IMAN Atlanta’s Green ReEntry: A Bold Intervention

Early this year, five of Atlanta’s returning citizens joined Green ReEntry, an intensive, 12-week training and education course in plumbing and project management offered by Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) in Atlanta. Green ReEntry offers support to formerly incarcerated individuals facing barriers to employment, and has been a cornerstone of IMAN’s work since the organization’s inception 20 years ago.

Green ReEntry manager and master plumber, Jermaine Shareef, was teacher and mentor to these five hard-working men. Four of the five completed the program. Tariq Baiyina, Qawi Clark Gerald, Malik Bradley Brantley, and Karim Andrew Vance all disprove the stigmas and stereotypes that are hurtfully attached to the formerly incarcerated. Mr. Tariq Abdullah, a community leader and the CEO of Tarchitects LLC, led seminars on project management, during which the Green ReEntry crew directly applied their newly acquired knowledge and skills to create IMAN Atlanta’s new program office located at 1007 Cascade Ave SW.

On Sunday, May 21, 2017 with a full audience, the crew successfully graduated from the Green ReEntry program and proved that they are greater than what our current criminal justice climate have us believe. They are committed leaders and inspiring role models dedicated to transforming neglected neighborhoods into flourishing communities our youth can feel safe and supported. The crew is dedicated to fostering the loving environments that were denied to them.

Family, friends, and fellow community members joined in the special graduation ceremony. IMAN Atlanta Director, Imam Mansoor Sabree, and Advisory Committee Chair, Sameera Fazili, attested to the power and strength of these extraordinary men, and the tremendous potential of Green ReEntry to push criminal justice reform movement forward.

Other special guests in attendance were Dr. Rami Nashashibi, IMAN Executive Director , Alia Bilal, IMAN Director of Community Relations, and Mama Sol, a spoken word artist and activist from Atlanta, who elevated the spirit of #FightFearBuildPower through her poetry performances.

To learn more about IMAN Atlanta; please visit imancentral.org and ‘like’ IMAN Atlanta on Facebook to stay connected and support future Green ReEntry programs and activities.

IMAN Organizers Train Multigenerational LA Cohort

For the second time, IMAN organizers traveled to California to train Bayan Claremont students and leaders from Islah LA on the essentials of effective, transformative grassroots community organizing. An engaged group of over 40 leaders participated in the weekend-long training, which was hosted in South Central Los Angeles at Islah LA headquarters.

The training touched on all the hallmarks of IMAN’s organizing methodology, from the importance of understanding self-interest to the need for optimistic patience when working towards “the world as it should be.” As the nation transitioned into a new political moment, the group was able to process real-world issues during the training session and begin developing the types of genuine, relationship-based alliances that are necessary to withstand challenging times. The theme of the weekend aligned organically with IMAN’s larger #FightFearBuildPower campaign.

IMAN’s organizing work has long served as a model for grassroots organizers around the country to establish strong coalitions across boundaries of race, socioeconomic status and religion. Organizing trainings are also scheduled to take place in Chicago and Atlanta over the next few months. For those interested in participating in an IMAN training, please contact Organizing Director Shamar Hemphill for more information.

Green ReEntry Work Taking Root in ATL

IMAN Atlanta is primed to launch its first direct service as 2017 gets underway. After months of preparation, fundraising, securing community partnerships and acquiring property, Green ReEntry will soon begin working with formerly incarcerated Muslim men in the ATL Metro Area. Participants will enter IMAN’s unique and holistic regiment of transitional housing, spiritual development, basic education, life skills instruction, on-the-job construction training, and job placement support.

One of the newest additions to the IMAN team is Atlanta Green ReEntry Manager Jermaine Shareef, a licensed master plumber. Shareef embodies the model of transformation that the program seeks to replicate. As a young man, he was incarcerated for 9 years. While inside, Shareef was recognized as a model inmate: he dedicated his time to both self-help and helping others, took full advantage of his time, and earned various plumbing certifications.

Shareef also owns his own plumbing company, Najee Plumbing, which is widely respected in the state of Georgia. No stranger to the IMAN ethos of relationship-building, he has also organized as a criminal justice reform advocate and a committed mentor to other men returning home from prison. Be sure to stay updated on the latest Green ReEntry progress and all IMAN Atlanta projects by following them on Facebook.

MLK Day Efforts Galvanize Communities in Chicago & ATL

This MLK Day, IMAN presented its first two-city event, Fighting Fear/Building Power: Renewing the Call for a Beloved Community. Over 1,000 attendees gathered, forging new connections with one another and enjoying inspirational artistic performances. Appearances by Talib Kweli and Ilyasah Al Shabazz in Atlanta, and Jay Electronica in Chicago, helped rally the crowds. Newark, New Jersey and Los Angeles, California also hosted “Sister City Gatherings”, where allies live-streamed the events and engaged each other around ways to implement the call for justice. IMAN thanks Lead Sponsor, Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Supporting Sponsor, Zakat Foundation of America, for helping make Fighting Fear/Building Power possible.

The climax of Fighting Fear/Building Power came as dozens of community organizations (over 50 alone in Chicago) united onstage to pledge their mutual support, solidarity and their re-commitment to the vision of Beloved Community that Dr. King put forth over 50 years ago. Particularly in Atlanta, this strong showing of broad-based allegiance served as public notice of IMAN’s deepening impact in the area. With capacity crowds in both cities also standing and making their pledge, coalitions were strengthened and spirits were lifted as we enter a new moment in our nation’s history.

That morning was brightened by heartening displays of solidarity, generosity and hope. In Marquette Park, IMAN hosted its Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Luncheon for over 100 local residents. Guests enjoyed catered meals, opportunities for insightful discussion on the growing relevance of King’s vision for urban communities, and were presented with gift bags prepared by dozens of volunteers and longtime supporters.

We are grateful to the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) and Equal Voice Network Chicago for co-convening such an inspirational event. Thank you to all guests and viewers who helped the #FightFearBuildPower hashtag trend on Twitter!

Join the thousands nationwide who’ve decided to double down on the work of inclusion and solidarity, and sign the #FightFearBuildPower Pledge today!