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Deonte Hoard: Chicago’s “Urban Prep” loses it’s first alumnus to gun violence.

Christopher Harris

Its been said that for all Americans, but Blacks in particular, there are five things that can be done to dramatically reduce, and virtually eliminate, the probability and likelihood of ending up living in poverty:
#1 – Graduate from High School (and preferably some college training).
#2 – Don’t have children until you are at least 21 years old.
#3 – Get married, and stay married.
#4 – Get a job, any job, and keep it.
#5 – Don’t do anything to end up in the clutches of the Criminal Justice System.

In the Chicagoland area, there is a Public Charter School System called Urban Prep, and ever since it’s founding in 2002, by education entrepreneur Tim King, across it’s three campuses the school has been able to boast that it is doing it’s part to help young Black men achieve that all important first step. Since 2010, they have achieved not only a 100% graduation rate for it’s students, but a phenomenal 100% college acceptance rate into four-year colleges and universities.

Urban Prep Creed

In the last five years, they have managed to get 240 young Black men college ready, and college bound, at a time when we have a 47% national graduation rate for Black males, which is nearly 28% points lower than that for White males. That track record makes the news of the death of young Deonte Hoard that much more painful to hear.

On Monday, March 2, 2015, while walking home to the 10500 block of South Oglesby Avenue, Hoard was at the 10500 block of South Yates Avenue, when gunfire erupted from a black SUV. Hoard was shot in the chest and died at the scene. According to an article from the Chicago Defender entitled, “Another life lost”:

Ebonie Martin, Deonte’s mom, had dreams of making sure her children have a better quality of life and made sure they got the opportunity to attend a school that prepared young, Black male students to achieve and rise to their highest potential. He was not a gang member; he was not dealing drugs; he was not a car thief; he did not have a juvenile record of committing any crimes. He did not fit the stereotype of the young Black male AKA thug.  He did not live the thug life. He was an upright young student on the path to becoming a positive contributing citizen. His death was reported as a possible mistaken identity — a life lost.

 

In keeping with the tradition of excellence that has been established, and is promoted in the creed of Urban Prep, the 17 year old Senior, had already been accepted to Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (also known as Alabama A&M University or AAMU) a public, historically Black university located in Normal, Alabama. The school was established in 1875 by a former slave, William Hooper Councill and opened as the “Huntsville Normal School” in downtown Huntsville. In the keeping of the philosophy and teaching of THAT DUDE, Booker T. Washington, the school taught industrial education and became the “State Normal and Industrial School at Huntsville.” In February 1891, the Federal Government designated the school as a “1890 land-grant institution”, and the school’s name was later changed to “The State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes.”

My fellow descendants of slaves brought from Africa to America, we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to raise the bar of excellence, and we’ve got to lower the level of tolerance we have for bad behavior by the well known ne’er–do–well’s in our communities. In this day and age, so many folks are running around with the whole #BlackLivesMatter mantra, and that’s all well and good, but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

THAT DUDE, Booker T. Washington once said, “It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges.”  We have to be honest with ourselves and ask why there is no national news coverage, and national outrage at the death of young Deonte Hoard, when we claim that #BlackLivesMatter.  We have to ask ourselves why the creed and formula of schools like Urban Prep are the rare exception, instead of the norm. Finally, we have to take a good hard look in the mirror, into the eyes of our soul, and question our own character, because otherwise, #BlackLivesMatter is just a trite little saying, and it will soon go the way of other pop-culture sayings like, “Gnarly”, “Rad”, and “Party Like A Rock Star”. We’ve got to do better, and if we want to find something and someone to rally and unify behind, why not choose young Deonte Hoard?

 

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