Martin Luther King, III spoke to parents and students in the Harrisburg School District Wednesday night about the the need for more parental involvement as a means to curbing the violence in the Capital City.
“In our school system, to teach young people a different way of resolving their conflicts, so that when you become angry you don’t go and get a gun and do harm, or get a knife and do harm,” said King.
Actor and activist Cylk Cozart joined King Wednesday, urging more support for arts education as a means for engaging kids. Cozart also pointed to the need to bridge divides.
“This is our nation’s problem, and it is a problem. And, it’s not a black and white problem. It’s a community problem,” said Cozart.
The school district’s chief recovery officer, Gene Veno, invited the men to Harrisburg with the goal of hosting additional similar events to provide young people in the city with more positive role models.
King pointed out many of the challenges facing the city’s schools are similar to other small and large urban areas. He pointed to high unemployment among African Americans and school districts graduating less than 50 percent of kids.
“Part of it may be that the system itself allowed children to fall through the cracks, graduating without the basic skills,” said King.
King called on more nonviolence programs earlier in a child’s education. He said, “Not starting in 12th (grade) or high school, but starting in kindergarten.”
King and Cozart both addressed the violence impacting Harrisburg (the city of fewer than 50,000 people has logged 11 homicides this year).
Cozart said, “It’s a spiritual warfare we’re going through right now.”