• Posted on: February 28, 2013

EOYDC’s Approach to Civil Rights

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In response to the 113 murders in Oakland during 2002, youth decided to March on Oakland. Every year since then, youth leaders coordinate the March for Peace to demonstrate their frustration with the heinous death rate that touches their friends and families each year.

Specifically, youth condemn the violence in ; where unemployment and drop out rates, as well as child abuse reports are higher than anywhere else in the city.

The youth excitedly engage during art classes; designing signs, t-shirts and other collateral for their march. Messages, like “World Peace,”

 

"Don't Hate Me"

“Don’t Hate Me”

“Stop the Violence, I’m Serious,” and “Peace In the Streets” are a continuum of desire from the students. Chants like, “Stop the violence, stop stop the violence yeah,” “We want non-violence! When do we want it? NOW!” and “Stop the killin, so we can be chillin!” are the messages shouted in unison from the hundreds of students who march from the #20 Fire Station at 98th avenue to EOYDC, 16 blocks away. These days the Fire department trucks line the streets with trucks to create a barrier protecting students from traffic.

Last year, the unveiling of the Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series, created a new opportunity for EOYDC youth to learn, share and participate in the international fight for . Approximately 50 youth, known as the EOYDC Freedom Riders, boarded a bus. They sang Negro spirituals reminiscent of the songs that I sang during the 20th Anniversary of the March on Washington in 1983.

We discussed what freedom riders did and against what odds. We shared the stories of Ernie Green, and the March to Selma. As they departed the bus, with signs in hand, they entered the Marriott Convention Center singing “Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn me around.” Proud, serious and students of their history, they filed in past hundreds of attendees to find their seats as they waited for the lecture to begin. The first lecture featured Dorothy Cotton, CT Vivian, and perhaps the most exciting speaker was Congressman John Lewis.

When Jakeemah Seals (age 14) heard that EOYDC would take a “freedom bus” to the Civil Rights Lecture, she shared, “My great-grandmother, Isadora Wheelock Howard, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I think the MLK Memorial dedication and civil rights lectures like these show us that MLK, Jr. and many others were powerful and should be remembered. When I march against violence with EOYDC, I feel powerful, like I can make a difference”.

Through the civil rights lectures we all share a bit of the historic experience that Jakeemah’s great grandmother had. Tyriq Long (age 13) thought about the Civil Rights series and had these comments. “When I think of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his impact on the civil rights movement, he talked about a dream to end segregation. I learned that there were many people who felt the same way about segregation and that there is power in numbers. I feel like my voice has power when I march in the streets of Oakland.”


CT Vivian, Congresswoman Barbra Lee, Dorothy Cotton and Ms. Regina Jackson

CT Vivian, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Dorothy Cotton and Ms. Regina Jackson

As we celebrate Black History Month 2013 and prepare for the next series in March, we reflect on the tremendous learning that empowers youth by their own history. 

EOYDC’s Approach is simple:

– Teach Black History
– Provide “genuine” opportunities for youth to learn and participate in experiences they hear about
– Engage parents and elders about their role in civil rights
– Remind youth that their voice, their vote matters
– Identify community leaders
– Define global citizenry
– Practice character concepts around responsibility and respect
– Expect excellence
– Be a life long learner
– Brotherhood is our culture
– Celebrating the past helps us invest in our collective future


stop the violence

stop the violence

Truth is, the conversation on civil rights is as important now as it was in the 60’s. Thank you Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Mayor Elihu Harris for preserving and presenting the Civil Rights Lecture Series. And a special thank you to the MLK Freedom Center!

 

Regina Jackson

President & CEO

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