Reginald Hubbard was sporting a child’s plastic fireman’s hat as he carried his 21-month-old niece Ramiya around the courtyard of the community center at Southtown Court public housing development.
They were among the 250-plus who took in the carnival scene on Saturday. But there was more to this event than pony rides, face painting, popcorn and cotton candy.
This was the first Victory Over Violence Tour event, which was sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham (CFGB), in cooperation with the Birmingham Violence Reduction Initiative (BVRI).
Officials with CFGB and BVRI want to ensure that young people know the dangers and consequences of violence.
Hubbard acknowledged that he has been on both sides of violent crime, as a victim and a perpetrator.
“Have I been an aggressor? Yeah, and I’ve done my time for it,” the 21-year-old said. “Ain’t nobody a saint. Everybody done did something. You’re a product of your environment.”
Hubbard, who served eight months in a Department of Youth Services facility, says he’s on a different path now. He said he lacked guidance growing up and largely had to fend for himself.
“If I had an opportunity to change somebody like my niece’s life, to tell her something right, I’m going to take it,” he said, “because nobody ever told me right.”
Saturday’s event was designed to help young people know the benefits of taking the right road.
“We feel like the issue of violence is something that the entire community needs to be aware of and we all need to be a part of and support,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Chris Nanni. “We consider this the moral voice component, which is reaching out to the community, making people aware of it and all working together.”
Jarralynne Agee, project manager of BVRI, said, “We have to change our mind as to how we think about violence, how we think about illegal guns being in our streets and threatening our homes.”
Additional tour stops are scheduled for Kingston, March 11; Gate City, March 25; Loveman Village, April 8; and Smithfield, April 22.