Monday, August 16, 2010

Ok, so we've marched... Now what?

On April 14th, our community was hit by a senseless act of violence. A drive-by shooting occurred near 18th and Volutsia, in the middle of the day, taking the life of yet another one of our young people. The crime was especially tragic because there were a number of small children who were outside playing at the time, who not only witnessed the crime, but were also potential victims. This wasn't the first such crime of the year, and certainly wouldn't be the last. And all indications were, that as a city, we were in for a long hot summer...

The Restoring our Community March was held on June 26th through the heart of the Wichita African American Community. The march united 34 Civic and Social organizations to focus increased attention and effort on addressing at-risk youth within our community. Fraternities, Sororities, Churches, Politicians, City Leaders, Social Groups, Community Activists, families of homicide victims, and concerned citizens all came together and marched, 4 miles, at 12 noon, in 98 degree weather, to call for an end top the violence. We marched right through our own community. And as we marched, we passed the bullhorn from Pastor to Pastor and we prayed, loudly and collectively for peace in our neighborhoods. We talked to the people we encountered along the route. We called out to the people still in their homes. And we challenged everyone, ourselves included, to do more...

Each of the organizations who participated in the march were asked to contribute a new initiative specifically designed to address the needs and issues surrounding our at-risk youth. We asked each organization to find new ways to reach out to youth beyond the pool of the best and brightest who many of our efforts often serve.

Yesterday, the front page of the Wichita Eagle featured a story on the drop in crime our city has recently experienced. And while the city-wide drop has been only 1.5%, the story says that the drop has been spurred by a more precipitous drop in the 'core of the city'. And while there are certainly any number of inter-related factors that contributed to this drop in crime and violence, I think it worthy of note that when we as a community come together we absolutely CAN make a difference!

Next Steps:
After the march, we also asked each of the organizations to commit to coming together again to talk about some specific ways that we can increase and strengthen our collaborative efforts. That meeting will take place on Saturday, September 4th, at 2:00pm in the McAdams Center (in McAdams Park). Immediately following the Black Arts Festival Parade, we  would like to have representatives from each of the participating organizations gather in the McAdams Rec Center for a brief meeting during which we will discuss each of the Organizations efforts to reach at-risk youth, and discuss some specific long-term projects that we could collaborate on that would really increase our collective efficacy.

So please, join us as we move into phase II of the 'Restoring our Community' Movement

The Restoring our Community Movement
Phase II: "Bridging the Gaps through strategic collaborations"

Saturday September 4th @ 2:00pm
(following the Black Arts Festival Parade)
McAdams Recreation Center

Participating Organizations
The Wichita Ministerial League, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Urban League of Kansas, the Peace and Social Justice Center, Sunflower Community Action, the African American Coalition, Real Men Inc, the Council of Elders, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta Sororities, Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Iota Phi Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternities, The Wichita Chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Wichita Black Nurses Association, the Center for Heath and Wellness, the Universalist Unitarian Church, the Kansas African American Museum, 316 the Rescue Zone, "Do you want to Live or Die" , Woman to Woman, the Justice Keepers, the Advocacy Coalition of Kansas, Bigelow Bethea, Rice Services, the Boys and Girls Club, Real Men Real Heroes, the Kappa Leadership League, the Optimist Club, and the City of Wichita.  - AND YOU!!

If you would like to be a part of this effort, just plan to be in attendance on September 4th!!!

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