Over the weekend a brother of yours was killed! Maurice Randall, a graduate of YouthBuild Columbus, was killed as part of a robbery. While watching the Tour of France a announcer was highlighting different cyclist journeys and the 100th year. I was inspired with a heavy heart to highlight our journey and how it all connected. The announcer stated: "Any significant work deserves special attention"....so here's to you Reece!!
Before the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund of the Aspen Institute, before the Presidency of the National Alumni Council and before the White House Forum for Community Solutions there was a concept,an idea. There was a group of leaders from YouthBuild. This group consisted of Jamie Turner from Indy, Nina Saxon of New York, Maurice Randall from Ohio, Wayne Wack and myself, Jamiel Alexander, from Pennsylvania. We all served together on the National Alumni Council.
The Conference of Young Leaders (CoYL) for YBUSA AmeriCorps was approaching and we all agreed that we should support our future graduate leaders. As we planned for our stay there we had two missions in mind; 1) Be a part of the CoYL as volunteers to serve and Save YouthBuild. YouthBuild was up for elimination this year. Hundreds of YouthBuild programs not funded! No way! So, Jamie Turner, the NAC President at the time began to set up conference calls, many emails and we began to organize and take action.
The more we the NAC began to plan the more of the pieces began to come together. YouthBuild USA set up time with specific key people in congress who had the ability to "Save YouthBuild." You see it got real personal. YB continuities to be a thriving force to reconnect disconnected youth and provide opportunities for young people across the U.S. an now internationally. Through our own personal experiences, stories and the connection at headquarters it was on.
By the time we meet up in D.C. and about two days into the conference, we were asked by our founder (Dorothy Stoneman) if we could find time to meet with a representative from the Obama's Administration as well. Mrs. D had suggested that the Administration speak to us while we were in D.C. She insisted that NAC be a voice to possible solutions, opportunities and collaborative efforts with the White House. We were accomplishing our goals we came here for and knew that we had to make this happen. Working together as NAC, strategizing our stay here, and some face to face room sharing bond, we knew that this was the time! We were ready! Besides the rep only wanted to "pick our brains" about an idea/concept a "White House Solution."
Each one of us shared our perspective and as we conversed the representative began to get quieter as time went on, writing and listening. The only time he would say something was to ask another question. By the time it was over we where about 25 minutes over our allotted time. Check this out though, he still asked "Are there any other suggestions, comments or concerns." Right here Maurice Randall (Reece) expressed how grateful he was for the opportunity and explained how he may have to step down off the NAC.
Thing is Reece and I connected because he would always check in at home while he was away. Crazy thing is at this time his wife was a little ill but made sure he did not miss this opportunity to move the movement forward. Not just for YouthBuild for him, his family and the "hood" of Columbus that he was moving out of due to violence. He had to protect and serve his immediate family first. Reece was an advocate for having alternatives to violence and drugs. We all spoke with several representatives that week and learned so much more from each other. So at that moment when he took the time to tell us my heart dropped immediately.
Violence to me has become this disease that has plagued our young people and "the system" has gotten so immune to it that laws are being writing to help justify it. Maurice Randal is GONE due to a violent act. My brother in arms, killed! I am not going to tell you to stop the violence, it's already been said. In my opinion violence is learned. So I ask you to educate!! Think of this. What would life be without you? You have been killed by the hands of another human being!!! Pause for a minute.... Live, Learn and Love.
With A Heavy Heart, Jamiel Alexander
Rest In Peace Maurice Randall, July 2013
Maurice and I was apart other the initial planning for the White House Community Solutions along with myself and this group. Even though the it has stopped the work has not thus the Aspen Institute OYIF.