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Our goal it to build a collaboration between the Lifers, Men United, work with

the brothers that are in prison that will be coming out. The bridge will be the Lifers

 who will work with the men before they come out and then we'll work

with them once they come out



Lifers Inc. 

& Men United For A Better Philadelphia Cosponsor Historic Conference

By Junious R. Stanton


On Thursday April 15, 2003 the State Correctional Institution at Gratersford, Pennsylvania, Lifer's Inc., a group of men serving life sentences for a variety of crimes, prison administration and Men United For a Better Philadelphia, a grassroots organization formed to address and resolve the issues around community violence, held an historic day long anti-crime summit at Gratersford prison. 

Inmates, administration, representatives from the Philadelphia Police Department, various social agencies, victims advocacy groups, and concerned citizens met to discuss and formulate ways the Lifers, ex-offenders, and the community can work together to stem the tide of anti-social, self and community destructive behavior. The members of Lifers Inc. have nothing to gain personally from establishing a prison-community rehabilitation partnership or participating in the programs that will come out of this summit. They are in prison for life. Many have no chance of parole of sentence commutation, yet they do this out of genuine concern for their families and communities. 

Bilal Qayyum, Malik A. Aziz and Wali Smith of Men United For A Better Philadelphia worked with prison Superintendent Donald T. Vaughn and Deputy Superintendent Manuel A. Arroyo and the men of Lifers Inc. for almost a year planning this historic conference. This is the first conference of its kind held in the Pennsylvania Prison system and the nation. The summit was postponed once and recent events seemed to conspire to force another postponement or cancellation, but the administration stepped in and gave their approval and blessing. 

The theme of the conference was "Crime Prevention Summit: Building Partnerships." Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson was the morning keynote speaker. He brought with him several upper level police department personnel who remained and participated in the all day conference. The objective of the conference was to establish effective partnerships uniting to reduce the recidivism rate amongst returning ex-offenders, train an ongoing cadre of ex-offender as street workers who work with Men United For A Better Philadelphia doing grass roots, street level intervention with the young men in the community to channel and redirect their energies into pro-social activities and dissuade them from engaging in criminal activities. The Lifers will train the inmates returning to the community in what they call the "Malcolm X paradigm" of personal transformation and community involvement.

Bilal A. Qayyum one of the planners shared the process. "We've been working on this for about eight to ten months. Our goal it to build a collaboration between the Lifers, Men United, work with the brothers that are in prison that will be coming out. The bridge will be the Lifers who will work with the men before they come out and then we'll work with them once they come out. If a man knows he'll be getting out in say six months, the Lifers will start working with them along with the administration. We'll know when they'll be coming out and we can work with them when they get out." 

He explained the involvement of the various groups and agencies. "PAAN, the police, elected officials, ex-offenders, the Masons, Local 332, some fraternities, Town Watch have been a part of us since day one. The purpose of Men United is very focused and simple. We're a coalition group to reduce violence in the city of Philadelphia." 

Ray Jones a M.U.F.B.P. community worker explained how the process will work. "We're going to integrate the young men who are suggested by the Lifers who are preparing to get out, to work with us. We expect that to happen within the next thirty to sixty days. They'll give us a list of those about to come out or those who are in half-way houses now and we're going to put them on the street corners with us, and in school based projects talking to all male classes. Third, they're going to be part of our ongoing think tank, if you will, in terms of how do we tweak some of the projects we're doing and how do we better enhance what they're doing here in the prison. This is an ongoing long term project."

After the morning session, in the chapel, lunch was served in an adjoining cafeteria. Following lunch, workshops were conducted in the education building. Workshop topics included Community Safety, Substance Abuse Prevention and Education, Economic Empowerment, Recovering Victims-Community and Ex-offenders, Youth Crime and Violence and Community Reintegration. After the workshops the attendees reconvened to present summaries of what took place in the various workshops. The conference ended on an exhilarating note of co-operation, positivity and expectancy. M.U.F.B.P., Lifers Inc. and the administration committed to doing the conference on an ongoing basis. 

Superintendent Donald T. Vaughn shared his enthusiasm for working with Lifers Inc. "Most people would ask what do lifers have to do with anti-crime? Well they recognize there is a need and they want to give something back, they have something to offer. They can help the organizations recognize because they came from the same backgrounds of the problems that they are having with the drug addiction, the street gangs because all of them have some type of involvement that brought them in this direction. So it's been a positive endeavor for them. They have made a major turnaround since they have been incarcerated. I don't have problems with Lifers, once they arrive and they recognize the reason they have been incarcerated, the time that they've received, they take on a positive approach to try to give back something that they know they have taken away."

In addition to working with soon-to-be released inmates, M.U.F.B.P. and Lifers Inc. also have created several other outreach programs: Project Life-Line a program similar to Sacred Straight designed to work with at risk males fifteen years old and PLAY Prisoners Letters And Youth and literacy and poetry development program for at-risk males. 

For more information about Men United For A Better Philadelphia and their Lifers Inc. partnership call Bilal Qayyum at (215) 683-2092.

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Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007

By Matthew Wasniewski

Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 beautifully prepared volume—is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress. Written for a general audience, this book contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan. Individual profiles are introduced by contextual essays that explain major events in congressional and U.S. history. Part I provides four chronologically organized chapters under the heading "Former Black Members of Congress." Each chapter provides a lengthy biographical sketch of the members who served during the period addressed, along with a narrative historical account of the era and tables of information about the Congress during that time. Part II provides similar information about current African-American members. There are 10 appendixes providing tabular information of a variety of sorts about the service of Black members, including such things as a summary list, service on committees and in party leadership posts, familial connections, and so forth.

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today.

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Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

By John D'Emilio

Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America's consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual. Acclaimed historian John D'Emilio tells the full and remarkable story of Rustin's intertwined lives: his pioneering and public person and his oblique and stigmatized private self.

It was in the tumultuous 1930s that Bayard Rustin came of age, getting his first lessons in politics through the Communist Party and the unrest of the Great Depression.

A Quaker and a radical pacifist, he went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, only to suffer a sexual scandal. His mentor, the great pacifist A. J. Muste, wrote to him, "You were capable of making the 'mistake' of thinking that you could be the leader in a the same time that you were a weakling in an extreme degree and engaged in practices for which there was no justification."

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 19 June 2012




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