Our community is rich, but its richness, depending upon your perspective, is either hidden or undiscovered. This article focuses on one person who was a rich bounty to our community. Many of us were acquainted with her, but many did not know her.
The person I am speaking about is Dr. Bambade Shakoor-Abdullah. She was born in Chicago, Illinois. Being one of nine children in her family, she distinguished herself academically, having completed high school and having entered college at the age of 16. She was the first African American to earn a PhD. in Public Health from the University of Illinois, Chicago Campus (UIC).
Her true mark on our community was as a tireless advocate for our youth and a vigilant opponent of gun violence. She initiated numerous programs that focused on the well-being of African American youth, with an emphasis on black male children. Most recently she was responsible for a state of Illinois sponsored job readiness and training program for youth between the ages of 16 and 25. During the program’s first year of operation, a hundred young men and women entered the program, with approximately 84 actually completing the training. Of those who completed the training, approximately 75% of them obtained full-time employment. Dr. Abdullah also tirelessly cajoled, pleaded, or shamed us to take up the mantle of protecting and developing our at risk youth. Her life exemplified her words, and her absence is a profound loss to our community and to the struggle to help youth at risk. As we mourn her passing, let us not abandoned her passion: engage in the fight to save our young people.