In an op-ed published in the Chicago Sun-Times, Rev. Jesse Jackson urges President Obama to come home to Chicago and address the city’s gun violence crisis.
As the Black Youth Project has argued, President Obama cannot solve this crisis alone; but his leadership on this issue would call the nation to consciousness about a need to address this crisis, and comfort the countless families who lost loved ones to gun violence in the Windy City.
As Rev. Jackson explains, more police, background checks, and an assault weapons ban will not combat the systemic challenges that threaten the lives of Black and Latino youth.
The threat of violence accompanies the blight of misery. Less than 10 percent of low-income, minority teens in Chicago are employed. The wages of those who have jobs are not keeping up. Hadiya was attending the elite Martin Luther King College Prep High School and headed to college. But too many children are devastated by poverty and dropping out of school, headed to the streets.
The recession has destroyed homes as well as jobs. With mass foreclosures, plywood boards replace windowpanes. Abandoned homes shelter not families, but the desperate. Neighborhoods decline with the loss of hospitals, the closing of schools.
Mr. President, you inspired America with your inaugural call to honor the promise of Martin Luther King. In Newtown and in your gun-violence proposals, you have shown the courage it requires to lead.
After Hadiya’s shooting, more police were pledged to patrol the streets. But as you know from your time on these streets, Mr. President, you cannot police poverty. You cannot police broken dreams or shattered aspirations. Chicago has strong gun laws, but it cannot stop the flow of guns and drugs coming in and jobs going out.
You can issue the summons to America to face this challenge. You can reassure these children that America cares for them and values them, knowing, as you said in your inaugural address, that we are “true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”
In response to Chicago’s gun violence crisis, The Black Youth Project has started a petition, asking that President Obama make a speech addressing gun violence in the Windy City.