HOUSE OF UMOJA, INC. AND SCI PHOENIX LIFERS, INC. FORM HISTORIC SOLUTIONS-BASED COLLABORATION TO MOVE PHILADELPHIA TOWARD HEALING AND PEACE
PHILADELPHIA, PA (USA) – 3 June 2021 – Fifty years ago, in 1971, the City of Philadelphia was traumatized by violence fueled by bloody and deadly gang warfare that played out on neighborhood streets in schoolyards. That year, 435 souls were victims of gun violence. In 2021, fifty years later, the City of Philadelphia finds itself grappling with out-of-control gun violence. According to Philadelphia’s Office of the City Controller, (https://controller.phila.gov/philadelphia-audits/mapping-gun-violence/#/2021), as of 31 May 2021, homicides by gun have taken the lives of 219 souls – men, women, and children, while at least approximately 648 individuals have become the victims of nonfatal shootings. These grim statistics come on the heels of a violent Calendar Year 2020 that saw 499 souls lose their lives to gun violence and 2,300 souls sustaining nonfatal gunshot wounds. The overwhelming majority of gun violence victims are African American males. Thus far, in Calendar Year 2021, 85% of the souls sustaining fatal and nonfatal gunshot wounds are African Americans; 53% of the male victims of gun violence are in the 18-30 age demographic group, and 27% of the male gun violence victims are in the 31-45 age demographic group. The collaboration in the 1970s between incarcerated souls at SCI Graterford (now SCI Phoenix) in Collegeville, Pennsylvania and the House of Umoja, Inc. (www.houseofumoja.net) 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. resulted. Facilitated by Queen Mother Falaka Fattah, gang leaders attending the peace conference signed the Imani Peace Pledge™. The pledge was penned by the late Mr. David Fattah, the patriarch of House of Umoja, Inc. In 2021, there is a need for the community to commit to peace. How can our community recommit to peace? • Sign the Imani Peace Pledge™ which is published on the House of Umoja, Inc.’s website at: www.houseofumoja.net. • Support the mobilization of a gun violence zone by becoming a volunteer. Contact the House of Umoja, Inc at (215) 473-5893 or send an e-mail to: email@example.com. • Recommitting to peace also starts with a conversation. Purchase a copy of a profound literary work that is designed to launch a conversation that will lead to peace and healing – “A Conversation Between Brothers,” authored by Mr. Ahmad Jabal Shabazz. Established in 1968, the House of Umoja, Inc. is an internationally acclaimed institution that has a 53 year successful track record of positively transforming the lives of at least 3,000 male youths in the City of Philadelphia. Forty-seventy years later, signatories of the Imani Peace Pledge ™ continue to honor their commitment to nonviolence. Cognizant of the dire need to move a new generation of souls to commit to nonviolence, the SCI Phoenix LIFERS Inc. (www.palifersinc.org) (“LIFERS, Inc,”) and the House of Umoja, Inc. are engaging in a solutions-based collaboration designed to help bring healing and peace to Philadelphia. SCI Phoenix LIFERS, Inc. is an “inside out” Restorative Justice, Criminal Justice Reform, Reentry, and Social Justice think tank. For 32 years, LIFERS, Inc has been supported by an External Working Group consisting of community stakeholders from diverse professions and areas of expertise. Collectively, members of LIFERS, Inc. have created a body of work consisting of public policy papers and research-driven solutions-based initiatives that address gun violence, the “school-to-prison” pipeline, Fatherlessness, recidivism, and street crime.
The House of Umoja, Inc. and SCI Phoenix LIFERS, Inc. have unveiled several components of their historic and expansive solutions-based collaboration to reduce gun violence, save lives, and bring healing and peace to the fourth largest metropolitan area of the United States. • SCI Phoenix LIFERS, Inc. Issues Call For Peace Through its President, Mr. Kevin Saleem Mines, LIFERS, Inc. has issued a “Call For Peace” and a pledge of support for the House of Umoja, Inc.: “It is Lifers, Inc.’s sound position that a significant component of the ‘Solutions’ to healing our community are us. The transformed men and women whom for the past several decades are caged behind prison walls, are working daily on positive, viable initiatives and programs that worldwide criminologists, psychologists, sociologists, and prominent grassroots community stakeholders [including lawmakers and law officials], all have acknowledged and validated -- our "Public Safety Initiatives" -- as positive and productive and help enhance public safety and create a healthy and vibrant environment for the citizens of Philadelphia, and abroad. Like most of you, we are hurting and saddened by all the senseless killings being committed in our neighborhoods and communities. We are working diligently to try to help stop and further prevent the slaughter of our women and children, and brothers in the streets of Philadelphia. These times are desperate. So many of our people are being mercilessly gunned down on a daily basis it is appalling. These killings are reprehensible and they must end NOW! We implore those individuals and/or groups who are engaged in the crimes to stop it immediately! We pray that Allah [GOD] will protect you all and comfort you in these very difficult and trying times. We pledge to donate $2.00 to the House of Umoja from the purchase of every book ‘A Conversation Between Brothers’ when the purchasers say: ‘For Umoja.’ ‘The book: ‘A Conversation Between Brothers’ is a call to end the violence in our neighborhoods and communities. To purchase, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: (215) 594-6918.” • Gun Violence Free Zones During the first two (2) months of Calendar Year 2021, the House of Umoja, Inc. performed research to identify some of the causative factors of rising and deadly gun violence and the gun violence “hot spots”. The institution’s research identified West Philadelphia is one of the city’s gun violence “hot spots”. At the same time, one of the key members of LIFERS, Inc., Mr. James Muhammed Taylor, an “inside-out” Reentry, Criminal Justice Reform, and Social Justice Thought Leader, unveiled his vision for the establishment of two (2) gun violence free zones in West Philadelphia. It is a research-driven and solutions-based vision that also includes a business-driven Reentry Zone that will have a West Philadelphia venue and is designed provide Returning Citizens with jobs, housing, transportation, food, and clothing. The first gun violence free zone will emanate from the House of Umoja, Inc and encompass the Carroll Park section of Philadelphia. Community stakeholders in collaboration with LIFERS, Inc. are working to establish this gun violence free zone. Functioning as a “safe corridor” the gun violence free zone emanating from the House of Umoja, Inc. will help foster peace, safety, and economic and environmental sustainability to the souls and entities residing within and surrounding it, · The Umoja Model “A child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.” - African Proverb ■ Established in 1968, for five decades the House of Umoja, Inc. has embraced approximately 3,000 male youths to ensure that they felt the village’s warmth. As a result, these souls refrained from engaging in behavior that burned down the village. The institution demonstrated to these souls they were embraced by the village by adopting them, engaging them in conflicts resolution, helping them understand the consequences their actions have on the village, and moving them to embrace the village by accepting their responsibility to become peaceful and productive members of the village. The village’s adoption of these souls also encompasses the provision of mentoring, apprenticeship programs, employment opportunities, internships, and vocational and entrepreneurial skills training by institutions, organizations, and individuals in the village Souls whom the village adopts are expected, in turn, to adopt the village that has embraced them. It has become known as the Umoja Model. · Leading By Example – Adopting Youth In view of the fact that many of the fatal and nonfatal gun violence victims are 18 years of age and younger and high school students, the House of Umoja, Inc. is proposing the adoption of these youths – starting with youths residing in the Carroll Park section of West Philadelphia. Adopting youths in Carroll Park will be the beginning of establishing a gun violence free zone within Philadelphia’s 19th Police District. · Umoja Peace Corps The Umoja Peace Corps is a pilot program modeled on the United States Peace Corps established on 1 March 1961 by the late United States President The Honorable John F. Kennedy. It will promote peace and friendship among souls in the village – particularly children, youths, and young adults through a psychoeducational curriculum designed and implemented by the House of Umoja, Inc These souls will be provided with essential tools they will need to adopt the village that has embraced them. To learn more about the historic collaboration between the House of Umoja, Inc. and LIFERS, Inc to resolve gun violence in the City of Philadelphia and to bring healing and peace to the United States’ fourth largest metropolitan area, contact the House of Umoja, Inc. at (215) 473-5893 or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. To contact LIFERS, Inc. directly concerning this historic collaboration, correspondence can be sent to Mr. Kevin Saleem Mines, the organization’s President as follows: SMART COMMUNICATIONS/PA DOC Mr. Kevin Mines #AY-5941 SCI Phoenix Post Office Box 33028 St. Petersburg, FL 33733- For further information about the House of Umoja, Inc. and its empowering initiatives which span five (5) decades, visit its website at www.houseofumoja.net. For further information about LIFERS, Inc, and its “inside-out” research-driven and solutions-based initiatives, visit its website at www.lifersincpa.org.