By: Staff Writer
On February 20, Wenonah High School hosted its annual Unity Breakfast Celebrating Black History. A number of dignitaries and community leaders were in attendance but one of those leaders used the opportunity to issue a challenge to attendees. In response to current events, many of which show that Black youth are facing insurmountable challenges, Birmingham City Councilman Jay Roberson, who represents Birmingham City Council District 7, where the school is located, challenged adults to “stand in the gap” for young Black men and women. “It is time for us to help and support our youth”, said Roberson. “We must stand in the gap to help them achieve their dreams and be successful.
Councilor Roberson invited a student to stand on stage with him as he delivered greetings. The student symbolized all young Black males, many of whom are currently imprisoned, impoverished or dead because of lack of support from their communities. Roberson asked all men, especially several state and local judges who were present to mentor youth and to provide positive feedback and encouragement in order to combat the challenges that many of them face. This is not the first time that Roberson has taken a proactive approach to finding ways to positively influence youth. He currently leads the “100 Days of Nonviolence” campaign, a joint initiative where students and adults come together to help students eradicate violence in their communities.
This local call to action has a national tie. During his latest State of the Union Address President Barack Obama announced that he is developing an initiative which will focus on young men of color. “I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential,” said Obama. The initiative, which was officially announced on Thursday, is called My Brother’s Keeper. Roberson says he is working to make sure that Birmingham’s youth can receive local support in addition to any national efforts, “we have the opportunity to help children in this city be better and go further and I want to be a part of that movement.”