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27 December, 2011

HONORING THE PAST...EMBRACING THE PRESENT... MOVING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE: HOUSE OF UMOJA, INC.




CONTACT:

Queen Mother Falaka Fattah
Founder – HOUSE OF UMOJA, INC.
(215) 473-5893
E-Mail: falakafattah@aol.com


PHILADELPHIA, PA (USA) --- 27 December 2011 -- On Wednesday, 28 December 2011 – the third day of Kwanzaa, Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility --, the City of Philadelphia will celebrate the 80th birthday of House of Umoja, Inc. Founder of the House of Umoja, Inc. – QUEEN MOTHER FALAKA FATTAH. Hosted by Philadelphia City Councilman The Honorable Curtis Jones, Jr., the 80th birthday celebration for Queen Mother Falaka Fattah will take place between 3:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. in the Mayor’s Reception Room at City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The gala event which includes a Kwanzaa Program, entertainment, and a “Legacy Speakout” which will allow guests to express their views on what they feel the legacy of the House of Umoja, Inc. is about honoring the House of Umoja, Inc.’s rich history; embracing its contributions to the City of Philadelphia and the world and the current global model it has created for economic and community development, holistic living, and peace – the Think Green Peace Campaign; and moving forward to the future.

It is not by accident that the observance of Kwanzaa is a component of the 80th birthday celebration for Queen Mother Falaka Fattah. The House of Umoja, Inc. was among a small group of organizations that pioneered the celebration of Kwanzaa in the City of Philadelphia.

“Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulena Karenga. The House of Umoja, Inc. was among a small group of organizations in the City of Philadelphia to promote Kwanzaa which begins on 26 December and ends on 1 January. Today, in 2011, more than 26 million people in every continent around the world celebrate Kwanza,” observed Queen Mother Falaka Fattah.

Founded in 1968 by QUEEN MOTHER FALAKA FATTAH, for 43 years, the House of Umoja, Inc. has positively transformed the lives of over 3,000 at-risk male youths in the City of Philadelphia. The internationally acclaimed organization, in 1974, brought to an end years of bloody and deadly gang violence which had plagued the City of Philadelphia for years through the Imani Peace Pact -- authored by MR. DAVID FATTAH -- which gang leaders throughout the City of Philadelphia signed. In 2006, the House of Umoja, Inc. launched its Faith of Our Fathers Peace Campaign through the 2006 Stay Alive IMANI Youth Anti-Violence Conference which was a Kwanzaa celebration and a forum where barriers of peace were discussed. The Faith of Our Fathers Peace Campaign continues to move a new generation of children and youth to commit to nonviolence by signing the Imani Peace Pledge ™ which is based on the Imani Peace Pact.

“The 2006 Stay Alive IMANI Youth Anti-Violence Conference was a Kwanzaa celebration and a forum where barriers to peace, among other things, were discussed. It was a component of an intense strategic effort to compel our children and youth to commit to peace by not engaging in acts of violence. The conference provided the youth and children in our city with an opportunity to freely talk to the adults about issues that concerned them and offer ideas and suggestions about what should be done to stop the violence in their schools and neighborhoods. Our children and our youth told us – the adults – what they needed and wanted from us. Now, at the same time, our children and youth could clearly see that we – the adults -- were genuinely listening to what they had to say and serious about taking action to reduce violence in their schools and neighborhoods,” Queen Mother Falaka Fattah remarked.

By the end of the first quarter of Calendar Year 2006, Queen Mother Falaka Fattah and her husband Mr. David Fattah had established a Steering Committee for the House Of Umoja, Inc.’s Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign. They brought together individuals with diverse talents who, as members of the Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign Steering Committee, helped the House Of Umoja, Inc. created and implemented initiatives designed to move children in the City of Philadelphia to commit to peace. The House Of Umoja, Inc. established “Partnerships For Peace” with the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Atwater-Kent Museum, Keepers of the Culture Storytellers, and the print and electronic media which included Radio Station WXPN. Major Philadelphia newspapers – The Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Weekly -- published an article and the full text of the IMANI Pledge ™ during the week of 10-14 April 2006 which was the Spring vacation for the School District of Philadelphia and a time during which students in Philadelphia’s schools would have access to and read the newspapers – particularly the article concerning the Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign and the full text of the Imani Pledge™. Why have the full text of the Imani Peace Pledge™ published in the newspapers?

“Publishing the full text of the Imani Peace Pledge™ in the newspapers that the children and youth would not only read, but also sign, would give the youth and children in the City of Philadelphia an opportunity to take an active role in bringing peace to their schools, neighborhoods, and their city. Thousands upon thousands of children and youth who lived and attended schools in the Greater Philadelphia area and had read the newspapers during the week of 10-14 April 2006, signed the IMANI Peace Pledge™and mailed their signed Pledges to the House Of Umoja, Inc. The strategy developed by the House Of Umoja, Inc. under the umbrella of the Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign works! The key element and central focus of the Faith Of Our Fathers Peace Campaign was and continues to be the IMANI Peace Pledge™ which is a contractual agreement signed by children and youth of the City of Philadelphia that they will not engage in acts of violence in and outside of school. In signing the Pledge, the youth and children acknowledge that their forefathers brought peace to the City of Philadelphia as youths, and that they too, can do the same. The Pledge ends with the commitment statement ‘Let my word be my bond’ and the House of Umoja is perpetuating the theme ‘I come in peace’ along with the IMANI PledgeTM. During the first quarter of 2006, the House Of Umoja went into schools in its area and directly engaged students – the leaders-to-be ---, beginning with the ninth graders, in a strategy to change the violent culture,” explained Queen Mother Falaka Fattah.

In 2007, the House of Umoja, Inc. was selected to lead and organize the National Million Father March in the City of Philadelphia by PHILIP JACKSON, the Founder of the National Million Father March and Founder and Executive Director of the Black Star Project, a Chicago, Illinois-based organization (www.blackstarproject.org). The House of Umoja, Inc. continues to lead and organize the National Million Father March which is facilitated in over 600 cities throughout the United States on the first day of each academic year and encourages Fathers to escort their children to school and assume a proactive role in their child’s education. The House Of Umoja, Inc.is moving Fathers throughout the City of Philadelphia to redefine their parental roles and responsibilities by “stepping up and out” and escorting their children to school, obtaining a copy of their child’s roster and the academic Calendar of Events at their child’s schools; meeting with their child’s teachers and the principal of the school; and making sure that their child signs the Imani Peace Pledge ™. The House Of Umoja, Inc.’s leadership and organizing role for the National Million Father March in the City of Philadelphia has not only empowered Fathers, it has also captured the imagination of a city, energized the City of Philadelphia’s school system, and rekindled community spirit. As a result the House of Umoja, Inc. has become an energizing voice in the Global Dialogue on Fatherhood and a key player in the International Fatherhood Community.

In 2008, the House of Umoja, Inc. launched a multi-tiered Think Green Peace Campaign which is viewed by many as a global model for economic and community development, health and wellness, holistic living, and peace. The first-tier of the Think Green Peace Campaign came in the form of the First Philadelphia Collard Greens and Cultural Festival which occurred on 25 July 2008 through 27 July 2008. This event is based on The Collard Greens Cultural Festival which originated in Palo Alto, California and was brought to the attention of the House of Umoja, Inc. by Mr. Hakim Starkey, who is a member of the House of Umoja, Inc.’s Faith of Our Fathers Peace Campaign Steering Committee. The next tiers of the Think Green Peace Campaign came in the form of a “Peace Garden” and the transformation of vacant lots into gardens which produce 30 varieties of vegetables. Within the garden, a hole is formed. Members of the community are asked to write down their grievances on a piece of paper; bring the paper on which their grievance is written; and place the grievance in hole in the ground.

“The ‘Think Green Peace' Campaign is engaging our children in learning about our environment and getting them to connect the dots about the importance of the earth, how food is grown, how they can become self-sufficient and how they can beautify the neighborhoods in which they live. Through our 'Think Green Peace' Campaign, a coalition has emerged consisting of our youth, business community, social entrepreneurs, religious institutions, legislators, grassroots community organizations, and elder members of our communities that is working to beautify the communities in which we live and work, save our environment, and create options for 'self-sufficiency'. The Think Green Peace Campaign serves yet another very important purpose. It provides members of the community with a positive outlet for their anger and grievances. It allows them to unburden themselves of negative energy," Queen Mother Falaka Fattah explained.

So, what’s next for the House of Umoja, Inc.? How will it be moving forward in the 2012 and throughout the Millennium? Queen Mother Falaka Fattah will provide the answers on Wednesday, 28 December 2011 at her gala 80th birthday celebration.

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