An inter-generational group of nearly 40 Green ReEntry cohort members, staff and leaders traveled to Washington D.C. this March for a weekend of reflection, solidarity and learning. The trip gave many brothers their first opportunity to serve as ambassadors for Green ReEntry–and IMAN–outside of Chicago.
This visit to our nation’s Capitol was highlighted by the group’s participation in the massive March for Our Lives event held in downtown Washington. Alongside 700,000 people from across the U.S., the Green ReEntry brothers demanded an end to the gun violence plaguing communities throughout the country. Many cohort members have lost loved ones to a bullet, and the group marched throughout the day carrying the memory of former cohort member Steven Ward, who was shot dead last December.
The Green ReEntry cohort was then hosted in Baltimore by longtime IMAN ally Saafir Rabb, who led the group on a tour around his hometown. Rabb has helped lead many successful property development projects in Baltimore, and he readily shared wisdom and laughs with his eager guests. During an in-depth exploration of a current embassy renovation, Rabb connected young cohort members with several older colleagues working in carpentry, masonry and heating/ventilation fields.
As the trip ended, Green ReEntry case workers arranged for a tour of the historic Howard University. Both high school completion and educational achievement are interwoven into cohort members’ goals, and immersing themselves in the college campus environment provided many opportunities for networking. After visiting the pioneering community at D.C.’s Masjid Muhammad, the cohort loaded the bus and returned to Chicago with rejuvenated spirits and a deepened sense of unity.
In 2011, approximately 1,885 individuals were released from state or federal custody each day – that’s 688,384 individuals that year, according to the National Institute of Justice. Returning citizens struggle with unstable housing, inadequate employment and over policing, all issues that often contribute to incarceration in the first place. What can be done to ease their transition back home and back into their communities?
Nearly 100 community members, behavioral health professionals, lawyers and law professors, mothers, and returning citizens themselves attended a two-part IMAN Sessions event: ‘Investing in Lives #BeyondIncarceration’. Discussions revolved around IMAN’s Green ReEntry program, and ways it can continue to offer support to returning citizens via life skills training and workforce development.
Judge Fatima El-Amin and IMAN Atlanta’s Green ReEntry Manager, Jermaine Shareef, spoke to a packed crowd about their personal experiences with the criminal justice system and reentry work. Various points of view and approaches to the criminal justice system were raised. Tears were shed, hugs were shared, and the conversation ran deep.
Community members connected and shared additional information after the conclusion of the first #BeyondIncarceration gathering. It became evident to IMAN Atlanta staff that the issues around incarceration and reentry require continued committed, grassroots community space. This realization sparked IMAN Sessions: Investing in Lives #BeyondIncarceration Part 2, which took place in late September.
At that event, IMAN Atlanta’s second Green ReEntry cohort was introduced, and the action plan created at the first #BeyondIncarceration discussion was made public. Thank you to all the guests who shared their valuable perspectives on how to establish effective reentry programs. As IMAN incorporates a holistic approach to meet the needs of Atlanta’s returning citizens, the importance of continuing to engage those most directly affected by the criminal justice system cannot be overstated.
Along the way toward transforming its first construction project into what will be IMAN ATL’s new headquarters, the Atlanta Green ReEntry cohort enriched their program experience through career development workshops and weekly gatherings dedicated to spiritual nourishment.
In keeping with Green ReEntry’s core values of financial stability and empowerment, the cohort attended trainings at Tarchitects LLC, an established architecture firm in the heart of Atlanta. The brothers participated in daylong sessions focused on the ins and outs of project management, learning best practices regarding budgeting, proposal developments and collaboration strategies.
This past year’s long days of work and study were balanced with weekly gatherings geared toward spiritual growth. Following Saturday morning prayers, the Green ReEntry brothers joined fellow community members to reflect upon reminders of the importance of embodying genuine, noble character traits. Breakfast and continued conversation follow each weekend’s sitting.
On May 21, IMAN staff, Advisory Board members, and supporters from the larger Atlanta community gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of this first Green ReEntry cohort as they graduated from the program. Their hard work has laid a sturdy foundation for future participants returning home to beautify their communities and realize success in their individual lives.
Be sure to follow IMAN Atlanta on Facebook for the latest news and updates, and keep the entire Green ReEntry cohort in your prayers as they continue to change, serve and inspire!
IMAN Atlanta has been extremely active as it continues to carve out its place in the larger metro area. The Atlanta Green ReEntry cohort broke ground on its first renovation project along with dozens of local volunteers. In addition to launching the reentry work, IMAN ATL staff and leaders played key roles in several interfaith efforts that successfully highlighted the importance of health, wellness and healing in an inner-city context.
IMAN Atlanta played a key organizing role during a well-attended rally held in downtown Atlanta. Alongside allies from Redeemer Lutheran Church and other organizations, they called on residents to band together in support of groups targeted by proposed federal policies.
In conjunction with the Interfaith Children’s Movement, IMAN Atlanta staff and leaders also traveled to the state capitol for an important Advocacy Day. They pushed local legislators on several critical issues affecting the state’s youth, from increased job opportunities to more equitable, accessible public services for young people of all backgrounds.
On February 25, Director Mansoor Sabree and Atlanta Green ReEntry Coordinator Jermaine Shareef organized a “Hands On” community event, which served as a public groundbreaking for the IMAN ATL team’s first renovation project. Nearly 50 community members joined the first-ever Atlanta re-entry crew for a tour of the new property. After the tour, many attendees also rolled up their sleeves and chipped in to help beautify IMAN ATL’s soon-to-be headquarters.
IMAN Atlanta continues to establish itself as a vehicle for Georgia residents to engage the issues most directly affecting them. Be sure to follow IMAN ATL on Facebook to support their work, and for all the latest news and updates.