Philadelphia Mayor Partners to Save Young Black Men

African-American heavy hitters from some of Philly's top offices are teaming up to fight crime, unemployment and poor health amongst young Black men.

Posted: 04/06/2011 04:10 PM EDT
Michael Nutter

A powerful group of African-American male leaders are banding together in Philadelphia in order to try and help fight the wide rage of problems currently facing young Black men in the city.

Led by Mayor Michael Nutter and District Attorney Seth Williams, the 60-man-strong group stood before a crowd at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center on Tuesday and professed their commitment to helping young people.

Community activist Bilal Qayyum introduced the collective, saying, “We are Black men concerned about the crisis.”

The crisis of which Qayyum speaks is a combination of many things: unemployment, crime, poor educational prospects, poor health and violence. “More than 50 percent of Black males in Philadelphia are jobless,” said Qayyum. "When I use the term jobless, I'm not talking about unemployed. I'm talking about folks who have been out of work, can't find work and are not being counted by the government.”

In order to help combat the problems, Qayyum and the group introduced a plan called “The Agenda: A Cooperative Approach Towards Addressing Critical Issues Among Black Males in Philadelphia.” The goal is to get young Black men off the street and into positions that will grant them opportunities at success.

The 16-page document recommends, among other things, implementing “student success centers” in schools and hiring more Black male counselors, implementing community review committees to evaluate the work of judges and creating mentoring programs for Black males.

"We have decided we are going to take ownership of this crisis," Qayyum told the crowd of young Black men.

"People always ask, what are Black men going to do?" added Seth Williams. "So I am just here as another Black man, putting my shoulder with these men to make a positive statement to say that hopefully, collectively and collaboratively ... that we will do all that we can to change the economic opportunities, the educational opportunities and the public health opportunities for Black men."


(Photo: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)