08-16-2018  11:03 am      •     
Marian Wright Edelman of Child Watch
Published: 04 October 2006

"From no house to Morehouse." This was a caption in a newspaper article about Donald Washington Jr., who graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Morehouse College this past May.
People have been especially inspired by Washington's journey to the top of his class because of where he started out: as a teenager living alone in homeless shelters.
I first met Washington after he became a two-time winner of a Walter Dean Myers Scholastic Inc./Children's Defense Fund Fellowship, awarded to a diverse group of college students interested in a career in the publishing industry. Two years ago, the fund invited Washington to speak on a panel at our Beat the Odds reunion symposium at Georgetown Law School, where he shared his inspiring story. Washington is a role model for other young people who face difficult odds and for all who hold negative stereotypes about young Black males. I have been so impressed by this incredible young leader.
Washington, who is from the Maryland suburbs just outside Washington, D.C., wasn't always homeless. His mother suffers from fibromyalgia, an arthritis-related condition that causes chronic fatigue and pain. When his parents separated toward the end of his high school years, she found it difficult to continue working the several jobs she needed to pay the rent. Soon afterward, they became homeless.
Because men and women are separated in the local shelter system, at age 18 Washington found himself living on his own in the first of three different men's shelters. He later told a local newspaper, "The experience of living in a shelter system feels like an assault on your humanity. When you stand in line in soup kitchens and see generations of people not doing anything with their lives for whatever reason, the basic realization that your life has the potential to become that is scary … .
"For me, it was a frightening experience because I was trying to gauge what was going to happen to my future, and I didn't feel like I saw any future for myself."
Although his immediate circumstances seemed to make the future look bleak, Washington wasn't willing to let them kill his dreams and was surrounded by adults and mentors who recognized his potential and were eager to support him.
Shelter officials allowed Washington to take classes part-time and participate in extracurricular activities at a local community college rather than forcing him to cut back or quit school to fulfill work requirements. When Donald first won the prestigious Scholastic/ CDF fellowship, which involved spending the summers in New York City working at the publishing company, the shelter arranged to hold his space so he could accept the offer and still be guaranteed a bed when he returned.
He was editor-in-chief of his college newspaper, and his professors, who knew he was among their best students, encouraged him to take the next step by applying to transfer to Morehouse, his "dream school." Washington was accepted and won a full scholarship. At Morehouse, he just continued to soar.
Washington followed his two summers at Scholastic by interning with the Wall Street Journal's Atlanta bureau. He also traveled to Israel to study conflict resolution; he studied in Ghana; and had the chance to tour historical sites across Egypt. He was one of five winners of the Compton Mentor Fellowship for graduating seniors, allowing him to spend this year running a project in Atlanta called "The Peacemakers: Redeem the Dream Youth Leadership Program." It conducts nonviolence and conflict resolution training with youths and adults. In the future, Washington is considering a possible dual degree in law and public policy and maybe a career in journalism or international diplomacy.
I am so proud of all Washington has already accomplished and am so grateful he was never willing to give up. Like many other people, I can't wait to see what Donald Washington Jr.'s future holds.

Marian Wright Edelman is president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on "fake news"Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on "fake news" Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press.The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate.They did across the breadth of the country.The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald said a free and independent press is the best defense against tyranny, while the Honolulu Star-Advertiser emphasized democracy's need for a free press."The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger," wrote the Des Moines Register in Iowa.In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists "the truest of patriots." The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.The Fayetteville Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, "but we're not holding our breath.""Rather, we hope all the president's supporters will recognize what he's doing —  manipulating reality to get what he wants," the North Carolina newspaper said.On Thursday morning, Trump again took to Twitter to denounce "fake news."He wrote: "The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!"THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018  That followed this tweet from the president: "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!"The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant, not an enemy, to the people."Like any true friend, we don't always tell you want you want to hear," the Morning News said. "Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness."Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Pennsylvania, for instance, compared free press in the United States to such rights promised but not delivered in the former Soviet Union.The New York Times added a pitch."If you haven't already, please subscribe to your local papers," said the Times, whose opinion section also summarized other editorials across the country."Praise them when you think they've done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We're all in this together."That last sentiment made some journalists skittish. Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote editorials explaining why they weren't joining the Globe's effort. The Chronicle wrote that one of its most important values is independence, and going along with the crowd went against that. Both the Chronicle and Baltimore Sun said that it plays into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.Nolan Finley, columnist and editorial page editor of The Detroit News, spoke up for the press but added a scolding. He said too many journalists are slipping opinion into their news reports, adding commentary and calling it context."Donald Trump is not responsible for the eroding trust in the media," Finley wrote. "He lacks the credibility to pull that off. The damage to our standing is self-inflicted."The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and web sites, is also asking its members to point out that journalists are friends and neighbors doing important work holding government accountable."I want to make sure that it is positive," said Dan Shelley, the group's executive director. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters."It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump's election in 2016. Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 percent in 2010.
    Read More
  • The world mourns the death of Aretha Franklin who died today at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.
    Read More
  • Omarosa viewed as "two-bit opportunist" for calling Trump a racist only after aligning herself with him 
    Read More
  • Seven ships filled with 176,000 tons of wheat have left Portland for Yemen
    Read More
  • It was a rare admission of fault for an administration that frequently skews data and overstates economic gains.
    Read More
  • PP&R activities scheduled outdoors are being moved indoors where feasible
    Read More
  • Trump tweeted a barrage of insults Tuesday morning as Manigault Newman continued promoting her White House tell-all
    Read More
  • Aretha Frankin, considered one of the greatest singers of all time, has fallen ill
    Read More
Oregon Convention Center Job Fair
Port of Seattle Tours

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Montavilla Jazzfest 2018
The Skanner Report