CHICAGO | United Center (FinalCall.com) – “What is it going to take for us to stand up together strong and save our children?” said Susan Taylor as the Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day Convention neared its end, with thousands gathered at a sports arena on the west side of the city, which is home to movement’s national headquarters.
“I want the Nation to come out of the shadows and get involved in our communities. Our brothers and sisters have more respect for you than any other leaders,” Ms. Taylor told the crowd in remarks before the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered a keynote address Feb. 28 to close the weekend.
“We need the Nation to take the leadership in developing the group model of mentoring,” declared Ms. Taylor, a former Essence magazine editor who has embarked on a campaign to save Black children through effective intervention and mentoring.
The statistics about life as a Black child are daunting: Fifty eight percent of Black fourth graders are functionally illiterate, in some cities 80 percent of Black boys drop out of high school, each day 1,000 Black children are arrested and the number one cause of death for boys is homicide.
Before announcing the partnership at the United Center, Ms. Taylor discussed her program during a session at the Stephens Convention Center in nearby Rosemont, Ill.
“We have always fought back. We are the people who refuse to die,” she said at the session as she recruited volunteers to join her National Cares Mentoring Movement.
“Become a mentor. Put a guiding hand on a child in need,” she urged. “All I’m asking for is an hour of your time a week to save a life. I saw our young people spiraling out of control. Our community needs me and God knows they need you.”
“This is an incredible role for the Nation. You fish for the people who have lost their way,” she continued. “I want the Nation to partner with National Cares, the National Alliance on Faith and Justice and the National Organization of Black Psychologists. We’re in a war for the minds and hearts of our people.”
National Cares is offering two opportunities to volunteer and mentor, either as an individual or with a group. The organization is also partnering with the Nation of Islam to develop a curriculum that serves those released from incarceration.
“I’m so frustrated with our faith community. We’re raising $50,000 for the pastor’s anniversary and children around the corner don’t have computers or books,” observed Ms. Taylor. “What does it take to get us outraged? You can over incarcerate us and you can still get our vote. We can’t seem to resist you.”
The sign up table was mobbed with potential volunteers after she spoke. Applications flew off the table as people passed pens back and forth in a hurry to sign up. Stacks of applications were taken.
“The response has been phenomenal,” Tori Parsons, associate director of the National Cares Mentoring Movement told The Final Call. “The need for volunteers is all over. We have a place for everyone. It just depends on your preference. Do you want to volunteer as an individual or do you want to work with a group? Our kids are in need of a lot of love and that’s what we’re looking for people to give.”
Ms. Taylor and members of the National Alliance on Faith and Justice and the National Organization of Black Psychologists will be meeting with officials from the Nation of Islam to develop the curriculum specifically for people released from incarceration.
“Don’t tell me what I can’t do with a Blackberry and a network of support. These are not the harshest of times,” declared Ms. Taylor. “I’m glad I’m not a Black girl on the coast of Africa in the early 1800s or in 1842 working from sun up to sun down trying to avoid the lash or rape by the slave master or a girl in 1920 who could be strung up. These are not the worst of times, these are times for us to stand up and do something.”