A Wilmington organization remains committed to helping young people, especially when it comes to helping young boys become the next generation of leaders.
The Martin Luther King holiday marked the end of a week of action strategically called, “Raising Kings”. It was organized by the One Village Alliance in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. Community members organized a series of events, including one at the Delaware Art Museum to encourage inner city youth, and teach children things such as how to put on ties.
“It was fruitful. When I was a kid, I actually liked staying dressed up more than being dressed down, so seeing other children being able to be dressed up and exude confidence in themselves by how they dressed is very wonderful for me. It was very nice to be on the opposite side from learning to teaching,” said volunteer William Merritt Jr.
While Monday was dedicated as a holiday to keep Dr. King’s dream alive, it wasn’t lost on this group that January is also National Mentoring Month.
Chandra Pitts of “One Village Alliance” had set a goal to mentor 300 young Black boys by today. She reached her goal in what she calls troubling times.
“In the state of Delaware, we have the highest incarceration rate per capita in the entire world. We’re in a state where blacks make up only 20 percent, man, woman and child of the general population. Our black males make up nearly 90 percent of those incarcerated,” Pitts said.
In addition to helping boys learn how to dress and fix a tie, children also wrote letters to encourage incarcerated youth.
“When a lot of people think about Dr. King they think about peace, Dr. King was about action and radical action toward the end of his life, in particular with being honest and unfiltered about what he was fighting for and what we really needed to look at,” Pitts said.
Raising Kings Week kicked off on Jan. 9, with a mentoring challenge and closed out with an award ceremony to raise money for youth scholarships and to honor the next set of leaders on the move.
“I couldn’t be where I am today without him [Dr. Martin Luther King] and the civil rights movement. It’s not just his dream, but the American dream. I feel like what he represents, just the opportunity, we are all equal and without that so much would be different,” Merritt said.