Monday, November 3, 2014

Positive Youth Development

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

MBK Organizers to invest in “servant” leadership


By Stephanie and Eric Stradford

AMWS -- Philadelphia, PA, November 3, 2014 – Community investors for President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Challenge are in Philadelphia this week. They are looking for opportunities to invest in youth -- and, they’ve started their search among remnant beneficiaries of the historic Free African Society. This year, the President of the United States has challenged American communities to “ensure all youth remain safe from violent crime” as one of six focus areas for My Brother’s Keeper communities.

Historically, The Free African Society has existed in the United States in various forms since 18th Century Colonial America. Organizers for a Historic Black Church commemorative event have embraced this focus area as a foundation for positive youth development. On Saturday, November 15, 2014, Youth Achievers USA Institute, a national 501c3 public charity will co-sponsor a Youth Leadership Forum for youth and caring adults commonly committed to “carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society.” A $500 community organizing grant will be awarded to youth leaders who are ready, willing and able to be “My Brother’s Keeper.”

The Youth Leadership Forum identifies local and national efforts aimed at ENSURING ALL youth remain safe from violent crime. Online tools and social media are being used for ENGAGING ALL youth in developing their leadership strengths and INVESTING in youth, ages 7-24, as economic beneficiaries. My Brother’s Keeper Community Organizers are inviting youth and caring adults to share a legacy of values as heirs to the historic Free African Society.

Each year, YouthUSA sponsors THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS, a capacity building program that qualifies youth ages 7-24 as economic beneficiaries. To win, enterprising youth will present written goals in seven key areas known as “Money-n-the-Bank.” A free downloadable worksheet and on-line application is available at www.YouthUSA.net

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, November 15, 2014 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Tindley Temple United Methodist Church
750-762 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

FOR INFORMATION CALL 215-279-9108
RSVP NOW ON FACEBOOK

Thursday, April 3, 2014

YouthUSA Beneficiaries Learn-2-Earn at Civic Events

By Stephanie A. Walker Stradford and Eric Stradford, USMC Retired

clip_image002

AMWS, April 4, 2014, Marietta, GA -- National Learn-2-Earn partners will be on hand at Marietta Square this Saturday to invest in local youth beneficiaries. Any beneficiary or 2014 applicant to THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS qualifies for “Dollar$hip” investment from Youth Achievers USA Institute. YouthUSA awards Dollar$hips to promote economic opportunity for the “whole village.”

Award winning journalist, author and minister the Rev. Dr. Barbara Ann Reynolds and a host of Cobb County faith and civic leaders will take the stage to “Promote the Peace” at Marietta Square beginning at 9 a.m. The rally raises community awareness on domestic abuse of women and children.

The Covenant Keepers Men’s Ministry of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church is hosting the event. Organizers promote “strong spirituality to lift the mental state-of-mind of individuals” prone to acts of violence at home, as well as those in the area’s younger population engaged in bullying. “Whether it’s faith, social justice or economics, history has shown us that those who are negatively affected the most, are the ones who have to come forward and take a stand,” said Zane Watkins, a minister at Pleasant Grove. “The men of Pleasant Grove are stepping forward to leading that charge.”

clip_image004
Dr. H. Ben Williams, President of the Cobb County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference will join Ann Harris, Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney, and representatives from the YWCA, Cobb County Sheriffs and other social services and law enforcement agencies at the rally. Williams works through diverse community coalitions to demonstrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s vision of “The Beloved Community.”

Dr. King was assassinated 46 years ago today.


On Thursday, April 17, the local SCLC chapter will follow-up on the DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PEACE RALLY with THE GRAVES SOCIAL JUSTICE SEMINARS, a series of interactive discussions on meeting local needs.

Youth Achievers USA Institute engages youth as economic beneficiaries. The national 501c3 public charity supports ongoing awareness of economic security concerns through The King Center’s #ChooseNonviolence campaign and The President’s #MyBrothersKeeper Initiative. YouthUSA has partnered with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to develop HEALING strategies as one of seven actions of 21st Century Southern Christian Leadership.





Sunday, March 30, 2014

Getting Educators To Do The Math

Lucia McBath (aka Jordan Davis’ mom) joined a panel of presenters and scoped a national security threat. “I used to say to him: Jordan, you know, you’re just going to have to turn the other cheek, or what have you, because people nowadays will shoot you.”

clip_image002

By Stephanie A. Walker Stradford and Eric Stradford, USMC Retired

AMWS, March 30, 2014, Atlanta – The White House added fuel to fire for The President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. Morehouse College co-hosted a two-day Summit on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The event headlined experts from the field, tweeters and streamers in the cloud, and even actors (Hosea Chanchez and Wendy Raquel Robinson) from The Game. A fortunate few even got close and personal with Usher’s New Look—making an impression, making a difference while maintaining a low profile.

Morehouse President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. summed up the event proclaiming Morehouse a “national epicenter” for addressing threats to historically disadvantaged American males. “At Morehouse, we stand for scholarship, service, and spirituality. We stand for excellence in all things that we do,” said Wilson.

The Morehouse Research Institute on the African American Male facilitated an event that was heavy on psychology but weak in math and science. They headlined Michael Skolnik, who describes himself as a 21st century civil rights leader. The Political Director to hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is also President of GlobalGrind.com. Michael and Russell focus their work around three core themes: violence, poverty and ignorance.

clip_image004

Skolnick crunched some numbers that may have aroused the institute’s interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). But common logic for reframing conversations at Morehouse may come from the campus library. Young scholars, basing doctoral dissertations on the works of fellow Morehouse man, Martin Luther King, Jr., may indeed claim added value. However, they will need to do the math.

One quote from Dr. King’s last book, “Where Do We Go From Here: CHAOS OR COMMUNITY” grazed the surface some 50 years ago. “The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower rate,” said Hyman Bookbinder, U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity. Dr. King warned that “No great victories are won in a war for the transformation of a whole people without total participation.”

No panelist or participant added more value to the conversation than Lucia McBath. The mother of murdered teenager Jordan Davis is adding value to a vision of her son’s future by helping others find value in their black sons’ lives. When viewed through the lens of an African American mother, no tool can quantify the devaluation of a child’s life. However, McBath offered one key factor. She said simply, “Jordan had value.”

The mathematical formula for countering Cradle-To-Prison Pipeline, Stand Your Ground, Voter Disenfranchisement and economic exclusion stems from the biblically-based question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What might seem to be a logical response has been historically diluted by diverse agendas, compounded by complex lexicon, and delayed by simply denying its impact on national security.

The answer is “yes,” I am my brother’s keeper and the alternative can be devastating. For those Americans who choose CHAOS over COMMUNITY, the African American is hardly the threat to fear. You choose chaos, fear their God. It will rain and you will need a boat. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long (about 450 feet or 135 meters), fifty cubits wide (75 feet or 23 meters).

An economic capacity-building process developed by Youth Achievers USA Institute supports an affirmative choice for COMMUNITY. It values American citizens age 7-24 for their written goals in seven key areas of human development. Each seven-part vision of the future, compounded by a whole village of 20 caring adults quantifies a grassroots community reinvestment asset. The future asset can be measured by a minimum Money-n-the-Bank financial goal.

“Where do we go from here” starts with a realistic assessment of where we are. Once experts, scholars and politicians agree on what’s wrong, the rest of us can get on board to do our part. History supports a hypothesis that an African American life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is less than equal (<=) to that of a Euro-American.

clip_image006

This was hardly the intent of some good folks who got together on some Articles of Confederation. They later agreed on a common vision for America’s future. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Depending on the facts one chooses to believe, from John Hanson to Barack Obama, much of the American experience depends on measurable outcomes for the free Africans born here. Faced with Jim Crow segregation a short fifty years ago, We The People replaced Negro issues of that time by developing minority public policy. Today, an $18 trillion national debt shouldered by African American Barack Obama, presents another quantifiable factor for mathematical reasoning. Divide it by 300 million citizens and any math major worth his or her weight can come up with equal shares of about $60,000 per citizen.

President Obama’s vision of America’s future must build on progress to realize the nation’s full potential. A fully paid for Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative might be a good measure for where we are. The President’s $56 billion budget will add to the $18 trillion national debt, which offers some mathematically measurable point of where we go from here. We’ll also need to factor in George W. Bush’s bailout of the financial industry. The 2008 TARP program originally authorized expenditures of $700 billion. But, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act reduced the amount authorized to $475 billion.

In this case, the math supports a 395 year timeline where a black man’s value is less than fellow humans. Depending on whose keeping the books, President Obama may have saved taxpayers $225 billion from the original $700 billion authorized by his predecessor in the 2008 T.A.R.P. That $225 billion should more than enough to cover the $56 billion requested in the 2015 budget.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Soul-searching historically disadvantaged America
clip_image002

By Stephanie A. Walker Stradford and Eric Stradford, USMC Retired

AMWS, March 29, 2014, Atlanta – President Barack Obama met with Pope Francis this week. A conversation lasting just under an hour perhaps addressed some of the most critical issues of our times. "I would say that the largest bulk of the time was discussing two central concerns of his," said the President. "One is the issues of the poor, the marginalized, those without opportunity, and growing inequality.”

Now, 2.1 billion Christians worldwide need to be very specific about their prayers.  About 13% of the U.S. population is weighing other folks’ needs against historically unmet needs of their own. The United States Department of Education is at Morehouse College this weekend. Government hopes to engage citizens in some national soul searching. The question of the day has been asked and answered since the genesis of humankind. “Then the Lord said to Cain, Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?

Unconfirmed reports that Southern Christian Leadership National President Charles Steele also visited the Vatican this week, feeds theories that helping the least among us is front and center on the world stage. Steele’s travels across the U.S. and around the world draw attention to the reality of historically disadvantaged Americans. In a nutshell, if an African American is counted as a “minority” in the United States, that equates to less than and not equal.

As the President heads home, his 2015 budget is headed for a Congress that has yet to connect with Our Street, USA or embrace the reality, “Yes! I am my brother’s keeper.” The president’s proposed budget funds a $56 billion Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, split evenly between defense and non-defense priorities. Meanwhile, America’s national debt clock is ticking from $17.5 towards $18 trillion.

When you consider the total U.S. population, estimated at 300 million, the national debt is about $60,000 per citizen. “My Brother’s Keeper” as evidence-based intervention might simply leverage a fair share of the national debt against historically unmet needs to equip all Americans as equal partners. “A half century after the fall of segregation, America has yet to fulfill Dr. King’s dream of a beloved community,” said H. Benjamin Williams, Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Williams has been working with local, regional and national partners on a “boots-on-the-ground” economic security intervention. The National Learn-2-Earn Partnership specifically identifies seven key areas of human need to include giving through grassroots community reinvestment.

“A holistic approach to addressing historic threats to African American families begins with healing,” said Williams. Quoting a passage from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last book, Where Do We Go From Here: CHAOS OR COMMUNITY, Williams reiterated, “The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower rate.”

In case you are really interested is understanding the problem, the data has always been there. “Boys and young men of color — regardless of where they come from — are disproportionately at risk from their youngest years through college and the early stages of their professional lives,” according to the Obama Administration.

By the time they hit fourth grade, 86 percent of African American boys and 82 percent Hispanic boys are reading below proficiency levels — compared to 54 percent of white fourth graders reading below proficiency levels. African American and Hispanic young men are more than six times more likely to be murder victims than their white peers — and account for almost half of the country's murder victims each year.

Each casualty counts in America’s longest running war.

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America” on January 8, 1964, and within a few years oversaw the creation of an array of programs “aimed not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.”

In the 1964 Economic Report of the President, President Johnson’s Council of Economic Advisers outlined the many key points of attack: “maintaining high employment, accelerating economic growth, fighting discrimination, improving regional economies, rehabilitating urban and rural communities, improving labor markets, expanding educational opportunities, enlarging job opportunities for youth, improving the Nation’s health, promoting adult education and training, and assisting the aged and disabled.”

The report ended with the declaration that, “It is time to renew our faith in the worth and capacity of all human beings; to recognize that, whatever their past history or present condition, all kinds of Americans can contribute to their country; and to allow Government to assume its responsibility for action and leadership in promoting the general welfare.”

It’s been 50 years since the Presidency committed itself to a War On Poverty. The White House today hopes to chart a course from CHAOS to COMMUNITY with, “A Roadmap for Growth, Opportunity, and Fiscal responsibility.” The President’s 2015 Budget offers a roadmap for accelerating economic growth, expanding opportunity for all Americans, and ensuring fiscal responsibility. It invests in infrastructure, job training, preschool, and pro-work tax cuts, while reducing deficits through health, tax, and immigration reform.

Recently, the President launched “My Brother’s Keeper” – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. It establishes an interagency task force to evaluate what public and private efforts are already working, how to expand upon what works, and how the Federal Government’s own policies and programs can better support these efforts. The My Brother’s Keeper initiative aims to leverage participation from philanthropies, the business community, and elected officials to support this cross-sector effort.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fight For The Right To Vote

Common Vision for potentates and poor folk

The Ukrainian Self Reliance Federal Credit Union, a low income designated financial institution reports $263,604,142 in assets and 9,226 members sharing “multiple common bond.” Financial institutions in Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York, Warren, MI, and Wethersfield, CT all share the Ukrainian Self Reliance FCU brand. AMWS Photo

clip_image002

By Stephanie A. Walker Stradford and Eric Stradford, USMC Retired

AMWS, March 17, 2014, Philadelphia, PA – In a tale of three-legged critters, horse sense perhaps distinguishes the well-schooled horse and the stubborn mule. The right to vote, demonstrated yesterday in the Republic of Crimea, presents cause for introspection on where Ukraine has been and where it goes from here.

21st Century Youth Leaders on a bus from Selma, Alabama last week, traveled to their nation’s capital with a similar question. They came for understanding about their rights as citizens. At the end of their journey to the nation’s Capitol, they left for home with shared purpose; “to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.” The lesson from Selma’s youth is defined as “Kujichagulia” or self-determination. It is one of seven principles of African Heritage known as Nguzu Saba.

Youth Achievers USA Institute (YouthUSA), a national 501c3 public charity, has been hoping for the miracle to help historically disadvantaged Americans tap into their own heritage, their rights and responsibilities as full citizens. Here and across the U.S., informed philanthropists are lining up to help others help themselves. Their investments in faith, family values, and self improvement are making an impression while making a difference through The J.D. and Laurena Walker Fund of YouthUSA.

A Ukrainian-American presence in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and other urban metro areas offers evidence that Ukrainian Americans picked up a ball dropped by less enterprising Americans shortly after Selma “shook the conscience of the nation.” For these Americans, Self-Reliance is not just a principle; it’s an evidence-based brand, measured by Money-n-the-Bank. A little over 9,000 Ukrainian-American’s have amassed $263 million USD in the Ukrainian Self-Reliance Federal Credit Union of Philadelphia. PA.

The America, born here by rebellious subjects a short 238 years ago, shook loose from shackles of tyranny with a message to King George’s England. “Don’t Tread On Me” was among the first forgotten calls for freedom as citizens sidestepped common vision to “form a more perfect union.”

The right to vote in the United States, granted originally to white men only, perpetuated a system where potentates rule over poor folks. Ukrainians, fighting for a chance to be whole again, can perhaps teach America more than we’re ready to learn about voting rights, constitutional government, potentate policy and poor folk resilience.

Although human settlement in Ukraine and its vicinity dates back to 32,000 BC, the territory was first inhabited some 44,000 years ago. The country is credited with the domestication of the horse and for the origins of the Indo-European language.

clip_image003In the United States, the 113th Congress, one of three branches of constitutional government, might be characterized as a three-legged mule kicking itself. The Democratic Party, once symbolized by a kicking mule, evolved from the Jeffersonian Republican or Democratic-Republican Party organized by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in opposition to the Federalist party of Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. The party favored republicanism, a weak federal government, states' rights, agrarian interests (especially Southern planters) and strict adherence to the Constitution. The party opposed a national bank, close ties to Great Britain, and business and banking interests. The Party came to power in the election of 1800 AD.

On February 3, 1870 AD, elected potentates ratified the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The change in public policy followed a Civil War, a presidential proclamation, assassination, and a worn-out Confederacy that was just sick and tired of being beat up. The amendment granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

The promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to unlawfully disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South could register to vote. It took only half a century for the United States Supreme Court to demonstrate behavior from under black robes that oppressors had inflicted from under white sheets.

Today’s Crimea became part of independent Ukraine with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Autonomous Republic of Crimea is an autonomous parliamentary republic within Ukraine and is governed by the Constitution of Crimea in accordance with the laws of Ukraine. The citizens of Crimea are 58.32% Russian, 24.32% Ukrainian, and 12.10% Crimean Tatars.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

21st Century Freedom Riders…how #WeDaPeeps roll

By Stephanie A. Walker Stradford and Eric Stradford, USMC Retired

LEFT: #INGODWETRUST is today’s Learn-2-Earn lesson for youth. Yesterday, March 12, 2014, Freedom Riders were on the bus to their nation’s capital. photo @YouthUSA. RIGHT: Light of freedom — gone out. Perhaps in a supernatural show of favor, a shroud of darkness descended over the U.S. Capitol dome amid power outages throughout Washington, D.C. Wednesday night. @BuzzFeedStorm

clip_image002

AMWS, March 13, 2013, Washington, DC - Voting Rights advocates, commemorating the 49th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, rose early Monday morning to protest the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling in SHELBY COUNTY, ALABAMA v. HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL. Traveling by bus, vans, cars, and wireless internet, a new generation of Freedom Riders laid footprints on state capitols making their way from Montgomery, AL to the nation’s capitol.

SCOTUS ruled 5-4 on June 25, 2013 that Section 4 of The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional, stating, "The conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions." The majority opinion partnered Chief Justice John G. Roberts with Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito in a 21st Century movement against all Americans. The white-sheet-to-black-robe-justice movement incited a counter “Saving OurSelves” (SOS) Movement against injustice, fighting for a range of causes stemming from the right to vote.

On the bus from Selma, a new generation of civil rights advocates tweeted and emailed their way to Capitol Hill demonstrating the use of Internet in lifting up their voices to the 113th U.S. Congress. The legislative body, dubbed the “do nothing congress,” has received at least one issue around which they might rally COMMUNITY over CHAOS.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek,” said President Barack Obama.

YouthUSA has been working with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to develop its historic evidence-based intervention into modern-day applications for Healing America. “Racism is alive and well,” said SCLC National President Charles Steele, Jr. “And, there’s a mean spirit going around where people are still trying to discriminate and destroy the heritage of African Americans.”

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and others have signed on with President Obama to fund appropriate programs that help achieve “racial equity.” SCLC has been on the bridge for the last 50 years pleading for parity – equal justice and equal opportunity for all. The President’s “My Brother’s Keeper Initiative” establishes a White House Task Force to help connect means of One Nation Under God with historically unmet needs.

The Selma-based 21st Century Youth Leaders Movement is sponsored by The National Voting Rights Museum. A partnership with Youth Achievers USA Institute (YouthUSA), a national 501c3 public charity, engages local youth in demonstrating that blind justice can and must be color-blind as well.

Dr. H. Benjamin Williams, a local SCLC chapter president, is spearheading a bottoms-up movement for historic civil rights organizations from Information to Operation. “Our mission is to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” he said. “America’s future begins on Our Street. That means putting our youth first, and banking on their futures because our national security depends on it. Their security demands intentional pro-social economic investment in their futures.