A 40 Year Journey for Unity in My Childhood Community

February 27, 2018
By Derrick Clark, Platoon Leadership Team Member


As a child growing up in the inner city of Pittsburgh, I was always made aware of the importance of Black History Month. So when February came around, we students knew there was going to be some cool classroom projects, autobiographies, and pictures surrounding the classroom that month for us to learn more about African American culture and Black History.

We learned about Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, and a host of other well-known African American leaders. Some of us would even get to dress up and reenact their life stories in plays, skits and musicals.

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Although it is not blatantly obvious, the undertones of segregation and racial discrimination are prevalent throughout Pittsburgh. To get a glimpse of how separated Pittsburgh can be, one would only have to step one foot into my childhood community, Homewood.

Homewood is a predominately African-American neighborhood in Pittsburgh. When I was a young boy in Homewood, the neighborhood was fun and recreational – there were plenty of activities for children to do around the neighborhood – a skating rink, sports programs, and the like. But the effects of poverty, low-income housing, underemployment, and the drug crisis of the 90’s have since crippled the community.

Pittsburgh has invested millions of dollars into infrastructure and community development, but Homewood was left out of the redeveloping plan. The community still provides programs for youth, but they are not well supported anymore — they have less funding, less manpower, and fewer resources.

Crime is still prevalent in the area and many children and residents have little to no one to look up to. A lot of its residents share the sentiment that no one outside Homewood cares about them.

The struggles of the community and its children resonate with me on a personal level. Like many children in the community today, I grew up with no father in the home. I had a single mother who was addicted to drugs, and it seemed at times that no one cared about the harsh realities of poverty-stricken families in less affluent, drug polluted, communities.

All we had was each other, and with the community being almost completely African American, it seemed as if the outside world simply did not want to deal with the issues in Homewood.

And yet, in the face of this adversity Homewood has always been a proud community. Continue reading “A 40 Year Journey for Unity in My Childhood Community”

CarMax and The Mission Continues Announce a Two-Year Partnership to Benefit Veteran Leaders

PRESS RELEASE

Veterans with The Mission Continues Report for Duty to Make an Impact in Communities Across the Country

NEW YORK (PRWEB) February 6, 2018 — CarMax is committed to supporting veterans who are making an impact in their communities through a renewed two-year commitment to veterans nonprofit The Mission Continues. Since 2016, CarMax has been empowering veterans through The Mission Continues as they address pressing local issues and make meaningful social change.

The renewed 2018 partnership kicked off with a service project at Houston’s Roderick Paige Elementary School in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. CarMax, The Mission Continues, and the Greater Houston American Red Cross joined forces as more than 200 volunteers refurbished the school’s grounds and assembled 3,000 “disaster kits” to replenish the kits used during Hurricane Harvey. The project was part of The Mission Continues’ national MLK Day of Service campaign and CarMax’s Houston Strong initiative, dedicated to recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Continue reading “CarMax and The Mission Continues Announce a Two-Year Partnership to Benefit Veteran Leaders”

See How We Put MLK’s #LegacyofService in Action

January 24, 2018

The Mission Continues MLK Day of Service

Putting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service into action this past weekend, volunteers with The Mission Continues accomplished large-scale service projects in local communities. In 34 service events across the country we drew 1,902 volunteers, totaling 9,332 hours of service — and captured the event in this Impact Report.

The Mission Continues’ platoon operations are our way of bringing about the unity Dr. King envisioned for the country. The National Day of Service in his honor was our opportunity to reiterate our commitment to diverse and underserved communities, and to show our fellow citizens the power of veterans as unifiers as they tackle community challenges.

If we collectively broaden our outlook and use our diversity as a resource to implement change, then together, city by city, block by block, veteran by veteran, we can come together and create a better tomorrow.

While our service projects took place in dozens of cities, eight of them in particular stood out to embody Dr.King’s values: Equality, Faith, Nonviolence, Education, Love, Leadership, Selflessness, and Hope. Continue reading “See How We Put MLK’s #LegacyofService in Action”

MLK’s #LegacyofService: Fighting a Different Kind of War

January 16, 2018
By Jeffrey Davis, Fellow Alum

I’ve learned that there’s more than one kind of veteran. There’s me: someone who’s been in the military. Then, there’s the kind of veteran who fought a different kind of war — a war here at home, and many would say the struggle is ongoing. It is the fight for equal rights.

I completed my Mission Continues fellowship at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, commonly referred to as The King Center. During my fellowship I have learned so much about Dr. and Mrs. King’s work, and now have a far better understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.

While much of my work at The King Center has been in researching, writing, and relationship building, part of my work has been helping with a program called Students with King — and it’s what I want to tell you about today. Continue reading “MLK’s #LegacyofService: Fighting a Different Kind of War”

Our Values in Action: Living up to Dr. King’s #LegacyofService

January 5, 2018

During the weekend of MLK Day, we’re activating our veterans and civilian allies to bring Dr. King’s core values to life. This is your chance to translate shared values into positive action and make a difference!

The aim of these #LegacyofService projects is to get folks of all backgrounds, civilians and veteran alike, to come together to continue what Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement did for our country: make it a better, stronger, more equal place. Continue reading “Our Values in Action: Living up to Dr. King’s #LegacyofService”

MLK Day: Following His Path of Service

January 17, 2017

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Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to making America more equal and free. His words inspired many to join the Civil Rights Movement, and still inspire us today. At The Mission Continues, this legacy moves us to continue strengthening communities through service. “The main pillars of Dr. King Jr.’s mission and legacy — peace, justice, equality, freedom — are some that certainly resonate with others who have dedicated their lives to service,” says Emily Ferstle, our City Impact Manager in Detroit.

We hold MLK Day especially close to our hearts because, as Emily puts it, our volunteers “in many ways, are standing on his shoulders and those of the many who have come before us to seek justice and healing, for ourselves and for the most underserved, marginalized members of society.”

In today’s blog, we want to highlight just a handful of this year’s many service projects honoring Dr. King and what he stood for.

 

Atlanta

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The Atlanta 1st Platoon at a previous service project

We will begin in Atlanta, where it all began for Dr. King. His hometown is where he attended college, became an assistant pastor, and in 1957, began his tenure as chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Atlanta is also where King was arrested for the first time during a sit-in demonstration in 1960.

In the very city of his birth, life, and final resting place, we will honor him through service. Next weekend, the Atlanta 1st Service Platoon returns to Bellwood Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club. With projects for the entire family, the platoon will be focusing on painting a learning center and benches, in addition to preparing garden boxes for the neighborhood’s youth to use and enjoy.

 

Detroit

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Photo of the Detroit service platoons at Central High School during a previous project.

In Detroit, Dr. King joined the 1963 Walk to Freedom and delivered a speech that would later develop into his “I Have a Dream” speech. Detroit’s Walk to Freedom had an unprecedented 125,000 person turnout and played an essential role as a “practice run” for the highly publicized March on Washington.

To honor the role Detroit played in the Civil Rights Movement, we continued the work we began at Central High School during Operation Motown Muster, when we worked for an entire week to help revitalize the city.

“When the students and teachers were asked what their top priorities were for improvements around the school, FRESH PAINT was the resounding answer,” said Emily Ferstle, who is the City Impact Manager in Detroit. For the MLK Day of Service, the Detroit 1st and 2nd Platoons took the school’s request for a fresh coat of paint and teamed up to paint hallways and bulletin boards throughout the school.

These aesthetic differences help encourage the students to succeed put their best foot forward. Emily explains, “new paint and the right colors have the ability to evoke feelings of belonging, motivation and safety. Additionally, helping with the upkeep of Detroit’s oldest high school sends the message to the students and teachers that they are valued.”

 

Washington D.C.

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The service project at Democracy Prep for MLK Day of Service 2017. Photo credit: Angel Utsey

As the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. served as a national stage for the Civil Rights Movement. As we all know, it was where Dr. King delivered his first national address in 1957 at the Lincoln Memorial, and returned in 1963 to deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech for the March on Washington. As this is perhaps King’s most iconic moment, it’s only fitting that we serve in this city for MLK Day in an iconic way — on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, right on the MLK Day parade route!

We returned to Democracy Prep in Congress Heights to build a shed for the school’s garden, refinish the school’s stage, remove dilapidated outdoor seating, do some painting, and more. These things will make a visible difference, as Connor Mallon, our City Impact Manager in D.C., tells us the school “is located in one of the most underserved areas of Southeast D.C. and the disparity and need can be blatant.”

When veterans serve in this community, their pasts can sometimes bring them and people in the community closer together. Connor explains, “many of us have struggled to overcome hardships at home and at war. These parallels can be an important icebreaker when we’re engaging with struggling communities.”

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Remembering our past can inspire our vision for the future. This is a day we celebrate the accomplishments of the civil rights movement, and use its memory to remind ourselves that there is still much work ahead of us. Along these lines, Connor mentioned that the closest thing to Dr. King’s dream of equality he’s experienced was being in the military. He saw “men and women of all backgrounds and ethnicities fighting together for a common purpose.”

He concluded, “I hope that our veterans and the community members who attended our project walked away with that same sense of unity.” With this, we can work together, side by side, to build a better tomorrow for ourselves and the next generation of Americans.

 

Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and twitter.