What a night at APPLE (African American Parents for Purposeful Leadership in Education), a support group that meets the first Tuesday night every month at OPRF High School). 

For one, it was APPLE President Wyanetta Johnson’s 77th birthday. We ate cake to celebrate. There was a PBS documentary crew capturing images. I was there because “the godmother of students of color,” former APPLE president Edye Deloch-Hughes, was discussing her new book, Raising Hell or Raise Them Well, her “fact-based, faith-inspired, self-help guide that gives spiritual insight and practical advice to parents and parent figures who are under-served and under siege” as she put it to a mostly black crowd. Attendees responded more like they do in church than in school with chants of “Show Ya Right,” “Yes, Ma’am,” “Amen,” and “Speak the truth, Sista!” 

While the cameras rolled, Edye explained that when her sons, who graduated from OPRF High School, were diagnosed with learning difficulties, they were met with “bittersweet” response. 

“Some teachers helped and others ignored them,” she said. “I looked for material to help grapple with the situation and didn’t find much, so I wrote my own.” 

This is the first book in the Raising Hell or Raise Them Well series. Edye Deloch-Hughes is also the author of the children’s book I Like Gym Shoe Soup, published by Urban Research Press. Edye made her mark as an advertising copywriter, creative director, strategist and marketing consultant for top Chicago agencies and corporations. She is also an author, blogger, educator, and entrepreneur. Edye and her husband, Darryl Hughes, own Hughes Who Productions LLC, a game development/creative service house in the Chicago area. 

Edye lived in Oak Park and River Forest for two decades, often serving as a liaison between the villages’ communities of color to school district administrators. I know her from a series of interviews I did on a book and a documentary on the history of blacks and biracials here. At that time, she also had an elite black support group that met out of her Oak Park home, called “The Talented Tenth,” which was designed to encourage leadership in youth through adult mentors. 

While Oak Parker education professionals Karen Grimes and Chris Everett, both of whom have biracial families, have offered important symposia on the same subject, including their highly-lauded “College Readiness 4 Success” conference at Greater Chicago West Church on Jackson Street, their clinical and financial approach, seems to have slightly different audiences. 

Their recent event was titled, “Thinking Differently: My LD/ADHD Journey to Empowerment.” My adolescent psychiatrist-wife and I attended a similar event at the same Oak Park location last year. 

Meanwhile, according to the enthusiastic call-and-response from APPLE attendees on Tuesday, May 3, Edye certainly hit a soulful chord.  

“We’re in a state of emergency, folks. We need to act now,” she said. 


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