DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – For Kendrick Colston of Dallas, a picture on a t-shirt and tremendous pain tell the story of his mother – murdered when he was just 17 years old.
“My mother was shot eight times by my stepfather and only got five years in prison for killing a black woman with six children,” remembers Colston, now 42. “Five years, that’s all her got for premeditated murder.”
Colston joined community activists calling for an end to domestic violence and black on black crime. Troubled by recent high profile robberies and murders, the group led by Justice Seekers Executive Director Reverend Ronald Wright, argued that accountability and action must start within the community.
“With all of the crimes that are being committed black-on-black, we are not protesting and rallying about that. Why?” he asked. “George Zimmerman [did] what he did because he felt comfortable in doing it, because we’re doing it to ourselves.”
At a press conference, Rev. Wright chastised both the local religious community and elected officials for remaining silent on the issue. In a not so subtle dig at Dallas City councilman Dwaine Caraway– who has been in the news recently pushing a ban on single use bags at retail stores– Wright told reporters that “littering is something that we need to address. But, we have more important issues.”
Community activists say a generation of minority youth is being lost to the vicious cycle of crime, prison and probation and more attention and resources are needed. They’re calling on local churches to beef up mentor programs to reach those at-risk kids. It is a need that for many North Texans is nothing new.
“We wanted to be those individuals that said, ‘Hey, we’re going to do something different,'” explained Ray Schufford, co-founder of Mentoring Brother 2 Brother. “We’re going to make a difference in the lives of these young men.”
Schufford says he and co-founder Terrence Chase were disheartened and distressed by the lack of positive role models in the lives of so many African American youth. They began MB2B 14 years ago with the goal of offering mentoring, leadership development, tutoring, and community service opportunities to help young boys make more positive life choices.
The faith based non-profit has been swamped with demands for mentors. So much more that they are no longer accepting applications for this upcoming school year. But, MB2B is always looking for like-minded mentors willing to share time and life skills with kids that desperately need both.
“It can be as simple as teaching them how to tie a tie,” Schufford said, adding, “or how to give a firm handshake and look someone in the eye. It may sound simple; but, it’s really not. It’s about teaching respect.”
And respect, says Rev. Wright, is something the black community must give each other before expecting from others. He says planning is underway for a community forum to address black-on-black crime and he hopes to push the local religious community to commit more resources to engaging troubled youth.
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