Wayne Frazier was unapologetically politically incorrect.
“We’ve got to stop our children from killing each other. You can be politically correct or you can help our children,” he said Sunday at a Stop the Violence Rally held at the Henry H. Brigham Community Center.
Frazier, a Richmond County Board of Education member who was principal of Glenn Hills High School and the system’s alternative school, said he saw too many young black faces among those who dropped out of school, went to prison or were shot to death.
The answer for black boys is black men, he said.
“We need some black men to get on the job,” he said. “There is nothing more rewarding for a black man than when he helps make another black man.”
Ronnie Collins, of the Richmond County Marshal’s Office, talked about his past experience as a correctional officer in Raleigh, N.C., where he had to work during two executions.
“That’s the end result of violence,” he said, recalling how he “met a lot of 21-, 22-year-olds who murdered, raped or killed someone” serving 25-30 years.
Violence is often glamorized by movies, television shows and rap videos, “but there’s nothing sexy about going to prison,” Collins said. “Think about what you’re about to do before you do it,” he implored.
Another speaker, Ray Montana, who founded a group called Street Justice, pointed out that “the people we’re talking about are not here. It’s going to be up to us to get them here.”
Montana’s stepson was killed in a drive-by shooting in the Apple Valley neighborhood, where he was an innocent bystander.
“White, black – it’s going to take all of us together,” he said.
Other speakers shared their stories of loss, especially in shootings. Von Daniels, who started Angel Hearts Support Group after her son was slain in 2007, told audience members that her aim is to help victims left to mourn.
“We will come to your home, we will go to a court hearing with you. We will do anything we can to try to assist you,” she said.
Gerquad Jones, a young rapper who lost a brother to gun violence, described the pain of watching childhood friends melt away to prison and worse.
He said parents and teens are often distant, because “kids don’t know how to tell them what’s going on,” and sometimes “don’t know if they really even care.” Young people who just want to be accepted are easy prey for gangs, he said.
The answer to that could be as simple as families sitting down together for a meal, telling each other how their day went.
“We need to bring that dinner table back,” he said.
Reach James Folker at (706) 823-3338 or email@example.com