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A pledge to keep to our youth of the other 99 percent

Julianne Malveaux | 6/16/2014, 8:36 a.m.
As young people graduate from high school, or finish the school year as sophomores and juniors, they begin to search ...

This summer, some will complain that young’uns playing with fire hydrants will bring water pressure down (fix that by opening the pools), or that youngsters gathering in the street are a nuisance (so open a playground). We’ll hear about literacy challenges (keep libraries open longer hours), and other ways that the young people who are out of school occupy themselves. Job creation, summer programs and other links between school and work possibilities are all ways to connect our young people to opportunities. It costs money now, but as a dear friend, the late Charles Franklin said, “you have to pay, but if you wait too long, you will pay penalties and interest.”

Our beloved ancestor Maya Angelou wrote A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth at Essence former Editor Susan Taylor’s request and it was read at the 2006 Essence Music Festival. These are the last lines of her charge, “You are the best we have. You are all we have. You are what we have become. We pledge you our whole hearts from this day forward.”

We can’t afford to discard that pledge.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is president emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.