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Dr. Vincent Harding, an acclaimed historian, religious scholar, and activist known for his work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believes America is a wounded nation. Even after so many years of struggle, he is convinced that America can and must get better.
As a six-year-old first grader in New Orleans in 1960, Ruby Bridges became the first Black student to attend an all-White elementary school in the South. She showed unforgettable loving forgiveness and courage when faced with the ugly screaming White mobs who jeered and taunted her every day as she walked into William Frantz Elementary School. Federal marshals had to escort Ruby to school, but she never quit or turned back. Ruby astonished her teacher one day when she asked Ruby why she had paused and talked to the crowd of White adults that morning, and Ruby responded, “I wasn’t talking. I was praying. I was praying for them.”
As the founder of the Agricultural Workers Association, the co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers union, and the founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for community organizing, Dolores Huerta has spent decades working relentlessly to improve social and economic conditions for farm workers and to fight discrimination in all forms. In the process she has improved the lives of countless children and families, especially poor and immigrant families. Huerta started out with a mission to be a teacher, but quickly realized that most of her students were children of farm workers who lived in poverty. She couldn’t stand seeing the children coming to class hungry and needing shoes and she thought she could do even more to help them by organizing their parents. Huerta’s many successes over the years have proven her right about the power every person can have once they are ready to claim it and work together with others for change.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s new poverty data for the states show millions of families struggling mightily to keep their heads above water in the wake of the Great Recession. Fourteen states saw statistically significant increases in their child poverty rates, 26 states saw small increases, and nine states and the District of Columbia saw small declines in child poverty rates last year. But the morally scandalous bottom line is clear: 16.1 million children are poor in our rich nation with more than seven million living in extreme poverty, too often scared, hungry, and homeless.
Carlos Amador emigrated with his family from Mexico in 1999 at age 14 and lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for almost 13 years until he recently received conditional permanent residency. Higher education for someone like him seemed like an impossible dream when Carlos finished high school. But he was determined to make it happen.
The Ryan budget does not name or touch any of the many expensive incentives, loopholes or subsidies that help the powerful and the wealthy. It doesn’t close loopholes or rein in incentives to corporations who invest in or take jobs overseas to the tune of about $129 billion over ten years. It doesn’t touch the tax advantage for private equity partners which now provides a $15 billion windfall over ten years or the tax preferences for oil and gas companies that cost about $40 billion a year.
Every 29 seconds, a child is born into poverty in America. Every 29 seconds. One hundred and twenty-four children every hour. Children like 10-year-old Tyler, five-year-old Keiris, and four-year-old Jerimiah, who live with their mother, Christina Wyatt, 24, in Middletown, Ohio. Last summer the family moved into the Center of Hope for Women and Children, a homeless shelter, after their apartment was robbed and they were evicted. Their only income at that point was a Social Security disability check for Tyler, who has Down syndrome. “I had to, really,” Christina said about moving into the shelter. “We didn’t have anywhere to go.”
When Dr. Khalil Muhammad speaks people listen. He is a scholar, historian, and the director of the New York Public Library’s renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Dr. Muhammad knows a lot about the importance of being mindful of learning from history. When he spoke about equality of opportunity to 1800 young leaders at a Children’s Defense Fund’s Haley Farm leadership training session in June, he explained that our nation is testing the old saying “those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
When news broke of the murders at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on August 5th, people of all faiths and backgrounds and the first responders who came to the scene to help were horrified by the ambush on men and women as they prepared for worship services. Leaders across the country quickly denounced the hate crime and the FBI immediately began investigating the attack as a possible case of domestic terrorism. But as easy as it was for all of us to be outraged by another senseless attack and heartbroken by the congregation’s stories, it was difficult to be surprised by how it took place again in a nation unwilling to curb guns designed just to kill lots of people in the hands of lawless people. Would this have happened without a semi-automatic gun and high-capacity clips of bullets?
The 2012 National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® manual is a resource to assist faith communities in planning a Children's Sabbath celebration in their place of worship. This year's theme "Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Persistence” will help guide participants to live up to the sacred charge to nurture and protect children and the poor, to equip members with new understanding about the huge threats facing children and democracy, and to join together as a place of worship and with other places of worship in your community and across our nation to ensure a level playing field for every child.