EDITORIAL/Little Chicago on the Westside
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 1:00 AM
The shooting death of a man near a crowded Westside Park has sparked outrage, and rightly so.
It was the second murder in as many days last week in northwest Philadelphia where residents are frightened.
Leroy Clemons, who has a long history in our community of mentoring young people with much success, spoke out this week.
Head of the Neshoba County NAACP, Clemons is not your typical NAACP president because he's not into victimhood, he's into solutions, about individuals taking responsibility for their own actions.
Clemons challenged the city's African American community to use its influence on the younger generations to curtail crime in their neighborhoods.
"This is our future," he said. "Our own young men and women are doing this. It is not someone coming in here from out of town. It's the young men and women that we know personally. It's time to stop talking and take responsibly for our households and our children."
He said residents should stop expecting "someone to fly in and rescue us. It is happening in our community and it has to be resolved in our community."
While such groups as the Youth Coalition are working diligently to make the community a better place, Clemons said it is not enough.
Parents need to tell their teenagers to "put the guns down," he said.
"We need the men and the fathers to step up in this community and be men. We can't keep blaming everyone else and trying to be the victim. We are not victims. These are our own children. We need to quit letting them run wild and letting the street raise them," Clemons said.
He challenged the churches to get involved.
"The churches have got to step up and do what God has called them to do," Clemons said. "They need to get out from behind the four walls they worship behind each Sunday and get out in the community and help these young people. We have a church on every corner in the African American community. It's sad that we spend more time behind the four walls than outside changing people's hearts so these kids will have a fighting chance."
Guns aren't the problem, bad people are. Take Chicago, where guns are banned. Over the July 4 weekend alone, 16 people were shot to death and another 66 were wounded.
Educating our people - all of our people - is the best thing we can do for them so that they are equipped to get a job.
The culture of dependency created by 50 years of social welfare programs is destroying lives, particularly in the African-American community that for generations fell under the sin of white oppression.
Unlike, say, a Chicago, we know many of our black friends and neighbors personally.
The violence is our problem, not just their problem. Besides jail, we start by all working together to educate and employ people and get them off of the streets.