CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Black boys in Mecklenburg County are making headlines. Those headlines consist of black boys shooting and killing other black boys. Another headline is black boys' standardized test scores still lagging behind white boys. Another fact is in 2017, more than 230 black boys, age 16, were arrested.
These headlines are prompting WBTV to have a community conversation titled “Black Boys and the Promised Land.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed the Promised Land is a place that offers a quality education, economic mobility, and a place where people could pursue their dreams. We are having this conversation on Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday to bring attention to this story.
There are plenty of black boys who are on the right track, but there are some who struggle.
We asked a group of black male teens how Charlotte treats them. Some say they are followed when they go to local stores and they also feel Charlotte can do more to help them.
“If the community doesn’t see and recognize that there is a problem,” Charlotte Mecklenburg High School student Justus said. “Then they are not going to take any action. So, they have to recognize that something is going on and there needs to be a call to action.”
The conversation is also centered around access to guns. Last year in October, police say 16-year-old Butler High School student Jatwan Cuffie used a stolen gun to shoot and kill 16-year-old student Bobby McKeithen inside the school.
WBTV got reaction from the young black males about the shooting and asked what the need is to use a gun to settle things. They say boys get guns so they can be cool and be protected.
The community conversation also includes talking to a grieving mother. Lakeka Bright’s son, Jamie, was shot and killed in July 2018. Jamie and his friend, Jamarion Worthy, were passing a gun back and forth and the gun went off. Worthy is charged with murder. The mother is confused about the way her son died but is comforted her son is watching over her. She recently visited his grave.
“He got his wings now,” Bright said. “I know my son is looking over on me. I took a picture at his grave with the balloons and the flowers and I was looking down at him and um my daughter said Ma - turn the picture around. I turned the picture around and it was an angel behind me - amazing - amazing so it’s just little things that tells me that Mom I’m ok - I don’t want nobody to go through what I’m going through now.”
The mother has a strong message for the community.
"Everybody who is raising a black," the mother said. "Young boy - show them love, show them real life, show them everything that you have been taught that is positive and I guarantee you that child will make it."
Resources for Black Boys in the Charlotte Area:
- Y Achievers: 704-716-6280
- Envision Academy: 980- 312-2391
- Right Moves For Youth: 704-377-4425