Rally Calls for End to Youth Violence

Margaret Summers | 8/28/2013, 3 p.m.
A small but vocal group rallied earlier this month at the Mt. Ararat Outreach Center in Suitland, Md., to protest ...
The Rev. Dr. Deborah Brooks, from the Family Healing and Empowerment Institute of Prince George's County, feels youth violence is still a major cause for concern. She participated in a rally earlier this month in Suitland, Md. Nancy Shia

Reginald Harrod, 61, co-founder and CEO of Suitlandfest CDC, said today’s young people are confused. “They’re in conflict. They don’t know who they are. They are influenced by peer pressure. We have to help our children through counseling and intervention.”

Sharon Parker, 50, a commissioner for the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, founded Remembering Our Ancestors Synergistic Association, which helps young people through mentoring, and teaching them about African-American historic figures and their ancestors. “It’s love with action,” she said.

“Love with action” motivated Wessita McKinley, 48, to found Sistas United, Inc. Inspired by The Million Women March 16 years ago in Philadelphia, the organization based in Cheltenham, Md., strengthens families through mentoring, counseling, career and education preparation, HIV/AIDS testing, and its community food bank. “I’m tired of marching and rallying,” McKinley told the small gathering. “Don’t just talk about it, be about it!”

Kito James, 38, mayor of the town of Capitol Heights, Md., urged organizations represented at the rally to work together more. “These problems with youth are not just Temple Hills, Capitol Heights or Suitland problems. They’re connected,” he said.

The rally is just the start of the community conversation, said Wimbush. “We will hold a forum on Oct. 5 in the Suitland Community Center to develop strategies for ending violence,” he said.