08/30/07 — Ministers, others gather to talk about violence

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Ministers, others gather to talk about violence

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on August 30, 2007 1:45 PM

For some teens, 100 is not an age they are concerned with.

They just want to make it to 25.

And those gathered for the Stop the Funeral Initiative supporters' luncheon this week said drugs, violence and other problems must be addressed if that is going to change.

"One young man told me, 'If I make it to 25, I'm doing good,'" Stop the Funeral volunteer Dennis Jacobs said. "And this was in Goldsboro.

"I'm trying to make it to 120, you're talking about 25," Jacobs said he told the young man.

And Jacobs said concerns like these are what have made drugs and early deaths status quo in Goldsboro and surrounding communities, Jacobs said.

But he and guest speaker Landon Adams of the Triangle Lost Generation Task Force told those gathered that there is hope for change.

But first communities, schools, parents and volunteers must face the problems head on -- and then be ready to put in the hard work to solve them.

"We need to be exposed in order to be developed," Adams said. "For those of us who are skeptics, we need to be reminded that there are no small gifts. There are no insignificant tasks."

There have been four fatal shootings in Goldsboro's city limits since April 22. Another five took place in unincorporated Wayne County areas, two in the town of Mount Olive and one in Fremont since the same date.

But those losses should not stop or discourage the work of those looking to stop the violence, Adams said.

"It's hard work hustling," Adams said of the young men and women who turn to drugs and other illegal pursuits. "They keep long hours. They're good at math. They have business enterprises."

But those who say they have no choice but to live that life are just making excuses, Adams said.

It's even harder to "do right," Jacobs added, than to hustle drugs and live with the threat of violence looming.

"If it was so easy to do right, the former speaker of the house (Jim Black) would not be forced into retirement," Adams said.

Beating violence begins with helping those who are stuck in the lifestyle, he added.

"We're talking about redemption," he said. "This is a work about people."

In addition to local ministers and other volunteers, law enforcement officials were also in attendance at the North William Street luncheon, including Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell and Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders.

Jacobs said he could "stand up" for them, saying they were accessible, and "not untouchable."

But he and the Rev. William Barber, who helped organize the Stop the Funeral Inititative, said people start to believe falsehoods when not confronted with the truth.

Reaching them will be a challenge, he added, one volunteers will have to work hard to accomplish.

"A lot of these things get in people's minds," Jacobs said. "And we can fix a lot of these things. There are people in this culture who do have ears to hear. But nobody's said what they need to hear yet."