Black men in Philadelphia can reduce gun violence, if we work together

Written by on November 26, 2019

When I convened over 400 people to announce an antigun violence effort called #ManUpPHL last Monday at the Community College of Philadelphia, I knew our effort would be bigger than our own work. It would also be about supporting the work of others.

That’s why, on Saturday evening, a little more than two weeks after 10-year-old Semaj O’Branty was shot in the head as he walked home from school, I joined the men of the Black Male Community Council of Philadelphia as they led a peace march through the boy’s Frankford neighborhood.

As the demonstration neared its conclusion at Torresdale and Margaret Streets, I stood near Semaj’s mother, Anita Williams. Behind her on a chain-link fence framed by yellow crime scene tape, there were photos of shooting victims, including Jarell Seay. I knew Jarell as a cheerful little boy whose family attended the same church as ours. Jarell was shot on his doorstep on Easter Sunday 2011. His family now fights gun violence through a foundation dedicated to his memory.

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