A former Columbia mayoral candidate, clergy members and other area leaders have organized a Saturday community summit that’s aimed at reducing youth violence and providing more opportunities for youth.
They unveiled their plan during a Tuesday afternoon press conference inside downtown Columbia’s city hall. The Rev. Charles Stevenson tells reporters that it’s critical to restore family values.
“And we know that the absent father in the African-American family is at the crux. 73 percent of African-American kids who are without a father figure, father figure in the household, they make up 42 percent of the most impoverished of all families in the city,” Rev. Stevenson says.
He says there are underserved neighborhoods in Columbia that deserve additional resources, including Demaret and Rice road. He emphasizes there are many good people who live in these neighborhoods who deserve things like better parks and lighting.
Summit organizers say that to solve problems, we first have to understand them. Former Columbia mayoral candidate Tanya Heath, clergy members and community leaders have organized the summit. Glenn Cobbins Sr. joined Heath at city hall, telling reporters that we must redefine the term at-risk:
“I want everybody to know that at-risk is anybody that was conceived and had birth. Everybody is at-risk, I don’t care if it’s in the Highlands or in the projects or at Bear Creek. It doesn’t make any difference,” says Cobbins Sr.
Ms. Heath says 23 percent of Columbia residents are living in poverty. She tells 939 the Eagle that the group’s intentions for people’s hearts are cooperation, being open-minded and generous.
Rev. James Grey joined Heath, Cobbins, Rev. Stevenson and others at the press conference. Rev. Gray, an African-American minister and community leader, says it’s imperative that Columbia residents start talking about what he describes as real issues, including black-on-black crime.
“When are we as a community going to start talking about black-on-black crime? A 33-year-old man just got shot. He’s dead and gone: they’re (Columbia Police) looking for eight young African-American. That’s nine that’s going to be gone,” says Grey.
Rev. Grey is referring to the June 26th drive-by shooting and murder of Deshon Houston, who was killed in his north Columbia driveway by multiple shooters in two different vehicles. Grey is also challenging the news media in Columbia to tell more positive and uplifting stories in newscasts.
Heath, Rev. Grey and other community leaders have organized a community summit for Saturday afternoon at Columbia’s Community United Methodist Church on West Broadway. It’s from 1-3 pm, and you’re invited and encouraged to participate.