Guest column: Let’s take action to honor the life and legacy of Rashad Al-Hakim Jr.


Blake Wolf/The Collegian

The family of Rashad Al-Hakim Jr. gather at the Fresno City Superior Court to protest Lisa Spoors, a Fresno State graduate student, making bail.

By D’Aungillique Jackson, Coordinator of Division of Equity and Engagement

Oftentimes, when a person is tragically killed, an unfortunate phenomenon occurs. Their life becomes defined by that fatal moment. While I cannot stress enough how important it is to bring awareness to, and critically engage with, the facts of the crimes committed against them, I am writing this letter to our Fresno community with a very important call to action.
In the midst of our calls for justice and due process, we must remember the loved ones taken from us, not defined by their last moments or by their killers, but by their unique ethos of creative energy. I believe that this is especially true for Rashad Al-Hakim, Jr., a loving son, an exemplary big brother, an amazing athlete and a dedicated student whose life was horrifically taken from him on Oct. 10, 2022.
Rashad was born on Aug. 24, 2007 to high school partners Ragina Bell and Rashad Al-Hakim Sr. Growing up, his passion and dream was to follow in his father’s footsteps and play basketball.
As soon as he could walk, young Rashad could usually be seen with a basketball in his hands. Not only did Rashad have this strong dedication to the sport, his mother also instilled in him the value of education.
Even though he struggled with a speech impediment as a young child, he tirelessly applied himself in school to ensure that he overcame this barrier. Within my capacity as a community organizer, I have worked with Ragina and spoken with Rashad’s classmates to identify ways through which Fresno can keep the legacy and memory of this young boy alive.
First, the Fresno Unified School District Foundation for Fresno Schools hosted its most successful fundraising Gala to date, raising over $30,000 from sponsors and announcing a $20 million gift.
FUSD Supt. Bob Nelson announced that the district would use some of this money to create a scholarship fund
for college-bound FUSD graduates. We believe that a Rashad Al-Hakim, Jr. Endowment should be one of the funds established to keep his memory and his dream of attending college alive through an annual scholarship.
Second, many of his classmates talked about the need to increase crosswalk accessibility and the addition of a stoplight/crosswalk combination in front of the Hoover High School lawn. As the county prepares to revisit Measure C negotiations, stakeholders should question why only 1% of the previous proposal would have gone towards increasing safe routes to schools, especially when our FUSD Superintendent has stated that student-pedestrian accidents seem to have doubled within a year.
Third, Rashad was released early from school on the day of his accident, without his mother receiving any official or unofficial communication from staff or administrators. We see an opportunity for FUSD and the Board of Trustees to implement the Rashad Al-Hakim, Jr. Proclamation which should provide FUSD administrators and staff more strict guidelines when releasing a student early from school-sponsored extracurricular activities.

Fourth, Rashad’s classmates have specifically asked for a mural of Rashad to be added to their library after its projected modernization project completion date in June 2023.

These solutions will not change Rashad Al-Hakim, Jr’s fate but they will help to keep his kind and compassionate spirit alive. Rashad believed that there is nothing more important in life than family or community. These recommendations will support his
classmates, friends and his family as they find peace in their grieving process.

They will help to ensure no one else has to lose their child. I hope that our community can show its resiliency in our mission to protect the pride of our valley: our children.

Jackson at the “Fix Financial Aid” rally for the Cal State Student Association, Feb. 2019, where she led chants. (Courtesy of D’Aungillique Jackson)



D’Aungillique Jackson is the Community Justice Fellow for Faith in the Valley, operating within the city of Fresno.

She served as the 2021-2022 Student Body President of Fresno State, and recently graduated with her B.A. in Sociology from Fresno State in Fall 2022.