Youth hold community day of action, dispel stereotyped images

Written by admin   // August 19, 2011   // 0 Comments

by MCJ Staff

Commissioner on the city's equal rights commission, Jeffrey K. Roman (center wearing plaid shirt and baseball hat), is joined with various members of the Youth Common Council, including president Zachary Komes (right of center, wearing suit) and representatives from two other youth groups the Be the Change and Urban Underground during Thursdayʼs press conference at City Hall. (photo by Yvonne Kemp)

Just one week after the State Fair melee and days after three teens gunned down a pregnant mother of seven, several Milwaukee area youth groups presented a stark contrast to the images of late.

Instead of images of flash mobs and riots, these area teens portrayed solidarity, responsibility and peace during various youth community day of action events.

The Milwaukee Youth Common Council joined with several area youth groups to hold a press conference at City Hall, highlighting the positive work young people are doing in the community.

Hundreds of youth gather at the North Division Fieldhouse to participate in the Milwaukee Bronzeville Renaissance Festival and Unity Walk to Northcott Neighborhood House.

Youth Council President Zachary Komes (District 10) called the press conference to bring attention to Milwaukee’s young leaders. “The Youth Council has done incredible work this term,” Komes said. “We’ve worked to take a legislative stand against the marketing of alcoholic malt beverages to young people, we’ve urged changes to the state budget, we’ve reviewed proposals for youth development funds and we’re setting the example: just this week youth from Chicago who are trying to establish a council of their own have come to study how we operate and lead.”

Two youth groups, Be the Change and Urban Underground, also joined the Youth Common Council as positive, productive young leaders. Also invited to participate were Voces de la Frontera, Pearls for Teen Girls, Urban Diversity as well as the Riverside Basketball team and Rufus King Cheerleaders.

We want to show the public that there are youth making positive efforts to build a better Milwaukee and there is great dedication among the young leaders in our community. The violent actions of a few shouldn’t be showcased over and above the continued efforts of many,” Komes added.

In addition to Thursday’s press conference, area teens also gathered at the North Division High School Fieldhouse where hundreds of young people from organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, Campaign against Violence, and Be the Change participated in the Milwaukee Bronzeville Renaissance Festival and Unity Walk to Northcott Neighborhood House.

The teens displayed determination, were in high spirits as they march and chanted down the city streets.

Lastly, Team Stop the Violence hosted a youth-led community forum at St. Mark AME Church. The Peace in the Street Youth Forum allowed young people to weigh in on recent community issues and the incident at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Eyon Biddle, Sr. was one of the elected officials who had the opportunity to attend many of Tuesday’s rallies. Biddle gave resounding praise and admiration for youth community day of action events he witnessed.

Said Biddle: “These youth only proved what I have been saying all along: There are many positive young people who are doing great things in this city.”

Biddle noted that a wide variety of individuals from various backgrounds and multitudinous walks of life were in attendance to support the youth, however he couldn’t help but notice the absence of two other fellow elected officials Aldermen Bob Donovan and Joe Dudzik, who after the State Fair incident wrote a press release citing “a deteriorating African American culture in our city” as one of the underlying causes for the violence.

What I saw Thursday was numerous positive, vibrant, beautiful young African-American children who are looking to make a difference in the city that they love, not the ‘deteriorating African American culture’ that some believe they are a part of,” said Supervisor Biddle. “I think those that use pointless rhetoric and blanket statements about our young people should go to these types of events to see the whole picture so they can understand just how disrespectful, divisive and off-base their words are.”

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