According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the No. 1 cause of death for African-American males ages 15 to 34 is murder. In Miami, gunfire has claimed the lives of young males and females living in besieged neighborhoods afflicted by poverty and violence at alarming rates.
Within the past year, 62 of our children have been shot; 25 of them have lost their lives to senseless violence. The youngest victim is 6-year-old King Carter.
The word “statistic” dehumanizes these lives but we must consider the sheer number, which now surpasses the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre where 20 children were killed by a gunman, leaving their community and our nation grieving and traumatized.
Today our community faces a crippling crisis of conscience if we do not muster the collective resolve to act.
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Since the founding of our community, educational institutions have collaborated across a wide spectrum in addressing issues of common concern. Given the gravity of the challenges we must now speak of the alarming violence plaguing our community, for we cannot sustainably build up our community if our children are being lost to violence every day. The crisis we are facing is every bit as devastating as the destruction wrought by Hurricane Andrew.
A global city is a community that puts the well-being of its children first, and we as educators stand ready to act. In this time of crisis, our group of educational institutions commit to making the safety of our children a top priority. It is for this reason that FIU, UM, St. Thomas, Barry, Florida Memorial, Miami-Dade College and Miami Dade County Public Schools have come together in this concerted effort.
Our specific plan is to strategically deploy our collective research and faculty assets to understand the root causes of gun violence within our community; to engage student and alumni groups in community outreach efforts, including mentoring programs; and to work with government and business leaders, legislators, and law enforcement entities to ensure that opportunity and safety are not place-bound for our children. Further, we commit to a deepened partnership with those community actors who have been authentically at work on these issues.
We must see recent victims King Carter, Amiere Castro, Tavaris Rhodes, and Joewuan Coles as our children too. Miami must serve as a beacon to all. We must fuel the glow of opportunity to all of our children and secure the promise of prosperity for our future generations.
ROSLYN ARTIS, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY
SISTER LINDA BEVILACQUA, PRESIDENT, BARRY UNIVERSITY
ALBERTO M. CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
MSGR. FRANKLYN CASALE, PRESIDENT, ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY
JULIO FRENK, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI
EDUARDO PADRON, PRESIDENT, MIAMI DADE COLLEGE
MARK B. ROSENBERG, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY