By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
With the Chicago Public Schools set to begin on September 4, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and Rainbow PUSH Coalition officials distributed 1,000 school bags stuffed with a myriad of school supplies on August 25, 2018. At this same event, recipients of the 2019 Jesse L. Jackson-Fellows Toyota Scholarship were recognized.
Looking over a sea of children, who were waiting for their stuffed book bags, Reverend Jackson encouraged the children as well as those in attendance to join in a pledge of commitment to educate the children.
Beginning with his Student Pledge Jesse asked them to, “attend school daily and strive for excellence in all that I do; respect the authority of my parents and teachers; study three-hours a day each night without interruptions from anything or anyone; read each day; and complete all classroom and homework assignments.”
Reverend Jackson also asked Judge Greg Mathis, who is chairman of PUSH/Excel, headed by Dr. Julianne Malveaux and Reverend Dr. Janette Wilson, national director, to also take a special pledge.
They were followed by the parents who were then asked to take a pledge. He asked them to take their child to school, meet their child’s teacher, exchange phone numbers with their child’s teacher; turn off the TV three-hours a night so their child may study; pick up their child’s report card each grading period; take their child to church, temple or synagogue and fight for equal adequate funding for public education.
Reverend Jackson praised the 10 2019 Toyota scholarship recipients. Dr. Malveaux said that the average Black student graduates from college with about a $50,000 debt. “Our students are going to escape the prison of debt…,” she said referring to the 10 Toyota scholars who each will get a three-year, $75,000 scholarship and a summer job.
She introduced one of the scholars, Marcus Anderson, 18, Hampton University, who is majoring in business management Malveaux calls “him an amazing leader.”
Thanking Rainbow PUSH for the scholarship, Anderson said the civil rights organization has “also given us a platform of learning through different meetings across the country, as well as setting an example that we can take back to our universities and also our communities.”
CPS/CEO Janice Jackson, who also praised the PUSH Excel scholars, called them “Black excellence.”
Having partnered with PUSH, CEO Jackson said she is adopting the PUSH student/parent pledge and will post them on the CPS website. She was not alone in praising the scholars.
Reverend Jackson met Judge Mathis, now a TV personality, when he was in jail. As a youth in Detroit, Mathis hung out with street gangs. It was the message that Reverend Jackson gave when Mathis was in jail that led to his transformation.
“Judge Mathis never graduated from high school,” explained Jackson. However, Mathis did take his advice and took a GED exam. Mathis ultimately went on to college and law school, leading to him become a judge.
“I want to encourage you young folks and our scholars to continue to pursue the greatness that God has in store for you,” Mathis said reminding them that today they are “leading the world.”
He pointed to Reverend Jackson as a leader today because of his beginnings as a civil rights activist when he was a young adult and to Aretha Franklin as a teenager. “They changed the world and so can you,” said Mathis.
“Whatever it is you choose to pursue, make sure you pursue it with determination and once you achieve your goals continue to fight for equal justice even on your own campus…,” said Mathis.