Black leaders and the Children’s Defense Fund co-convened with distinguished historians John Hope Franklin and Dorothy I. Height in 1990 and again in 1992 for five days each at the Rockefeller Foundation conference center in Bellagio, Italy, to discuss the plight of Black children and what we could do about one of the worst crises that the Black family has faced since slavery. Agreeing that the Black community had to take the lead in addressing the crisis and in reweaving the rich fabric of community that historically fostered children’s healthy development, we decided to launch the Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC) to “Leave No Child Behind®” and to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life.
Each day our meetings began with a meditation and the joyful rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, from the album A Soulful Celebration conducted by Quincy Jones. As a result, we endured amazingly little organizational or personal bickering as we came together to save our children.
Rev. James Forbes, a founding member of BCCC, offered the following prayer during one of our meditations:
To Set All the Children Free
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a frame of mind
It’s working hard in our own backyard—to leave no child behind
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a children’s prayer
It’s sacrifice, at any price, to show them that we care
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a memory
It’s a new resolve, to get involved in building community
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a distant dream
And a place on the freedom team
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a protest song
It’s a loving vow, to show somehow, we all can get along
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a melody
It’s a one-by-one till the job is done to set all the children free
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a freedom song
It’s confidence, being convinced that right will conquer wrong
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a song we sing
It’s the will to fight, to make things right, so the freedom bell can ring
For the children, ring
For the children, ring
Through the power of the Spirit, let’s empower each other to go out with power to set all the children free.
The Children’s Defense Fund continues to train young servant leaders in the faith movement of all races.
I hope you will join us and support us going forward.