The Community Empowerment Association Inc. headed by founder T. Rashad Byrdsong, held an important meeting for the youth of Pittsburgh’s urban communities to counter act the continued gun violence within our neighborhoods.

Several young people, from areas such as, Braddock, the Hill District, Lincoln, Wilkinsburg, Rankin, Homewood, East Liberty and the North Side communities, gathered at the CEA headquarters at 7143 Fluery Way, in Homewood to express their feelings about the violence in their neighborhoods.

TO THE YOUTH—Lee Davis of CEA speaks to youth in attendance. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)

“What we are trying to do during these meetings is to listen to the youth and hear some of their stories of survival and not talk down to them,” Byrdsong said.

Also in attendance were leaders from several community-based organizations to share input on remedies to counteract the terrible rash of gun violence that has besieged the urban areas in Pittsburgh. During the meeting the issues strongly addressed were, the quality of life issues that have been at the forefront in the Black communities for several years. Many of the urban youth have not been equipped to handle the complexities that are before them in the 21st century. Issues such as, education, job training, computer learning, parental guidance, housing and self esteem, have become high priority on the list of social inadequacies. Byrdsong said disparities in economics throughout the Black communities such as Black owned businesses, employment, franchising, community leadership, home ownership and school dropout rates have continued to be the crippling mainstay of Black life.

Combine those statistics with the high crime such as robbery and (Black-on-Black homicides), it remains a difficult uphill climb through poverty

“A political platform has to be formed within the community,” said Byrdsong. “We have to be ready for the 2012 elections that are coming, as to prepare ourselves to bring these issues to light.”

One such way agreed upon by members at the meeting was a petition drive, to summon a hearing by city council that would address the needs of the community with concerns of the gun violence. This would be followed by a public hearing to bring the public safety issue upfront, he said. Also to discuss economics of tax dollars that should come to these communities. “It is unfortunate that most Pittsburgh residence that do not live in these communities, are not exposed to the run down homes, the abandoned storefronts, the poverty and families who cry out in pain for their loved ones that were struck down by the violence in the streets,” he said.

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