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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

April 21, 1996|CHRIS GOODRICH

STREET SOLDIER: One Man's Struggle to Save a Generation--One Life at a Time by Joseph Marshall Jr. and Lonnie Wheeler (Delacorte Press: $22.95; 305 pp.). "To successfully counsel and rehabilitate city kids," writes Joseph Marshall in this inspiring book, "the bottom line is, you've got to be there, and be there, and be there." And Marshall is--seven days a week, it seems, because he knows the best hope for today's African American street kids is to demonstrate they can aspire to more than the quick money of drugs and crime, the dead ends of gang membership and "it's-the-white-folks'-fault" apathy. Marshall, a native of South-Central L.A., started out as a public school teacher in San Francisco but soon realized he could be more effective outside the system; the result was the formation in 1987 (with fellow teacher Jack Jacqua) of the Omega Boys Club and four years later, the radio show "Street Soldiers." Marshall recounts many failures in "Street Soldiers"--relapses, rejections, disappearances and a horrific number of deaths by gunfire--but a remarkable number of successes, including 21 college graduations and 100-odd college matriculations. It's obvious from this book why Marshall has received numerous national awards, including a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and one can only hope "Street Soldiers" gets the word out in a big way.

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