TRENTON-- Tuesday and Wednesday evening, Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate--sat down with a variety of individuals from the community to have a real discussion about where we as a community are headed in light of the many social problems inner cities like Trenton face. Issues like violence (24 homicides in 2012), poverty (i.e., an 11.6 unemployment rate), and education issues (48% high school graduation rate in 2011).
These discussions came the day after the nation took a moment to nationally recognize slain civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During his lifetime, Dr. King raised the fundamental question: Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Indeed, this became the central focus of our discussions Tuesday and Wednesday night.
During the events, one individual, Raul Polo Cortes, a well-known poet, said that we need to come together and get involved.
While Ms. Simms, a concerned Trenton resident said that she had her pen and paper ready to take down any viable solutions members of the community forum had about going forward.
On the following night, Willingboro resident and military veteran Rance Robeson said that we need to work with others to improve the community and honor the life and legacy of Dr. King.
New Black Panther Party Spokesperson Divine Allah said that he is going to continue to do what he is doing in the community and stick to his principles.
Community activist Kieanna Childs Alexander said that we need to make sure we understand our history so that we never forget where we came from.
Writer Will Deshair Foskey said that we need to be fearless as we try to improve our communities.
All of the panelists said that we need to do more than just repeat the marches, rallies, and demonstrations that took place during the Civil Rights Movement to galvanize or energize the public.
The panelists went on to say that we need to take other steps to improve the community. Playwright
Rashad Walker said that we need to set up a concrete action plan to deal with community issues.
Others said that we need to work with and speak to our lawmakers and city council members to address social ills.
I , as the moderator, went on to say that we need to capitlize on our unique skill sets and get involved in whatever ways those skill sets can be utilized. For instance, if you have knack for tutoring, why not be a tutor? If you have a gift for mentoring, then why not mentor, and so on.
Overall, the discussions shed light on future directions but still need to be more specific in terms of addressing current issues like education, public safety, and quality of life problems.
Neikel Butler from the Boys and Girls Club brought poets from her poetry program and they recited their work.
The discussions or community forums will continue. Stay tuned...
For access to video coverage of these community forums, click below: