Stopping the Slaughter

All Americans must come together to end an epidemic of deadly urban violence

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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and I co-lead an effort called Cities United. We now have close to 50 mayors signed up. It's specifically focused on reducing the violence affecting African-American men and boys across the country. What does it propose? The first step is getting municipal leaders to acknowledge these challenges and then deciding on the best practices for addressing them. What are some programs and services we can provide? And what can we as mayors, in a more unified effort, do to change things? More and more mayors are getting involved in trying to address the cycle of violence in cities across the country.

If we get this right, everyone would be involved. We need a partnership among cities, states and federal agencies; the corporate community; the philanthropic community; the religious community; the social-advocacy community--all working toward helping African-American men and boys. We can no longer operate in silos. We have to work in a concerted, holistic and comprehensive effort to deal with these issues.

We are way past the time of just talking. What we really need is action. I know that President Obama cares about these issues, but as powerful as the President of the United States is, he will need a lot of folks to rally with him to work toward solutions. It will require folks to have open minds and open hearts and, more than anything, to be dedicated to change.

We can change things--that I know. The question is, are we ready to do it? Are we willing to set ego aside, be vulnerable and hear things that none of us necessarily want to hear? We have to try right now, because our children are dying in the streets every day.

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