Redemption, Forgiveness and Peace: The Movement

I attended a meeting today of a group of African American men.  Many of these Brothers told similar tales of making mistakes, serving time and attempting to atone for past transgressions.  Some were as young as twenty-five.  The reason for the meeting today is the attempt to reach make and save some of our younger generation from making the same mistakes.  These gentlemen are willing to give time and energy to ward off the call of the streets.  Spring is the perfect time to organize and try to avoid a long, bloody summer.  The members of Redemption, Forgiveness and Peace are committed to this process.



One of the leaders of the group is Will Little.  Will had served time in prison for a homicide he committed when he was a young man.  The Forgiveness aspect of the organization is based on the Brother of his victim forgiving him for the crime that he committed.  Revenge is a big part of the code of the streets.  Many young men and women are now incarcerated because someones honor had to be avenged.  It was very important not to show weakness on the streets of South Philadelphia.  Any perceived slight could be a cause for retribution.  These Men are working on Forgiveness as the first line of defense in the search for Peace.


One of the guest speakers today was Bilal Qayyum.  I have know Bilal for almost twenty years.  In addition to his role with the Father's Day Rally Committee, Bilal is also a major proponent of advancing minority owned businesses.  Bilal referenced the code of silence that sometimes interferes with the successful prosecution of murders and other crimes.  No one on the street wants to be considered a snitch.  Bilal offered his support to Will and to all of the men on the stage who are in search of solutions to the problem of violence which plagues our community.  Bilal is an accomplished activist and someone that we can all learn from.

Another guest speaker was Wali Smith.  Wali had just come back from Harrisburg for an NAACP event.  Wali laments the fact that African American men make up so much of the population of the state penitentiaries.  Between the ages of twenty and thirty-two, one out of fifteen of us are in a jail cell.  Once again. our choices are affecting our ability to remain free.  We know that this is a difficult job market today.  Imagine the challenges that returning citizens will face.  My brother Joe, who has been in prison for over twenty-six years, will have a hard time trying to find gainful employment when he is released.  Wali urged the men in attendance to volunteer and be role models for young students.

The next steps for this group will be workshops conducted at various barbershops in South Philly.  Their target audience is 12 years old to 18 years old.  Unbelievably, a young man in the audience felt that people as young as three could benefit from the peace seeking strategies of the members of RFP.  I signed up on the volunteer sheet.  Before the heat of the summer leads to increased violence we are all focused on keeping blood running warm inside the veins of our young people.  A sixteen year old was just shot on Taylor Street. Two people were murdered coming out of a bar in West Philly last week.  These statistics creep closer and closer to home for victims of violence.  The members of RFP are actively seeking a solution.  Let's get behind them. 

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