Executive Director News: Take a Stand

Jun 17, 2011

Rev. Al Sharpton often says that if a man is knocked down, you can blame the person who knocked him/her down, but if weeks go by and this man is still down, he has no one to blame but himself. Earlier this week, I had the unique honor of delivering a similar message to a group of nearly 300 young juvenile delinquents at NY’s notorious Rikers Island. It was visibly an emotional day, but the result was a resounding mix empowerment, courage, faith and determination – both on the young adolescents’ part and mine. In light of the state of our country, I hope we will all soon have the ability to take such an ardent stand against violence.

In my hometown of NYC, there has been an apparent explosion of gun activity and unnecessary aggression. In the past week alone, we’ve witnessed over a dozen shootings, including the horrific death of an innocent 16-year-old enjoying a day at the beach in Brooklyn. It appears as the weather heats up, passions have flared and unfortunately made life even more difficult for our youth. Instead of channeling their frustration over lack of jobs, opportunities, the continued closing of after-school programs and an overall sense of uncertainty in a positive manner, these young people are tragically acting out in the worst way possible. And it’s an unfortunate trend occurring in cities and towns all across this nation.

It’s time we start asking ourselves, what are we as a people doing to rectify this grave dilemma? Where are the famous artists and celebrities who bear some sort of responsibility in giving back to the community and showing young people that there is a positive route to success? This is a clarion call for everyone to get involved, take a stand, remove guns from our streets and work towards a better environment for us all. We at National Action Network will continue to do our part in fighting for equal employment opportunities, improved schools, adequate health care and more. We hope and pray that you will join us, and remember that every time someone shoots someone, or knocks an old lady on the head, it causes those that wish to see us not succeed to say, see, sit down and shut up. We cannot allow them to win; we cannot allow ourselves to fail.