Mothers in Charge host “Bridging the Gap: Are you Smarter than an O.G.”
“It came out of pain, anger and tears,” said Dorothy Johnson-Speight, founder of Mothers in Charge. “The events make a difference, we are the change.”
Mothers in Charge, also known as MIC, was founded in 2001 after Johnson-Speight lost her 24-year-old son due to a dispute about a parking spot. The organization acts as a support group and a community advocate against violence. MIC holds monthly support groups for families who are victims of violence. The organization also provides mentorship programs for young men and women, as well as for the incarcerated in their Thinking for a Change, or T4C program.
“Bridging the Gap: Are you Smarter than an O.G.” consisted of a basketball game of the “Old Heads,” members of the Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s office, and the “New School,” a collection of teenage athletes connected with Mother’s in Charge.
“Even though we’re representing the government, the DA’s office, [we’re not the bad guys to these kids],” said Kevin Harding, assistant district attorney of the South Division. “We’re playing the same game, with the same rules, and I’m just as tired from playing.”
The event was organized by MIC in collaboration with the organization Chop it Up. A product of MIC, Chop it Up hopes to create open conversation among the youth and older adults in the Philadelphia community.
Shay Walker, co-founder of Chop it Up, also noticed the need for a youth forum.
“The community needed to know what the youth needed for them, whether it be support or just resources,” Walker said. “Chop it Up provides a mouthpiece for them where they can preach to talk directly to us.”
While the actual panel portion of the event did not occur, there was plenty of conversation between the two age groups. Johnson-Speight handed out Philadelphia 76ers memorabilia to the audience, while “Old Head,” Steven Smith, a member of MIC, warmed up before the game with the “New School” team.
Alumna Jamira Burley, co-founder of Chop it Up, said that at these forums serious issues such as death, grief, loss and anger are usually discussed.
“This was a more lighthearted event, everyone loves a good basketball game,” Burley said. “But at the same time, the end of this game isn’t the end of the event.”
“It’s a great event for a great organization and it was important for the Sixers to come out show support. We ask the community to support us as a team, its only right that we support them back,” Amber Stuart, director of community relations for the Philadelphia 76ers, said.
Also at the event was the Philadelphia chapter of National Action Network, encouraging the audience to register to vote and stressing the importance. Also known as the Philadelphia Freedom Riders, the President Gregory Brinkley of the chapter made sure to thank MIC and Chop it Up.
Even though the “Old School” team won, 68-55, the hope is that the players of the “New School” team also won. The founders hope that the discussion and sportsmanship between the “Old School” and the “New School” continues and that the youth will continue to spread the message and become advocates against violence in their own communities, at school or on the basketball court.
To find out more about MIC and their upcoming programs, go to mothersincharge.org.
Samantha Byles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.