In 11 days, we have walked 205 miles! Starting in New York from Times Square the team is resting in the historical city Gettysburg, PA. The place of the American civil war, the North versus the South, the Union versus the Confederates… This is such a surreal moment for me.
Abraham Lincoln was president at the time and the “Battle of Gettysburg” was described as the bloodiest of the major Civil War battles. The 3-day battle took place from July 1-3, 1863 in this small Pennsylvanian town, right where we are resting and I am writing from. The Union was victorious and it was apparent, after the Battle at Gettysburg that the Confederates couldn’t penetrate the North.
I’m afraid, even though that victory was won, there is a new war on the horizon aimed at America’s youth – This enemy is called Violence and it has no intention of surrendering – it must be subdued!
The Brady Campaign reports children in the U. S. are at much higher risk of gun death than children in other high-income countries. Firearm homicide is the second-leading cause of death (after motor vehicle crashes) for young people ages 1-19 in the U.S. (NCIPC)
• U. S. children ages 5 to 14 are killed with guns at a rate 11 times higher than the combined rates of 22 other populous, high-income countries (Richardson, p. 1).
• In 2007, 3,067 children and teens ages 0-19 were killed by firearms in the U.S. (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
• In 2007, every day, an average of 8 young people ages 0-19 were killed by a firearm in the United States (NCIPC).
• African-American children and teens are almost five times as likely as their white peers to be killed by firearms (11.30 per 100,000 African-American kids vs. 2.31 per 100,000 white kids) (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
• From 1979 to 2007, the annual number of firearm deaths of black children and teens increased by 61 percent, while the annual number of firearm deaths of white children decreased 54 percent (Childrens Defense Fund, p. 8).
• 82% of murder victims’ ages 12 to 24 years old are killed with a firearm (Puzzancherra, 2009).
• Community violence, including gun violence, has the equivalent emotional impact on children as war or natural disaster (Fowler, p. 227).
If we are going to win this war against gun violence in our country, we must be strategic and we must be radical enough to take a stand against a formidable enemy that doesn’t eat or sleep, but does kill. We must become as radical as one of my hero’s that faced this same giant in her day and WON – Jane Addams Hull.
Jane Addams is remembered primarily as a founder of the Settlement House Movement. She and her friend Ellen Starr founded Hull House in the slums of Chicago in 1889 in an effort to eradicate violence being played out by young white European immigrants.
She had studied child behavior and painfully concluded that “children robbed of childhood were likely to become dull, sullen men and women working mindless jobs, or criminals for whom the adventure of crime became the only way to break out of the bleakness of their lives.” Today, we have the same issues, just different people!
Project H.O.O.D. is utilizing a contemporary version of some of Jane Addams Hull’s principles to eliminate violence one block at a time and to empower people with the guidance, information and tools necessary to become peacemakers, problem solvers, leaders, and entrepreneurs in their communities.
It’s going to take $15M, but I BELIEVE! It’s going to take a collaborative effort by the private sector, public sector and the faith based organizations, but I BELIEVE! It’s going to take a major commitment, but I BELIEVE! I know it seems as impossible as these hills are to climb, but BELIEVE with me, as we walk across America; It’s a matter of life and death!
Corey B Brooks