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Jackson Men Rally in Response to Killings

Zachery Robinson was killed on Tuesday evening; Christopher Kyles the following morning.

Their shootings were not related except in that they occurred in Jackson within a half day of each other and have spurred the community to action.

Othor Cain, a radio host and spokesman for the Hinds County Sheriff's Office, is among the organizers of a series of forums to develop what he calls a different kind of mentorship program for African American men and boys.

"I think that served as a catalyst to start the conversation," Cain said this afternoon of the deaths of Robinson, 22, and Kyles, 26.

Cain and other concerned Jacksonians met Thursday night at the Jackson Medical Mall. A second meeting is planned for Sunday, May 4, at 5 p.m. at Smith Robertson Museum. The group wants to convene at least 100 men to commit to a deeper form of mentorship than traditional programs typically require.

"Spending an hour with a kid is antiquated. We really have to make an investment in these kids. We have to make an emotional connection and re-instill a value in life," Cain said.

Where many male mentoring programs seek out white-collar professionals, Cain would also like to see more "average Joe Blows" participate as well as men who have been incarcerated.

"We're pulling in men from all segments of society and trying to take a stab at saving these kids from the streets," Cain said. "You need to be able to look these boys in the eye and say 'We've been where you are.' (Young men) need to see men who are strong in community (and) strong in the streets."

The Sunday meeting will have no agenda so that the conversation can flow organically, Cain said. A separate meeting for women who want to be involved is also being discussed.

"We cannot afford to lose another black child. If we continue to lose these young men at this rate, we're going to lose a generation."

Comments

blackwatch 5 years, 9 months ago

Violence in the African-American communty is largely due to fear and poverty-the earnest contestation over limited resources. Any approach towards solutions must take a multifaceted approach. Mentoring is necessary, but not sufficuent, to address these challenges. If this group is able to get 100 black men or more, from across the social-econmic lines, to come together, I would hope that they could address a variety of challenges in our community. From job readiness and economic development, to education and the school to prison pipeline a lot of our boys are trapped in, to family structure and responsible fatherhood, to criminal justice and policing, to health care (mental and physical) that many of our boys need, and mentoring, there needs to be systemic change through changes in policies and practices in these areas. If we just mentor, and these boys continue to face the systemic challenges, then much of our effors at developing those mentoring relationships will be quite frustrating.

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