Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Black History Month - Learning Opportunity for All

In today's Chicago Tribune Salim Muwakkil wrote an article urging us to use Black History month to do more learning about the root causes of poverty and inner city violence. I agree. In fact, I think this learning should take place all year long and in many places. I've written numerous articles about learning and network building on this blog since 2005.

I've also created an extensive library of research articles that any group might use for reading, reflection, discussion and learning. And I've created a map based Tutor/Mentor Program Locator that anyone can use to find and support existing tutor/mentor programs or determine where new programs are needed.

However, I think that we must find ways to make this learning more important to people who don't live in poverty and who may not be people of color. In the Tribune article retired cop and 20th Ward Ald. Willie Cochran was quoted as saying, "If we are not going to address the traumatic and social and emotional issues, if we are not going to address the economic issues, if we are not going to address the education issues in an honest way, then we are going to continue to have these problems."

I go a step further to say if we don't figure ways to get thousand of additional people personally involved, building empathy, understanding and commitment to actions that support comprehensive youth and workforce development systems in high poverty neighborhoods we will continue to be looking at faces of innocent kids lost to inner city violence over the next 20 years or more.

I host a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every six months for this purpose and to help mentor-rich programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods. The next is June 7. I hope some of you who read this will help me find sponsors to pay for the event, and/or will organize workshops to attract more people who care about these issues.

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