The first town hall meeting was called together by the Philadelphia 300 Men Assembly, co-founded by Donnell Regusters and Tommy Joshua. The purpose of this meeting was to hear the issues the community is dealing with and to figure out a plan to fix them.
A handful of local organizations and professionals gathered together at the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center to address the issues the community is facing.
“The goal was to facilitate a discussion like you see tonight and the key things about these discussions is we want to hear from a broad perspective,” Joshua said. “We felt like we wanted to bring together a wide array of local leaders. So we had local mental health professionals, local educators, representatives from a local artist community and community activists.”
Inspired by a similar organization in Baltimore, the organization is calling for an assembly of 300 able-bodied men who care about their safety and community.
The meeting was led by panelists that included Anton Moore from Unity in the Community, Tyema Sanchez and Michelle Martin from Handbags 4 Peace, and Ronald Crawford & Pili Jaja Kojo from the Philadelphia 300 Men Assembly.
Education was a popular topic of the night along with youth involvement. Bunmi Samuel, coordinator and director at Philadelphia Freedom Schools, spoke on this topic.
“A young person that understands themself is a person who is less violent. Violence is proven to be an act of defeat, an act of destruction; when you really don’t have an understanding of who you are, you act out,” Samuel said. “Helping them understand more about themselves and I think education does that.”
The violence each community is facing will not be fixed overnight or by one community alone.
“If we are to be serious about improving our communities, what are some of the tangible steps that can be taken and how we go about getting folks to sign on about having those same steps,” Samuel said. “So it’s just not in your community or neighborhood but multiplied across a whole city.”
Philadelphia 300 Men Assembly does not have one specific plan they will try to use on each community. As they continue going to community to community to address the specific problems, they will tailor a plan that fits each individual issue.
As a result of the town hall meeting, training sessions will be held on May 10. They will get organizations together to educate one another on what they know, from street mobilizing to program management.
As for what the future holds for the future of Philadelphia 300 Men Assembly, Joshua is hoping for a revolution.
“We hope for a revolution and by what I mean by revolution, I don’t mean that in no crazy, bloody, violent type of way,” Joshua said. “I just mean a big change and that big change will lead to safety, security, prosperity, for all people in the city. But if it’s going to happen, it must happen by the citizens of this city, working together, putting their heads together to make it happen.”
-Text, images and video by Chelsea Koerbler