Aim is to save black children


WASHINGTON -- Every school day in the United States, more than 3,000 black students are suspended from public school, more than 500 black students drop out. Every day, more than 800 black teen-age girls become pregnant, approximately 126 black youths are arrested for violent crime, 34 black infants die, five black children are murdered, one black child commits suicide.

Such shocking statistics have propelled more than 100 leading black child advocates, community activists and religious leaders from around the country to unite in an effort to rescue black children.

Convened yesterday at Howard University here, the new Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC), announced plans to meet with lawmakers and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. The black community faces "one of the worst crises since slavery, and we're going to do something about it," vowed Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund and a BCCC leader.

Part of the BCCC's goal will be to urge all members of the black community to become involved in saving black children. The group plans to train 1,000 new black leaders during the next decade to focus on the needs of children, Ms. Edelman said. The House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families and a subcommittee of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee is meeting jointly today to hear testimony on children's issues. Tomorrow, the Children's Defense Fund will begin its three-day conference.

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