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End-of-year news stories about holiday spending happily reported on the unexpectedly high totals many Americans spent-or put on credit-this year. But for millions of families there was another story: how to provide enough food and shelter and keep alive the spirit, wonder, and joy of the season for their children when resources are scarce?
"That Fred Shuttlesworth did not become a martyr was not for lack of trying... There was not a person in the civil rights movement who put himself in the position of being killed more often than Fred Shuttlesworth." This quote from Andrew Manis, author of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth's biography, A Fire You Can't Put Out, sums up the truth about the man Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once called "the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South."
When Britany Lewis was born, no trumpets and glad tidings or even balloons and baby showers greeted her arrival. She was just another poor baby. Britany never knew her father, and for the first six years of her life lived in virtual squalor with five siblings and a mother addicted to drugs who eventually went to prison.
God help us to end poverty in our time.The poverty of having a child with too little to eat and no place to sleep, no air, sunlight and space to breathe, bask, and grow.The poverty of watching your child suffer hunger or get sicker and sicker and not knowing what to do or how to get help because you don't have another dime or a car, money, or health insurance.
Would you recognize a poor child when you saw one? Nine-year-old Carolyn Latimore and her sister Aalijah, eight, are beautiful little girls with big smiles on their faces. But Carolyn, Aalijah, and their older brother, Robert, 17, of Middletown, Ohio, fell into poverty when their parents divorced. They've lived in four places in the past four years including a chaotic housing project where their bikes and toys were stolen.
...A day came when 16-year-old Barbara decided to put her dreams into action. "It was time that Negroes were treated equally with whites, time that they had a decent school, time for the students themselves to do something about it. There wasn't any fear. I just thought -- this is your moment. Seize it!"
"Being hungry is possibly the worst feeling anyone could ever experience, and honestly, when you're hungry, you can't be productive, and you can't really do anything. And I just remember, sometimes in school I would definitely be hungry," said 17-year-old New York City high school senior Ninaad Dave.
Aristotle got it right when he said, "All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth."? Once upon a time America professed to believe in a strong public education system - at least for some children.
I'm often asked, what's wrong with our children? Too often we focus on the negative without celebrating young people who, despite the odds unfairly stacked against them, overcome great adversity, demonstrate academic excellence, and give back to their community and country. Each year, the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) takes time to honor examples of these inspiring youths through our Beat the Odds® scholarship and leadership development program.
Picture an iceberg. Many children know the danger from the "Titanic Song"? they learn in school or summer camp. One verse goes like this: "It was off the coast of England not very far from shore, when the rich refused to associate with the poor. So they sent them down below, where they were the first to go. It was sad when that great ship went down. Oh it was sad, so sad. It was sad, too bad. It was sad when the great ship went down . . . husbands and wives, little children lost their lives -- it was sad when the great ship went down. "