We are losing our young people. In America’s inner cities, kids are being killed at an alarming rate.
Why aren't we doing something about it?
What's keeping us from overcoming the killing fields of urban America? Too many kids in predominantly black inner city areas are dying or wounded by acts of senseless violence.
Where is the outrage?
This past Sunday, I attended chapel services on the campus of Howard University. I wanted to hear guest speaker, Reverend Dr. DeForest "Buster" Soaries. He must have known what I was thinking because he delivered an impassioned plea to the nation for people to rise up and stop the madness black-on-black crime.
"We say God Bless America! But what we need to say is; God Save America!," Soaries preached. His voice raising as he bellowed; "As long as we've got black people killing more black people in our cities than the Ku Klux Klan ever did; we need to pray for God to save America!"
What's happening in Chicago and other cities is a mess. And it seems we are incapable of cleaning up the mess. Soaries preached some more; "We don't need a president -- we need a savior! We don't need a Congress -- we need a Savior!"
Dr. Howard Fuller, noted educator and co-founder of the faith-based Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) agrees.
He is deeply concerned about the state of violence among black youth. He laments how violence in the inner cities is nullifying the great gains made during the civil rights struggle for equality.
Fuller provides a startling observation:
"On February 1, 1960, four students from North Carolina A&T go sit down at a lunch counter. And demand to be served. In 2013, four black students who are now welcome at the lunch counter, sit down and can't read the menu. How did this happen? We sat down at a lunch counter and changed the trajectory of history in this nation. But we are now on the streets killing each other in Chicago, Detroit, and other urban cities. I mean we've got children who can't read; can't write, and now we're killing each other. We've got to do something about that."
Living in a troubled area often means kids are attending troubled schools. Fuller’s organization helps parents in low income areas find a better educational option for their children. BAEO provides access to charter or private schools where kids can be free from the threat of violence they may encounter in public school.
Fuller, who grew up in a Milwaukee public housing project says he has never forgotten how hard it was to get an education amid the limitations and negative conditions of going to school in ‘the hood.”
He is among those who seek to rescue kids from the dangers of growing up in areas of hopelessness, poverty and poor education. Yet, he overcame the odds, completing his education.
In fact, Fuller became Milwaukee's Superintendent of Public Schools. While serving in that position, he challenged teachers, parents and children to put their energies into something good for the hood.
Like Fuller, I also understand how hard it can be to maneuver through the minefields of gangs, drugs and negativity that persist in ‘the hood.’
I experienced the same challenges while growing up in the tough Congress Heights and Anacostia neighborhoods of Washington, DC. Life got tough real fast. Because of the constant threat of violence, my single parent mother pulled me out of public school and placed me in Catholic school.
Because of the violence in our neighborhood, my mother ultimately moved me out of the city to my birthplace, the small town of Hagerstown, Maryland.
It was there that I began to flourish in school, became actively involved in sports and arts, plus became involved in community service.
My mother’s wise actions saved my life. I was blessed to have a mother who had the ability to move me out of harm’s way and who made the sacrifice to pay for private school. But it’s not the case for most families of modest means.
Many kids living in Chicago deserve a medal of honor for the daily risks they overcome just to get to school. It's sad that society seems paralyzed to protect them, it’s pathetic that gangs are able to hold entire communities hostage in the United States.
Are we to sit idly by and shrug our shoulders when we see so much trouble in the land? Are the kids of Chicago and other areas beyond our reach?
No. I believe we can help save kids and communities by volunteering to serve as mentors through faith based organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, Youth Leadership Foundation, or start our own program that seeks to make a difference.
Dr. Fuller says; “Research shows that kids survive under the worse of conditions if they are connected to a caring, nurturing adult."
Successful Gospel recording artist, pastor and author Marvin Sapp, has taken on the challenge to help kids in the hood. He works with BAEO and The Walton Foundation (WalMart) to reach urban youth in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Eight years ago, he and his wife Malinda used their own money to build a charter school for the arts to keep kids off the streets, away from the distractions of violence. They began to help children achieve their dreams.
When Malinda died, leaving Marvin a widower and father of three, he could have abandoned the school. But he became even more determined to fulfill his wife's legacy, to help every child he could achieve a great education against all odds.
Marvin explains; “There's no way I'm going to allow her dream to die with her. We must understand that legacy makes the difference.”
In honor to his wife’s dream to build great futures for girls and boys living in "the hood," Sapp, with the help of his church and community members has successfully expanded the Grand Rapids Ellington Academy of Arts and Technology. The school provides a quality education for 170-students from grades Pre-K to high school.
Sapp says it’s become more than just fulfilling his wife’s dream but is now following God’s purpose. “When God blesses you and gives you a platform, you're not supposed to forget where you came from.”
Sapp adds; “The real responsibility of every believer in God is to bring change to the lives of people. Jesus worked that way. For those who were indigent, for those who were down and out, Jesus didn't condemn them. But with compassion he tried to raise them up from the condition they were in. That's what our responsibility is, to bring about change in the lives of people, especially young people.”
I hope we all can become more focused on what we can do to help our children. Isaiah 58 challenges us to learn that if we can give to help the down-and-out, we can rebuild and renovate their broken lives and make troubled communities livable again.
Kelly Wright is a general assignment reporter for Fox News Channel (FNC), based in the Washington, D.C. bureau. He is also a co-host on "America's News Headquarters" on Saturdays (1:00-2:00 PM/ET). Wright previously served as a co-host on "Fox & Friends Weekend." Click here for more information on Kelly Wright.