Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good Food and Good Company is what it is all About

L-R Folks at Dale Washington's dinner party

Rev. LaDonna amidst the cornocopia of food

L-R Rev.Q and Laroto

L-R Rev. Q and Rev. LaDonna

L-R Laroto and Rev. Qiyamah

L-R Dale Washington, Chicago artist and Rev. Q at an annual dinner that he gives every year. I met so many artists and had some great food that Dale prepares himself.

Dale surrounded by some of his art. The walls in all the rooms were filled with his art. At the end of the evening he gave me a simple line drawing that he did of a nature scene.

Ubuntu Fundraiser

L-R Laroto and Rev. LaDonna Sanders

Father and Son (sorry, I forgot their names)

Linda Lawrence, a friend I met at the S. African Consulate

Laroto's friend, also from S. Africa and living in Chicago.

L-R Rev. Nina Grey, and Rev. LaDonna Sanders

Mama Edie, local storyteller

L-R Norma Poinsett, Rev. Q. and Rev. Michelle Bentley

Loroto from South Africa modeling an outfit that she made. I bought a great skirt from her.

L-R Rev. Q and Rev. Nina Grey

L-R Rev.Michelle Bentley, Phifer Brown and Rev. Nina Grey (my minister and the minister at 1st Unitarian Church of Chicago)

L-R Anita Orlikoff, Norma Poinsett, Makeba (artist) and Mama Edie (storyteller)

L-R young brother, sister from South Africa, yours truly and Peter, one of the Lost Boys from the Sudan

Rev. LaDonna Sanders, Director of Ubuntu who is heading back to South Africa this month where she is growing a ministry that works with street children and cildren orphaned by HIV AIDS.

The Wine and Cheese was the first fund raiser that I have ever planned and the first "event" that I have had at my house since I my birthday party on October 17! I am greatful for all the folks that came out and supported Ubuntu and helped me. I learned a lot. Fundraising is a special skill that I have discovered is an invaluable skill when one is doing any kind of work and/or ministry. It helps when you believe in what you are doing.
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

Covenantal Community Housing Coop

Members and Friends of the Covenantal Community Housing Coop enjoying a recent Sunday potluck.

Carolers from the community sharings Christmas songs with us during Sunday potluck.

Carolers in background - L-R LaVonne Hill and Verjilio

Carolers in background with members of community coop in foreground L-R Jean and visitor.

I have now lived in the Covenantal Community Housing Coop for six months and am settling into the Community. I usually attend the Sunday potlucks whenever I am in town. I am also a member of the Steering Committee that helps to plan some of the Sunday programming for residents and visitors. In addition, I have enjoyed planning a couple of Advent Services. I look forward to planning special programming for 2009. Above are pictures of the our weekly Sunday potlucks.
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

Checkin' In

Life has been very hectic in a good sort of way. I have taken the liberty of a brief respite but I am back now. The pictures below will fill you in to some extent on some of the things I have been up to.
Blessings Rev. Qiyamah

Child Advocate, Marian Wright Eldelman of the Children's Defense Fund was in Chicago for a book signing on December 3 at the Jane Adams Hull House Museum. It was my first visit at the museum and it was a delight to see Sista Marian. She is still committed and articulating the need for Americans to step up to support its children.

L-R Rev.Qiyamah, Stephanie Davenport;(Director of Education Programs at the DuSable Museum and Marian Wright Eldelman.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What Happened in California?

(photo by Qiyamah A. Rahman - Charlotte, NC 2006)

We were not successful on all fronts in the recent elections: Below is one account of what happened in California regarding Proposition 8:
Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah

What happened?
On May 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court affirmed that the state constitution, AS IT WAS WRITTEN BY THE FOUNDERS OF THIS STATE MORE THAN 150 YEARS PRIOR, provided official government recognition of all marriages between all couples, regardless of gender.

On November 4, 2008, Proposition 8 amended this constitution to explicitly deny this right to same-sex couples. Nowhere else in either California's constitution or the Federal Constitution are a specific class of rights restricted, to any minority group, for any reason.

Why did this proposition pass? Was it because Californians genuinely believed that granting rights to a minority group undermine the fabric of society? No.

Was it because Californians failed to recognize the similarity of Proposition 8 with the bans on interracial marriage last century, once considered "controversial" but now universally recognized as wrong? No.

Was it because Californians no longer saw their constitution as a foundational document that is amended carefully, but a document as pliable as putty and subject to the whims of a narrow majority? No.

How, then, did Proposition 8 become law?

This measure was losing resoundingly just before the election.

For the past six months, Mormon volunteers, directed by the Church, misled Californians about the effects of the Supreme Court ruling by tapping into a war chest of Mormon cash and contributing up to 70% of Prop 8 financing.

Mormon votes did not steal our rights. Mormon money did.

They told us we would lose the right to participate in our children's education. Lies.

They told us the California state public school curriculum would be modified to teach sex education to kindergarteners. Lies.

They told us churches would lose the right to free speech. Lies.

If this is the way Mormons treat gays and lesbians of California, let us ask:

How has America treated Mormons?
The Mormon church began in 1830 in New York. The first Mormons were persecuted by the American majority, and were compelled to emigrate to Utah where they could live unmolested, much like gays and lesbians who lived in the urban ghettos last century. Mormons had alternative views of what family meant, and were excluded and marginalized from the political process. In their arguments against the majority, Mormon Prophet Brigham Young wrote:

Marriage is a civil contract. You might as well make a law to say how many children a man shall have, as to make a law to say how many wives he shall have. (Journal of Discourses, 11:268-9)
Much has improved for the Mormon people since then. Today, Mormons have powerful representation in the Senate, and ran a nationally viable candidate for the United States Presidency in 2008.

The Mormon story is possible because our country is a tolerant and forgiving place. America believes in the rights of its citizens to determine their own fates, and grants rights to individual communities to determine their own norms and values. The Mormon people have been able to flourish because of this country's generous spirit.

But now, history has reversed, and it is the Mormons who have become the oppressor.

The Mormons began with the Boy Scouts of America, originally a children's club meant to introduce boys and girls to the natural beauty of America. Mormons took financial control of the Boy Scouts by sponsoring 28% of national scout troops. Gays and lesbians are barred from participating in this group not just in Mormon troops, but nationwide, thereby turning our children into a political football.

Some Mormons send their own gay teenage children to "conversion camps," where these children are forced to endure shock therapy and given psychotropic drugs. The emotional stress of such experience drives many to contemplate suicide. The Mormon Church has yet to repudiate these activities.

Now the Mormon Church has set its target on gay and lesbian adults of California. They have started by amending our constitution to deny equal protection to gays and lesbians.

Ask the Jews about how freedoms are lost. The concentration camps were not built in a national referendum. They were the product of a systemic reduction of freedoms, year after year, one at a time.

We as citizens of California, Americans, and persons of various beliefs and faiths will not allow this to happen.

Are all Mormons against rights for gays?
Absolutely not. So far, 300 Mormons and 1 Mormon celebrity have stood up against their church to support gay rights. We respect the challenge of standing up to a majority, especially when those 301 stand in the face of more than 13.1M Mormons worldwide. You can see stories of these courageous Mormons at Mormons for Marriage.

To the rest of those silent Mormon protesters, one can offer the words of Elie Wiesel:

"I swore to never be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides, Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim, silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

How can we stop this agenda?
To restore the right stolen from us, we must correct the amendment to California's constitution. To do this requires another statewide proposition. Yet how will we avoid another election season of deception, when the Mormon Church can use vast tax-free money into advancing their platform?

Strip the Mormon church of its status as a religious organization.
According to IRS law,

Section 501(c)(3) describes corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literacy, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in section (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

From IRS Publication 1828 Page 5,

Substantial Lobbying Activity
In general, no organization, including a church, may qualify for IRC section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). An IRC section 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

Was the letter of the law violated?
We have spoken with experts on this matter, and the answer is unclear. The Mormon Church is not only a 501(c)(3), it is also a church, which grants them special rights. They are still prohibited from direct involvement in campaigns for a specific political office as well direct lobbying of legislators.

Was the spirit of the law violated?
Yes, absolutely.

Read this email from a mormon church coordinator:

...As mentioned in the broadcast, the coalition approached the Church about getting involved. With a mere difference of 400,000 votes, I am certain had the Church not been involved this proposition would not have passed...

Because it is already illegal for churches to support candidates or lobby, we must close this loophole and make it illegal for churches to support propositions, which are for all intents and purposes identical to legislation.

We must clarify our tax law to prohibit this behavior.

The United Kingdom has taken preliminary steps to strip the church of its tax-exempt status.

Through Prop 8, the Mormon Church has shown its true colors as a political group with specific social ends. Political speech is fair and legal here; such speech under the guise of religion is not. The playing field must be leveled. Though many religious groups were involved in Prop 8, the Mormon Church made this a far more substantial part of its activities than any other.

Californians will vote on future propositions to correct this flawed amendment next year, and every year, until we achieve our rights under the state constitution. We must be assured that our advocacy organizations are on an equal legal and financial playing field as those of our opponents.

Ultimately all religious groups are subject to the same laws - Catholics, Jews, Muslims, etc. The Mormon church, however, has shown itself to be most egregious in pressing a political agenda while registered as a church. We are starting with the biggest to effect the most change.

What can I do now?
Sign this petition to support the legal effort to amend our tax laws such that the Mormon Church, and other transgressing churches, would lose tax-exempt status if they continue lobbying for state propositions. We intend to share this list with the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and other official legal organizations that will be pressing forward with this effort. Anyone can sign this petition.

Please sign your name below:

Sunday, 11/9: More than 300,000 hits & 150,000 signatures in our first 5 days! Perez, you are amay! Also thanks to Daily Kos, Huffington Post, the Stranger, Advocate, and Google.

Stop taxpayer subsidies of intolerance.
Restore basic rights to gay and lesbian Californians.
Click here for all the details.

Shirts & Stickers
No More Mr. Nice Gay @ Cafepress

Other Supporters

Revoke LDS Church 501(c)(3) Status
Freedom from Religion Foundation - Separation of Church & State

If you are a Mormon: Mass Resignation Planned
The website Signing for Something will be collecting names of people resigning from the Mormon Church over Marriage Equality and/or Prop 8 related issues.

Visit http://signingforsomething.org/blog/ to find resources and information about resigning and to post your letter of resignation.


Questions? Comments? Email us at info@mormonsstoleourrights.com
This website is a grassroots effort by a handful of concerned Bay Area Californians.

Words of Wisdom from Writer Junee' Barringer Hunt

Junee' Barringer Hunt is a longtime friend of mine whose opinion I value and whose craft I honor and appreciate. Below are some of her thoughts about this historic moment:
Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah

The votes have been counted and Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th president of the United States. People came to vote, old young, black, white, brown, yellow, rich, poor and in the middle. We came, some blind, cripple, maybe even a little crazy, but no less determined. We have celebrated with confetti, good music, spirits, tears and a lot of thank you Lords. What's next for America, what's next for people of color world wide. Will the Obama brand be accepted: a black face sitting on the throne of U.S. power?

How do we insure that the election has more than just a historical and symbolic significance? What can humanity do to insure that we move beyond race and class politics toward a healing of America and the world that our children can safely inherit. The new era of Obama's leadership will call for a radical shift in paradigms, worldview and praxis. We will have to be both reflexive and forward thinking in order to enjoy even a modicum of success.

Where do we start the rebuilding process? Does it start with the economy, health care, foreign policy, especially as it relates to Afghanistan and Iraq. What does it mean to European Americans to have a man of mix race, African and Caucasian calling the shots? What will it mean to people of color to have a person who at least in hue looks more like them than any other president?

Throughout the presidential campaign the media suggested that America had suddenly become color blind. I have a funny feeling that now that Obama has been elected the lens of race will take center stage. What will happen now that the celebration is over and the real work begins? Will the still white male dominated Congress be able to get behind a black man; even a Harvard educated, mixed race, raised with mid-Western European values one ?

America is at the nadir of its existence on the world stage. How do we rise out of the ashes of eight years of GW? How do we begin to heal the scars and redirect our moral, social, and economic compass toward justice for all, rather than a few. What I know for sure is that now it is our time to raise the bar on ourselves and thus make our government including president elect Obama accountable. The fight will be long and hard, so much has been lost (i.e. our civil liberties, jobs, homes and our respect around the world). The brother has truly inherited a huge pot of dung. He will need all of the moral fiber, testicular fortitude and a continued belief in the audacity of hope he can muster.

As African Americans we must not get caught up in the caught up. We must not be naive enough to believe that one black man alone can change our destiny. We must seize the moment. Get involved in your local government, get knowledgeable about who your state's U.S. senators and representatives are. Become active in writing them to let them know the national public policy agenda you would like to see. It is the responsibility of every American citizen to frame the political debate. If the Obama administration is to represent a true participatory democracy, we must speak up and out on behalf of those who are voiceless or just plain unwilling. We must speak with one voice for radical k-12 education reform, jobs and living- wages for all who desire and are able to work . We must advocate for access to affordable quality health care for every child, woman and man. More importantly, we must demand that the young men and women in our arm forces are brought home safely and timely. No longer should we sacrifice our young in the name of oil under the guise of democracy.

We have made the ancestors proud with this historic moment. Now let's put our heads and hearts together and see what world we can make that is a worthy inheritance for our young and the beautiful ones not yet born. I challenge each of you as I challenge myself to make the historic election of Barack Hussein Obama more that just a symbol, but a true reflection of what can happen when humanity comes together with a common vision of hope and possibility. I commit to do and be more to insure that my grandsons, Jaden and Jeremiah inherit a future that insures them a quality education, affordable health care, a living wage and a planet that is sustainable, greener and healthier for all.

My prayers and meditations go out to the Obama family. The love that Barack and Michelle show for each other and their children speaks to the revolutionary power of love to uplift and to heal. I pray that God will keep them strong as a unit and that the Creator's circle of protection will guide them as they attempt to carryout the duties of the Commander and Chief. To paraphrase words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic speech, " Where Do We Go From Here", " the plant of freedom has grown another bud, but it still is not a flower." (16 August, 1967). There is much to do, let's get to work to insure that the bud of freedom, love and democracy is transformed into a beautiful flower of hope and prosperity for all humanity.


Posted by AkaziaJ. at 8:36 AM

Junee' Barringer Hunt, M.P.A.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Uniquely Mine to Give

Any blogger worth her salt has penned words and posted pictures that depict the historic election of President elect Barack Obama. I stand remiss in not posting my thoughts and comments about this propitious occasion.

Nothing I say or do at this point could possibly exceed the abundance of words and actions that have preceded mine. What is uniquely mine to contribute to the energy of this occasion is my proclamation to continue to offer my gifts and skills in the service of humanity and to our President elect Obama; to be a kind and compassionate presence whenever possible as a healing presence and to support others such as President Obama that seek to serve the American people and humanity.

I stand ready to serve in large and small ways!

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pastoral Letter from the Unitarian Universalist Association

(My child, the great sage said to me, let not your heart be troubled. When one door closes another door always opens.) photo by Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman, Charlotte, NC 2006

Pastoral Letter from the Unitarian Universalist Association
I am appreciative of the efforts on the part of the Unitarian Universalist Association in the persons of Bill Sinkford, te President and Beth Miller, Director of Ministry and Rofessionhal Leadership. The have reached out to ministers in these times of economic calamity and recently dissiminated a pastoral letter that I have posted below.

What are you doing to be a "non-anxious presence" in these times and to take care of yourself?
Blessing! Rev. Qiyamah A. Rahman

All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common:
it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.
John Kenneth Galbraith

Dear Colleagues,

This is a time of intense anxiety for all of us. How will our faith and leadership guide the people we serve through these tough times? Certainly this is on most of your minds as you write your sermons and newsletter columns, plan faith development programs, visit the sick, counsel the troubled, and even go about the administrative details of your ministry as concern for congregational income grows and more and more people in need show up at the church office door seeking help.

Gas prices rise, financial institutions fall, and headlines trumpet “the worst catastrophe since the Great Depression.” Insecurity and pain abound. We don’t know where it will lead, but we’re at the beginning of something more significant than any of the other crises we’ve endured in recent years. The threat of despair may well be among our people and, indeed, among ourselves. How do we confront unequivocally these challenges?

We can raise our prophetic voices to rail against the values and policies that brought us here, raise awareness and advocate for change, and promote generosity to alleviate present suffering. The greater challenge, and more crucial need, is to discover our authentic pastoral voices and speak boldly to the experience of these times—the fear and anger, the isolation and loneliness, the hopelessness and despair in the face of some very real losses of personal security and identity. Anxiety reaches into our communities in both predictable and surprising ways. We ourselves may be fearful for our own well-being and that of our families. And yet, we are called to be pastors. Perhaps we can offer a word of comfort and hope. Sometimes it is more important to allow these experiences to be spoken of and heard. Sometimes, as you well know, it is simply our compassionate presence in the face of anguish that is called for. How do we manage all of this with honesty, courage and integrity?

We don’t have the answers. We share your confusion and anxiety. We write today to tell you that you are in our thoughts and prayers and to affirm our faith in our Unitarian Universalist congregations as places of love, healing, and support through these tough economic times. We will support one another and work together. We write to share our faith in you, our pastors, as the ones who have made it so in the past and will this time as well.

To help you support one another, we’ve created a special webpage called “Worship Resources for Tough Economic Times” at http://www.uua.org/spirituallife/120486.shtml. Set up by Erik Wikstrom, the UUA’s Worship and Music Resources Director, this page is for you to share sermons, meditations and prayers, hymns and anthems, small group ministry sessions, newsletter columns, ideas for programs and whatever else you have found helpful. You may e-mail your submissions to Erik at worshipweb@uuaorg. Please attribute whatever you use appropriately. We thank you in advance for your sharing and hope this will facilitate and empower each of you to confront unequivocally the major anxiety… for the unique character of your particular congregation.

On a more personal note, we remind you that the UUA has emergency aid funds and loans available for clergy who find themselves in financial crisis (contact Richard Nugent at rnugent@uua.org or 617-948-6456). We never have as much money as we wish we had to support our ministers, but we are here to help.

And finally, we pray that you will take good care of yourselves. It is tempting to overwork in times such as these, and sometimes we just have to. But it is so very important to spend time with friends and family, to rest and renew yourselves, to nurture your spirits in whatever ways work for you, and to keep in touch with colleagues who give and receive the support that only those who share your calling can provide. We want you to know deeply that you are not alone with this burden. Indeed, we’re all in this together.

Yours In Faith and Love,

Bill Sinkford and Beth Miller

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tour of the 20th Ward in Chicago, IL

Students and faculty from the Community Partnership Program (CPP)at Meadville Lombard Theological School recently participated in a tour of the 20th ward on Friday, September 26, 2008. The Tour was part of the CPP's unique focus to integrate the traditional classroom learning process with praxis based learning in the community. While this alone is not new, what is new the the students are placed in community sites in their first year of matriculation. Our eight first year seminarians have been matched with non-profit organizations serving the 20th ward. In addition to working eight hours a week on site the students participate in a weekly two hour faculty led reflections group that draws on interdisciplinary texts augmented with discussion, experiential exercises, and check ins.

The tour began at 7:45 am on board a yellow school bus at 57th and S. Woodlawn Avenue, the current location of Meadville Lombard. Our first stop featured a brief stop at 62nd street and S. Ellis, the site of the future home of Meadville Lombard. Ground breaking is anticipated in 2011. The day concluded with a panel

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Making a difference in the Community

(This is a picture of an altar in my home. It is a simple one with a saying by Audre Lorde, "When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." Audre Lorde 1934-1992)

In preparation for Meadville Lombard Theological School's move into the 20th Ward I am attending meetings and forming alliances in my role as Director of Contextual Ministry. I am identifying an array of organizations in an effort to get our name into the community and to meet our future neighbors. The Peace Rally below is one of many efforts initiated by the community to interrupt the rising tide of violence. Unfortunately I was not in town to attend. Sadly, this will not be the only one because the violence continues unabated. The Mayor's Office announced that this year was one of the most violence ridden years in history.

What are you doing to make a difference in your community and the larger world?
Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah

March, rally pushes a day of peace
By Richard Muhammad on Saturday, August 4, 2007

Zakryscha Hayes’ uncle founded the 6300-6400 S. Ellis Block Club some 40-years-ago in Woodlawn where she grew up and still lives. The block club isn’t as strong as it once was, but Hayes and some neighbors are determined to bring it back – and combat violence.

With a park on her block a place for numerous attacks and shootings, Hayes grew fed up. “Over the years there have been a number of murders in the Mamie Till Mobley Park in the playground. It’s just gotten out of hand and it just seems like everyone has become accustomed to the violence,” she said.

The violence was especially disheartening because the playground is named in honor of the mother of Emmit Till, the 14-year-old Chicago youth whose brutal murder by whites in a small Mississippi town helped ignited the modern civil rights movement. That spark might not have happened without Mamie Till Mobley’s fight for son’s body and her decision to conduct his funeral with an open casket. The young boy’s grotesquely disfigured face seemed to represent the horrific abuse Blacks had suffered for centuries when Jet magazine put the image on its front cover. The image sent shockwaves across America.

It seems almost inconceivable that 52 years later Blacks would still be dying, not at the hands of white oppressors, but at the hands of their own misguided brethren.

‘Stop the killings, save the community!'
Hayes wanted to hold a peace rally to remember the victims of violence and begin to make the park safe for children and youth. She turned to local leaders, like Bishop Arthur Brazier, who referred her to Warren Beard, the organizer for the New Communities Program at The Woodlawn Organization, one of three NCP partner groups. Beard went right to work.

Out of the meetings came an Aug. 4 march and day of peace on the playground.

The march for peace was led by Woodlawn’s Ceasefire program, which operates out of TWO offices and strives to bring youth out of lives associated with gangs, crime and violence.
Beginning with prayer and several statements from community leaders outside of the Harris Park District building. The march kicked off with chants, “Stop the killing!” “Put down the guns!” “Save the babies! Save our com-mu-ni-ty!”

Youth carried banners for Ceasefire and the New Communities Program as Rev. Leon Finney, of the Woodlawn Organization and executive director of Ceasefire TWO Woodlawn, and Alderman Willie Cochran led the way. They were followed by residents active in community policing groups, Harris Park board members, block club members and youth. Officers from the Chicago Police Department and the University of Chicago police, who have worked jointly on neighborhood public safety issues, escorted marchers down Drexel Avenue to 63rd St., and then south on Ellis Avenue to the playground. The University of Chicago is the third partner in the NCP Woodlawn trinity.

Marchers assembled on the playground, joining hands as Rev. Finney led off with a prayer, followed by words from Alderman Cochran.

Emmit Till’s family set off a storm of activity after his death, said Rev. Finney. There is no greater place to kick off an effort at non-violence and peace than this playground, said the longtime community activist.
Cochran recalled how as a very young child one of his earliest memories is the excitement and adult activity connected with the death of Till. He talked about pushing through the legs of the adults to see the Jet cover with that now famous photo.

The photo had an impact, Cochran said. Just before the march, the 20th Ward alderman called the fight against violence the new civil rights movement. “People have a right to live,” he said. 'You have the right to walk down the street and the right to sit on your porch."

Laura Lane, executive director of the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp., the second of three NCP Woodlawn partners, congratulated march participants for getting involved. It takes partnerships with schools, the Chicago Park District, block clubs and people to improve things, she said.

We need to come together to provide programming for adults who need a second chance, opportunities to keep youth on the right path, and activities to keep senior citizens active, Lane said.

It takes persistence and courage to guide young people and end neighborhood violence, she said. “We can reclaim 64th St. and Ellis Avenue and move block by block to reclaim Woodlawn,” Lane added.

'We need to fight this thing together'
As chips and rinks were handed out, grills set up for cooking, balloon animals twisted into shape, basketball competition heated up on the court and music poured out of speakers, talked turned to the march and peace rally.

Tieria Munson has lived in Woodlawn for a month and moved to Chicago from Atlanta. She lost a cousin to gun violence and came out to show support for Ceasefire, at her aunt’s urging. “Me and my cousin were really close and since her life was taken, I was like ‘well I should get involved, just to help out a little to do my part,’ ” said the 11-year-old.

“We need more eyes to pay attention. And regardless of race we need to fight this thing together,” said Roger Harris, 28, who has lived in Woodlawn for 25 years. Harris said he has been racially profiled, which is wrong. Still, he added, the focus needs to stay on joint efforts to end violence.

“They (youth) need to know, it’s not the way to go. We need to start as a village. I was raised in an older environment. I remember when, if I went next door and my neighbor saw me doing something wrong, they would call my mother. I think we need to get that village back together and raise our children as a village,” said Harris.

Taking small steps toward big victories
“This type activity brings about awareness to the problem and sometimes you need to bring about awareness so that you can get to solutions,” said John Reynolds, Area 2 coordinator with the CAPS office.

Christine Perez, a CAPS community service representative for the Third Police District, said getting some residents to move beyond talk to action is a challenge. “Their commitment is important. Their participation is valued because they’re the ones who live in the community. So if they participate that makes it have a great impact, that they are actually taking this seriously,” she said.

A recent shooting was on 15-year-old Darrius Lightfoot’s mind when he decided to support the march and rally. Getting involved is important to stop the killings, he said.

Cierra Williams, 15, feels the community is getting better because people are marching and doing things. “I would like to see the children happy, and able to play outside without running in the house, telling their momma it’s shooting and stuff. I just like to see the people happy and stuff,” she said. Williams says she is active in neighborhood rallies and also helps out at a youth center.

Lightfoot also thought it was important not to condemn all Black youth. “We are not bad kids. We do really good stuff to help out this ‘hood. So I think they should stop stereotyping us, saying that we are bad kids, and we’re not,” said the young man. He is a youth leader with STOP, a local community-organizing group, and helps younger children at a program run by the NCP Woodlawn.

Warren Beard, NCP organizer at TWO, helped Hayes put the event together. The day will include food and entertainment and highlights senseless crime and youth issues, said Beard. “We are trying to let the community know through events like this that it’s going to take a collective effort to make a change. It’s going to be one block at a time, combined together as an organized community, to make the changes we’re looking for in Woodlawn,” said Beard.

“Just to look out on the basketball court and see the same guys that were just, a couple days ago shooting at each other, playing basketball together that is what we are trying to get accomplished,’ said Charles Hilliard, an outreach worker for Ceasefire TWO Woodlawn. The group has 65-75 regular clients, who may be gangbangers or tied to the drug trade, who are being taught their activity is unacceptable, said Hilliard. Some are back in school, pursuing GEDs and seeking jobs, he added.

Hilliard is a former gang member and has lived in Woodlawn over 35 years. “I am just trying to put something back in what I created,” he said. “It was easy for me to touch and tap into their system and let them know look we’re trying to do something else now, and you all need to create a whole different program.”

Ceasefire TWO Woodlawn is about a year and a half old, he said.

The work isn’t easy but the group is having success, Hilliard said. Ceasefire programs from Englewood, Auburn-Gresham and Humboldt Park also participated in the march and rally.

Zakryscha Hayes hopes revitalizing her block club and block will be the beginning of greater success and activity on other blocks. But in the 6300-6400 block of Ellis, her plans are to help residents learn about and tap into city services and resources and open up more options for youth. An immediate goal is to work with the Chicago Park District to do a $1 million renovation of the Mamie Till Mobley playground and maybe annex a bit of a vacant lot to add a tennis court, said Hayes.

Community Partnership Program Hosts Site Supervisors

September 18 was an exciting day at Meadville Lombard Theological School. The attendance of the nine site supervisor's represented the culmination of months of conversations and meetings in an effort to create potential sites with non-profit organizations in the 20th ward for our first year students. The group was present and accounted for and witnessed holding hot-off-the-press copies of their Supervisor's Handbooks that are intended to provide guidance and tips on everything from supervision of students to site visits and copies of forms needed for the implementation of the program.

Afterwards a luncheon was held to introduce site supervisor's to Meadville Lombard's faculty and staff. All in it it was a successful gathering and meeting.
Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah