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extraORDINARY People: Dr. Joseph Marshall, Jr.

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Dr. Joseph Marshall, Jr.Dr. Joseph Marshall, Jr. is an author, activist, and veteran street soldier. Founder of the anti-violence movement Alive & Free, Marshall draws audiences from across the country to his weekly radio program, Street Soldiers— a name Dr. Marshall uses to describe people working to eliminate violence in their communities. To help keep his own community safer, Dr. Marshall co-founded the Omega Boys Club after years of working as a middle school teacher and seeing too many of his students lost to drugs and violence.

Omega Boys Club teaches young people three main rules to live by: “There’s nothing more valuable than an individual’s life. A friend is someone that will never lead you to danger. And respect comes from within. No one can disrespect you if you respect yourself.”

Dr. Marshall developed those three maxims into the 'Alive & Free Prescription,' a model now employed by more than 60 projects nationwide. The results are impressive: since 1987, nearly 100% of the youth who have used the prescription have remained alive and free, according to the Omega Boys Club.

This new way of thinking along with academic support has helped hundreds of young people change the direction of their lives and set goals for themselves they had never imagined before. Dr. Marshall also helps those who want to go to college, pledging the financial support to make it possible.

“The college piece is something I committed to them, that if they could beat the streets, they could pick the college and I would find the money,” he says. So far the club made it possible for 150 Omega Boys to graduate college, with another 50 currently enrolled.

As Dr. Marshall's efforts won national renown, other advocates in the field began adopting his model of youth development and violence prevention. Today Dr. Marshall is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a McArthur Foundation Genius Award, the Leadership Award from the Children's Defense Fund, the Essence Award honoring outstanding contributions by African American men, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Award from the National Educational Association, and the Use Your Life Award from Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network. He is also the author of the 1996 best-seller, Street Soldier: One Man's Struggle to Save a Generation, One Life at a Time.

For more information, visit Dr. Marshall’s extraORDINARY People page.