Heal, teach, connect: Phila. panel urges steps for black men

Posted: February 26, 2014

As former Mayor W. Wilson Goode was about to leave office in 1991, Philadelphia's first black mayor signed an executive order creating a commission to explore the challenges African American men face in the city.

The commission was not formed until 20 years later, when Mayor Nutter established it and named Goode its co-chair.

On Monday, that commission presented Nutter with a report, which included recommendations focused on improving the education, employment, and health of the city's African American men and boys.

"We can no longer be locked out of opportunities," said Bilal Qayyum, the panel's other co-chair. "We also understand that we have a responsibility . . . We're going to do everything in our power to make sure we're doing the right things for our families and our communities."

Among the items in the report, the committee recommended that the city take these steps:

Establish "Healing Empowerment Zones" in neighborhoods with high rates of violent crime, where men affected by violence and trauma can get needed services.

Create a network of adult mentors to raise academic achievement for school-age boys, and work with area colleges.

Foster a "black technology community" to support and encourage technology companies led by African American men.

While black men have made great strides in the two decades since Goode left office, Nutter noted the problems of violence, incarceration, and joblessness that still grip the community.

But Nutter, flanked by members of the panel at a City Hall news conference, said it should be front-page news "that a group of black men came together and said enough is enough."

"We cannot move forward if a significant cohort of this city's population doesn't move along with everyone else," he said. "African American men . . . and boys are often unfortunately left behind, locked out, locked up, or just forgotten about. We will not forget."




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