the VOA Special English Education Report.
half of young black men in the United States do not finish high school.
Many grow up without fathers and in neighborhoods with
gangs, drugs and
violence. Sixty percent of those
who drop out of school have spent time
in jail by the age of thirty-five.
Marshall co-founded the Omega Boys Club in San Francisco, California,
twenty-three years ago. Mr. Marshall tries to give boys – and girls –
a safe refuge and
a chance at a better future.
week, he has two basic messages for his young students: "Stop the
violence" and "Don't do drugs."
Marshall spent twenty-five years as a teacher and administrator in San
Francisco. He taught math in middle school and
expected to see his best
students go to college.
Joe Marshall celebrates the Omega Boys Club's
150th college graduate last October.
MARSHALL: "I got a lot of horror stories and a lot of
my former students
ended up dead or in prison for selling drugs, being
involved in gangs,
girls ended up getting pregnant."
Boys Club serves more than four hundred young people every year. Two
times a week, it offers after-school classes in math, reading, family
and life skills, and college preparation.
ways, it serves as a kind of family. It
structure and support.
Marshall has a doctorate in psychology. He sees gangs and violence
disease that needs to be dealt with as a public health problem.
MARSHALL: "That's what these young people get. They develop a street
mentality. The big part is dealing with the
emotional residue of
pain that they develop because they
got invested in this in the
tell them to follow some new rules for living that
will decrease their
chances of ending up dead or in prison and increase their chances
dramatically of staying alive and free."
represents the headquarters of what he calls the "alive and free
movement." But his most effective way
to spread his anti-violence
message is through radio.
nineteen ninety-one, Joe Marshall started "Street Soldiers,"
MARSHALL: "OK, let's talk to line two. Line two. And this is--Is this
Marlena? This ain't the Marlena I know."
"Yes Doctor Marshall, this is Marlena!"
MARSHALL: “It is my Marlena!”
was one of the graduates of the Omega Boys Club.
MARSHALL: "She's at Southern University right now, going into her third
year. She talked about what she had learned the hard way and
helped her learn that by coming to Omega, by listening to 'Street
Soldiers,' and she said she had learned how to love herself."
provides guidance and financial assistance to help students stay in
school. Over ninety percent of members who were accepted into college
other American cities have copied the program. Joe Marshall has been
invited to speak in Canada, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand.
sixty-three this year.
MARSHALL: "I want to build an institution. I'm not going to be here
forever, so my big thing is to make sure this
that's the VOA Special English Education Report. I’m Steve Ember.