PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 28, 2012 — Communication, quality education, and mentoring remain crucial weapons to combat obstacles that African-American men in urban communities face today, state Sen. Anthony H. Williams said at a recent panel discussion.
“The Crisis Facing Black Men in Our Community,” public forum held at Myers Recreation Center in Southwest Philadelphia on Feb. 24, was part of the ongoing “Addressing the Crisis” series presented by local writer Nathaniel Lee.
Attorney and activist Michael Coard, Universal Negro Improvement Association Minister of Education Khabyr Hadas and activist Paul “Earthquake” Moore also participated in the conversation, which focused on identifying socio-economic barriers facing African-American men and potential solutions to overcome them.
With rates of unemployment and violence claiming a vast swath of these men, the results of collective indifference are apparent. Addressing this issue cannot be done in isolation because too many families and neighborhoods are adversely impacted when people shrug their shoulders or look the other way, Williams said.
Every Philadelphian has a stake and a responsibility in this matter, Williams said.
“Communication and an emphasis on education are the building blocks for a better tomorrow in our communities,” Williams said. “We must work together—as lawmakers, community activists, religious leaders, and law enforcement—to ensure that there is better access to good schools, programs and services. We have the tools, but we need to bring our skills together to build a solid foundation for African-American males.”
Williams regularly hosts public events and programs to help build such foundations throughout the 8th District, particularly on the economic front. He recently co-hosted a small business development workshop, as well as two events that helped individuals file their income tax returns and property tax/rent rebate applications.
On March 8, the senator will co-host a kinship care panel discussion for intergenerational caregivers, focusing on the financial, behavioral and social challenges faced by older relatives and second-time parents raising school-aged children.
Last summer saw Williams collaborating with numerous community leaders and law enforcement officers to host his inaugural “Neighborhood to Neighborhood Summer of Peace” initiative. The effort encompassed a series of community cookouts, gun buyback events, and awarding of grants to local community groups that are striving to maintain peace during a season often plagued with violence.
During the panel discussion, Williams also emphasized the importance of mentoring as a viable way to inspire individuals. He challenged those in attendance to lend their talents to others for a collective effort to improve community conditions.
“Being a mentor means empowering people to hurdle obstacles and reach their goals,” Williams added. “It’s important that successful men and women in this community reach out to inspire others to achieve.”