Black community leaders host social issues forum for young Black boys and men
The focus of the event was on gun awareness, mental health and strengthening bonds in the Black community.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Young Black men of all ages and backgrounds gathered together Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Recreation Center in College Station to discuss social issues that plague communities of color across the county, including the Bryan-College Station area.
Event organizer and co-founder of the Bryan-College Station chapter of Black Lives Matter Tre Watson says he wanted to spark a much-needed conversation in our community. Watson says topics like mental health and gun are just a few of the issues he believes hit the community the hardest. He says it’s beyond time to have a positive and influential conversation on making a positive impact in the community. After recent violence across Bryan-College Station, Watson says it’s never too late to make a difference and spark change.
“With the past situations that have been happening in our community, it’s a lot of gun violence, and a lot of things have been happening. I felt like it was time we actually come together and speak to each other and try to figure out a solution,” said Watson.
Bishop Gregory Thomas, the senior pastor of the Church of the Living God in Bryan, moderated the evening’s discussions. He says communication will be key if any change is going to happen.
“I think one of the biggest things that you see in our communities is that we don’t really want to talk about what’s really going on,” said Thomas. “I mean, we talk about it amongst ourselves in our homes, but we don’t come together to begin to become very intentional about what we want to do, and so I think it’s about community and more communication effort.”
LaBrandon Searcy is a longtime College Station resident and FreeWorld Elite Sports youth football coach. He admits to being part of the problem at one point in his life but now vows to make a difference.
“Coming up as a kid in this community, I caused a lot of trouble. I went down the wrong road. TYC, Juvenile boot camp, and end up in TDCJ,” said Searcy.
Searcy says it’s going to take a community of strong men to get things on track.
“We have to have the strong men in the community to come back together, form a coalition in order to create a safe environment for our kids, to speak out against what’s going on in our community. We have to address mental health issues, chemical dependency issues,” said Searcy. “We have to form a coalition where a kid can talk to you about anything openly, you know, cause a lot of times kids don’t have anybody to talk to, so they are hurting and going through things at home that they can’t explain. So they act out in the streets. I was one. So I’m speaking from a personal point of view.”
Oscar Davenport is a longtime Bryan resident who has worked with youth in the juvenile justice system. He says the community has to come together and change the way we perceive each other and abandon the stereotypes.
“I was a juvenile probation officer for 19 years. I worked for CPS for one year, and I’ve been at the adult probation office for 16 years. I think one of the things that we really have to work on is our name in our community. We need to break the stereotype that all Black men are violent, all young Black men are uneducated,” said Davenport. “I think we have a lot to work on toward that, but until we as a community, can come together and answer those questions and show them, show the rest of the world who we really are, and that we’re not everything that they see on TV or the movies.”
Watson says more forums are planned for the near future.
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