College and notes it as a warning for other HBCUs and the need for the federal government to revamp its funding and support for students. Jealous recommends that Congress increase funds for Pell Grants and permanently correct the Parent Plus Loan problem.

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Mukhtar Muhammad

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida by a population of 836,507 and the largest city in the United States by land mass of 885 square miles. 

Mukhtar Muhammad, owner and president of FAMACO PUBLICATIONS, LLC, knew these facts about Jacksonville and was certain to share them with the Muslim scholars who came to Jacksonville to attend the 98th ASALH – Association for the Study of African American Life and History – Convention, Oct. 2 – 6, 2013. 

Bro. Mukhtar also shared that Jacksonville was the home of James Weldon Johnson, writer of the “Negro National Anthem” Life Every Voice and Sing.  It was those tidbits that contributed to the welcome and attention the scholars received from the FAMACO owner.

Dr. Zakiyyah Muhammad, Director of the Institute of Muslim American Studies and organizer of the scholars, said, “Bro. Mukhtar raised the quality of the experience for us and demonstrated how Muslims should treat each other.  We are most grateful for all that he did.”  

For five days, the scholars were chauffeured, fed, taped and greeted by the gracious efforts of Bro. Mukhtar and his family.  He arranged for them to be hosted at an evening reception at the residence of DeWayne and Linda Elmore, longtime residents and Muslim owners of a thriving local business. 

The scholars were introduced to the local Muslim community leaders and experienced an enjoyable evening with dinner and great conversation. 

With the cooperation of Thomas Abdul Salaam, Executive Producer of  American Muslim 360 radio (AM360), Bro. Mukhtar arranged for the Jumu’ah led by Dr. Sulayman Nyang at the largest Masjid in Jacksonville, to be simulcast as was the panel presentation of the scholars.

The convention theme was “The Unbroken Chain of Qur’anic Freedom:  From Africa to New Africa.” After the scholars’ presentations, more than 500 ASALH participants were treated to a complimentary copy of the Remaking our World Calendar 2014 – Tribute to Imam W. Deen Mohammed produced by FAMACO PUBLICATIONS.

 Convention participants were gratified and many were unaware of Imam W. Deen Mohammed and his years of service to humanity and the African American cause. With good humor and great conversation, Muslim scholars commented that in addition to the great ASALH Convention, it was a wonderful experience to be in the largest city in America – thanks to Mukhtar Muhammad.

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Marian Wright Edelman

Child Watch….

By Marian Wright Edelman

NNPA Columnist

            [We found that] if we created the right wraparound programs, the right preschool programs that were strong enough and rigorous enough, that fed into a rigorous pre-K through 3 program that fed into a middle school and a high school that actually works and inspired as well as prepared the child, you could have marvelous things happening . . . It all starts in the first 720 days—pre-K, K, 1, and 2. If you don’t get those right, the last 720 days—grades 9, 10, 11, 12—won’t be right.” – Superintendent Jerry Weast

In 2011, Jerry Weast retired after serving for 12 years as superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools, a district just outside Washington, D.C. that was the largest and most diverse school system in Maryland and the 16th largest district in the nation.

During Weast’s time as superintendent, the county underwent a large demographic change, with growing numbers of students of color and students living in poverty. The district adapted by doubling down on strategies for helping all of its children succeed.

Narrowing the achievement gap for the district’s nearly 145,000 students during his tenure was a key priority for Weast. Under his tenure, Montgomery County earned national recognition for achieving the highest student graduation rate among the nation’s 50 largest school systems. Several of its high schools consistently rank among the best in the country

. As Superintendent Weast explained in an interview with the Children’s Defense Fund, Montgomery County achieved many of its successful outcomes for its graduating seniors by deciding from the beginning where they wanted their students to end up as they entered adulthood, and working backwards to build the right path from their earliest years to get them there.

Weast said he sees children’s education as a chain that begins at birth, includes quality preschool, continues with a quality K-12 school experience, and is then connected to college and career training. The county wanted a clearer understanding of what links they needed to build at the start so children would have the most success at the end, so they did careful research.

They worked closely with the business community both to determine what kind of education would prepare students for the jobs the county’s business leaders wanted to create in the future, and to see what the school system could learn from best practices in business about successful problem-solving.

They obtained data from the Department of Labor and the National Student Clearinghouse and cross-matched their graduates against it to identify the children who had gone on to become the most successful adults, and then studied the paths those students had followed during school.

“And what we found is that there were actually milestones that those children all hit, regardless of race or ethnicity or poverty. For example, we found that they needed to be able to read at some level in kindergarten. Well, that demanded that we have an early childhood program,” Weast explained.

When the county began setting goals for kindergarten readiness, only about 30 percent of kindergarteners met the standards. The schools shared their new standards for school readiness with everyone in the county from Head Start programs to private preschools and child care providers and offered early care providers curriculum materials and training.

A decade into their efforts, even with large increases in the number of children living in poverty and children who didn’t speak English at home, 90 percent of incoming students were ready for kindergarten and 90 percent were leaving kindergarten with the right reading skills—“and then bingo. They were on a track for success.”

The district also developed new ways to engage parents and serve families, creating “parent academies” to teach parents how to access school services, arranging for local doctors and counselors to volunteer services at trailers stationed at schools, and providing summer feeding programs –  “anything we could do to make the school the hub.”

Eventually parents, educators, business leaders, and even students themselves were all on the same page about where they wanted the county’s children to be.

We all worked together as a team, kind of like the old game of Tug the Rope. We all got on the same rope, and we all pulled, “Weast stated.

“The success that Montgomery had was due in a major part to listening to the Montgomery County employees, the Montgomery County parents, and putting it in a particular perspective [so] people could see that we weren’t doing this just to be do-gooders, but it was an economic imperative.

It was an imperative to bring jobs into the community. It was an imperative to help those who are here and who are about to come.”

It’s a strategy for getting it right right from the start that has had great results for Montgomery County’s children. As Superintendent Weast emphasized, what Montgomery County has done could and should be happening all across the nation.

“Everything that we did could actually easily be replicated anywhere in the country,” he said. “All you have to do is learn to work together. All you have to do is ask under what conditions can we get these outcomes.

“All you have to do is to quit talking about it and start doing it, because if you start doing it, you will learn from your mistakes . . . We have to do this, and it’s going to take every one of us pulling together.”

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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Malaikah

HAMILTON, Bermuda – From a very early age, Malaikah was a unique child. She always had an eye for the unseen. She always had a finger ready to point, her tongue ready to ask, a pencil and paper ready to capture and record what the naked eye often missed.

Malaikah was born Oct. 7, 2002, in New York City. She is the child of a Bermudian father and American mother. She was born in the States but brought back to Bermuda at only a few weeks old.

At an early age, she was allowed to explore within protective boundaries. Homeschooled until 2007, she loved the loads of animal books brought home by her parents.

She also spent a lot of time during the day on her grandmother’s lawn and the nearby golf course where she discovered her first insects. All she wanted was nature, and she wanted to see it, breathe it and feel it.

She drove her mother crazy; almost every activity her parents organized was centered around nature: Bug hunts, aquarium trips, climbing the tallest trees, fruit picking, exploring tunnels, visiting a friend’s pets, SPCA trips and watching every YouTube video of every type of animal.

Malaikah started reading fluently at the tender age of 3. And she became one of Bermuda’s “Youngest Authors” in 2009, releasing a book titled “Stop the Shooting!” which sold out within a week.

She released her second book titled “A Different Kind of Bermuda’ in 2010 which also sold out and was used in 2012’s school year’s theme in the Bean Hope Special Needs Academy. Numerous books were given in charity.

She was invited to present her book to Bermuda’s Reading Association. And she was then invited, all expenses paid, to the International Reading Association in Chicago where she made history as the youngest presenter ever.

She was featured on the cover page in “This Week Bermuda” magazine.
She will be featured in FEMME, a documentary by Emmanuel Itier, which will be shown at the Bermuda International Film Festival (BIFF) titled “Women Healing the World.”

She was nominated and received the Young Citizens Award. She was nominated and received “Outstanding Youth” award. She was nominated and received a school scholarship and also named The Young Philanthropist of the year 2013.

Malaikah placed third in BNG’s annual art competition and placed in many Ag show Exhibitions.

She met with the now former Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, where she received a custom cedar pen to continue writing.

She has been honored by many clubs (e.g. the Rotary Clubs) and political parties.
Her books are being sailed around on the open seas as the owners of the Book Boat, which came to Bermuda personally, asked for her books to be featured on their boat.

Malaikah has been interviewed many times on the news, in the newspaper and on the radio.

After all that, her main focus in life was to overall do well in Primary School and pass her primary school Cambridge exams. She passed with flying colors, placing in her 99th percentile in Language.

Now at the age of 10, she is heading to Middle School where she plans to yet again discover who she is and also preparing to stay at the top of her class and pass her exams with flying colors.

Congratulations Malaikah! See you in Bermuda!

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Malaika

HAMILTON, Bermuda – From a very early age, Malaikah was a unique child. She always had an eye for the unseen. She always had a finger ready to point, her tongue ready to ask, a pencil and paper ready to capture and record what the naked eye often missed.

Malaikah was born Oct. 7, 2002, in New York City. She is the child of a Bermudian father and American mother. She was born in the States but brought back to Bermuda at only a few weeks old.

At an early age, she was allowed to explore within protective boundaries. Homeschooled until 2007, she loved the loads of animal books brought home by her parents.

She also spent a lot of time during the day on her grandmother’s lawn and the nearby golf course where she discovered her first insects. All she wanted was nature, and she wanted to see it, breathe it and feel it.

She drove her mother crazy; almost every activity her parents organized was centered around nature: Bug hunts, aquarium trips, climbing the tallest trees, fruit picking, exploring tunnels, visiting a friend’s pets, SPCA trips and watching every YouTube video of every type of animal.

Malaikah started reading fluently at the tender age of 3. And she became one of Bermuda’s “Youngest Authors” in 2009, releasing a book titled “Stop the Shooting!” which sold out within a week.

She released her second book titled “A Different Kind of Bermuda’ in 2010 which also sold out and was used in 2012’s school year’s theme in the Bean Hope Special Needs Academy. Numerous books were given in charity.

She was invited to present her book to Bermuda’s Reading Association. And she was then invited, all expenses paid, to the International Reading Association in Chicago where she made history as the youngest presenter ever.

She was featured on the cover page in “This Week Bermuda” magazine.
She will be featured in FEMME, a documentary by Emmanuel Itier, which will be shown at the Bermuda International Film Festival (BIFF) titled “Women Healing the World.”

She was nominated and received the Young Citizens Award. She was nominated and received “Outstanding Youth” award. She was nominated and received a school scholarship and also named The Young Philanthropist of the year 2013.

Malaikah placed third in BNG’s annual art competition and placed in many Ag show Exhibitions.

She met with the now former Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, where she received a custom cedar pen to continue writing.

She has been honored by many clubs (e.g. the Rotary Clubs) and political parties.
Her books are being sailed around on the open seas as the owners of the Book Boat, which came to Bermuda personally, asked for her books to be featured on their boat.

Malaikah has been interviewed many times on the news, in the newspaper and on the radio.

After all that, her main focus in life was to overall do well in Primary School and pass her primary school Cambridge exams. She passed with flying colors, placing in her 99th percentile in Language.

Now at the age of 10, she is heading to Middle School where she plans to yet again discover who she is and also preparing to stay at the top of her class and pass her exams with flying colors.

Congratulations Malaikah! See you in Bermuda!

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Marian Wright Edelman

Child Watch – Congratulations Children’s Defense Fund for 40 Years Advocating for Children….

“Beat the Odds” scholarship recipients: “I want to make a difference”

By Marian Wright Edelman

Doctors told Jaime Gonzalez’s parents that his birth defects were so severe he probably wouldn’t live to age one. When he did, doctors told them next that he’d probably never walk. He did that too - though it is still difficult even after a series of surgeries.

“[My parents] both pushed me,” Jaime said. “When I was little and didn’t want to try, my mother said, ‘Don’t say you can’t. You can.’ That became my attitude, and even when it was hard - I’m in pain even now - it’s never been an option for me to quit.”

Others also sold Jaime short. He was put in special education when he started kindergarten in South Central Los Angeles even though his mother had already taught him to read and write.

But after his mother switched him to a new school, his first grade teacher saw his abilities and ­persuaded the principal to put him in the second grade.

He eventually attended magnet programs throughout middle and high school, graduated seventh out of his class of 500, and received a full tuition scholarship to the University of Southern ­ California in an eight year combined bachelor’s degree and medical school program.

Jaime - now Dr. Gonzalez - is part of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)’s network of young servant leaders who are devoting their lives to serving the next generation of children.

Winning a CDF Beat the Odds® scholarship in high school for demonstrating academic excellence despite great obstacles helped Jaime with living expenses in college, and getting involved with CDF’s efforts to enroll children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) shaped his medical goals.

He added a year to his education to get a master’s degree in public health along with his medical degree. He lost a year when his mother was shot while taking out the trash, and he saw her through two surgeries.

After completing his residency Jaime is planning to return home to serve the Spanish-speaking underserved and uninsured population. “That’s where there is a need,” he explained, and unlike 90 percent of his medical school classmates, he speaks Spanish.

Growing up in Minnesota Katie DeSantis overcame a different set of terrible odds. At the age of 3, she witnessed her drunken father beat her mother.

When her battered mom crawled into bed with her on another occasion, Katie consoled her by saying everything would be okay. But it wasn’t. Her mother escaped the abuse and moved Katie and her younger sister to Minneapolis, but then there were new problems.

The family was homeless seven times in Katie’s childhood. “My mom couldn’t hold down a steady job or a place for us to stay. We would live somewhere for six months to a year and get evicted and end up in a shelter.”

There was often no privacy in the shelters and it was hard to do her homework in a loud and crowded area. Plus it was embarrassing, especially for a teenager in high school: “I would have the bus drop me off around the corner and I never invited anyone to where I lived.”

School became Katie’s refuge and the place where she excelled. When she too won a Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds® scholarship award in 2006, it was a turning point: “Beat the Odds really helped me to be able to tell my story and not be ashamed of the life I had lived.”

Katie went on to graduate from Gustavus Adolphus College in southern Minnesota. She now works for Head Start in Minneapolis as the coordinator of its Project Secure for homeless children: “I was one of those kids and that’s where my heart is. They didn’t do anything wrong. I want to make sure they know that.”

La’Mont Geddis’s path to servant leadership started with a call to CDF’s headquarters from a pay phone after he heard a professor talk about the Freedom Schools® program during a lecture: “I’m a student at Howard University and I want to get involved in Freedom Schools. I want to make a difference.”

That was 18 years ago, and La’Mont has since proved to be a truly valuable asset in the public schools of Washington, D.C. La’Mont always wanted to be a teacher and studied education at Howard.

But he believes much of what he knows about how to reach children comes from the training and experience he received as a servant leader intern, or teacher, in the Freedom Schools program.

The Freedom Schools’ model curriculum provides summer and after-school enrichment that helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning.

La’Mont’s first teaching job after Freedom Schools – a fourth grade class that had had six teachers by the time he got there in October – was so difficult he almost quit.

But he remembered the message Freedom Schools instills in both its teachers and its students: You can make a difference. “I ended up loving that class and vice versa. I’ve followed some of them through college.”

His career has since included serving as a principal and school leader, and he has never lost sight of the lessons he learned from Freedom Schools: “Teachers can become almost like robots. You go through the lessons without bringing in passion or creativity or empathy for the students.

“I’ve heard teachers say, ‘I don’t give parents my personal number’ and ‘I don’t make home visits.’ No. You’ve got to bring the school into the community and put all you’ve got into it. That’s the heart of Freedom Schools values. Teaching is not a profession. It’s a ministry.”

Jaime, Katie, and La’Mont are three of 40 young servant leaders whose stories we are celebrating as part of our 40th anniversary celebration – each representing hundreds, even thousands, of other young servant leaders who have come up through CDF’s leadership training ranks

These young leaders are making wonderful contributions as doctors, lawyers, educators, service providers, and parents in their communities and nation.

I am so proud of them all and so grateful for all their good work. They are a reminder that we must never ever give up on any child and that the most important responsibility every generation and nation has is to prepare its children - all of them - for the future.

(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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ASSF 2013award

By Hafeeza Muhammad

ASSF Administrative Assistant

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Members of the Class of 2013 are the most recent recipients of scholarships from the Ash Shaheed Scholarship Fund (ASSF). The award presentation was made Aug. 4, 2013, at the Mint Museum in Charlotte.

Many parents and well-wishers were present to witness $16,500 distributed to 13 graduates. In addition, the annual award for the Masjid Ash Shaheed weekend school was given. Since its inception in 2000, ASSF has distributed a total $124,751 in scholarships.

ASSF also has distributed close to 100 scholarships and encourages past scholarship recipients to stay involved.

Nasif Majeed (2011 Class) attends UNC Charlotte. He reminded all present that this support is needed and appreciated. Safiyyah Baldwin (2012 Class) attends Elizabeth City State. She reflected on what it meant to receive a scholarship. And Imam Khalil Akbar closed the comments with words of encouragement.

Special recognition was given to Janea Shaheed (Wake Forest Univ) for receiving a 4.44 GPA and Jasmine Carrothers (Emory Univ) for receiving a 4.42 GPA.

The remaining recipients were Taylor Turner (Hampton), Davon Green (Fayetteville State), Carl Baldwin (NC A&T), Michael McDonald (Morehouse), Roderick Pitts-Phifer (University School of Arts, Philadelphia), George Loudd (NC A&T), Sakinah Muhammad (CPCC), Nailah El-Amin (UNC, Pembroke), Na’ilah Mulkey (Clark Atlanta), Shikayla Alexander (UNC, Pembroke), and Janey Carrothers (NC State).

The Strong End School/Camp Connections held at Masjid Ash Shaheed is an annual recipient.  Sis. Ayesha Wilson-Mutakabbir, School Director, accepted the check awarded to the school.

Scholarship funds are collected in a variety of ways. There is an annual drive during Ramadan. There also is an annual Luncheon and Silent Auction.  ASSF also encourages individual and business pledges.

The ASSF 2014 pledge drive has begun.  We sincerely appreciate the first donors for this period, Microsoft Matching Gift Program, Naomi Shakir-Feaster (in memory of Asim Muhammad).

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the 2014 drive can mail their donation to: ASSF, P.O. Box 676, China Grove, N.C. 28023.  Please visit www.assf.org for Paypal instructions.

Plan to join ASSF at its Annual Banquet and Silent Auction in February 2014. This will be the 14th year. Three levels of sponsorship are available.  Please contact C. Yasmin Saleem at ckennedy@assf.org for additional information on sponsoring a table.

ASSF is a grassroots, 501c3 non-profit organization established in 2000.  Its mission is to support the education of our youth.

Our main objective is to financially assist high school graduates entering their first year of college.  And the secondary focus is to support educational institutions.

ASSF desires to continue the legacy of W.D. Mohammed.  And our mission would not be achieved without the support and contributions of the community.

The Board of Directors sincerely appreciates the volunteers who assist during the year. The board appreciates Imam Nasif Majeed, who took the  Award presentation photos.

ASSF is appreciative for every donation received which can make a difference in a young person’s life. And the Board of Directors and the staff sincerely thank you for your support.

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Na'imah 'Ubaydah-Saleem

CMSEF’s Legacy with Continued Purpose - Part II

 

RALEIGH, N.C. – Guest speaker for the Clara Muhammad School Education Fund’s (CMSEF) Recognition, Na’imah ‘Ubaydah-Saleem, was presented a plaque at the 2013 Awards event for her service to CMSEF since its inception.

Na’imah graduated Summa Cum Laude from Shaw University with a B.A. in International Business and a Minor in Spanish. And on March 2, 2013, she graduated from Concord Law School with an Executive Juris Doctor Law Degree and made the Dean’s List in December 2012.

She is presently co-owner and contract designer with her husband, Baaree H. Saleem, of Designers Business Station, Inc., of Raleigh.  Sis. Na’imah has excelled in her educational pursuits while also the mother of seven children and grandmom to six.

Na’imah is serving or has served in other roles, including co-founder of a parochial private school and board member, co-founder and board chair of a charter public school, co-founder of Youth-N-Creation Summer Camp, as an Arabic/Islamic Studies instructor at As-Seifuddin Islamic Center, facilitator for Education Alliance Team – National Brainstorming Team, Equity in Education Committee Member, Booster Club member, Islamic Parent-Teacher-Student Association member and volunteer with Mohammed Schools of Atlanta, Ga.

Before taking early retirement in 2005 from Progress Energy in Raleigh, Na’imah was nominated for Progress Energy’s Corporate Volunteer Award for Education. She also received a Silver Coin for the “Best Ideas” Award for developing and implementing a process for delivering system reports from the Energy Control Center throughout the company using computer technology.

Na‘imah’s address at the 2013 Recognition, titled “What Am I Here For? For G-d’s Purpose,” began with recitation of Al-Qur’an, Suratul-Asr 103 (Time through the Ages).  She also spoke from excerpts of the book, The Purpose-Driven Life” by Rick Warren,” a #1 New York Times Bestseller. Upon graduating from college in 2002, this book was given to Na’imah by her mother (may G-d give her Mercy and grant her Paradise.

Some of the excerpts and paraphrasing from the book:  Before you were born, Allah planned this moment in your life.  It is no accident you are here today celebrating your educational and extracurricular achievements with parents, your relatives, and Believers.

“You were born by Allah’s Purpose and for Allah’s Purpose; you were made by G-d, your Creator, and for G-d. Until you understand that, life will never make sense.  You cannot arrive at your life’s purpose by starting with a focus on yourself.  You were made for G-d, not vice versa, and life is about letting G-d use you for His Purposes.”

Sis. Na’imah continued: What is the driving force in your life?  Many people are driven by guilt.  Many people are driven by resentment and anger.  One of Prophet Muhammed’s sayings:  “Nine things the Lord has commanded me:  Fear of Allah in private and in public; justness, whether in anger or in calmness; moderation in both poverty and affluence; that I should join hands with those who break away from me; give to those who deprive me; forgive those who wrong me; that my silence should be meditation; my words be remembrance of Allah and my vision be keen observation.”

Many people are driven by fear.  Steve Jobs, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Apple inventor said, “Believe that things will work out somehow…; follow your intuition and curiosity…; trust your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path…. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future….

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven‘t found it yet, keep looking.  Don‘t settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you‘ll know when you find it…. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

Many people are driven by materialism.  Oprah Winfrey, of Harpo Studio, stated, “What I know for sure is that if you want to have success, you can’t make success your goal.  The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant - and the success will naturally follow….

“If you do work that you love, and work that fulfills you, the rest will come.  And, I truly believe, that the reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is because my focus has never ever for one minute been money.  Would you do your job and not be paid for it?  I would do this job and take on a second job just to make ends meet if nobody paid me.  That’s how you know you are doing the right thing.”

President Barack Obama said to this year’s Morehouse graduates, “You should not be so eager to join the chase of wealth and material things, but instead should remember where they came from and not take your degree and get a  fancy job and nice house and nice car and never look back.’

“So yes, go get that law degree.  But if you do, ask yourself if the only option is to defend the rich and powerful, or if you can also find time to defend the powerless. Go get your MBA, or start that business; we need black businesses out there.  But ask yourself what broader purpose your business might serve, in putting people to work or transforming a neighborhood.

“The most successful CEOs I know didn’t start out intent on making money – rather, they had a vision of how their product or service would change things, and the money followed.”

For those headed to medical school, Obama said, “Make sure you heal folks in underserved communities who really need it, too.”  He asked those headed to law school to think about defending the poor.

Many people are driven by the need for approval.  Focus on being a leader.  “… Despite his position as leader, the Prophet (peace an blessings be upon him) never believed himself to be greater or better than other people.  He never made others feel small, unwanted or embarrassed….”

Five great benefits of living a purpose-driven life:

1) Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life.  Without G-d, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning.  Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.  The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without a purpose.  Hope is essential to your life as air and water.  You need hope to cope.  Hope comes from having a purpose.

2) Knowing your purpose simplifies your life.  It defines what you do and what you don’t do.  Your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren’t.  You simply ask, “Does this activity help me fulfill one of G-d’s Purposes for my life?”  People who don’t know their purpose usually do too much, and that causes stress, fatigue and conflict.

You have just enough time to do G-d’s Will.  If you can’t get it all done, it means you’re trying to do more than G-d intended for you to do (or, possibly, that you’re watching too much TV).  Purpose-driven living leads to a simpler lifestyle and a saner schedule.  It also leads to peace of mind.

3) Knowing your purpose focuses your life.  It concentrates your effort and energy on what’s important.  You become effective by being selective.  The men and women who have made the greatest difference in history were the most focused. If you want your life to have impact, focus it!  Stop dabbling.  Stop trying to do it all.  Do less.

Prune away even good activities and do only that which matters most.  Never confuse activity with productivity.  You can be busy without a purpose, but what’s the point?

4) Knowing your purpose motivates your life.  Purpose always produces passion.  Nothing energizes like a clear purpose.  On the other hand, passion dissipates when you lack a purpose.  Just getting out of bed becomes a major chore.  It is usually meaningless work, not overwork, that wears us down, saps our strength and robs our joy.

George Bernard Shaw wrote, “This is the true joy of life:  The being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

5) Knowing your purpose prepares you for eternity.  What ultimately matters most will not be what others say about your life but what G-d says. What people fail to realize is that all achievements are eventually surpassed, records are broken, reputations fade, and tributes are forgotten.

A wiser use of time is to build an eternal legacy.  You weren’t put on earth to be remembered. You were put here to prepare for eternity.  G-d won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views.

Imam W. Deen Mohammed said, “What is needed is Faith in G-d, Simple Living, Hard Labor, and High Thinking.”  Quoted from Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on earth.”

Allah will give us tests – some we will pass, some we won’t.  What to remember is that the tests are to get us closer to realizing our purpose if we learn from them.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomeyer speaking to middle school and high school students emphasized, “Get your education.  It will teach you when you come against a brick wall how to go around that wall by being educated on the different alternatives to get you where you should be.”

So I say to you, the difference between rejection and failure is giving up, so never give up; take a different path.  I will end with a poem by Russell Kelfer which pretty much sums up everything:

You are who you are for a reason.

You’re part of an intricate plan.

You’re a precious and perfect unique design,

Called G-d’s special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason.

Our G-d made no mistake.

He knitted you together within the womb,

You’re just what he wanted to make.

The parents you had were the ones He chose,

And no matter how you may feel,

They were custom-designed with G-d’s Plan in mind,

And they bear the Master’s Seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.

And G-d wept that it hurt you so;

But it was allowed to shape your heart

So that into his likeness you’d grow.

You are who you are for a reason,

You’ve been formed by the Master’s Rod.

You are who you are, beloved,

Because there is a G-d!

 

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Imam Salim Mumin

By Loretta Al-Uqdah

LAWNSIDE, N.J. – The  Muslim American Logic Institute, better known as the M.A.L.I. conference, was filled with history, language and Qur’anic inspiration. It was great to see so many M.A.L.I. students and believers from all over the country.

During this June event, there were even believers who traveled from Bermuda, venue of this year’s Muslim Journal “A Time to be Grateful Awards Dinner weekend (Dec. 13 – 15).

The M.A.L.I. weekend was power-packed with history, language and Qur’anic inspiration.  The conference opened with Jumuah conducted by Imam Khalil Akbar from Masjid Ash-Shaheed in Charlotte, N.C.

After the inspirational Jumuah, conference goers were treated to historical insights and facts about  Lawnside’s history with a film called “The Best Kept Secret,” a timely film about the small town of Lawnside.

In addition, the town is filled with other historic facts, including the Peter Mott House, a stop on the Underground Railroad, Mt. Peace Cemetery – home of the remains of many African American Civil War veterans, as well as those war veterans who were shipped to Lawnside when the White grave yards refused to accept their bodies.

It was soul stirring to hear Muneerah Higgs, film producer, recount to the listeners various stories related to the history of the Lawnside community.

Friday evening consisted of smooth jazz performed by the M.A.L.I. band.  The music traveled throughout the community and neighbors came and joined in, saying they “heard the music and it sounded so good,” and they came to see for themselves.

Throughout the evening, you heard comments like “everything’s perfect, the weather, the music, the food and the people; you couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Saturday morning began with Imam Eric Turner’s, Resident Imam of Masjid Freehaven heartfelt welcome, along with  Lawnside’s Mayor Mary Ann Wardlow, who also welcomed the conference attendees.

Following the welcomes, we were treated to Sis. Sherrie Umrani’s Pre-k and kindergarten class. The children proudly demonstrated the new method of learning Arabic in class. Sis. Shirley Cooper, the school’s principal, spoke excitedly about the Sunday school’s implementation of the M.A.L.I. Method

Dr. Fowziyyah, Director of the M.A.L.I. Method, explained the M.A.L.I. learning concept.  Defined as the Muslim American Logic Institute, M.A.L.I. is an online Arabic course for serious students whose goal is to read and understand the Qur’an in the language it was revealed.

The workshops were led by inspirational and power charged speakers sharing their thoughts and understanding of the Holy Qur’an.  The Imams and Sisters and Brothers shared comments using the insights and wisdom given to them by our late leader and contemporary scholar Imam W.D. Mohammed.

We heard from some of Imam Mohammed’s most accomplished students, which included   Imam Faheem Shuiabe, Sis. Salwa Abdullah, Qasim Ahmed and Yahya Abdullah, among others.

As the workshop participants were leaving, some said of the scholarly messages they received, “It was awesome; make sure you go to so and so workshop.” Referring to Sis. Aminah S.A. Muhammad, of Miami, Florida, they said, “And her recitation was beautiful.”

Later in the day, we heard from Imams from New Jersey, Philadelphia and the surrounding Muslims communities who shared their experiences and logic.

The next session  also consisted of many nationally recognized Imams from across the country who discussed: “How can we use the Qur’an to propel our community toward a modern renaissance?”

The panel discussions were facilitated by Imams Mikal Shabazz and Kenneth Nuriddin of Philadelphia.

The evening banquet was held at the Lawnside Community Center and the audience was entertained with the sounds of Waleed Muhammad while dinning. Keynote speaker for the evening was Ayesha K. Mustafaa, Editor of Muslim Journal.

Comments were giving by David Hassan, of the National Muslim Business Council, who emphasized that “we should ask businesses to underwrite the cost of the M.A.L.I. Conference.” Imam Salim Mu’Min, founder of M.A.L.I., presented awards to his students.

The students were all smiles, as they received certificates of achievement for their online Qur’anic Arabic Studies.

Imam Mu’Min also outlined the goals and objectives of M.A.L.I.   He highlighted where we are now as a group and where we want to go as an institution dedicated to the goal of giving everyone an opportunity to learn to read with understanding the Holy Qur’an in its original language.

On Sunday, conference goers heard from a panel of Muslim authors which featured presentations on health, religion, and family life. Dr. Mubaashir Uqdah, Imam Ronald Shaheed, Sis. Sultani Ali, Andre Masud, Qadira Yamini and Dr. Zaid Abdul Karim were among the authors presenting.

To complete the weekend, we also heard from Imam Tyree El-Amin of Houston, one of the young Imams who accompanied Imam Qasim Ahmed as he continued the tradition of “Par Excellence” in the delivery of the Qur’anic message.

Imam Ahmed was dynamic as usual delivering his appeal to the believers to learn this Qur’an in Arabic.  He stressed that Imam Mohammed said, “When we learn how to read this Qur’an for ourselves, it will take away a lot of our problems.”

For more information about M.A.L.I., visit muslimamericanlogic.com

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Dr. Marcus Lambert

By Sabir Kasib Muhammad

ATLANTA, Ga. – When his parents made the decision to send William Marcus Lambert from their Cincinnati, Ohio, home to Atlanta to attend W.D. Mohammed High School, I consider it a great blessing that William Marcus Lambert chose my home as his “home away from home.”

Not only did Marcus provide me with interesting conversations, but he fit in well with my three sons; Jamil, Faruq and Yusuf, who were still in the home and also attended the Mohammed Schools.

His focus and dedication to education were evident early on and this manifested itself when he graduated from the Schools in 2003 as the Mu’Alim (Graduate with the highest grade point average).

Periodically, I would have conversations with Marcus regarding his vision for the future. During one of those conversations, I asked him what were his interests regarding higher education following his graduation from high school.

I remember him telling me that he wanted to be a medical researcher (scientist) and that he hoped to discover cures to many of the diseases that plague mankind. I also remember how reflective he was when he made that statement as if the process toward his goal was already well underway.

Upon graduation with honors in Biology course study from Howard University, Marcus was offered a full scholarship and stipend to directly pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical science from New York University School of Medicine.

While at New York University, Marcus worked with colleges to identify a regulator of tumor metastasis, drug resistance, and disease recurrence in breast cancer called p23. This work was published in the journal, Cancer Research.

I stayed in contact with Marcus over the years and he would update me periodically on his projects that he was working on, one of which was a thesis project in the field of neuroendocrinology, studying the molecular mechanisms of stress response in the brain.

His research has led to an intensive study of a protein in the body called Glucocorticoid Receptor.  There has been little investigation and scientific inquiry on the role that stress may play in disease processes as it relates to racial and ethnic disparities.

Marcus believes ethnic minorities and particularly low income populations may experience higher levels of chronic stress due to racism and discrimination, lower average socioeconomic status, lower income levels and income inequality, lower levels of education, greater job stress, immigration-related stress if foreign-born, and factors related to ethnicity and culture.

He believes these differences in stress among various racial and ethnic groups can be seen at the level of DNA, particularly the "epigenome."  His work seeks to characterize a protein (Glucocorticoid Receptor) that regulates this epigenome, so that future researchers can better investigate this health disparity.

Like many great minds, Marcus is very modest and conservative when it comes to publicizing the great strides he has made in the academic arena. During one period the following exchange occurred between us on the subject in 2010:

Subject: RE: Cancer Research

As Salaamu Alaikum Bro. Sabir,

I just got back from Turkey with the delegation led by Imam Saafir Rabb of Baltimore, so I apologize for a late reply to your earlier email.

I've attached the article in pdf format. To be honest, I'm not completely comfortable with any spotlights on myself.  I would like to communicate a message to have a stronger embrace for science, especially to young African American males concerned about the disparities and aliments that are disproportionately affecting our demographic, i.e. cancer, diabetes, heart disease (the latter two causing the death of our leader).

Maybe we can set something up at the school the next time I visit.

Pray all is well! Peace, Marcus (Khalil Marcus Lambert)

Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 04:05:18

From: SABIRMUHAMMAD

To: lambertmar

Subject: Re: Cancer Research

That is exactly what I'm talking about.  Communicating a message, "to have a stronger embrace for science...". I think what you are doing is quite admirable and I would like to publicize the process.  Think about it and get back with me.

Thanks, Sabir Sr.

I remember having these same conversation years ago with then Principal/Director of the Mohammed Schools Sandra El-Amin ,who was a bit hesitant about publicizing the accomplishments of her daughter, Fatima, who had amassed an outstanding academic record at Harvard University.

I remember saying to Ms. El-Amin at the time, “We get too much publicity about the many negative things that African American children are involved in. The media makes sure that these things are publicized, but we don’t get nearly enough of the good news about the great accomplishments of our children.”

Marcus eventually accepted and the interview that I conducted with him was published in Muslim Journal.

Marcus's future goals include developing plans for an integrated science and research program designed for Islamic schools throughout the United States. He also wants to start a research program for junior high school students that expose curious minds to the scientific side of health disparities like diabetes and prostate cancer.

His goal is to increase student’s desires to address and research scientific problems that are destroying their own demographic.

Outside of science, Marcus has a tenacious desire for community development and service. While attending Howard, Marcus interned at Masjid Muhammad as an assistant to the resident Imam, Yusuf Saleem.

For his service, he earned a Recognition Award for Service and Commitment. Marcus also assisted Imam Saafir Rabb with the planning of the highly anticipated 2011 Community Life Forward Conference in Atlanta, Ga.

Married to his sweetheart Zahara Bashir and with two children and now known as Khalil Marcus Lambert, he recently   completed his coursework at New York University School of Medicine and was awarded his PhD in Biomedical Science.

Having already traveled throughout the world in pursuit of the next great breakthrough in science, Marcus recently moved back to Atlanta to begin his pursuit of discovering breakthroughs in science that will make the world better and with his love of Allah, his devotion to helping humanity and his respect and admiration for the teachings of Imam W.D. Mohammed, Marcus should make great strides in his future endeavors.

 

 

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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