Students from the across D.C. convened in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Northwest to talk about their feelings about the city and what role they will play in its future.
Pathways 2 Power, a student group at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School in Ward 8, facilitated the event.
The discussion took place on April 23 and 40 students attended the two-hour session. Keron Campbell, a youth mayor of the Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute, said gentrification has many of his fellow students anxious.
“The city is going in a direction where it is not for everyone,” he said. “We are also dealing with gun violence. We need to help all people in this city and not send them out.”
The students talked about a wide range of issues that dealt with community safety, mental health and education. Many didn’t have concrete solutions to the issues they brought up, but they did vent.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham spoke to the students, saying that his officers are trying to make the community safe and he understands the poverty that exists in the city. Newsham also said he understands why so many young people have a negative view of the police and placed some of the blame on television.
Jayla Holdip said many Black students are tired of seeing Blacks as victims in their textbooks and lessons.
“When it comes to Black people, they only talk about slavery and Reconstruction,” Holdip said. She also said many Black young people admire entertainers because of the view that it will produce quick, lucrative results.
“Many don’t want to go the academic route because it is long and hard and being an entertainer is fast money,” she said.
D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) spoke at the event and stressed the importance of young people of color being able to get the jobs that are available in the District.