The organization wants to change the conversation around gun culture (VIDEO)
By Maura Siriani
June 4, 2022
CDC data shows that firearm homicides in the United States have reached their highest level in more than 25 years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of “100 black men of america” don’t try to change the laws, or even overthrow Congress. Instead, the group believes in mentoring children, teens, and young adults; focusing on communities of color, to create a new cultural narrative around firearms.
“A lot of these kids who are committing crimes right now are 12 and 13 years old,” Joshua Byrd said.
Byrd, who is the chairman of the anti-gun violence committee for the Atlanta chapter of the “100 Black Men of America”, spent part of his childhood in the Techwood Homes in Atlanta, one of the first government projects in the USA.
“At Techwood, I think that was the first time I saw someone get shot and killed,” Byrd said.
He now has a master’s degree in criminal justice and is a teacher and mentor working with the national group “100 Black Men” to change the conversation around gun culture in America. Members work to keep children out of trouble and away from violence, guns and gangs.
“Why is mentoring so important? it’s because the day you become incoherent, the gangsters will step in and reinforce that ‘see, I told you, they’re not here for you’ idea. They are inside, they are outside. I’ve been there, I’ve always been here,” Byrd said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children, as gun-related deaths soar in 2022.
CDC data shows that firearm homicides in the United States have reached their highest level in more than 25 years during the COVID-19 pandemic, with black Americans suffering the most. The 100 Black Men Against Gun Violence Project focuses on creating anti-violence messages and programs to identify and prevent conflict and violence.
“What we know about crime is that it literally heats up in the summer. Students will not be supervised like they do in school,” Byrd said.
Byrd says that with kids for the summer, it’s important to keep them busy as much as possible, with after-school or summer programs, jobs, sports and other activities. And for working parents with fewer resources, says Byrd, communication is key.
“One of the messages throughout the summer is to have regular, consistent communication. Having a structured day with consistent check-ins can go a long way,” Byrd said.
Byrd acknowledges that it’s not just a big city problem, he recently spoke with the “100 Black Men” chapter in Montgomery, Alabama, sharing advice with their mentors. Emphasizing that this is a practical deck initiative