There has been much criticism of the church and its role in today’s human rights struggle for Black people in comparison to the past. So I would like to commend Rev. Eugene Freedom Blackwell from the House of Manna Church in Homewood for his efforts in putting together the third annual “Prayer 4 Peace” march to stop the violence throughout the city and in Homewood in particular.


The House of Manna Church is not a megachurch, but he and his wife were able to draw hundreds of people out to march to stop the killings. Even though many of the named people didn’t show up or speak, the most important people did. Those people are the grassroots people who are tired of all the killings and violence in their community, and they want someone to do something about bringing it to a halt.

Missing were some of the representatives from the megachurches such as Pentecostal Temple, Mt. Ararat, Macedonia, Central, and Petra. Even if the pastors couldn’t make it they could have sent one of their associate pastors to represent their churches to show the community their support.

Once again, great job Rev. Blackwell for showing that you don’t have to pastor a megachurch to make a difference in the community.

Speaking of violence in the city, in the New Pittsburgh Courier’s March 28-April 3 edition we ran a banner headline reading “Trayvon Martin’s parents re-live ‘nightmare’” and down below that story was “Suspect sought for death of teen near church.”

There has been a national outrage about Martin’s death to such a degree that the district attorney in that Florida town has finally decided to press charges and take the case to court. This after the governor decided to form a grand jury to be headed by the lt. governor. But the DA decided against the grand jury not thinking she could get a first-degree murder conviction, which is the requirement in most grand jury cases. So she will probably try George Zimmerman on a lesser charge even though everyone knows it was first-degree murder when you gun down an unarmed person who had done nothing to you.

But I guess we should be happy for anything we can get. I thought this was the 21st Century? 2012? How many other Trayvon Martins have been gunned down throughout the 20 plus states that have the “Stand Your Ground” law. I’m just waiting for that Black man who guns down a White man saying he looked suspicious to see what happens to him.

But back to my original point. Does anyone know Deontay Smith? He was the 17-year-old gunned down in front of or near Inner City Ministries on March 25. He and another youth were walking when a young Black male ran up to him shooting him several times in the head, and then fled from the scene jumping into a waiting car.

Who was Deontay Smith? Didn’t he have a mother? A father? Family? Where did he go to school? Where is the outcry for him? Didn’t his life matter to anyone? There are so many Deontay Smiths in urban communities throughout this country. Why aren’t more families stepping up and speaking out? Why aren’t they demanding justice for their children? Trayvon may get justice because his parents would not accept the status quo. Why do we just accept it when another Black person guns down our children? They are just as dead.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Smith was a saint. His killing may have been the result of him killing someone else, but isn’t this what the court system is for?

What can we do as concerned citizens to give these young men dying and killing each other a face? We can follow the example of Rev. Blackwell, as well as men such as Judge Dwayne Woodruff and others who are trying to catch these young men with mentoring programs before they hit the streets to help them realize that the streets are suicide. There’s nothing there but death and destruction; that human life is the most precious thing on the face of this earth and a few dollars aren’t worth taking a life or risking yours.

This is probably the most devastating epidemic affecting the Black community throughout this country and thank God there are a few—and that number is growing—people out there fighting to head off this epidemic. Hopefully this number will grow to such a large proportion that it will no longer be safe for killers to walk our streets, and these young people will think twice before pulling the trigger, because the community will have no problem pointing them out.

Parents, family members, friends, police, news media, the church, and the community as a whole need to work together to bring these homicides to a halt. If it can be done for Trayvon Martin, it can be done in our communities too.

(Ulish Carter is managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier. For comments email

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