|An Open Letter
On the behalf of the African American Unified Umbrella Corp/The Way, we would like to express our deepest appreciation for all the donations we received to support our “Stop the Violence Campaign.” The funds were used to travel to some of the hotbeds of youth violence around the country; Chicago, Los Angeles and New Orleans. Although every single community in this country is touched by youth violence, these cities seem to have the most frequent occurrences. And these trips were necessary to gain a clear understanding of the causes and the cures for this spiritual and social epidemic.
Our most recent trip was to Chicago. It was the second time we visited the city this year. When we drove around the south side of the city we encountered sadness and many heavy hearts because two days before our arrival another promising and talented young man, Dequiris Cannon, was shot and killed while sitting in a car a few blocks from his home. When we did some additional checking we found that nearly every day, this year, someone has lost their life by the hand of a young person in this country.
Later that evening we attended a meeting at a neighborhood church on the very issue, “stopping the violence among our youth.” The pastor of the church had everyone give their opinion of why they thought all these killings were taking place. Each person spoke from their heart. And we saw and heard outpourings of emotions that moved many to tears. There were young girls, young women, mothers, grandmothers and one, sole, young man in attendance. Absent in attendance were fathers, grandfathers and other young men.
The next morning we attended the young man’s funeral. You can never be fully prepared to deal with the loss of a loved one, especially when it is your child whose life has been cut short before its time. That was the sentiment that Dequris’s dad shared when he spoke about his son. He was a great son, brother, friend, student and athlete as attested by others. Now these violent deaths have a face. We felt the pain up close. We saw firsthand how “youth violence” impacted one of the largest African American communities in this country. We sensed the feelings that newspaper headlines and 15 seconds television news clips cannot convey. When we gave our condolences to Dequris’s parents we saw they were suffering with immeasurable grief. This was a horrific and senseless murder that put unbearable sorrows on a family. It greatly saddens us and our organization that this tragedy has been repeated hundreds of times around the country.
These are the problems we see:
Please help us continue our struggle against “youth violence” with your donations. We have a plan to address these problems. And we promise to dedicate our life and the use of our voice and energy to “Stop the Violence.”
- Removal of prayer from schools
- Too many fathers are not actively engaged in their children’s lives
- Children are having children
- Epidemic high levels of idleness and unemployment among our youth.
Rabbi Tommy L. Parker
November 9, 2009