Aiming to help black men

Former Mayor Wilson Goode
Former Mayor Wilson Goode
Posted: February 26, 2014

IN PHILADELPHIA, 75 percent of homicide victims and 80 percent of perpetrators are African-American males.

Black men in the city have a higher unemployment rate, a higher incarceration rate and lower educational attainment than the overall population.

Hoping to address these sad realities, a mayoral task force yesterday presented Mayor Nutter with policy recommendations to improve opportunities for African-American males.

"This great city cannot be the great city we want it to be, we cannot move forward, if a significant cohort of the city's population doesn't move along with everyone else," Nutter said at a news conference. "African-American men, in many, many instances, and boys are often unfortunately left behind, locked out, locked up or just forgotten about."

As mayor, W. Wilson Goode Sr. established the first version of the commission in the early 1990s, but he was unable to see it through during his time in office. Nutter restarted the group in 2011 and named Goode, the city's first black mayor, a co-chairman.

"The chief problem right now is the lack of educational opportunity for African-American men and boys," Goode said. "The education system, without question, has failed them."

Goode said some blacks, but not enough, have had "significant gains and significant empowerment" since his time in office.

"I don't think that we are where we hoped to be in terms of the masses," he said. "There's much that needs to be done for people who are living on the edge."

The report called on Nutter to create "Healing Empowerment Zones" in violent neighborhoods and to increase support for tech firms owned by black men.

The commission will stay together to see its recommendations implemented, according to the report, and will maintain a "Black Male Achievement Life Outcomes Dashboard." The dashboard will track statistics ranging from how many blacks are reading at grade level in elementary school to the median income of households headed by black men.

Nutter said the report would guide his executive branch: "This is what the government will do during my time. Everyone has a role and responsibility to play. Every city agency, every department, can do something."

Nutter echoed Goode's call to focus on the lack of educational opportunities for black men.

With better schools, Nutter said, black men "will not be out there robbing, stealing, stabbing, shooting and engaged in all other kinds of nonsense, because working folks - people who can take care of themselves - don't have time for that kind of nonsense."

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


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