, Contributing Writer
PHILADELPHIA–A broad-based coalition of Black men has come together to form “The Black Male Community Council of Philadelphia.” The group includes Christians, Muslims, Black Nationalists, and other leaders of the Black community.
“We as Black men feel it’s way past the time for our citizens to express our outrage about the increase in shootings and violence taking place in our communities and come up with a plan to address it,” said the organization’s founder Stanley Crawford. At a press conference held May 11 announcing the call for action, Mr. Crawford indicated he formed the organization after his son was killed on the streets of Philadelphia.
The group, which has been meeting and organizing for five months, rolled out its plan to the community at the Imhotep Institute Charter High School. Entitled “Calling All Black Men!!! All hands on Deck: Boots on the Ground,” the meeting went into detail concerning its action steps to address the issues.
According to Mr. Crawford, the mission of the organization is to unite Black men to provide a clean, safe, and secure environment for women, children, and elders in the community. “We have identified key hot spots in Philadelphia neighborhoods that we want to transform into peaceful, clean and safe environments,” he said. “This will be facilitated through collaborative partnerships between community stakeholders, law enforcement, religious and political leadership to foster strong community engagement and reduce violence in the targeted areas of the city.” During the community meeting, the “boots on the ground” approach was explained to those in attendance. “Boots on the Ground will be a 90-day campaign to clean up, secure, mediate and educate in the community. We intend to be viable,” said Kofi Asante, a key organizer. He went on to explain the project had been broken down into four phases, including planning, call out (the purpose of the meeting), organization and training and lastly “boots on the ground.”
Committees include security, education, mediation, and cleanup. Gerardo Muhammad of the Nation of Islam was tasked with explaining the security committee. “We are not the other man we are the brother man. Our approach will be to establish trust in the neighborhood. We want to identify, prevent, and mediate conflicts,” said Mr. Muhammad
Other presenters included Bilal Qayyum, president of the Father’s Day Rally committee; Rochelle Bilal, president of the Guardian Civic League; State Senator Sharif Street; Dwayne Johnson; Vernetta Burger; Mothers in Charge; Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight, executive director of Mothers in Charge and NOI Student Minister Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia chapter of NAACP.
For many the program represented old school grassroots community organization at its best. As the program concluded, the men and women in attendance were asked to sign up for a committee and become a part of the organization.
In attendance was Jack Drummond from West Philadelphia who told The Final Call he attended the meeting to receive information. “I look forward to building something with Black men around the city,” he said. “It’s time we come together and do some things for ourselves and not be worried about some of the politics, racism, and classism. What brought me out was this notion of unity and wanting to network with brothers who are willing to do something for our Community.”