CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago man fed up with poverty and gun violence said he embarking on a 30-day walking journey to the White House to bring attention to the city’s social issues.

Demetrius Nash said he has been training for his walking journey for the last month.

“My first walk was from 167th and Kedzie to 66th and King Drive. It was about 20 miles so I knew I could do it,” Nash said.

walking 2 Chicago Man Hopes Walking Journey To White House Sparks Change

Nash said he was inspired by Nelson Mandela’s book, “A Long Walk to Freedom.” (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

Nash said his first stop is Gary, Indiana. He said he’ll walk up to eight hours a day for 30 days to bring attention to Chicago’s social issues.

“Gun violence, poverty, education, mental health issues. I plan to engage with people, see what they want me to bring to the White House,” Nash said.

He said he will have a van following him and he will sleep in hotels along the way, but hopes to spread his message in every city he passes through. Nash said he was inspired by Nelson Mandela’s book, “A Long Walk to Freedom.”

walking 4 Chicago Man Hopes Walking Journey To White House Sparks Change

“I woke the day the LaQuan McDonald tape broke and something inside me said it was time, as a black man in our community, to step up and be accountable to what’s happening in my community. I destroyed lives and it was time to give back and save lives,” he said.

Nash said that when he gets to D.C. he will ask for more resources and programs for children in the inner city and hopes to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and Illinois congressmen when he arrives.

“My focus is we need more funding for “Cease Fire” and other intervention programs. We also need to make an impact earlier,” he said.

Nash was sent to prison in his 20’s. He said he spent a lot of time thinking about how he was the problem. Now he said he wants to be part of the solution.

walking 3 Chicago Man Hopes Walking Journey To White House Sparks Change

Demetrius Nash founded an initiative called Replace Guns With Hammer which gets young men off the streets and into trades. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

“I woke the day the LaQuan McDonald tape broke and something inside me said it was time, as a black man in our community, to step up and be accountable to what’s happening in my community. I destroyed lives and it was time to give back and save lives,” he said.

Nash also founded an initiative called Replace Guns With Hammer which gets young men off the streets and into trades.

“We can replace a gun with a construction hammer. We can get these men trained to build and learn a trade. I am walking because the fabric of our community is destroyed. The prison system is destroying our community. I was one of them,” he said. “This is a walk for every impoverished neighborhood in our country. I’m walking for us all, I’m walking for us to heal. I’m walking for humanity.”

walking 5 Chicago Man Hopes Walking Journey To White House Sparks Change

Family, friends and supporters walk with Nash. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

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