Shaheed Haamid is a soft-spoken man of faith who has worked in Central City Concern’s Community Engagement Program for nearly two years as our African-American Culturally Specific Case Manager in the Over Representation Program. The Over Representation Project seeks to assist African American individuals who are over represented in the country’s criminal justice system. On Monday, Shaheed was one of eight individuals who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Arts Foundation, Inc. as part of the “Keep Alive the Dream: Oh Freedom” event honoring the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I appreciate the acknowledgement,” said Shaheed. “It’s gratifying to know people respect what I’m doing in terms of my faith and clarifying working on behalf of the faith community and behalf of interfaith relations. Also recognizing the contributions we made to the social fabric of the African American community in terms of education and entertainment.”
Shaheed is a practicing Islamic Muslim and is active in that community, leading Jumu’ah Services for Muslims on Fridays at the Inverness Jail and at the Multnomah County Department of Justice jails. He provides reading materials and counseling to groups requesting attendance at Jumu’ah Services.
He has also been active with KBOO radio for more than 20 years. Once a month, he produces a show called “It Takes a Village” and on a bi-monthly basis, he produces and hosts another show – “Blues and More” that examines issues with police, politics, education and employment.
“We are pleased at this recognition for Shaheed,” said Central City Concern Executive Director Ed Blackburn. “He has served our clients very well and has a profound understanding of the cultural aspects impacting recovery for this community.”
Shaheed has committed himself to addiction and recovery work since 1999 including 12 years at Marion County Health Department. At Central City Concern, Shaheed seeks to connect with clients on a group and individual level. Many of Shaheed’s clients have recently exited incarceration; activities are key to helping them re-socialize – movies, bowling and museums, for example. During February (African American History month), they frequently visit the Oregon Historical Society.
“I personally feel that we have some unique issues based on our history. We’re the only population that was brought to these shores, not came voluntarily. The history demonstrates why many African Americans feel disconnected which brings on a lot of problems. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I think, is prevalent in many of the population based on the historical context with which we arrived here.
“You have housing issues… a lot of African Americans are being moved to east county due to gentrification. If a person doesn’t get an education and is unable to get a job, living in an environment not conducive to growth – crime, violence, domestic violence – this sometimes results in substance abuse to forget their problems. But it’s related to racism especially in the field of employment, lack of employment, substandard housing, lack of housing and lack of community. All those issues tie into substance abuse.
“This is why I feel CCC is so important because it addresses the whole person: employment, housing, Hooper Detox and programs such as the one I work in.”