Longtime community activist and adult education advocate Howard Ransom, Jr. died early Sunday morning, July 26, at his South Los Angeles home. He was 55. Funeral services will be private but there will be a memorial celebration and tribute on Monday, Aug. 3, 11 a.m., at the Christian Academy, 3141 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood.
Ransom has been an activist for at risk youth and disadvantaged adults in the South Los Angeles community for more than 30 years through his volunteer activities with a plethora of organizations including the Brotherhood Crusade, Young Foundation, Community Build and the United Way.
An instructor with the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1986, Ransom was a tenured "master teacher" at the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center in Watts where he achieved unprecedented success in preparing at risk youth and educating adults in human development and skill enhancement curriculums. He was noted nationwide for his success in preparing students for GED testing. With 90 percent of his students passing the GED examination, his program was one of the most effective and successful in the nation.
In 1992, Ransom co-designed a civil service training program that focused on postal employment for the residents of Watts. More than 800 men and women (many on welfare) enrolled in the program during its first year with 68 percent completing the class and passing the exam with scores in the top percentile.
"Howard was a consummate educator. He was a passionate educator who was very successful in teaching those who were marginalized whether they were high school students or adults. They found someone in Howard who embraced them. He drove them to take their GED test and if they failed he picked them up and saw them through it, similar to what Marva Collins and Jaime Escalante did," said "Moesha" star William Allen Young, Ransom's friend of more than 30 years.
Born on April 4, 1954, in Chicago, Illinois, to Howard Ransom, Sr., and Ollie B. (Cooper) Ransom, Howard, Jr., was reared in Oakland. He graduated from Oakland High School and went on to receive bachelor degrees in Theatre Art and African American studies at California State University, Hayward.
As president and founder of the New Wave Educational Center, Ransom served as principal and owner of three charter schools-two in Long Beach and one in Inglewood. In January his New Wave Educational Center began a partnership with John Muir Charter School to provide participants between the ages of 18 to 25 the opportunity to attain their high school diploma or GED. The New Wave Educational Center also offers construction training, career awareness, and training in computer applications, job readiness, driver' education, financial literacy, civic engagement and CPR/First Aid Certification.
Ransom was very active with the teacher's union serving as the UTLA Chapter Chair for the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE) and served as the adult education representative on the LAUSD Board's Discipline and Intervention committees.
At the time of his death, he was a scholar in residency with the Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation focusing on the "Intentional Civility" curriculum developed for the organization by internationally renowned scholar and psychologist Dr. Lewis King. "Intentional Civility" is a 21st Century approach to uplifting an individual's self esteem. The program is designed to teach and prepare individuals to become responsible citizens and to build the capacity of individuals, communities, and institutions to solve their own problems.
"He was an innovator and motivator who never lost sight that the line of responsibility for raising children was that of the parents and he held parents accountable. His lost to our community and his friends is devastating," said Greg Franks, CEO of the Tom and Ethel Bradley Foundation.
Ransom has received numerous recognitions for his accomplishments as an educator. In 2005 he received the "Educator of the Year" Award from the Young Center for Academic and Cultural Enrichment. That same year he was chosen as a "Living History Maker" by Turning Point Magazine. In 2006, he was the recipient of the Individual Gold 'WHO' (We Honor Ours) Award presented annually by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and the National Education Association. He was also featured in the Heroes of Watts video produced by the Community Redevelopment Agency for the city of Los Angeles and was a columnist for the Hub City News and the Oakland Post.
Ransom was preceded in death by his mother Ollie Ransom. He is survived by his wife, Linda; father, Howard, Sr.; brother, Phillip Ransom; sister, Sheila Ransom; a niece, LaRita Ransom; three stepchildren, Monique, Maxwell, Jr. and Brandon Browne; his grandson, Christian Browne-Frazier, and a host of other relatives.