WARREN – Young people this month will tell their own stories of how violence has affected them.
They will speak at an NAACP-sponsored Youth Call to Action at a July 10 vigil at 3 p.m. at the Trumbull Community Action Program Building, 1230 Palmyra Road.
The focus of the event will be for members of Generations X, Z and I to give their perspective on what is happening in their neighborhood and express their concerns about their future.
People in these generations were born between 1965 and 2012.
“This will be a call to action to change young adults,” said Trumbull NAACP President Annette McCoy. “We will hear their voices. Speakers range from pre-teens to college-aged adults.
She said there were many events led by community leaders, pastors and other adults. It is important that young people have opportunities to talk about what they have been through and how it has affected them.
McCoy said the young people making presentations will address the rising tide of violence in Warren and other communities.
“They will also provide input on changes to Ohio’s gun laws, including allowing teachers to carry guns in schools,” McCoy said. “Some are concerned about changes in the law and the possibility of teachers having guns in their schools.”
NAACP member Miles Johnson said there had been a lot of violence in the city and people were scared.
“We want to find ways to stop the violence,” Johnson said. “We have powerful young people. We have worked with our churches, with non-profit organizations and private sector companies to get things done.
Johnson stressed the importance of listening to young people and embracing their ideas.
“We have new ways to organize and deliver powerful content,” he said.
Joseph Walker, president of the Trumbull County Interfaith Ministerial Alliance, said elected leaders and other senior community leaders had the opportunity to speak out about the rising violence in the community.
“Young people should have the chance to be heard about how issues affect them,” Walker said. “Most of our young people are good and positive. We don’t hear about their stories.
Walker said people have lost friends and classmates.
Zipporah Ball, 17, Trumbull County NAACP youth president, said there is a need to address violence and how it affects young people.
“Especially with the new gun laws being passed in Ohio,” Ball said. “We need a call to action. What scares me the most is that once something is in place, it’s much more difficult to remove it.
Although not involved in the Trumbull NAACP event, Youngstown/Mahoning NAACP President James Brown expressed support for the organization’s efforts to address violence in his community.
“We focus on the link between school and street violence that is the result of undereducation, miseducation, and deseducation in failing school systems,” Brown said. “We support anyone who does something positive to raise our children.
“However, the system must first stop causing the problem by not doing its job and then expecting the students to fix the problem – caused by the adults controlling the system failing the students .”
Kenneth Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, is one of many Youngstown community leaders who over the past year and a half have led anti-violence marches in various neighborhoods across the city.
The marches take place on Sundays once every two weeks during the summer. The next march is scheduled for July 10 at 2 p.m. Its location has not been determined. The walks will take place until September.
“We usually choose a location where there has been a recent act or series of acts of violence,” Simon said. “Our goal is to show people living in neighborhoods experiencing violence that we care.”
Simon emphasized that they want to create an atmosphere where violence will not be tolerated.
It is the belief of these organizations that the pressure to bring about change must be constant.
“It’s not a one-time effort,” he said.