Extraordinary People (Series) | Page 2 | Not in Our Town

Extraordinary People (Series)

The first African-American woman to own and publish a newspaper, The Eagle (later, The California Eagle), Charlotta Bass was a tireless advocate for social change and one of the most influential African-Americans of the 20th century. Based in Los Angeles, Bass utilized the newspaper as a platform to address issues of race and gender equality, police brutality, and media stereotyping in an era when women and African-Americans were largely being excluded from public discourse.
In 1995, Azim Khamisa's 20-year-old son, Tariq, was delivering a pizza when he was shot to death by a 14-year-old gang member. Experiencing the pain, grief, frustration, and anger that a parent would, Azim decided that the only way he could better the situation was to use the tool of FORGIVE to ensure that this type of tragedy happens less frequently in the future. After meeting with the father of the boy who shot Tariq, Azim decided that he would bring his message of forgiveness and mutual respect to groups of young people all over the country. The foundation in his son's memory, the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, raises awareness and engages youth to resist a culture of violence and learn to live in harmony with one another. This lesson addresses the following SEL strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves.
As a former pro football player, Brian Cox understands the value of teamwork and community in achieving a goal. After retiring from the NFL, Cox came back to his native Los Angeles, witnessing the destruction that gang violence had wrought on his old neighborhood. As an administrator for the Parks Department, Cox became the director of the South Park Recreation Center and began efforts to improve the park. Through the common bond of football and community, Cox and his supporters led a campaign to improve the park to create a safe space for youth to gather and practice sports. Eventually gaining the trust of the community, Cox has transformed the park from a gang hangout to a vibrant family destination, improving the surrounding neighborhood at the same time. This lesson addresses the following SEL strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves.
Palo Alto High School student Kevin Ward challenges the stereotype of African-Americans as "gangsters," and says that "smart is the new gangster." The 16-year-old is working to bridge the achievement gap for students of color, through the school's Unity Club and a program called Bridge, connecting students from affluent Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, a neighboring low-income community. This lesson addresses the following SEL strategies. You can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves.
  The son of Filipino immigrants, Laurence Tan was studying to be a doctor when the vision of becoming a teacher presented itself in a dream. Now a fifth grade teacher in Watts, CA, Laurence uses the tool of TEACH to inspire and educate students in an area where opportunities are slim. Laurence has also helped establish the Watts Youth Collective with former students, an organization that promotes social change through media. Laurence’s 12-hour teaching days and his work with the collective are efforts to produce positive changes in each individual and the community. This lesson addresses the following Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves. Self-awareness: Laurence Tan maintains a sense of optimism and belief in the idea that what he does has a positive impact on others, in particular his students and former students. This optimism and confidence drives him to continue to be a positive influence in their lives. Self-management: Despite the long hours, sometimes 12-hour workdays, Laurence Tan strives to make a difference in his student’s lives by helping them learn to the best of their abilities as well as encourage them to make a change.
  Dr. Joseph Marshall Jr. is an author, activist, and veteran street soldier. Founder of the anti-violence movement Alive & Free, Marshall draws audiences from across the country to his weekly radio program, Street Soldiers—a name Dr. Marshall uses to describe people working to eliminate violence in their communities. To help keep his own community safer, Dr. Marshall co-founded the Omega Boys Club after years of working as a middle school teacher and seeing too many of his students lost to drugs and violence. This lesson addresses the following Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves. Self-awareness: Dr. Marshall helps students become aware of their own lives and make the choice to be part of “the solution.” Self-management: Dr. Marshall says that “change begins with you.” He provides tools and opportunities for students to change themselves. Social awareness: Dr. Joseph Marshall Jr. started a worldwide anti-violence movement aimed at keeping youth alive and free. Relationship skills: The Alive & Free model is based on positive role models and relationship-building for youth along with helping them get to know each other.
  "Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. And you cannot oppress a people who are not afraid anymore. We are the future, and the future is ours." Erica Fernandez has memorized these words, originally spoken by Cesar Chavez, and put them into action. Beginning in Oxnard, CA, Erica used the power of PROTEST to rally against a large energy corporation that planned to erect a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline around affluent California coastal communities and through Oxnard, primarily occupied by monolingual Spanish-speaking immigrants. Not only would the LNG pipeline cut through the agricultural land vital to the economy of Oxnard, it would bring millions of tons of pollutants to one of the most beautiful areas in California. This lesson addresses the following Social Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves. Self-awareness: Erica realizes that although English is not her first language and that she faces cultural barriers by being female, she is able to turn these “disadvantages” into advantages. She recognizes that she has a voice, that even as a woman she can still help her community and that she has the “power to act.”
  Chukou Thao, executive director of National Hmong American Farmers, immigrated to Fresno, CA with his family at age 8, after Laotian citizens were granted asylum in the US after the Vietnam war. Many of the first Hmong farmers suffered from discrimination, so Thao left his "cushy" job at the city of Fresno to ORGANIZE his community in a fight against injustice. Using the experiences of community members, Thao has grown NHAF to promote economic development, training and assistance to create positive social change in his community. This lesson addresses the following Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves. Self-awareness: Chukou Thao recognizes the injustice happening to the Hmong community and realizes that he has the ability to help fight for those that are unable to speak for themselves. Self-management: Chukou Thao gives up his “cushy” job to help organize and push for fair treatment of Hmong farmers. Social awareness: Although Thao did not experience the discrimination directly, he is personally familiar with the life of a Hmong farmer because his parents were also farmers. He realizes that to combat this discrimination he must help get the Hmong community to unite and organize.
  Slater Jewell-Kemker is a 17-year-old filmmaker and reporter who celebrates the best of humanity, empowering young people to change the world with media and technology. Through her work, Slater has empowered a global network of young environmentalists and met with important trendsetters and lawmakers. By using the tool of EXPRESS, Slater and the youth that join her are creating positive social change. This lesson addresses the following Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves. Self-awareness: Slater is confident in her own abilities and is therefore able to talk to all sorts of different people. Self-management: Slater started filmmaking from an early age and realizes that although she is young and sometimes not taken seriously she doesn’t let it stop her from being a prominent voice of change for her generation. Social awareness: Slater is aware that if the youth of this generation do not speak up, as is often the case, then no one will do so for them. Therefore, she not only speaks on behalf of those who will not speak but also encourages others to speak up as well.
  Kiki is an extraordinary Sacramento student who, through her perseverance, strong character, and ability to forgive, has been able to celebrate life, finding happiness and success. Ten years ago, Kiki and her sisters were badly burned in a house fire in their native Vietnam that took the life of their mother. Raised by her father after securing treatment in the United States, Kiki and her sisters endured taunts and bullying and were separated when their father died of lung cancer a few years later. They have since been reunited.   However, Kiki does not focus on the pain from her loss. In her own words, "There is of course a part of me that is still hurting, but not from the fire. I'm hurt at the fact that I didn't forgive myself and others earlier...But now I have learned to forgive completely. I'm ready to move on to my next journey in life.”   This lesson addresses the following SEL strategies and you can have students look for these issues and examine them in themselves. Self-awareness: Kiki recognizes the pain she felt from years of teasing but learns to forgive others and believe in herself. Self-management: Kiki gains confidence in herself and her abilities and because of this she does not allow hurtful comments to keep her from her dream of going to college.