Street Soldier by Joseph Marshall

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As a public school teacher, Joe Marshall grew sick and tired of watching his most promising students fall prey to the lure of gangs, drugs, and crime, and end up either dead or in prison.  Finding that neither the justice nor school system seemed willing even to try to address the underlying problems--to give the kids the kind of information and assistance they really needed--he leapfrogged right over the system and co-founded the Omega Boys Club, based upon the belief that young people of the inner city want a way out of the life they're in, but just don't know how to get out.  Since the club's inception in 1987, with a handful of kids in a community center basement, he and his small army of street soldiers have already helped 600 kids out of gang-banging and drug-dealing, and pushed, tutored, driven and even funded 140 inner-city kids into colleges around the country.

Four years ago, to direct kids at risk to the Boys Club, he started a weekly radio call-in program called "Street Soldiers" that is now broadcast throughout California to an audience of over 200,000.  His callers ask tough questions about gangs, drugs, teen pregnancy, and the multiple pressures of life in the inner city today.  "Street Soldiers" not only provides callers with a lifeline and listeners with a practical resource for hope, but has repeatedly averted gang warfare and stopped "payback" violence before they occurred.

Street Soldier is the story of Joe Marshall's success and, as virtually the only good news coming out of the inner city today, it is incumbent upon all of us--citizens, parents, legislators, and teachers--to listen.  From Marshall's own college days in the turbulent sixties and his early years as an idealistic young teacher, the book moves to the heartbreaking lessons that compelled him to do something.  Street Soldier then takes readers through the day-by-day trials and tribulations of his efforts in the `hood, searching for effective ways to convince gun-toting crack dealers and gang members to take pride in their race, take responsibility for their actions, and take charge of their lives.  Along the way the book goes inside the minds and lives of a handful of the kids who transform themselves in the mast dramatic way possible--and a few who sadly cannot.  In the end, Street Soldier is a call to each of us to help shape the future of this generation at risk, to help our children grow strong--to be street soldiers in our own communities.

Filled with tense confrontations and joyous celebrations, Street Soldier is an uplifting story by and about one man who makes a difference--and the cure his story may well provide for the cancer eating at our nation today.

About Joseph Marshall

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Joseph Marshall, Jr. is executive director of the Omega Boys Club and host of the weekly radio talk show "Street Soldiers."  For his work with young people he has received the Essence Award, the Children's Defense Fund Leadership Award, and the five-year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (the "genius" award). He has a B.A. from the University of San Francisco, a master's degree in education from San Francisco State, and is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology.Lonnie Wheeler co-authored the New York Times bestseller I Had a Hammer with Hank Aaron, as well as Hard Stuff with Mayor Coleman Young and Stranger to the Game with Bob Gibson.
Published April 1, 1996 by Delacorte Press. 305 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History. Non-fiction

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Instead of forming friendships, these young people bond together in what Marshall calls ""fearships,"" in which horrendous crimes are committed for the sake of ""preserving one's reputation and not being labeled as a punk."" The dehumanization of these young people, contends Marshall, is reinforc...

May 01 1996 | Read Full Review of Street Soldier

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