Philly’s 10,000 Men initiative begins 50 strong

Movements are begun in a day.

They are not completed in a day.

Take a look at any worthwhile movement and you’ll see that it takes time.

Witness the civil rights movement, which is still an ongoing battle.

The initiative to unite 10,000 black men in patrolling the streets of Philadelphia will not break the mold.

The initial rally for “10,000 Men: A Call to Action,” was held Oct. 21 at the Liacouras Center. But it hasn’t stopped there, which is encouraging.

There is often so much talk about the negative aspects of what occurs in Philadelphia.

So many black men incarcerated.

So much senseless violence.

So much bloodshed.

And then a movement to do the right thing, to turn things around, is met with skepticism.

So, when the declaration of “It’s a new day!” was echoed on that Sunday in October, many thought the movement would stop then.

Well, roughly 50 men met up last week in South Philadelphia to patrol the communities around Vare Recreation Center at 26th and Morris streets.

It wasn’t good enough.

Because 10,000 men didn’t show up at the organization’s first-ever rally does not mean this movement is a failure.

Instead of sitting around and continually witnessing the murder rates climb and crime increase, these men have decided to help change things for the better.

Black men on the streets, not armed with guns and badges, but rather in vests adorned with “Town Watch,” attempting to curb violence. How rare of a sight is that?

More importantly, how welcome of a sight is it?

For the generation who has seen “thug life” praised and women degraded for so long, seeing 50 black men standing up for something just and honorable is a great sign on so many levels.

One way is that young black men see a positive thing created by people who look like them – that they can relate to.

I grew up in this city, so I understand how magnificent an impact seeing 50 black men patrolling these violent streets can have.

I grew up without a father, like many other young black men, so seeing this outpouring of determination and unity from 50 black men is inspiring.

This is a great step for youth who want to see positive things happening and want to see a light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Seven out of every 10 bodies outlined in chalk in this city through Nov. 1 have been black men, according to totals compiled by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Seeing 50 men turn out to make a difference for the long-desired change of the city of Philadelphia can work wonders for the 10,000 men initiative.

This mission to turn around the city of Philadelphia and its 406 murders in 2006 is epic.

Being a part of the solution and reaching misguided youth could be the solution.

Pennsylvania’s black homicide rate is six times the national average, according to a study this year by the Washington-based Violence Policy Center.

These men are taking steps and actually making moves to change that staggering statistic.

And it has to start somewhere.

For those 50 men, the change starts with them.

This is only the beginning.

Optimistically, the change will not end with just them.

But with 10,000 men.

Terrance McNeil reached at tmac32@temple.edu.

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