Collectively, we must find a way to stop the violence.
First there was the heartbreaking TV interview I did with the mother of Amoni Sexton. As the tears ran down her face, all I could do was say: "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
Her son, a 6.7, 15 year old young man had a good shot at the NBA, but in his hometown of Paterson N.J, where things are completely out of control, a stray bullet took his life.
In Paterson, this follows a 14 year girl basketball player at Kennedy H.S. Facing the same fate of a stray bullet, and a 12 year old girl being shot in the head while riding a scooter. Again, a stray bullet.
Paterson has the dubious distinction of being one of the most violent small cities in America. But Paterson could be a big city like New York or Chicago. The stories out of Paterson, N.J could be your community.
Yes, at times, bad things happen to good people.
However some men that are doing many, many years in Prison are trying to stop the Gun Violence. They have done a first person documentary, and It's titled: "Voices From Within: Stories From Sing Sing.
On the same day that I saw hope, and full of life young people visiting the NYC HIgh School of Health Professions, only 3 hours apart, I also witnessed the flip side, visiting Sing Sing Maximum security prison. Men that went to prison at the same age of the High School Students, and are now 40-50 years old. The video, the men at Sing Sing have made has been making the rounds of Juvenile Detention Centers across NYS about what happens to people that believe its cool to carry a gun.
I was at Sing Sing for their college graduation program called Hudson Link, where private money is raised to support college educations for prison Inmates. Hudson Link has the support of legends like Harry Belefonte, and Doris Buffet, who told me point blank,
"I am good at writing checks, and I'm sold on this program because it works."
The sister of Warren Buffet went on:
"Having a lot of money in unimportant to me, unless you can do something worthwhile that changes lives. I'm not interested in big houses or yachts or going to Florida, or whatever it may be. I have the power to do the right thing if I do it in the right way."
School in the morning, Maximum Security Prison at night.
I am thankful NYC Public School Teachers saved my life.
I could have easily been one of the men at Sing Sing Prison.
Prisons throughout New York State are where many of my childhood friends from my tough Bronx community, off of Webster Ave, are serving time. I had my Grandmother Anna Pearl from Augusta Georgia, my Aunt Inez, NYC Public School teachers that never gave up on me, Coach "Bill," the White football coach and mentor to all the teenagers on the football team, almost all of us did not have fathers involved in our lives, and the Police Athletic League youth program. Coach Bill, by the way is a one man example to improve Police Community Relations. He would do his shift as a police officer, and then come be a role model for about 100 African American and Latino males. I was reunited with Coach Bill recently, talking to him via telephone, and you could hear it in Coach Bill's voice. He was very disappointed that he could not save all of us.
Friends, the violence must stop.