Donnie Andrews, 64, is a slight, bespectacled man whose silver beard starkly contrasts his ebony skin.
At first glance, he doesn’t look like a warrior, but he’s waging a battle to win back the city from guns and the murderers who use them.
In the wake of the Sept. 19 shooting that injured a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old on the Broad Street subway, the sign Andrews was holding when I saw him standing quietly on Germantown Avenue in the Nicetown neighborhood was especially poignant.
It said, “Our children are being murdered in the streets of Philadelphia and nobody is upset!!!”
I approached him and told him that I was upset, and we agreed to meet later in his Logan neighborhood, the same neighborhood where my wife and I lived when we started dating more than 15 years ago.
I knew of the gun violence there, and I wanted to know why Andrews chose to fight a seemingly unwinnable battle against it.
His answer was simple.
“Any jackass can kick down a barn door,” he said. “It takes a carpenter to build one, and I want to be a carpenter.”
He went on to tell a powerful story about his love for Philadelphia, the kids he’s seen murdered, and the reasons he chooses to stay. Click the video above to hear Donnie Andrews speak for himself.