Youth Study Issues, Set Priorities at Legislative Conference

By Abdus-Sabur, Rafiq; Kyle, John E. | Nation's Cities Weekly, March 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

Youth Study Issues, Set Priorities at Legislative Conference


Abdus-Sabur, Rafiq, Kyle, John E., Nation's Cities Weekly


Youth delegates from all over the nation met at the Congressional City Conference to discuss racism and a host of other topics. Seventy-five youth participated in the meetings. They took part in a hands-on collaboration effort to brainstorm for useful solutions on combating racism and school violence in their communities, as well as promoting youth council development and the establishment of a communications network among youth nationwide.

Undoing Racism

The youth led off their work with a focus on "equality," which they have addressed in previous meetings. At this meeting, they seized on collaborating with NLC's yearlong effort on Undoing Racism championed by NLC President Bob Knight, mayor of Wichita, Kan. Remarks by Mayor Knight launched the extremely productive sessions.

Interactive large group discussions led by two very talented individuals came next. Dr. Lorna Gonsalves-Pinto, program director for NLC's Race and Ethnic Relations Program, spoke eloquently about the Free Expressions project as part of NLC's action plan. Free Expressions are original pieces of work depicting individual insights regarding racism. She provided examples and urged the youth to consider organizing Free Expressions displays in their hometowns. The audience showed its attentiveness and enthusiasm by providing their own examples on the spot. She will continue to work with the youth on this topic during the year.

Bringing together thousands of youth to promote harmony was the focus of the discussion led by Jon Jennings. Jennings, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice, is a former assistant coach for the Boston Celtics and founder of Team Harmony. He discussed Team Harmony's role in Boston and in Washington, where youth came together for daylong events and discussions to promote harmony. He invited youth to contact his web site at www.teamharmony.org.

Subcommittees

The youth delegates also devoted significant attention to the other three topics that are at the top of their agenda for action. Using small group meetings, they addressed the areas of violence, youth councils and communications.

Each group discussed their primary topic as well as the question of, "What can be done to reduce racism in our communities." Youth spokespeople from each subcommittee presented the results of their discussions. …

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