Two days before our Annual Meeting, Sarah Sanders and I met with Rev. Anthony Williams, a pastor with Freedom Social Justice Ministries, and Mr. Harold Davis, who directs a program for Chicago’s high school students called Mission Accomplished. Rev. Williams had seen information on the Internet about our SAVE (Stop America’s Violence Everywhere) program and asked to meet with us. He and Mr. Davis shared with us their passion for the city, its youth, and the critical situation involving gun violence. Sarah and I were impressed with their sincerity and commitment to bring attention to this scourge on Chicago and with their hope to create a culture where violence that results in senseless killings and the wounding of others is not the norm.
Rev. Williams has written a compelling article that addresses the issues. Here is an excerpt:
“As responsible citizens, we all shoulder the burden of curtailing this plague of violence that is eroding our nation. It is our goal to positively impact and heighten the awareness of violence. We need to be calling for congressional hearings to address the impact of violence in America. Whether it is Englewood in Chicago or Sandy Hook, Connecticut, the enemy of violence must be confronted in our generation. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best; “We must organize just as effectively for peace as those who organize effectively for violence.” Here are some recommended solutions to curtail violence in our nation: We must stop the flow of illegal guns in our community. We must reopen mental health clinics and establish proper funding sources for employment and entrepreneurship.
Since our meeting, the violence in Chicago has escalated to epidemic proportions, making headline stories on the national news. There were 82 shootings and 14 deaths over the July 4th weekend. The link below to the Chicago Tribune article provides a sickening example of what Rev. Williams and Mr. Davis described to us.
I can’t help but think that our Founding Fathers and Mothers would be saddened by what is happening in the great city of Chicago, as well as other cities across the country. This is a call to all community leaders in government, law enforcement, business, health care, in religious groups, and non-profit groups to come together and work with the residents in each neighborhood to help strengthen families, improve educational opportunities and school environments and create jobs that will offer alternatives for young people. Young and old alike need hope for the future and hope that their neighborhoods can be free from gang, drug and gun violence.
Does any neighborhood want to be unsafe for its children to walk and play? For neighbors to visit? Surely not! There must be a change in the culture of the neighborhood, the mindset of the people who live there, and all elected and volunteer leaders to join our collective voices and say: “We must work together to Stop America’s Violence Everywhere!” Where better to begin than in Chicago, the headquarters of the American Medical Association and President Obama’s hometown.
written by Jo Terry, Immediate Past President, AMA Alliance