Save Our Future, Bill Withers family link up for fundraiser
Film on singer drew praise
What would make a mother who lost two children to gang and drug violence reach out to the community that spawned the violence?
“Everybody asks that question,” says Charlotte Austin-Jordan in the sweetest voice this side of heaven. “I have family that lives in this community. My husband and I have nine African American boys between us, all grandsons. I have a boy and two stepdaughters. My grandmother, my mother, my sisters and brothers all still live in this community.”
Austin-Jordan, then a single mother, lost her 13-year-old daughter, Ja’mee, in a hail of gunfire, when the car she and a neighborhood friend were riding in was mistaken for the vehicle of a relative of a drug dealer who had ripped the shooters off. She was hit 15 times. The friend Latonjyia Stover, 18, who had just graduated from Crenshaw High, was hit nine times. Both died at the scene.
“I looked for the politicians, the police and everybody else, but what was I doing?” asked Austin-Jordan. “I was involved but not to the degree I am now. My husband and I took up arms and said we have to do something.”
Grieving and bitter while attending the trial of the five suspects, she learned about the backgrounds of the men–all in their 20s—who had murdered her daughter. She began to understand something about why they seemed so devoid of humanity. How do we educate the young people? She thought. What are the services that are needed? Without education, where would other young men be?
“The answer was prison,” she says. “If they go to prison, they take victims with them. I had to address these young men and women and get them to be positive members of the community. As a community, we all have to get in involved, or we become victims.”
From somewhere deeper than her grief, Austin-Jordan dredged up the compassion to help other young people who seemed to be headed in the direction of gangs or into hopeless oblivion.
She began to focus how to stop the victimization. She got together with LAPD and community leaders and the probation department.
“We started with education, helping them find jobs, teaching them about the laws, teaching them that if you rob, these are the consequences; these are the people you hurt and these are the consequences. Most people don’t want to rob, steal and kill.
She wanted to work with at-risk youth and those who had been in trouble. “We’re not here to work with kids who are not in trouble,” says Austin-Jordan. “There are plenty of people to work with them.”
To do that, she started Save Our Future in 1989.
Eight years after Ja’mee’s death, as if attempting to crush her spirit completely, tragedy struck again when her son oldest Corey, 25, a father of two boys with a third on the way, was gunned by gang members, because they thought his work uniform represented the colors of a rival gang.
Corey had walked his mother down the aisle when she and Kenneth Jordan. They were wed in 1996.
Today, the couple have 100 young men and 100 young ladies enrolled in the program. Save Our Future is designed to aid young people between the ages of 16 and 24. “I look at each one as it they are my children,” says Austin-Jordan. “They get the best out of me.”
Save our future recently held a fundraiser with US Bank as one sponsor.
How did Austin-Jordan get US Bank and the University of Southern California Credit Union to sponsor a fundraiser and link it to a tribute to Bill Withers? The hook-up involved Withers’ wife, Marcia, their church, McCarty Memorial Christian Church, and ended up in the form of an evening of film and song. The Withers imprimatur was all over the evening—in both the film, “Still Bill,” which was screened; in his songs; his wife; Marcia; and the songs written and performed by his daughter Kori Withers.
Although Withers himself was not there, it felt as if he was. His spirit permeated the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center where the event was held. Because the 400-seat auditorium was packed on Saturday, the event had to be re-staged on Sunday.
The film, “Still Bill,” a documentary by Alex Vlack and Damani Baker, reprised the life of a man who managed to remain true to himself and his music in an industry that tends to turn most performers inside out. The admiration for Withers was palpable. On view was both his humanity and his humor, his philosophy and his frailty. Every time a Withers tune was played as part of the sound track, the whole house seemed to sing and clapped along.
The film proved to be a revelation to the many who had not seen Withers since his long absence from performing and writing.
Kori provided an apt ending for the Save Our Future fundraiser. Young, good-looking, well-educated, multi-talented as a musician, with a fine singing voice and songwriting skills, she proved that the future, along with the Withers legacy, is in very good hands.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—About 20 women depicted in 180 photos retrieved from the home of the "Grim Sleeper'' serial-killer suspect have been identified by detectives, and most are alive and well, police said today.
Police released 180 photos Thursday in hopes of identifying the people in them and ensuring they were not possible victims of the "Grim Sleeper.''
The photos were found in the South Los Angeles home of suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr.
In the last several weeks local law enforcement officials have been involved in altercations with three African American males that have resulted in two fatalities and another young man clinging to life in a local hospital.
The first incident, involved 43-year-old Inglewood resident, Reginald Andre Linthicum, who according to his family had just been paroled from state prison in June after more than 11 years.
After killing 10 Black women and at least one Black man in South Central Los Angeles for almost 25 years, a man suspected of being the so-called “Grim Sleeper” was arrested yesterday by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The Robbery-Homicide Division of the LAPD took 57-year-old Lonnie David Franklin Jr. into custody at his home on 81st Street near Western Avenue. His arrest is the culmination of an investigation that began more than two decades ago.
The focus of the proposed three magnet programs at Crenshaw High School have been selected, and now the process is under way to hire three instructional specialists, each of whom will oversee one of the magnets.
Interested stakeholders from the community and school can obtain more information about these activities during a coffee-with-the-principal session scheduled for March 23 at 10 a.m. at Crenshaw. This will be followed by a meeting between the principal and parents and guardians of special education students only at 11:30 a.m.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The life and apparent death of the ex-Los Angeles Police Department cop who declared war against police corruption has generated a social media fringe of fans who are asserting that Christopher Jordan Dorner was really a hero seeking justice, despite being a suspect in four killings.