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Indianapolis minister rises

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The young man had to be raised by his aunt because by his own admission his mother is “out there.”

This means, in the terms of the street, his mom is either almost always high on alcohol, strung out on drugs, into prostitution or all of the above. His father is among the slightly more than 10 percent of the American Black male population who are in jail or prison.

The young Black boy’s dilemma is described in a book recently written by Preston T. Adams III, chief executive officer of Project Impact-Indianapolis, a program designed to rescue youth offenders from lives that are headed toward certain destruction. In his powerful new book titled From Hustlin’ To Hallelujah, Adams asks the young man where he foresees himself by age 20. His candid response is shocking:

“At age 20 I probably be selling drugs, may be a big time dope dealer selling cocaine, boyd, or crack, or weed and exctasy, or even dead. I really don’t know because I probably start robbing n—-z that’s on dubs and got cash or I might be in prison for the rest of my life for robbing a bank. Murder or carjacking, you never know. I could be strung out on dope standing in front of the liquor store asking for change; but I really see myself as a big time dope dealer or in college. If not that, either 50 years in prison or dead.”

Adams, who was reared by a single mother in inner-city Chicago, knows a thing or two about the young man’s experience. “Bird,” as they called him, grew up on Chicago’s Southside in the 60s and 70s, when his neighborhood near 68th and Justine streets was a battleground for rival gangs, particularly the Blackstone Rangers and the Black Disciples From Hustlin’ To Halleluah: ‘My Journey From Chicago’s Southside To God’s Side’ is an autobiography that begins in Adams’ childhood. It describes his associates and acquaintances such as Pablo, who pocketed millions of dollars from a drive-through drug business before he was carted off to prison for life, and K.D., the Englewood, Ill., area’s Ellsworth R. “Bumpy” Johnson, the Harlem crime godfather of the early 20th century, whose character was depicted by Clarence Williams III in the 2007 movie “American Gangster.” K.D. is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence for attempted murder.

“Then there was Rob, whose life apparently was not worth a dime – literally,” writes Adams in the book. “He was shot to death at age 13 at a dice game over 10 cents.” Hustlin.’ however, is not all about mayhem and murder. This is not just another I-made-it-out-of-the-ghetto book. Instead it comes off as much inspirational and educational as it is autobiographical. Readers are given thought-provoking synopses on iconic historical figures among the African-American community, such as W. E. B. Du Bois’ groundbreaking research in The Philadelphia Negro, which enhances Adams’ book.

Writing of the connection of crime and prejudice in The Philadelphia Negro, Du Bois asserted, “The boy who is refused promotion in his job as porter does not go out and snatch somebody’s pocketbook. Conversely, the loafers at Twelfth and Kater streets and the thugs in the county prison are not usually graduates of high schools who have been refused work. The connections are much more subtle and dangerous; it is the atmosphere of rebellion and discontent that unrewarded merit and reasonable but unsatisfied ambition make. The social environment of excuse, listless despair, careless indulgence and lack of inspiration to work is the growing force that turns Black boys and girls into gamblers, prostitutes and rascals.”

In addition to Du Bois, the book presents thoughts from other African-American intellectuals, such as John Hope Franklin, Henry N. Drewry and Manning Marable to make the point that much of the troubles that young black males face today are rooted in our nation’s history. According to Columbia University professor Marable, writes Adams in the book, “‘with the failure of the Black Power Movement and the political collapse of white liberalism, the direction of America’s political and social hierarchy is veering toward a subtle apocalypse which promises to obliterate the lowest substratum of the Black and Latino poor.’ As Marable put it, without the white liberal bureaucracy that has condoned and sustained the ghetto, and the reality that a ghetto produced and maintained by racism could eventually become a non-essential component in our capitalistic society, ‘many of its residents would simply cease to exist.’”

But what would such a story be without a happy ending?

The author of Hustlin’ made much of his opportunities. Not only did Adams go to college as his saintly mother, Myrtis L. Adams, had prayed for him to do but he committed his life to the ministry and graduated from seminary. Although he had kept telling his mother “Don’t know n—— from around here go to college, she would live to see her dream for the eldest of her four sons come true.

Preston Adams would travel from a Chicago ghetto to graduate from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Ind., where he earned masters and doctorate degrees. He is currently executive pastor at Light of the World Christian Church in Indianapolis serving under Bishop T. Garrott Benjamin Jr., who wrote the forward to the book. Adams also is the founder and CEO of PrestonTAdams International Inc., a premier executive coaching, consulting and speaking firm.

This is an easy book to read that covers a range of emotions represented by words like danger, glee, sadness, ecstasy, fear, joy, reflection, somberness, perseverance and, of course, “hallelujah!”

You can find out more about the book at www.prestontadams.com or www.amazon.com.

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