CHICAGO (CBS) — Congressman Danny Davis is leading the effort that seeks funding from federal, state and city sources to support programs that are designed to benefit black males.
Nationally, 55 percent of black men live below the poverty level. In Chicago, 21 percent don’t work, and 20 percent have less than a high school diploma, Davis’ office said.
It’s not an ideal picture; but it is one a team of professionals, led by Congressman Davis, is determined to change.
“Moaning and groaning and talking about how unfortunate it is is not going to solve the problem,” Davis said.
Congressman Davis challenged a group of community activists, clergy, educators and businessmen to take action and to address the issues that affect black males.
“My grandson was killed about two months ago, he was a 15-year-old,” Davis said.
A personal connection to the issue motivates Davis, as well as many others who have lost a loved one.
18-year-old Andrew Burnside was caught and killed in gang crossfire as he was walking to work.
“But I’m not angry, I’m not bitter,” the victim’s mother, Arnettra Burnside, said. “Normally in our community, everybody is looking for a band-aid — instant gratification. We’re here to find a comprehensive approach.”
Therefore, the plan moving forward is to have this group of experts form committees that will tackle violence, housing, poverty, education, healthcare and employment.
“In my trade, they have over 1,000 guys working, we have about eight African Americans working,” said a man present at Monday’s meeting.
Since the aim is to help African American males, the group is seeking input from teens.
“I lost too many to the system. I lost too many to gun violence,” high school junior Kenneth Burks said. “If you want to get people off the streets, when you do get them off the streets, you have to stay with them. You have to give them something to look forward to.”
Monday’s meeting was reportedly the first of many.