Just four days after the Fenger High School boycott and press conference with Rev. Sharpton on Monday, students from the Gardens were out of school again today, after they say they were harassed by nearly 50 boys from the 'Ville,' while on their school bus Thursday.
I was invited over to the Gardens to hear FINALLY from the students themselves. Everyone has been talking FOR them, ABOUT them, and TO them, but we have yet to really hear FROM them.
Today, they got an opportunity to SPEAK! We will bring you EXCLUSIVE video in their own words of what's really happening and the dangers they face everyday.
What will probably shock a lot of people is that these kids are HIGHLY intelligent and WANT to learn. They're not in gangs, but they're fighting everyday, JUST to go to school!
One young man, has a full basketball scholarship to attend Western University, he says he's failing right now, because he's missing classes to go over to Fenger everyday to make sure his cousins get to school and home safe.
And then there's another young man whose mother said he told her, 'mom I can't go to school. If I go to school, I will die!' She said she insisted that he go, and went to school with him to make sure he was there. When she walked out of the school building, she turned around and her son was right on her heels! He would not allow her to leave him in the school.
Vashion Bullock, the brother of Eugene Riley (one of the 3 teens accused of Derrion Albert's death) raised the question, 'what about me? I've been suspended from school. I'm a senior, I want to go back to school. I got to graduate. I want to make something of myself.' Vashion says he was a honor roll student in middle school and tried to go to Carver for high school (in the Gardens), which had become a Military Academy, but was told he had to go one year to public school before he could be considered.
Their stories broke my heart. I suspect once we talk with the kids from 'The Ville' and Roseland they will have similar stories. One of the things I heard them say was that the kids from the Roseland feel that someone should pay for Derrion's death. A Life For A Life. Which REALLY means there's a lot of hurt, and no one is REALLY helping them deal with the pain of losing one of their own.
But the anger is mis-directed. One girl is conflicted because she lives in the Gardens but she's friends with kids from Roseland. She aksed, 'why should I not be friends with someone because they live on a different block than me?'
The session was deep. They felt better after the had a chance to talk it out amongst themselves and in the room with adults who listened. They even sent a powerful message to President Barack Obama, who started his political career organizing in their community.
We need more dialogue with them. They need their own Platform and VOICE. If they keep talking and we keep listening; we'll get to the REAL issues and hopefully find REAL solutions.
Everyone is responsible. Period. We ALL Have to Accept Responsibility. Not just while the cameras are rolling. Not just for a day. Not just until the violence stops. Responsibility Is Everyday. Responsibility Is A Lifestyle: Play Your Part!
Last week David Banner stepped up to play his part with his Heal The Hood Foundation here's what he had to say: