Social Work 305
October 14th, 2015
Learning from History
A Retrospective Journey on Shahid and Connie Watson and the Life Skills Academy
It is a truth universally acknowledged that social action creates stronger platforms for people to succeed and communities to develop more opportunities for improvement and involvement. Along with that universal truth, we must also acknowledge the fact that most of this change, most of these platforms, most of these improvements were started and spearheaded by the unspoken heroes and leaders of this world. Considering their 2.5% recidivism rate and their success in guiding people out of institutionalized and ...view middle of the document...
The unspoken goal of the company was to teach human excellence and as a result, their name became the HER Group, LLC. (Human Excellence Resource Group) in 2001. Their main focus was dealing with incarcerated individuals who were leaving the prison system and going home to a place where they left no foundation, had no family, and didn’t have anywhere to turn to except for the places and situations that sent them to prison.
In a phone interview with both Shahid and Connie Watson, he said:
“I was spending a lot of time with Reverend Al Sharpton and other activists who were of the true consciousness of change in the community and wanted to rally and protest against police brutality and legal justice abuse. What set our movement apart from any other was that our theory was something that you couldn’t get across to people in a rally”.
The mission of the HER Group was to teach individuals how to make proper decisions. They wanted to cultivate a system that not only helped individuals realize the cycle of danger that they were in, but also teach them to be responsible for their actions and guide them on how they could use those issues and problems for their benefit and to teach others in their community how to live a better way of life (Brown) . In 1993, Shahid Watson was interviewed on The Phil Donahue Show and talked about how he and other activist could get together and address the issues across the country. He said:
“It was no longer about one community. It wasn’t about Newark, LA, the Bronx, Philly, Chicago at this point. It was about making a change in the communities as a whole. We began to examine America as its own community and that’s when we realized there was a lot more work to do.”
They organized Gang Summits in an effort to “stop the violence”, Watson said. In a meeting in New York City with DJ African Bambaataa, Lee Evans, and Jungle Brothers, they discussed the “beef” between West Coast and East Coast Rappers (2Pac and Biggie Smalls) and noticed that they needed to do more than to just raise people’s consciousness and to be in more control of their lives (Watson, Shahid). They wanted to stop the community from destroying and burning its own grassroots. The gang violence, drug abuse, and incarcerated parents all became a sum total of this revolving door of people who were in and out of prison; didn’t have an idea of what they were going to do with their lives (Watson, Shahid). The big question they began to ask themselves and ask other activists and politicians in the community was “How do we create a cognitive behavior/training tool that will help individuals develop responsibility for their actions?”.
Wife of Shahid Watson, Connie Watson, first met Shahid when he was in the process of beginning his community change work. Having studied Business Administration at Tuskegee in Alabama, she was working as an office manager for Lee Warren and Dianne Bowman and Associates. In an interview with her, she said: