Listening to a radio show on WVON 1690 AM this past Monday, I was moved by the tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts to create change for Black people, as well as the diligent efforts of so many others who fought to honor him for his leadership in the civil rights movement.
The civil rights movement did so much more than win more rights for Black people; it defined basic community service towards our fellow human beings. As I contemplated this notion, I got off my rear end, left my comfort zone, and went out of the house to give some of my time to help others, keeping in tune with the ideology that Dr. King’s fought so hard for, and eventually died for.
Dr. King was a servant to his fellow human being, to the extent of putting his life on the line according to his faith. In his preacher’s heart was concern about his fellow man, as he went out of the trenches, straight ahead into the heat of battle against his enemies.
Through it all, he relied on God. And in his faith he did not waiver going forth to war on behalf of the mistreatment of the Black race of human beings, for the sake of righteousness. He showed himself to be a Good Samaritan.
My community service for the day was to serve as a guest speaker to a group of young boys and girls and their parents at the youth and adult health and educational fair, held at Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church, 600 E. 35th St.
I ran my mouth in an attempt to encourage the youth to be kind to each other even as the God of Creation instructed us to do. I did so by telling them how I raised my six children while living in the Chicago Housing Authority’s now-demolished Madden Park Homes, which was also known as “New Town,” down the street not far from the church. Then I enacted a short poem I had written several years ago, titled “Life in the ‘Jects,” which is my perception of how it was for me living in public housing for 22 years.
In addition to me, members from several other youth organizations such as Imagine Englewood If also took time out of their busy schedule to honor Dr. King by coming to the church that day. They shared pamphlets on parenting, diabetes, lead poisoning, heart disease, obesity, domestic violence and positive self awareness, and they talked to the youth in attendance about abstaining from sex before marriage. They pointed to national numbers of Black Americans who suffer from HIV/AIDS, and high rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancies for African American girls compared to their White, Hispanic, and Asian counterparts. Workshops were also held for the children between the ages of six and 21, and their parents.
Eric Arnold from the Illinois Masonic Outreach Program hosted a workshop on how addiction starts for people.
Alyce Ann Crump from “Peach Out of Reach,” International Ministry for Young Ladies, talked to the teenage girls about how they were worth more than just a “Happy Meal.”
In addition, “Off the Edge” youth group members LaTarcha Russell, Lucinda Carter, and Quintana Woodridge, (who is We the People Media’s youth coordinator), talked to the youths about personal hygiene, and provided the children and their parents with free hand massages and facials, and also painted their fingernails.
Several of the youths and adults also entertained the audience by reading their spoken word poetry, and Marshawn Frencha recited a Dr. Margret Burroughs speech.
After the workshops, Dawn Short, a freshman at Chicago State University and a member of “Real Talk” William Youth Service shared some of her past history with the youths in hopes of them not going down the same path she took. She kept it real and told them about how she got caught up in the life of prostitution, becoming a drug dealer, and how she changed her life after having her 2-year-old son. She strongly encouraged them to do better in their lives and avoid the dangerous path she took.
Former Ida B. Wells public housing resident Sandra Young, a board member of the Chicago Housing Authority (and We The People Media) and co-founder of Ujima Inc., an employment and job training for all low-income people in the Bronzeville area, including at the Oakwood shores mixed-income housing community, was also in the house of God encouraging the kids to stay on the straight and narrow path.
In addition, Keisha Barbee, also a member of Ujima, talked to the youth about channeling their anger through poetry.
Afterwards everyone enjoyed two ministerial “praise and worship” dance performances by Sixth Grace Church members 13-year-old Ashley Colman, and 16-year-old Rebekah Crump.
The event ended with the Rev. Bernard Clark leading a prayer thanking the Lord God our Creator for the opportunity to be of service to others, just as Dr. King did.Tags: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Imagine Englewood If, Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church, WVON
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