Thursday, 22 January 2015


           BLACK     SOCIAL    HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Geoffrey Canada

Geoffrey Canada
BornJanuary 13, 1952 (age 63)
BronxNew York, U.S.
Alma materBowdoin College
Harvard University
OccupationPresident of the Harlem Children's Zone
social activist
Geoffrey Canada (born January 13, 1952) is an American educator, social activist and author. Since 1990, Canada has been president of the Harlem Children's Zone in Harlem, New York, an organization that states its goal is to increase high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem.[1] Canada serves as the chairman of Children's Defense Fund's board of directors.[2] He was a member of the board of directors of The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit organization that aims to expand educational opportunities for all students.

Early life and education

Canada was born in the South Bronx, the third of four sons born to Mary Elizabeth Canada (née Williams), a substance abuse counselor, and McAlister Canada.[3][4][5] The marriage of his parents ended in 1956. Thereafter, he was raised by his mother. His father played little part in the life of his children and did not contribute to their financial support.[6] Canada was raised among "abandoned houses, crime, violence and an all-encompassing sense of chaos and disorder". At an early age, he understood his life's calling.
When Canada was in his mid-teens, his mother sent him to live with her parents in Wyandanch, New York.[6] He attended Wyandanch Memorial High School and during his senior year, won a scholarship from the Fraternal Order of Masons .[6]
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology from Bowdoin College, from which he was graduated in 1974, and a master's degree in education from theHarvard Graduate School of Education. Canada also has received honorary doctoral degrees from Bowdoin, Brandeis UniversityColumbia UniversityDartmouth College,Princeton UniversityTufts UniversityTulane University, and the University of Pennsylvania, among many other honors.[7][8]

Role with the Harlem Children's Zone

Harlem Children's Zone and Promise Academy
Starting as president in 1990, Canada began working with the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families, which would evolve into theHarlem Children's Zone. Unsatisfied with the scope of Rheedlen, during the 1990s Canada transformed the organization into a center that actively would follow the academic careers of youths in a 24-block-area of Harlem. Following the success of the original model, the area of focus now has grown to 97 blocks. In addition to serving as president, Canada was also CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone until July 2014, when the position went to chief operating officer, Anne Williams-Isom.[9]
The Harlem Children's Zone was profiled in the New York Times Magazine during 2004 in a story by Paul Tough. The author described the organization as "one of the biggest social experiments of our time."[10] In 2008, Tough published a book entitled, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America.[11] Additionally, U.S. News and World Report named Canada one of America's Best Leaders in its October 2005 issue.
Along with having been featured in a number of print publications, Canada has made a number of high-profile television appearances, including a profile interview on 60 Minutes,[12] two televised interviews with Charlie Rose,[13] a guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, a guest appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and three appearances on the Colbert Report.[14][15] In 2010, Canada appeared in an American Express commercial that premiered during the Academy Awards. The commercial provided an extended look at his work and success at the Harlem Children's Zone.[16]
Desiring to emulate the Harlem Children's Zone, in 2009, American President Barack Obama announced plans to replicate the HCZ model in 20 other cities across the nation.[17]
Canada is featured prominently in Waiting for Superman (2010), Academy Award-winner Davis Guggenheim's documentary on the state of American public education. The film received the Audience Award for best documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.[18]
It was reported that Canada was offered the position of New York City Schools Chancellor by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but that he turned it down.[19]
In 2013, Canada toured college campuses with Stanley Druckenmiller urging reform in taxation, health care, and Social SECURITY to ensure intergenerational equity.[20]
In July 2013 The New Yorker Festival released a video entitled, Geoffrey Canada on Giving Voice to the Have-nots, of a panel that was moderated by George Packer. Along with Canada, the panelists included Abhijit BanerjeeKatherine Boo, and Jose Antonio Vargas.[21]


Canada's first book, Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, was first released in 1995. In the book, Canada recounts his exposure to violence during his childhood and offers a series of recommendations on how to alleviate violence in inner cities.
Publishers Weekly praised Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun, commenting that "[a] more powerful depiction of the tragic life of urban children and a more compelling plea to end 'America's war against itself' cannot be imagined."[22]
In 1998, Canada published his second book, Reaching Up For Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America.[23]

Awards and honors include