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USF Honors Alive & Free and Dr. Joseph E. Marshall Jr.

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By Mary McInerney, USF News

The University of San Francisco is honoring Alive & Free and its co-founder and executive director Dr. Joseph E. Marshall Jr., Class of ’68, with the 2017 California Prize for Service and the Common Good.

Alive & Free, based in San Francisco, offers a community of support to young people, empowering them to avoid peer pressure and situations that can lead to violence, incarceration, drug addiction or dropping out of school. And, it sets them up to be good citizens and build strong families.

Focusing on violence prevention and education through its array of programs, Alive & Free has supported thousands of young people and given hundreds the opportunity to attend college.

To date, 218 young people from the program have graduated from college with funding support from the club’s scholarship fund. Of them, more than 60 have received graduate degrees.

“We are proud of Dr. Marshall and the work his team at Alive & Free is doing for the youth of our city and the world. We honor Alive & Free for sharing the USF mission to create new opportunities for bright and ambitious students who will go on to create a more just, sustainable, and humane world,” said USF President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.

The 2017 California Prize award gala and dinner is April 27. The gala benefits the African American Scholars Project at USF.

The award is particularly meaningful this year: Alive & Free, originally known as Omega Boys Club, celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2017, and Dr. Marshall is the first USF alumnus to receive the California Prize.

There is a “prescription, ” as Dr. Marshall calls it, for keeping young people safe from violence and free from incarceration. He has shared it in dozens of cities across the United States, and in countries around the world including South Africa, Canada, Nigeria, Botswana, Thailand and Haiti.

At the heart of the Alive & Free prescription is the idea that violence is a disease. The prescription helps cure the harmful framework of actions and feelings that contribute to violent behavior and put young people at risk.

Education is Alive & Free’s core response to violence. It offers a Leadership Academy that serves hundreds of young people each year, ages 14 to 24, providing rigorous college-prep classes each week in mathematics, research, and writing.

The students also attend a weekly “Family Meeting” after class during which Dr. Marshall and the Alive & Free staff provide support and answer questions in a group setting.

Many young people say Alive & Free has saved their lives.

“I’m living proof that Alive & Free is not just a name — it’s what they did for me,” says Marcus Byrd Ray. “Thanks to Alive & Free, my mom is not going to bury me, and my kids aren’t going to grow up with a father in prison.”

Instead, he is currently enrolled in college and is a man who his children can look up to, he says.

Bryanna Santee says she hadn’t found herself when she first started at Alive & Free. “I sat in the back and didn’t talk much, but the club challenged me to find my voice.”

That changed everything. She went to Howard University in Washington, D.C., and received her master’s degree in education from San Francisco State. Today she is a special education teacher at A.P. Giannini Middle School in San Francisco’s Sunset District.

In 1968, he was a member of USF’s newly founded Black Student Union. USF, Today, Marshall is a trustee emeritus at USF. He has been awarded the MacArthur Genius Award, the Children’s Defense Fund Leadership Award, the Essence Award, and the Use Your Life Award from Oprah Winfrey. He is a contributing writer to the Huffington Post, and a member of the San Francisco Police Commission.

He also hosts “Street Soldiers” on 106 KMEL FM in San Francisco, a commitment for the past 24 years. His book, Street Soldier, One Man’s Struggle to Save a Generation, One Life at a Time, was published in 1996.

For 25 years, he was a teacher and administrator in the San Francisco Unified School District. In 1994, he left teaching to become an anti-violence activist full-time.

He has a saying, “The more you know, the more you owe.” It’s something his grandmother taught him when he was 6, and it became the foundation of his life’s work. He still likes to repeat it today to the teenagers he works with.

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Bay Area

Schaaf Seeks Retraction from Post Over School Closing Remarks

In a KQED interview, Mayor Libby Schaaf supported the proposed closing of 15 schools as an “opportunity” and even went father. “This is not just some painful but necessary budget cut,” she said. “I really feel for parents, students, teachers. We have been through so much trauma, and they have every right to feel distrustful and fearful about this decision. But I believe that it is different this time.

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Oakland.ca.org photo.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Oakland.ca.org photo.

By Ken Epstein

The Office of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has demanded a retraction from Oakland Post, saying the newspaper was incorrect to characterize Schaaf as a supporter of permanently closing up to half of the public schools in Oakland.

“She’s never held that position,” said Justin Berton, the mayor’s spokesperson, in an email to the Post.  “As you know, knowingly publishing false information is not only unethical, it’s potentially actionable,” he wrote.

Berton was responding to a sentence in an article in last week’s Post that said, “Schaaf, a longtime supporter of charter schools, has spoken forcefully in the media in favor of closing as many as half of the city’s public schools.”

The Post’s comments on the mayor’s position was based on a Feb. 4, 2022, interview with KQED. At the time, the school district had just announced that it was closing 15 schools this year and next and was planning to close more in future years.

The City Council took a strong position opposing the school closings not Mayor Schaaf.

In the KQED interview, Schaaf supported the proposed closing of 15 schools as an “opportunity” and even went farther.

“This is not just some painful but necessary budget cut,” she said. “I really feel for parents, students, teachers. We have been through so much trauma, and they have every right to feel distrustful and fearful about this decision. But I believe that it is different this time.

“When you look at districts like Stockton, Fremont, San Jose, they serve roughly the same number of students, about (33,000). But they do it in almost half the campuses, between 41 and 48 campuses in those three districts, whereas Oakland has EIGHTY CAMPUSES (Schaaf’s emphasis).

“This is an opportunity to do better for our students, our educators, our families, and I trust this leader to deliver on that promise in a way that has never happened before.”

To review Mayor Schaaf’s remarks, go to the original interview at https://archive.org/details/KQED_20220205_030000_KQED_Newsroom/start/360/end/420

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Bay Area

Presidio Unveils New Facilities, New Park.

“We been doing this since 2018, taking groups to walks as a way to relieve stress and get out and see nature,” said Gilkerson, who is the Rafiki Coalition’s Community Outreach and Engagement manager. “The Presidio is a prime park and a good place to be. The additions to this place are nice for children to go and run around in.”

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Maxine Gilkerson is the outreach and engagement manager for Rahiki Coalition for Health and Wellness. Photo courtesy of Maxine Gilkerson.
Maxine Gilkerson is the outreach and engagement manager for Rahiki Coalition for Health and Wellness. Photo courtesy of Maxine Gilkerson.

By Lee Hubbard

Once or twice a week, Maxine Gilkerson leads a group of people from the Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness on walks in various parts of San Francisco.

The Rafiki Coalition is a health organization that tries to eliminate health inequities in San Francisco’s Black community through education, advocacy, and holistic health services.

On one of those walks, Gilkerson was leading a group through the Presidio, San Francisco’s only national park, next to the Golden Gate Bridge when she came across its newest outdoor path and park, the Outpost. The Outpost is on top of Presidio Tunnel Tops, a 2-acre outdoor destination full of creative play, benches, slides, BBQ pits and educational centers and science lab.

“We been doing this since 2018, taking groups to walks as a way to relieve stress and get out and see nature,” said Gilkerson, who is the Rafiki Coalition’s Community Outreach and Engagement manager. “The Presidio is a prime park and a good place to be. The additions to this place are nice for children to go and run around in.”

As the summer heats up people like Gilkerson and her group are looking for outside activities, recreation and fitness opportunities. The Presidio is a park that fits that bill. In fact, the Presidio is a must-see San Francisco destination that’s broken into four parts.

These four parts include the Golden Gate area, where the bridge is located; Crissy Field, which consists of a walking trail and a beach; Southern Wilds, which is the woody area in the southern part of the park; and the Main Post which has office buildings and outposts from the 1800s.

The Presidio Outpost is between the Main Post and Crissy Fields, The Presidio has rehabilitated the area and opened up a new facility for youth and adults, with the building of attractions and walking paths.

“This Outpost was designed by pediatricians and youth experts,” said Beatrice Kilgot, a public relations specialist with the Presidio.

In the park structure, there is a hydro-tunnel for crawling and hiding, which was constructed through a boulder land form, a fallen, 250-year old white oak, sculpted into three pieces that you can crawl into, and a bluff slide, made of the Presidio coastal bluffs.

“We work to facilitate activities that are environmentally based,” said Briana Canizales, an adventure guide leader with the Presidio. “We brought in natural materials in creating the outpost.”

A field station was also built on the outpost structure. It is an indoor facility, with a lab and an indoor exhibit, which deals with the environment and animals that exist in the park.

“The field station showcases some of the animals that have been found in the Presidio or the Golden Gate National recreational grounds,” continued Canizales. “It is a research center that study’s the Presidio and its habitat and it shows the historical growth of the park.”

The official Outpost grand opening will take place on July 17, 2022, and it will be open to the public.

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Black History

OPINION: Warrior Parade Was America’s Juneteenth Celebration

The Warriors are full of talented millionaires, even among the bench warmers. Jonathan Kuminga, 19, is a future all-star on a four-year/$24.8 million deal for an average annual salary of $6.2 million. Former top draft pick James Wiseman has been hurt but is still on a salary that averages $9.9 million a year. Nothing like Curry’s deal, but just wait till their stars shine.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com.

By Emil Guillermo

This past week we saw the celebration of Juneteenth come alive with coincidence.

On the second year since it became a federal holiday, people began to understand the day for what it was. A delay of the end of slavery, which officially was abolished with the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, signed 100 days later, but not practically ended until the U.S. Army brought word to Texas which had continued slavery until 1865.

When it comes to social justice, even when you win, some will slow roll you to the very end. Blame it on the post office? It took an army to deliver the news.

So, Juneteenth is a worthy celebration both to note the real end of slavery and to celebrate the triumph of truth and history.

But, this is why there are still forces out there that don’t want Americans to know even rudimentary aspects in U.S. history that may be critical of whites, or harmful to white self-esteem. Everyone should know of the reluctance to end slavery among those who still valued free labor that masked real racism.

On Juneteenth everyone was back on the same page. It was like America was finally on the same team.

And that’s why the coincidence of the Golden State Warrior parade was somehow fitting. Sure, the parade was in San Francisco, but Oakland is where the soul of the team has been since their days at Oracle.

To see them celebrate a fourth NBA basketball championship in eight years was remarkable. Because who were the stars? There was Stephen Curry holding up his trophies, puffing a cigar like a mogul. The 34-year-old is on a four-year contract worth $215,353,664, that expires in 2026. That’s an average salary of $53.8 million, all according to the website Spotrac.

Curry’s the MVP. But the other stars are all well paid. Andrew Wiggins is at $35+ million a year. And as he and teammate Jordan Poole joked in the locker room after the Game Six win for the championship, both are expecting a “bag.”

Wiggins’ bag will be bigger, and Poole’s bag should shoot up from his current $2.5 million annual salary. The Warriors already have the NBA’s biggest payroll, and the post-season adjustments will push the team to a record luxury tax.

But the Warriors can afford it. They already make a ton of money from the games, from attendance, from merch, from international rights, so the players shouldn’t be shortchanged nor the true beneficiaries of the sport, the fans.

The Warriors’ two owners — Joe Lacob, a former Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and movie producer Peter Guber — were part of a group that paid $450 million for the team in 2010. Forbes Magazine estimates the team is now worth 10 times their investment. That’s $4.5 billion. And that’s probably a low figure.

I think the Warriors can afford the luxury tax.

And it’s significant to note because, in the NBA, we are talking about African American labor being compensated here, richly but fairly.

The Warriors are full of talented millionaires, even among the bench warmers. Jonathan Kuminga, 19, is a future all-star on a four-year/$24.8 million deal for an average annual salary of $6.2 million. Former top draft pick James Wiseman has been hurt but is still on a salary that averages $9.9 million a year. Nothing like Curry’s deal, but just wait till their stars shine.

On parade day, Guber said he wants a “sequel.” And that, like everything else in capitalist America will cost money. It’s good to see them seem willing to pay the price for extraordinary talent in a country where for so many years Black labor was free.

That’s what we celebrated as a country on Juneteenth. The Golden State Warrior Championship parade may as well have been the symbolic national celebration for the entire country. It left us with a feeling that we were all on the same team.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com.

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