Friday, August 15, 2008

Trying to beat the odds; a death in Newark

From The New York Times October 24, 2007.
NEWARK--After every cataclysm had struck — after his father had died and his mother had fallen ill with heart disease, after one older brother had gone into jail and another into a psychiatric hospital, after exhausting the welcome at a sister’s home and moving into a shelter, after shuttling through 13 schools by the eighth grade — after all of that, Bukhari Washington clung to one vision.

Somehow, he would still attend Christ the King Prep.

By last spring, he had been admitted to the school, the first new Catholic high school to open in this epically troubled city [of Newark] in half a century. Come September, he was to enter with the first 100 freshmen. Donors had put forward not only tuition for Bukhari, but also money for his school uniform of blue blazer, pressed trousers and striped tie.

Yesterday morning Bukhari's dream was cut short.

The 15-year-old Newark boy was killed in his bed Thursday morning by a stray bullet fired by a young neighbor handling a military-style assault rifle downstairs.

Bukhari's girlfriend, Shakima Gatewood told the Newark Star-Ledger:

"He wasn't a gangbanger or nothing," Shakima said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "He was a regular kid."

Just a regular kid who had a thirst for knowledge and who wanted to beat the odds.

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