WASHINGTON, November 12, 2013—On Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton traveled to the West side of Chicago to highlight the city’s recent massacres of black youth, predominantly African-American males.
Sharpton’s visit offered a glimpse of life on Chicago’s west-side; an area infested with drugs, violence, poverty and consistent gang activity.
Chicago’s west side is comprised of blocks of boarded-up buildings and abandoned crack houses. Iron bars guard windows from intruders. Gang activity dominates blocks of neighborhoods as they attempt to gain control of the local drug trade.
Over the next three months, Sharpton says he will use his MSNBC program, “Politics Nations” to spotlight Chicago’s massive crime problem.
Traditionally, Chicago has had a wealth of black leaders, such as Jesse Jackson, Sr., Mayor Harold Washington, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and even JET & Ebony Publisher John Johnson of Johnson publishing, acting as unifying voices in Chicago for black people.
Sadly times have changed. As Chicago police department data indicates, an average a person is shot and killed daily in the city, typically young black males under 21. Even with this daunting data, Sharpton believes he can make a difference through social advocacy.
Critics, however, say that this type of press will further damage the reputation of the city. In response, Rev. Sharpton says his purpose is to highlight the issues and to show the good work of local residents and community leaders who received little to no press coverage.
Nevertheless, Sharpton’s brief stay in Chicago’ is not without controversy. Many ‘community activists’ have questioned Sharpton’s credibility and legitimacy about his visit. Political skeptics even suggest that Sharpton is nothing more than a media and publicity connoisseur who is only focused on his own personal agenda.
Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel has been very careful in commenting on Sharpton’s visit, demurring on providing any discussion. Emanuel likely understands that Sharpton’s visit could help lower Chicago’s crime statistics, which indirectly benefits the Mayor.
Solving Chicago’s crime and gang problem is still the ‘elephant’ in the room. Chicago activists, pastors and community leaders all agree that Chicago’s “black male” crisis directly stems from the wide availability of illegal firearms, high unemployment for blacks, and poverty from an already corrupt infra-structure-dating back to Al Capone.
Perhaps the once-controversial Rev. Sharpton can help address this daunting problem.
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