Youth in the Oakland community had the opportunity at the “OAKLAND NAACP Youth Leadership Conference” to ask adults the tough questions about what is happening in their community.
This was not only a stage for youth inquiry, but it was also a space for youth voice to be amplified and heard.
The youth spoke to Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, OPD lieutenant Kirk Coleman, Assistant District Attorney Terry Wiley, and the president of the Black Youth Leadership Project, Loreen Pryor.
“No adults can speak to this panel!” facilitator Martin L. McWilson said to the grown-ups in the audience. McWilson is a trustee for Area 2 of the Alameda Board of Education. “Youth, this is your chance to ask us questions and tell us what concerns you, what you think about us.”
Questions trickled, at first. A boy no more than eight years old was the first to speak up. “What can young people do to stop the violence?”
Coleman was the first to respond to most of the questions, including this one. “You have to communicate with your friends; let them know that violence is not acceptable in your community.”
We need more opportunites for youth around the country to be able to share their stories and experiences to adults who will be making decisions about their lives