CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County Commissioner Mark Jerrell says it’s time for black male leaders to step up and make a change.
He helped organize an event that will be held Wednesday.
It’s called, “Black Men United.”
Black male leaders have committed to unite and rally to make life better for all especially African American men.
“How can we be the primary individuals impacted, but our voices are not heard," Jerrell said.
Jerrell said with so many black male leaders in the county - there is no reason things should not get better.
There is a black male police chief in Charlotte, black male sheriff, black male school superintendent and several city and county black male politicians.
Jerrell wants others to join the mission but black men have to be the example.
He believes black women have played an important part in the struggle.
“Black men have to lead this effort,” Jerrell said. “We want partners. We want individuals who understand the cause and want to stand with us - but it’s time for us to pick up the mantle -shoulder the burden - do the heavy lifting to change the outcomes.”
The rally happens on the 5th anniversary of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church shooting where nine church members were killed by a white man who wanted to start a race war.
Charlotte City Councilman Malcolm Graham will be the keynote speaker at the rally.
His sister was one of the nine who was killed. After the rally there will be a march and leaders will get to work.
“When the rally’s die down and the cameras are off - we are still hammering out policy that will change the condition of people who have been relegated to a position for far too long," Jerrell said.
Jerrell said challenges for black men range from education, employment and a judicial system many believe is not kind to black men. The politician saids he wants the community to hold the black male leaders accountable.
“We know the problems right,” Jerrell said. “So we will make sure we’re data-driven and we are going to measure our outcomes and we are going to demand support from the entities that have the resources and means to help us in other areas. The government can only do so much.”
Jerrell said one thing he wants to see happen is a joint proclamation from city and county leaders to declare racism is a public health crisis. There could be a vote on that this week. If approved that will force leaders to make some changes to policies.
“We got to put some teeth behind it,” Jerrell said. “But it gives us the framework and backdrop to work off of.”
Jerrell said he is committed to making life better. He said he ends his day asking himself this question.
“Did I do everything I could do to change the condition of people that look like me,” Jerrell said. “Those who are vulnerable and marginalized...I don’t think there is a night I don’t lay down...without the thought of my people on my mind.”
The Black Men United rally takes place Wednesday, June 17 at 4 p.m. at Marshall Park.