HOUSE OF UMOJA, INC., A GLOBALLY ACCLAIMED INSTITUTION,CONTINUES TO LEAVE INDELIBLE IMPRINT ON HISTORY WITH STREET NAMING CEREMONY ON FRIDAY, 17 JUNE 2022 AT 12:00 P.M.
Diane A. Sears
PHILADELPHIA, PA (USA) – 13 June 2022 -- Headquartered in the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States, the House of Umoja, Inc. (www.houseofumoja.net) is an internationally acclaimed institution that has a fifty-four year successful track record of positively transforming the lives of at least approximately 3,000 urban male youths and reducing gang violence. Under the leadership of Queen Mother Falaka Fattah and her late husband Mr. David Fattah, the House of Umoja, Inc. has designed and implemented innovative and solutions-based initiatives that are heralded as Global Models promoting peace, addressing many of the key challenges confronting boys and adolescent males which prevent them from maturing into productive and successful adults, fostering community development and economic sustainability, and creating intergenerational collaborations. The House Of Umoja, Inc.’s indelible imprint in history will continue, courtesy of a ceremony scheduled for Friday, 17 June 2022 commencing at 12:00 P.M. (E.S.T.), at which the intersection of 5625 West Master Street and 1400 North Frazier Street will be named “1400 David Fattah And Falaka Fattah Way”.
The street naming ceremony comes on the heels of the House Of Umoja, Inc’s successful launch in April 2022 of its UMOJA Youth Peace Corps, a component of the Fattah Peace Academy and the UMOJA INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY to help address and resolve the causative factors of Philadelphia’s gun violence emergency. The Umoja Youth Peace Corps is an influencer leadership initiative centered around peace, the family of community, culture, healing and an African Proverb which warns: "A child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.” Designed by the House Of Umoja, Inc. to resolve the City of Philadelphia’s current gun violence emergency, the UMOJA Youth Peace Corps, Fattah Peace Academy, and UMOJA INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY are based on a collaboration in the 1970s between the House Of Umoja, Inc., community organizations, and incarcerated individuals serving life without parole sentences in Pennsylvania correctional facilities. It was a collaborative effort that resulted in the orchestration of a peace conference attended by gang leaders throughout the City of Philadelphia on 1 January 1974 and a peace treaty negotiated by the House of Umoja, Inc. Facilitated by Queen Mother Falaka Fattah, gang leaders attending the peace conference signed the Imani Peace Pledge™ and ended decades of bloody and deadly gang violence that played out in Philadelphia’s schoolyards and streets. The pledge was penned by the late Mr. David Fattah, the patriarch of House of Umoja, Inc. In 2022, collaborative efforts among community organizations, the House Of Umoja, Inc., and members of SCI Phoenix LIFERS, Inc. (www.lifersincpa.org), a nationally recognized “inside-out” Criminal Justice Reform, Reentry, and Restorative Justice think tank, that mirrors the collaborative efforts of the 1970s are focusing on moving a new generation of youths and young adults to peace and resolving Philadelphia’s gun violence emergency.
Cognizant of the fact that our children are our “Next Generation Of Leaders”, the House Of Umoja, Inc has disclosed that its priority for the next two (2) years will encompass expansion of the Fattah Peace Academy and its “A Value Of Human Life After School" Program. The program is a component of the dynamic and multi-faceted curriculum offered by the Fattah Peace Academy.
Provided below is an overview of the impactful and innovative initiatives designed by the House Of Umoja, Inc. which have helped to rekindle community spirit and ignite hope in the hearts of Philadelphians.
The Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign: Moving Children To Commit To Nonviolence And Bringing Peace To A City
The surge in violence and gun-related homicides throughout Calendar Year 2005 moved the House of Umoja, Inc. to respond by building on its knowledge from the past. On Sunday, 1 January 2006 – on New Year’s Day – and on Imani which is Swahili for the word “faith” – the last day of Kwanzaa, the House Of Umoja, Inc. launched its Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign with the convening of the “2006 Stay Alive IMANI Youth Anti-Violence Conference” at Pinn Memorial Baptist Church (http://www.pinnmemorial.org) in Philadelphia’s Wynnefield section from 1:00 P.M. through 5:00 P.M. Legislators, parents, grassroots community organizations, Fatherhood Practitioners, the electronic and print media, students from the School District of Philadelphia, educators, social entrepreneurs, and concerned community members attended the conference.
By the end of the first quarter of Calendar Year 2006, the House of Umoja, Inc. established a Steering Committee for its Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign. Individuals with diverse talents comprised the Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign Steering Committee and helped the House Of Umoja, Inc. create and implement initiatives designed to move children in the City of Philadelphia to commit to peace. The House Of Umoja, Inc. established “Partnerships For Peace” with the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Atwater-Kent Museum, Keepers of the Culture Storytellers, and the print and electronic media which included Radio Station WXPN. Major Philadelphia newspapers – The Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Philadelphia Weekly -- published an article about the House of Umoja, Inc.'s efforts to move a new generation of children and youths to commit to peace and nonviolence along with the full text of the Imani Peace Pledge ™ which was based on the Imani Peace Pact™, a document crafted by the late Mr. David Fattah of the House of Umoja, Inc. that gang leaders in Philadelphia signed on 1 January 1974. The Imani Peace Pledge™ was published alongside the article in Philadelphia’s major newspapers during the week of 10-14 April 2006 – the Spring vacation for the School District of Philadelphia. Students in Philadelphia’s schools would have access to and time to read the newspapers – particularly the article concerning the Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign and the full text of the Imani Peace Pledge™. Why have the full text of the Imani Peace Pledge™ published in the newspapers? Publishing the full text of the Imani Peace Pledge™ in the newspapers that children and youth would not only read, but also sign, would give the youth and children in the City of Philadelphia an opportunity to take an active role in bringing peace to their schools, neighborhoods, and their city. Over 800 children and youth who lived and attended schools in the Greater Philadelphia area and had read the newspapers during the week of 10-14 April 2006, signed the Imani Peace Pledge™ and mailed their signed pledges to the House Of Umoja, Inc. The strategy developed by the House Of Umoja, Inc. under the umbrella of the Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign was working!
As the Imani Peace Pledge™ continued to capture the attention and imagination of children and youth throughout the City Of Philadelphia during the Spring of 2006, the House Of Umoja, Inc. created a Student Non-Violence Poster Competition in which students from Philadelphia’s middle and high schools participated. The students were asked to create posters that symbolized one of the following themes: Non-Violence, Peace In The Hood, Family Harmony, and The Greatness Of Our African-American Heritage. They were also asked to sign the Imani Peace Pledge™ and submit the signed Pledge along with their artwork to The House Of Umoja, Inc. Three works of arts were selected for cash prizes and an additional four works of art received honorable mention. All of the artwork submitted by the students became a component of a traveling exhibit displayed on 10 September 2006 at the Penn Cinema in Philadelphia at an “Artist Reception” that preceded the premiere of “I Come In Peace”, a play written by students.
The House Of Umoja, Inc.’s efforts to move a new generation of children in the City of Philadelphia to commit to nonviolence did not escape the attention of the city’s Mayor. The Honorable John F. Street, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, issued a proclamation which declared the week of 15-20 May 2006 as “Faith Of Our Fathers Week” throughout Philadelphia. During “Faith Of Our Fathers Week”, an illuminated sign perched atop a Center City Philadelphia skyscraper which housed the Philadelphia Electric Company carried a special message: “Sign The Imani Peace Pledge(TM)”! Members of Men Making A Difference held its Day Of Community Service at the House Of Umoja, Inc. on Saturday, 20 May 2006 which took the form of “cleaning up and fixing up the block” while WURD 900 AM Radio held a live broadcast at the House Of Umoja, Inc. for several hours during which it conducted a “Radiothon” fundraiser for the organization. The artwork submitted by students throughout the City of Philadelphia who participated in the Student Non-Violence Poster Competition were displayed; live entertainment and refreshments were provided for the neighborhood, members of community organizations and invited guests; and face painting and a moon bounce were provided for the children.
Efforts exerted by the House Of Umoja, Inc. to move the children and youth of the City of Philadelphia to commit to peace were punctuated in the beginning of the last quarter of 2006 with the premiere of a play entitled, “I Come In Peace,” on 10 September 2006 at Cinema At Penn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The play was the product of the House Of Umoja, Inc.’s Summer 2006 Career Exploration Program and a celebration of the House Of Umoja, Inc.’s “Peace In the Hood” Campaign To Stop The Violence. The youthful performers and collaborators who staged works about Violence and Peace Initiatives on 10 September 2006 at Cinema at Penn -- Marquis Blackston, Anton Cochran, Terrell Edwards, David Morris, Deneisha Overby, Jerome Rorie, Jabril Ward, and Shaun White --also participated in the House Of Umoja, Inc.’s Summer 2006 Career Exploration Program.
So, how effective were the violence prevention and peace promotion activities provided by The House Of Umoja, Inc. in schools in the City of Philadelphia which took the form of, among other things, workshops, and assemblies? The School District Of Philadelphia’s Evaluation Report contained the following excerpted data which reflects a decrease in serious incidents from the 2004-2005 Academic Year through the 2005-2006 Academic Year for the following schools which received service from the House of Umoja, Inc.:
· Bluford Elementary School: The number of serious incidents decreased by 41% in serious incidents.
· Overbrook High School: The number of serious incidents decreased from 202 to 135, reflecting a 33% decrease in serious incidents.
· Powell Elementary School: The number of serious incidents decreased by 25%.
· Barry (Shoemaker) Middle School: The number of serious incidents decreased from 84 to 59, reflecting a 30% decrease in serious incidents.
The National Million Fathers March
In 2007, the House Of Umoja, Inc. became the City of Philadelphia’s organizer and leader for the National Million Father March an initiative created by the late Mr. Philip Jackson and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois (www.blackstarproject.org; www.fathersincorporated.com) that encourages Fathers to take a proactive role in the education of their children and continues to redefine and reshape Fatherhood in the United States. Impressed with the House of Umoja, Inc.’s successful track record in reducing and eradicating gang violence and providing life lines for urban adolescent males, when Mr. Jackson decided to expand the National Million Father March to Philadelphia, he immediately offered the leadership and organizing role to the globally acclaimed institution.
The brainchild of the late Mr. Philip Jackson, Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago, Illinois-based Black Star Project (www.blackstarproject.org) which offers academic and mentoring programs for children, workforce development projects, and school services, the National Million Fathers March was created in 2003. Observed in hundreds of cities throughout the United States, the National Million Fathers March encourages Fathers to take a proactive role in the education of their child. The national leadership mantle for the National Million Fathers March has been donned by Fathers Incorporated (www.fathersincorporated.com) which is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Think Green Peace” Campaign
The brainchild of the House of Umoja, Inc., the three-tiered “Think Green Peace” Campaign, designed and implemented in 2008, transformed vacant lots into peace gardens that became a source of beauty and food for communities surrounding it. The peace gardens yielded beautifully hued and fragrant flowers and produced vegetables which addressed hunger and the need for healthy diets. A small deep hole exists at the edge of the peace gardens. It is where members of the communities bury their grief, anger, and sadness. The source of grief, anger, or sadness is written about on biodegradable napkins or paper by members of the community which they bring to the peace gardens. During a brief ceremony that is performed, members of the community place the paper or biodegradable napkin that bears their grief, anger, or sadness in the small and deep hole that lies at the edge of the peace garden(s). The hole is then covered with dirt. Having buried their grief, anger, and sadness in the peace garden, members of the community return to their homes – relieved of their burden. Youths, adults, and the business community collaborated to prepare the vacant lots for planting in the Carroll Park section of West Philadelphia. The First Philadelphia Collard Green Cultural Festival which occurred in July 2008 also constituted one of the many components of the “Think Green Peace” Campaign”.
Fathers Literacy Initiative
Mindful of the African proverb which states “The Child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth,” to prevent children from feeling unembraced by the village due to the consistent absence of Fathers in their life, in February 2020, the House of Umoja, Inc. designed and launched the “Fathers Literacy Initiative”. The initiative helps Fathers who are unable to be physically present in their child’s life on a consistent basis – Incarcerated Fathers, Homeless Fathers, Military Fathers, and NonCustodial Fathers – establish a presence in their child’s life by engaging them in reading a book together. Incarcerated Fathers, Military Fathers, Homeless Fathers, and NonCustodial Fathers participating in the Fathers Literacy Project develop a strong bond and relationship with their child; help improve their child’s literacy skills and academic performance; and ultimately, deter their child from being caught up in the “school-to-prison” pipeline.
“Call For Compassion In Response To COVID-19”
The House of Umoja, Inc. joined humanitarian organizations and key community stakeholders in issuing a “Call For Compassion” in March 2020 which supported the release of nonviolent offenders housed in correctional institutions as a means of protecting souls most susceptible to contracting and succumbing to COVID-19 Pandemic – particularly, aging and elderly Men and Women and souls who have pre-existing medical conditions – and juveniles who are nonviolent offenders. These souls would be deemed not to create public safety issues for the communities they returned to, many of whom were being detained simply because they did not have the financial means to pay their bail.
Established in 1968, the House of Umoja, Inc.’s successful track record of positively transforming the lives of approximately 3,000 male adolescents and reducing gang violence, moved universities and institutions to seek the institution's expertise. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Prevention and the Center for Disease Control were among the institutions that sought the House of Umoja, Inc.’s expertise on gang violence reduction, youth programming, and community organizing. Former United States Presidents The Honorable James Earl Carter, Jr. and the late Honorable Ronald Wilson Reagan recognized the House of Umoja, Inc. for its pioneering work that has been documented in published articles such as “A Summons To Life,” by Robert Woodson of the American Enterprise Institute (www.aei.org) in 1981 and “The Violent Juvenile Offender,” by Paul DeMuro and Richard Allison of the National Council On Crime and Delinquency (www.nccdglobal.org), in 1984.
For further information about the House of Umoja, Inc., visit the organization’s website at www.houseofumoja.net or call (215) 473-5893 or send an e-mail to: email@example.com.
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