Sunday, October 04, 2009

Derrion Albert funeral: "No simple fix."

Today's Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009 Chicago Tribune has stories and columns that should be connected to each other. Unfortunately, they are not. I'll try.

First was the funeral of Derrion Albert. One of the ministers, the Rev. E.G. Ledbetter Jr., pastor of Greater Mount Hebron Missionary Baptist Church, was realistic when he said, there "is no simple fix for what is wrong in our nation" and "the healing is not going to take place in one fell swoop."

The second story, told how a former foster child has received more than a million dollars in college scholarships and now is enrolled at Morehouse College. What did this youth have that the teens who killed Derrion Albert did not have? One part of this story was about "Desmond Kemp, who became a mentor to Quarles -- a brother, really -- when they met at a tutoring program".

Of course, the most dominant stories in today's Tribune, were of the Olympics. Over and over there were articles about "making a better Chicago" without the push from the Olympic games.

So how are they connected. First, young people can overcome great challenges, but it takes a few extra people in their lives, like Derrion Albert, to become a mentor, or "a brother, really" to these kids. Such mentors won't be readily available if tutor/mentor programs are not in the areas where kids need this extra help.

Second, it will take a huge effort, by faith leaders, business people and others to make comprehensive, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs available in hundreds of locations throughout Chicago, and to keep them in those neighborhoods for many years.

Isn't this the type of Olympic size vision that might unite the many diverse leaders in Chicago and it's suburbs?

I've written about this many times, but until others, such as the editorial writers in our media, and other bloggers, and our faith leaders, take up this same call to involvement and leadership, it's not likely that we'll get the complex and long term "fix" that Rev. E.G. Ledbetter Jr spoke of.

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