In her own words—-
“I am passionate about the education of African American children and specifically the improvement of literacy among African American boys in the fourth grade. I want to eradicate illiteracy among these youth and improve their dismal test scores. For this reason, I established a not-for-profit organization called We Got You Covered (WGYC) out of sheer desperation to save lives. WGYC hopes to alleviate the learning gap that circumvents a Childs development and progress by being a liaison to CPS teachers with the hope of developing a partnership that serves as a conduit for at “risk youth”. Being labeled ‘at risk’ is like “being voted least likely to succeed. For where there is no faith in your future success, there is no real effort to prepare you for it” (Brunson, Phillips & Day 2013; p. 11).
“I am male. I am African American. I am poor. I harbor generations of resentment. I feel disenfranchised from a society that preaches ‘no child is left behind,’ and yet I am behind. I am in the fourth grade and I cannot read. I am labeled illiterate and amongst others who look like me, I have been herded into special education classes, even though I do not have a learning disability. What I do have is an entirely different way of learning that my teachers are not tapping into. Why aren’t they interested in my culture? It reflects who I am as a person and a student. This society does not see me and will not see me because I have no voice. Perhaps, the color of my skin, the underfunded schools I attend and the under-served community I live in has rendered me invisible. Am I not worthy of receiving a quality education?” (Lloyd, unpublished composition, p.1, 2019). =
This passage from a fictionalized account of a fourth-grade boy’s perspective, depicts the everyday reality of many African American boys who are ‘paying with their lives’ to overcome arguably insurmountable odds in the public school classroom. As Carter G. Woodson suggests, the most harmful effect of such a perception of self is “to handicap a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless,” (Woodson, 1933; p. 2-3) which catapults him into the abyss of illiteracy, suspensions, expulsions and future incarceration.
As a twenty-one-year veteran on the Chicago Police Department who works in the Englewood community and a doctorate of education student at DePaul. Currently I am working on my dissertation, and I can attest that if African American boys continue to fail in literacy, then schools will continue to serve as a depository where they have a higher probability of walking the corridors of prison than the halls of college. I am passionate about WGYC because I am passionate about who it serves and the lives it can change.”
Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!***