The principles upon which PEN OR PENCIL: FREEDOM OF CHOICE and the B.U.S. Boycott are based could be viewed as two different and well- documented case studies. Case studies are practical examples or uses of information that have been learned and can now be analyzed. Case studies can be used for team building activities and use of analytical skills, both of which and more will be used in this program. More importantly, it is imperative through this and other constructive reflections, that we find ways that each generation will remember and apply any case which has the quality to transform long after it occurs.
“The world does not want and will never have the heroes and heroines of the past. What this age needs is an enlightened youth not to undertake the tasks like theirs, but to imbibe the spirit of great men and answer the present call to duty with nobleness of soul.” Dr. Carter G. Woodson
During the mid-1950’s – 1960’s, students and others were heavily engaged in boycotting and sit-ins across the country; however, of those and others who refused to relinquish their seats, the December 1, 1955 act of Mrs. Rosa Parks provided just the right variables to launch the most visible and successful campaign for change. For PEN OR PENCIL, although there have been many courageous stories which have proceeded and followed the Carters’ of Drew, Mississippi, their story provided the right set of variables to represent the day to day difficulties many youth will encounter along life’s journey to productivity or positive changes: Courage to face retaliation Family experiencing severe financial challenges and heavy debt Family facing eviction Children having to work to support the family’s needs Cramped living environment Never enough to make ends meet They chose not to agree just to be like everyone else
Whether the Carter children in Drew, Mississippi Public Schools or African American and other youth forty years later facing the juvenile court system, all children deserve to be treated fairly, regardless of race of ethnicity.
The PEN OR PENCIL Curriculum is offered as a one- to-one academic mentoring course, a 10-week alternative to detention or suspension course, or as a 2-hour classroom or special presentation. It translates history’s lessons and the civic responsibility of little and well-known persons and deeds into today’s realities and offers a service learning component called the B.U.S. Boycott,
Prevention – mentoring initiatives, after school programs, family support services, youth leadership development – is the most constructive way to build safe communities
The goal of PEN OR PENCIL is to help youth more clearly dissect and analyze the components of choices and help them hold themselves accountable for their outcomes. Youth who apply the lessons learned can increase their chances in life and deflect unnecessary risks to themselves, their family, and the public safety of their communities - cultivating the resilience to avoid school failure, juvenile delinquency, and behavior which leads to disproportionate minority contact. The PEN OR PENCIL Program helps to shape complex cognitive skills, knowledge acquisition, intrapersonal development, civic responsibility, and academic achievement.
The story of the Carter family, depicted during the civil rights era, forms the basis for PEN OR PENCIL: Freedom of Choice. Their story, in text, has been told by Constance Curry in Silver Rights, and as a film documentary in The Intolerable Burden. The hard times and severe struggles they endured describe the road less chosen, but one which must be selected by many students and their families today. Through the Carters’ example, students can learn the meaning of freedom, choices, consequences, influences then and now, and the role education plays in minimizing the cradle to jailhouse peril.
The success of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Carters, and acts of men and women who were well-known and others less mentioned will be used as cases to spark curiosity for participants to go beyond the pages of textbooks to apply and not just read history. For example, criminal behavior and materialism are now drivers which demand the seats of students from their classrooms. These two drivers are responsible for driving many youth and their future to a slow death down a dead-end road to incarceration. Analyzing the case of the Carters and the Montgomery bus boycott now becomes the challenge to youth to declare their unwillingness to give up their freedom and seats in class and to instead engage in civic leadership, responsibility, and community service to help tackle the adverse strongholds of this present age.
More on the Approach Although clear in our opportunities, for many who barely reflect upon these advantages, participants have a new way to answer, “What does what happened then have to do with me now?” Attaching today’s problems, they learn to collectively abstain from counterproductive activities which could interrupt their learning and growth potential or prompt a ride on a bus to a jail or prison. They learn to associate poor behavior and arrests with more confinement centers and how they even play a role in building an ethnically unbalanced criminal justice system. Regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, grade- point average, or other divides, the program is clear in its outreach to encourage all youth to choose freedom and to use the PENCIL (Education) as opposed to the PEN(itentiary) as a life choice.
In the PEN OR PENCIL Initiative, the acronym, B.U.S. stands for building unbalanced systems and behavior (which) underscores stereotypes. In epidemic proportions, public safety, education, and the seats gained in the front of classrooms, on school buses, on other modes of transportation and public accommodation are at risk, tremendously threatened by the cradle to jailhouse trek.
In locations across the country: –senior citizens and residents are tired of giving up their seats on the front porches of their homes to random gun violence; –teachers and youth are tired of giving up their seats in for the disruption of bullies and the drugs; –parents, brothers, and sisters are tired of giving up their seats in the comforts of their homes for stray bullets;
In locations across the country: –motorists are tired of giving up their seats as drivers and passengers to the demands of carjackers and joy riders; –persons of faith are tired of giving up their seats in places of worship prior to dark for unsafe neighborhoods; –commuters are tired of giving up their seats to robbers and muggers... Clearly, all of these injustices represent the fact that the time to take action has long been upon us.
Stated in context with variables faced by today’s youth, the success of the Montgomery bus boycott proved that: –taking a stand to make a positive choice, even in the face of extreme pressure to give in, can begin a world of change...
Stated in context with variables faced by today’s youth, the Montgomery bus boycott proved that: –With strong leadership + selfless service + individual and collective commitment + hard work + determination, an immeasurable difference can be made and resolutions can begin for real community problems, bit by bit, to include unraveling unbalanced systems and beliefs.
CIVIL RIGHTS ERA... Across the country, and particularly in communities throughout the south, history recorded bus and other boycotts staged to oppose unfair conditions to which only some were subjected. Many wanted change but were intimidated, complacent, or understandably paralyzed by fear. Others, like Mae Bertha Carter and her family, realized that freedom of choice was costly but well worth the price which they would have to pay whether others around them did or not.
PEN OR PENCIL MOVEMENT... In cities and communities across the country, gangs, bullies, peer-pressure, self-doubt, street hustlers, violence, and drugs heavily extort youth populations, disproportionately committing them into unequal conditions where others dictate their daily lives while they watch freedom stroll by every minute on the other side of the fence. Many are intimidated and paralyzed by fear, so they remain complacent and afraid to stand up, giving way to dominant influences. For the thousands of youth who long for change, we hope to remind them that freedom was not purchased at a bargain for those who paid but keeping the gift or giving it away for something of no long term value is clearly a choice. The joyride is over and the word must be passed to boycott the b.u.s. (building unbalanced systems)
PEN OR PENCIL B.U.S. Boycotts Per the American Heritage Dictionary, the term boycott means: –TRANSITIVE VERB: boy·cott·ed, boy·cott·ing, boy·cotts To abstain from or act together in abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with as an expression of protest or disfavor or as a means of coercion.
Applying the definition Using that definition while replicating the discipline and sacrifice exemplified by those who participated in historic boycotts, willing students can act together to turn textbook history into a reality and a common goal. Examples of groups working together might be: –An individual classroom –Social studies or history class –A grade in any school –An entire school –A community organization –A youth ministry
Compelling Community Concerns Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.
What does it mean to a community to know that one out of three boys growing up will spend time in prison? What does it do to the fabric of the family and community to have such a substantial proportion of its young men enmeshed in the criminal justice system?
Compelling Community Concerns What images and values are communicated to young people who see the prospect of becoming an inmate or glorifying someone who has served time in jail or prison as the most pervasive role model in the community?
Compelling Community Concerns T(Truancy) R(Race and retaliation) A(Attitudes) G(Guns) E (Expectations) D(Drop Out (school) & DMC) Y(Yesterday)
PEN OR PENCIL B.U.S. Boycotts Service learning is a form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection. B.U.S Boycott staged in cities around the country will allow students to work with others through a process of applying what they are learning to community problems and, at the same time, seek to achieve real objectives for the community and more skills for themselves.
Role for all If you are among those who would like to educate and stir to action a larger American culture about the historical importance of Dr. King, his social philosophies, Mrs. Parks, those whose efforts are least to unrecorded, and a national move for volunteerism, adopt this program. Visit and
Here are some historic dates which occur during the school academic year which might be symbolically used to begin your program or to establish dates for benchmarks –September 3:Seven of the Carters’ 13 children enter Sunflower, Mississippi schools –October 21:Mary Louise Smith refused to relinquish her seat –October 24: Date on which Mrs. Rosa L. Parks died –December 1:Date on which Mrs. Parks refused to relinquish her seat –December 2:Jo Ann Robinson begins to mimeograph notices –December 5:Montgomery bus boycott begins –January 6:Date on which Matthew Carter died –January 15: Birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. –January 31:Date on which Mrs. Coretta Scott King died –February 4: Birthdate of Mrs. Rosa L. Parks –March 2:Claudette Colvin refused to relinquish her seat –April 4:Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated –April 28: Date on which Mae Bertha Carter died
A PEN OR PENCIL B.U.S. Boycott can become an innovative approach to strengthen both education and the local community by –Building effective collaborative partnerships between schools and other institutions or organizations –Engaging parents and other adults in supporting student learning –Addressing the community’s public safety needs
PEN OR PENCIL Activity Booklets Each student should obtain a copy of the PEN OR PENCIL Activity booklet. The booklet will: –Find a list of compatible community service options –Offer group or individual exercises to connect challenges of their lives with historic parallels and establish the parameters of their boycott –Offer exercises which align with the National Social Studies Standards –Help them understand DMC –Offer character education, leadership and life skills exercises –Offer team building and retention exercises
Making it happen Partners are needed and must be recruited by participants to serve variety of historically compatible and contemporary acts of support. The pages to follow are not exclusive in suggesting roles for: –Business/Corporate partners –Criminal justice partners –Civic/municipal partners –Educators –Faith partners –Parental partners –Transit/transportation partners
Role for Business/Corporate Partners Taxpayers save $2 million for each child who is prevented from building a life of crime. (Source: The Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Vanderbilt University, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and American Youth Policy Forum) so... –Adopt a school or youth group who chooses to participate in the PEN OR PENCIL Movement. –Serve as a sponsor to provide Activity booklets and other products for all participated students. –Serve as a host and local sponsor for a six-hour facilitators’ training –Provide copies of “Silver Rights” to all youth to enhance their ability to complete the Activity booklet. –Provide incentives to youth who participate.
Role of Criminal Justice Partners –H–Help youth identify neighborhoods or facilities or “hot spots” within the communities in which juvenile crime most frequently occurs. –H–Help youth determine the most common causes of disproportionate minority contact in applicable communities. –S–Serve as coaches in helping youth to determine realistic parameters for their boycott. –I–Identify productive community service opportunities.
To decrease the likelihood of delinquency, children need communities that provide opportunities and social controls.
Role of Civic/Municipal Partners –Become a King Day of Service PEN OR PENCIL Movement city to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. –Establish/appoint a B.U.S. boycott committee which could serve as a youth council on crime prevention. –Help youth to obtain the media recognition they deserve to help encourage the merits of their efforts. –Issue a MLK Day of Service/Justice Sunday National Continuum Initiative proclamation in which the merits and implementation of the PEN OR PENCIL Movement is acknowledged.
Role of Educators –Become a PEN OR PENCIL school or special project site. –Help youth determine the number of suspensions, expulsions, and juvenile arrests within their school to help youth set goals to measurably reduce these issues. –Provide a way for students to customize this program for use as an in-school, after-school, and an extra credit activity. –Provide oversight in helping youth determine criteria to select/appoint their project leadership.
Role of Faith Partners Work with school or other authorized groups to be trained, screened, and become mentors Host a mentor recruitment event during the Justice Sunday National Recruitment Initiative, January 12-15, Sponsor Activity booklets and other supplies for the program Host a facilitators’ training Host PEN OR PENCIL Initiative for youth constituents of your ministry.
Role of Parental Partners Whether Matthew and Mae Bertha Carter or parents today, to decrease the likelihood of delinquency, children need protective factors in the family, including parents who demonstrate love and care for their children and supervise their children’s behavior. –Get into the spirit of the program and find ways to support it. –During the B.U.S. boycott, provide lots of encouragement by helping your son or daughter to remain focused on the goals and avoid anything which might tempt them to do otherwise.
Transit/Transportation Partners Adopt this project as an on-going official commemorative education program and part of your crime prevention efforts for older elementary, middle, and high school youth. Work with the schools or organizations in your local area who are PEN OR PENCIL partners. Contact the National Alliance of Faith and Justice to sponsor Activity booklets customized to include promotional materials from your transit system.
What’s next? Contact us to get started National Alliance of Faith and Justice P.O. Box Washington, DC (703) Phone