About Gideon’s Army
We’re changing kids’ lives. Changing what they see as possible. Changing how others see our community.
Who We Are
Gideon’s Army is a community-based, grassroots organization that works to design programs, based on contemporary interpretations of the theory of restorative justice. As locally based organization with a long-term goal for state-wide expansion, Gideon’s Army is currently the only local organization in Nashville that focuses solely on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline through social activism by children in the prison pipeline, their families, and their community. Utilizing research-based best practices combined with community outreach, Gideon’s Army builds its restorative justice programs based upon this information and uses program results to guide its policy work. Through intensive volunteer and community training as well as dialogue, we as a community lead and work together throughout the entire process.
The organization uniquely emphasizes youth empowerment and community member leadership as well as direct interfacing with families, the juvenile courts, and the public school system. Gideon’s Army facilitators, mentors, and other volunteers are members of the North Nashville community, who train fellow youth, educators, and others in continuing the process of educating. This training structure creates a positive cyclical pipeline based in restorative juice to combat the destructive effects of the school to prison pipeline.
The Mission of Gideon’s Army is to act collectively, boldly and strategically as a unified force for all children. Placing children first at all times, we eliminate the root causes of the prison pipeline, save our children from death and incarceration and guide them on a secure path to success.
We will not stop until the pipeline is dismantled. We will not quit on our children.
Gideon’s Army will change the way Nashville understands, views, and creates community. We will be the strongest, most effective grassroots army for children, generating a new, courageous group of leaders, grounded in grassroots organizing. We lead with razor sharp focus and with a clear vision for breathing meaning, hope and love back into our communities.
One day, Gideon was minding his business threshing wheat in the field, collecting it for his people and hiding it from their enemy, an angel appeared to him with a message that God had called him to save his people. Angry and frustrated, Gideon challenged the angel, asking how God could allow so much devastation to happen to people God was supposed to love and protect. The angel responded that the people needed to free themselves and that Gideon would be their leader. Gideon told the angel: “I am poor. I am no here,” we imagine him saying. The angel said to Gideon that it didn’t matter, God still saw him as being mighty and capable of defeating an enemy that oppressed a nation. It took Gideon some time to be convinced that he was capable and that this was the right thing to do, but when he was sure he moved to action, even though he was very afraid.
When it came time to finally fight for their freedom, Gideon thought he needed thousands of men to win because there were 135,000 enemy troops!!!! But God told Gideon not to worry about numbers. Don’t worry about those who are too afraid to fight. Send home those who are not wise. Gideon was left with 300 fighters. But they were brave and they were wise.
Gideon’s Army was ready for war. They shared the same vision. They trusted their collective wisdom. They did not let the enormity of what they were facing turn them around. Quietly, strategically and non-violently, Gideon’s Army went into battle with confidence and strength in the name of justice and they won.
We are Gideon’s Army. A grassroots army of brave, wise, committed, (and really fun!) people who will not stop until the school-to-prison pipeline is dismantled. We will not quit on our children.
Hello, my name is Rasheedat Fetuga and I am the proud founder of Gideon’s Army. I started Gideon’s Army in 2010 with one of my students, Michelrica Hughes, a teenager at Whites Creek High School, after her brother, Lamar Hughes, also one of my students, was killed due to gun violence. This was our way to heal, to make sure no one ever forgot about Lamar and our love for him, and to work to make things right for other black girls and boys in Nashville who want more for their lives but can’t seem to find their way.
A little about me: I was a school teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools for seven years. I have also given birth, adopted, and been a “here when you need me” mother to so many wonderful children! Being so involved in my kids’ lives and being deeply connected over the years, I watched my children that once loved learning, struggle in school, lose interest, be pushed out, expelled, lost in the foster care system, locked up and killed. I do this for them.
Rest in peace Lamar, Tevin, Mikal, Kenny, Kris, Kevin, Weba, Heigo, Vastoria, and all of our children who have died to violence or taken their lives when life just seemed too hard to press forward. And for those who are with us, no matter how “bad” people may say you are, no matter what your struggles, we are here for you and we won’t give up.