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Summit challenges youth to pick up books instead of guns

caines | 4/4/2013, 5:30 a.m.

CRB partners with Youth Commission for a critical talk about violence

Hundreds of students from Miami-Dade County Public Schools recently used part of their spring break to discuss ways to promote non-violence in a summit that included elected officials, County leaders, law enforcement and community activists. The conversation comes at a crucial time because while some Black males are excelling in their academic and athletic pursuits, others have unfortunately chosen to pick up a gun rather than pursue an education to enhance their lives. The Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board [CRB], in partnership with the Miami-Dade County Youth Commission, sponsored the televised Youth Summit to Promote Non-Violence at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in Miami to address the rise in youth violence. We are here to prepare for the civil unrest that may be coming to our community, said Dr. Walter T. Richardson, CRB chairman. We are working with the youth to hear from them and provide education to empower the community.

Mother of Trayvon Martin shares somber words

One special guest at the summit was Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin who was gunned down by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman just over a year ago. Fulton says that Trayvon was no different from any other kid who has ups and downs in their life. Our children shouldnt be afraid to walk down the street or feel like they cant wear certain items of clothing, like a hoodie, because of the warped perceptions of others, she said. A person shouldnt be judged by the color of their skin. She added that while she had hoped for great things for Trayvon, his life was tragically cut short, as are the lives of many other Black youth today. The Miami-Dade County Police Department [MDCPD] showed a video of the burning and looting of the Black community that occurred during Miamis McDuffie riots in May 1980. Chief Delma K. Noel-Pratt, MDCPD said that as the case against George Zimmerman continues and once the trial comes to an end, the Department plans to have greater police presence in certain targeted areas. We are targeting several areas in the community where protests may take place, Noel-Pratt said. Our main aim is to encourage peace." But if peace is the objective, one might wonder why members of the CRB silenced 24-year-old Willimia Gibson, 24, Greater Miami Service Corps member, when she stood to criticize the agenda of the summit. She said she was dissatisfied with the summit because it didnt focus enough on the violence thats permeating the Black community. She also said she thought that more Black voices should have been included on the panel. Michael Williams, 18, Hallandale High senior, admitted that he used to tote guns but hes changed and is now a Black Male College Explorer at Florida Memorial University. He says that Black youth are picking up a gun before a book because they are not being well-informed about the value of an education. I used to carry a gun to school, Williams said. I knew how to get a gun before I knew how to get a library card. By Jimmie Davis, Jr.gemjuledavis81@yahoo.comMiami Times writer