Last night’s Talk About It!, Caught in the Crossfire: Kids and Violence in Philadelphia, was an electrifying event. Turnout was spectacular, with overflow crowds taking seats in the Main Lobby to watch the simulcast.
The panel, moderated by the venerable UPenn professor, author, and radio personality, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, included: Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Founder and Executive Director of Mothers in Charge, Tumar Alexander, Assistant Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia, Tiffany Thomas, Youth United for Change, Pablo Negron, President of the Eastern North Philadelphia Youth Council, Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., President and Founder of Amachi, Terry D’Alessandro, a market CEO for Sovereign Bank, David Fattah, House of Umoja, and Shelley Yanoff, Executive Director of Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth. Other venerable guests included Senator Anthony Williams, Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, Michael Nutter, Queen Mother Falaka Fattah, and a surprise visit from Philadelphia’s own Joseph William ‘Smokin Joe’ Frazier.
Normally, Talk About It! Q&As last about an hour, but last night’s spilled over until a little after 9:00 p.m. to accommodate the enthusiastic audience. It was an eclectic bunch--everyone from foster parents to ministers to teachers to Philadelphia public school students had something to say. The panel in turn wowed the crowd, especially Dr. Dyson, who managed to quote the Bible, Nas, Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, Talib Kweli, Tupac Shakur, and W.E.B. DuBois in the same breath.
Many questions were asked and many observations were made. The overall feeling was that the night’s discussion could only do so much--immediate action is needed. Below, please find links to get more information about some Philadelphia organizations that are dedicated to pacifism and community building.