Stomp The Violence

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Tony Herbert's response to the gun violence that plagues urban communities and has brought the Central Brooklyn community into crisis mode that warranted the initiative – an emergency call to action for the leaders in ‘The Village’ to stand up and to engage in meaningful dialogue that will compel the youth to lay down their firearms.

Community activists, organizers, parents, concerned residents and youth gathered together for the 2nd Annual Central Brooklyn Youth Summit on Saturday, April 19th at the legendary Boys & Girls High School in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York City.

It was Community Advocate, Tony Herbert's response to the gun violence that plagues urban communities and has brought the Central Brooklyn community into crisis mode that warranted the initiative – an emergency call to action for the leaders in ‘The Village’ to stand up and to engage in meaningful dialogue that will compel the youth to lay down their firearms. 

From prison stripes to pinstripes, former General Manager of X-Clan, Naquan A.N. Muhammad, now a successful political consultant, approached front and center, donning the finest in gentleman’s attire, accessorized with $800 gators, to share the experiences that led him to five years in prison for attempted murder.  Brother Naquan engrossed the group with a gripping account of his gang-banger years which began as a result of peer pressure in the public school system and urban street life. It was a tragic recollection of how a gun charge landed him in prison at the tender age of 17.  “Back in my day, you did not hold a gun until you prove you were good with your hands,” Muhammad reminisced.  “In my day, if you couldn’t fight, you’d better not show up with a gun or it will be taken from you and you would catch a serious beat down. Most guys started with their hands, graduated to the knife, and then the gun.  Me, I skipped straight to the gun because I was very good with my hands.”  Muhammad continued by telling the astounded group how shooting someone cost him five years of his freedom in a prison where if you get out of line, big burly prison guards would teach you very quickly that you are not so tough at all.

"The panic button was pushed immediately upon getting word that a 2-year-old had been shot!  And we know we are in crisis mode when three young children are left without a mother because a stray bullet killed her.  Whether it was accidental or not -- we need to get these guns off the streets and out of our communities,” Herbert demanded.  “We have to come together.  We owe our youth an opportunity for a better tomorrow.  Unfortunately, our generation was lost. The older generation in our community didn’t prepare us for this.  They prepared us for civil rights to fight for equality, to enable us to get good jobs, which is great.  But they didn’t realize, and therefore, didn’t tell us that there was going to be a genocide amongst our community – the Black and Brown people – we were not warned that we were going to go out there and try to kill each other because of stupidity,” he chided.

Herbert proposed that the community unite with the efforts of the Central Brooklyn Youth Task Force, in order to come up with a dynamic that will address the challenges threatening the survival of youth in the community.

“Starting with this group, I propose that we initiate a ‘Take Back Our Streets’ resource tour.  Meaning, we need to approach every city agency; every existing organization that has programs for youth, and ask them to come out to target areas in our community.  Put them on the street corners where the problems exist.  If there is a shooting one day and/or some sort of blood spilling, the next day, we need to put a bunch of tables out there to give our kids information about positive things that they can be engaging in – information about jobs; education, access to cultural programs; after school programs; homework help.  Wherever there might be a need, we need to raise awareness out here in the streets.  Not just one or two tables – I’m talking about going 25 to 30 tables deep.  We need people to get into the fight.  We are at war and the people with the guns and the drugs and the gangs are winning.  If we don’t come together and protect our kids, we are going to lose another generation.


Huge kudos go out to a wonderful group of youth from Mel Jackson’s Leadership Training Institute (LTI).  These intelligent young ladies and gentlemen traveled a very long distance to support the Central Brooklyn Youth Summit’s efforts, willfully contributing to the discussion, attentively and patiently listening while solutions were being explored among the group.


A most inspiring testimonial came from young Shaun Alexandria Collins, a student of  Sophia Williams’ Cadet Academy of Honor and Excellence. Collins shared his aspirations of becoming an engineer, starting at Science Technology Engineers Program (S.T.E.P.) at Hofstra.


Jeffrey Davis of the “Stop the Violence” coalition, declared his solidarity with Tony Herbert, (Herbert, who is now going after the New York State 18th Senatorial seat) putting to rest a disparity that resulted from mistaken identity pursuant to the tragic death of Mr. Davis’ brother, New York City Councilman James E. Davis, who was assassinated on July 23 2003.  

A most enlightening and encouraging presentation was made by Police Sergeant, Glenn Horton, Office of the Chief of Community Affairs.  Sergeant Horton's presentation shed light on many questions raised as a result of police abused on neighborhood youth and residents.  Sergeant Horton, a long-time Bed Stuy resident himself, brought a sense of relief to the adults and youth at the forum, who were concerned with the many incidences of police misconduct, including and especially manhandling of youth.  Sergeant Horton asserted that not all police are bad, and outlined some of the positive things the NYPD is doing for the community -- including a monitoring system of civilian complaints against police personnel and specifying actions that are taken within the NYPD to alleviate offenses against community residents by certain police who are not following the rules.

“People need to get together and put the pressure on a lot of these politicians because the politicians are the ones who have the money to help. The problem is, they give the money to the constituents who got them in office – and those people, in turn take the money out of the community and buy property and houses with it.  The community must come together and confront the politicians saying, ‘We know you have X amount of money that is allocated for our community.  You are not helping us.  You are not doing what you promised.’  Demand these politicians to put a fair amount of money in our community to end this senseless violence and loss of lives,” was a solution presented by Harlem icon, Dr. Ernest Hyman, Founder of the Harlem Karate Institute.

The end result was clear.  Politicians need to be confronted about funding allocation discrepancies, parents and the community-at-large need to take responsibility and become more involved in what children and youth are doing.  CBOs and organizations who are receiving government grants, need to come out of the woodwork and from behind their desks, and make parents, youth and the community aware of their existence and their services. Essentially, a call was raised for the entire community to unite and “Take Back Our Streets.” 

Attendees and participants of the Central Brooklyn Youth Summit 2008 Think Tank included Josette Dugue, Assistant Principal, PS 12   - Ocean Hill Brooklyn; Parent Coordinator, Tony and Sophie Williams of the Cadet Academy of Honor and Excellence; Naquan A.N. Muhammad, CEO Hiram Consultant Group, State Assembly Candidate, Linda Wheeler; Police Sergeant, Glenn Horton, Office of the Chief of Community Affairs, Michelle Mitchell’s Phenomenal Women Group; Brenda Jeanne Wyche from The Black Star News and President of Phenomenal Women New York; Donna Jackson from the Leadership Training Institute (LTI), Asst. D.A., Shantel Jacobe and Shellon Richmond from the office of District Attorney Charles Hynes, Dr. Ernest Hyman from the Harlem Karate Institute, Phenomenal Women and Owner of Madeline’s Pet Boutique in Bed Stuy, Phenomenal Woman and Entrepreneur, Abena Evans and Phenomenal Woman and Entrepreneur, Tammay Morton.

In an effort to deter kids from making bad choices that will land them in jail, Retired Riker’s Island Correction Officer, Lorenzo Steele, gave a live, no-holds-barred, bloodcurdling presentation on the horrors of prison, complete with a gory slideshow that would send Freddie Krueger crying for his mommy.

The full day affair concluded with an explosive youth step competition. Youth from all over Brooklyn assembled in the auditorium at famed Boys & Girls High School in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, to exhibit their skills during Brockstarr Entertainment's Youth Step™ Step Show Tournament 2008. Skillfully choreographed step routines, accompanied by powerful chants, intricate formations and brilliant uniforms and costumes drove the audience wild evoking thunderous cheers and praise from amazed children, teens, parents and community residents. The Bombay Steppers of Sheepshead Bay High School, Icy Blue of Columbus High School, Lady Governors of Dewitt Clinton High School, Exclusive Step Team  of Wings Academy High School and special appearances by the Order of the Feather Fraternity : Gowanus Wildcats were all the rave.

The illustrious event, MC’D by WBLS celebrity radio personality, Dr. Bob Lee, was a triumphant finale to a day of reckoning and strategizing -- Phase I of Tony Herbert’s “Take Back Our Streets” initiative.

The Bombay Steppers of Sheepshead Bay High School took 1st place Winning Female category.

Lady Governors of Dewitt Clinton High School took 2nd place Winning Female category.

Wings Academy High School took 3rd place Winning Female category.

Icy Blue of Columbus High School took 1st place Winning Mixed Team category and 

Exclusive Step Team  took 2nd place Winning Mixed Team category.

As a result, all step teams now get the opportunity to continue in the Youth Step™  Step Show competition.  Each team carries their points over to the next show which is scheduled for May 17, 2008 at 2:00pm at Wadleigh High School, located at Wadleigh High School 215 w 114th Street between 7th & 8th Avenues in Harlem, NYC.  Admission is Free

The Finals, which are slated for January 2009, will be announced at a later date.

The Youth Step™ Step Show Tournament 2008 was sponsored by the  New York Daily News,  WBLS, Snapple, Stall and Dean Apparel, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).

The Brooklyn Youth Step™ Step Show Competition was sponsored by The Brooklyn District Attorney's office.

Youth Step™ Step Show Tournament Schedule 2008 :

May 17, 2008 Wadleigh High School Harlem New York

November 8, 2008 P.S 18 Staten Island New York

November 22, 2008 Wadleigh High School Harlem New York

December 6, 2008 Lehman College Bronx New York

December 13, 2008 York College Queens New York

January 2009 Championship {Location TBD]

About Youth Step™ and Brockstar Entertainment, Inc.
Youth Step™ ,founded by James Brock Harris III, CEO of Brockstar Entertainment, Inc., is a full service entertainment company specializing in college and high school step shows. Brockstar Entertainment, Inc. has over 27 years of experience in promoting step show competitions around the country, most notably, Madison Square Garden in 1984. Brockstar Entertainment, Inc. was part of the group from 1993-1996, who produced the first ever nationally televised step show entitled, “Stomp!”  Brockstar Entertainment competitions have been held Annually at Disney’s MGM Studio in Orlando Florida.

About Tony Herbert
Anthony "Tony" Herbert Sr. is a relentless advocate for health issues that effect the lives of all New Yorkers. His special interest in women's health issues and supporting research to resolve them stems from the loss of his mother to ovarian cancer just a few short years ago.  Tony has also had a number of his closest friends diagnosed with fibroid and HPV problems.  As a grassroots activist,  Tony  he has taken the lead on the issue of women's health and a number of other crucial issues including, but not limited to, employment, economic empowerment and development, affordable and fair housing and most importantly, quality education for our youth. Tony has been instrumental in organizing business seminars, health and job fairs and small business boot camps to help tackle many of these issues. Tony has a broad range of corporate and government experience. He has worked under the leadership of Congressman Edolphus Towns as a volunteer and then hired as Special Assistant by the Congressman to represent his interests in the Fort Greene, Bedford Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of the 10th Congressional District. Tony has also served as a special assistant to New York City Councilwoman Priscilla Wooten.  In this role, Tony acquired his skills as a community advocate while fighting for the rights of residents in the council manic district so they may gain access to the city services their tax dollars paid for.  Tony also held the position of Director of Community Relations for former NY State Senate Minority Counsel Leader, Martin Connor. Tony's responsibilities in the Minority Leader's office were to identify and build working relationships with community leaders in minority neighborhoods who were victims of voting rights violations and subjected to the dilution of their voting power.  Most recently, Tony worked as Senior VP for an investment banking firm on Wall Street where he was in charge of their Government Relations and Small Business Development Programs.  He also worked as a Business Concierge for North Fork Bank in their Small Business Division. Tony is a constant media presence, appearing on television, radio and newspapers on a regular basis, fighting against gun violence and advocating for safety and a better quality of life for troubled communities.  To learn more about Tony Herbert, visit http://www.tonyforsenate.com/


About Dr. Bob Lee:
Doctor Bob Lee is currently the Community Affairs Director for WBLS/WLIB, New York.  A highly sought after motivational speaker and event host, Dr. Bob Lee is one of the most accredited radio personalities in the country and abroad.  Dr. Bob Lee’s signature attributes stem from the WBLS: On Time Program” which he implemented in 1981, encouraging students to stay in school and take a serious interest in education, and the ever popular weekend edition of “The Quiet Storm.” His notoriety has garnered him appearances in films, videos, commercials, and voice-overs. As Founder of the Make the Grade Foundation, a 501(c )(3) non-profit organization that facilitates and encourages academic achievement by providing tutoring and mentoring programs for youth, Dr. Lee continues to raise awareness to the importance of higher education to massive populations of young people.  Dr. Bob Lee received his BA and MA in Communications from New York Institute of Technology and is currently pursuing his Ph. D. in Natural Healing. To learn more about Dr. Bob Lee’s Make the Grade Foundation, logon to www.makethegrade.org .  To learn more about Dr. Bob Lee, logon to www.doctorboblee.com .


A Brief History of Stepping:
The art of stepping derived from a dance developed in South Africa, called the gumboot dance  The gumboot dance began with rural laborers who came to work at the diamond mines of Witwatersrand in South Africa. Strong traditions of rhythm, song, and dance was part of their culture and they brought this culture with them to the mines. These laborers experienced terrible oppression and hardship at the mines.  They would be severely punished if they were even caught talking to each other while working. This oppressive situation led the miners to adapt and create new forms of communication and entertainment among themselves.  During the civil rights movement, African-American Greek-affiliated fraternities and sororities adopted the ancient African  gumboot dance, and it was performed for essentially, the same reasons in which it was created by the miners in South Africa -- to unite as a people and to posses something unique that they could call their own.

Promotional sponsorship credit for the Central Brooklyn Youth Summit 2008:


The Professionals Network Organization
www.myspace.com/tpno


Winning Strategies & Associates, LLC
www.winningbeginnings.com


Black Professional Events
www.blackprofessionalevents.com


Brenda Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor for Harlem Business News.  If you have a solution, contact Brenda@blackstarnews.com .  Maybe we’ll talk.

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