An intriguing conversation with the Rev. Harold Bailey
By Juanita Bratcher
Rev. Harold Bailey is an infinite authority on youth and the problems of youth. For 31 years â€“ since 1979 â€“ Bailey has shepherded problematic youth into the right direction through his Probation Challenge Program.
Itâ€™s been a lifelong passion and journey for Bailey, seeing that youth in and outside of his Probation Challenge Program knows the importance of education and training. Thatâ€™s because heâ€™s one that believes and emphasizes that education brings about awareness and awareness brings on the ability to think. “And when young people think they will then be able to make rational decisions,â€ he says.
Bailey is a legend in his own time. Recently, he was the recipient of the â€œLiving Legends Awardâ€ at an event held at the DuSable Museum of African American History, and was saluted at the History makersâ€™ 10th Anniversary celebration earlier this year.
While he is thankful for the many years of service in servicing youth and the opportunity to deal with youth and community, Bailey said it has been an education for him as to the sincerity of many who reside in the community.
â€œThereâ€™s some hypocrisy out there,â€ he said. â€œOur young people tend to emulate that which they see and they have seen much of our faulted leadership. I am sincerely praying that those who possess a righteous spirit will come forth and possess fruits of the spirit that will lend to the success of our youth.â€
Bailey despaired when he talked about crime that has taken a hold on the City of Chicago. â€œIn my opinion this issue has not been approached properly. But when the head is sick the body is ill. I feel that the leadership has not possessed the spirit of righteousness and as a result of that, what is there for youth to see? What is there for youth to emulate? What is there for them to see at all other than corruption?
â€œI am fortunate to be old enough to be considered an elder with one foot in the past and another with our present generation,â€ Bailey added. â€œThusly, I have tried to educate our youth as to our failures, failures that they should not seek to emulate.
â€œRecently, I have been honored to be the recipient of the Living Legends Award and also saluted at the History Makersâ€™ Tenth Anniversary. And in all of this, I quickly give God the glory and hide behind the cross. I know that seeking to transfer education information on to our young people is considered by many as a no-no and dangerous to do so.”
As a result, Bailey said â€œour streets are flooded with crime, murder, and drugs. But seemingly those who emulate being the head of our city, county and state cannot find workable solutions. Why not call on our elders as scriptures have advised for wisdom. I dare say until we obey the scriptures we are doomed to fail. But Iâ€™m pressing my way to continue to beat the educational drums via way of the Probation Challenge PCC Connection network. This is a component of what I consider distribution of truth. And as the scripture once again says â€˜ye shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.â€™ â€œ
Bailey went on to say that he thinks it is a â€œmasterful conspiracyâ€ set forth by those who sit in seats of authority to fill the many jails and prisons. â€œJails and prisons represent plantations, and the legal system is placing young people back on the plantations by way of a criminal justice system.
â€œEducation brings about awareness and awareness brings on the ability to think. And when young people think they will be able to make rational decisions. The question then becomes, how is it that we can get unlimited dollars to incarcerate but thereâ€™s a restraint on funds to educate? And if we educated those youth well would we not have to incarcerate?â€
Bailey said he would like to see a blanket new leadership across the board of persons who have not identified with the old regime and failures of â€œour political system.â€
In the end, however, Bailey said heâ€™d rather see young people who are full of hope and spiritually guided.
Since 1979, thousands of youth have participated in his program and have since gone on to college and become productive members of society, Bailey said proudly.
There is no doubt, Bailey added, Probation Challenge and the PCC Network will continue to be a strong force in helping troubled youth and steering them in the right direction to a successful and fulfilling life through positive resources of education and training.