Writer KIA GREGORY, a native of North Philadelphia, pleads with visiting members of the NAACP to help stop the killing of our children.
Dear NAACP Conventioneers:
Welcome to Philadelphia, which we like to think of as the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection.
Walking through Center City, you'll get a sense of how we combine rich history and modernization to make our very old city come to life.
We're home to the Liberty Bell, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Runaway slaves found their freedom here through our Underground Railroad stops. And the nation's first abolitionist society was created here, giving birth to the civil rights movement.
We have great museums and shopping. And we're a legendary music town, home to the Sound of Philadelphia, the Gamble and Huff legacy.
Patti LaBelle is a Philadelphian, as are Jill Scott and Eve. We have lots of venues for live music--jazz and blues, rock and R&B.
And, as you've probably heard, we like to eat. You'll find everything from Southern fried chicken and waffles to Russian caviar.
And of course, there's our famous Philly cheesesteak.
So welcome. Have a good time. Enjoy your stay.
But there's something else you should know: Beneath the sparkle of our Center City, we're a black community in crisis.
You should know this, because for 95 years, the organization you belong to--the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)--has been at the forefront of securing, protecting and advancing our civil rights through political pressure, marches and demonstrations.
Your legacy is enduring.
But today, here in Philadelphia, which is home to one of the NAACP's oldest branches, we're failing our children--especially our black children.
Which is why we need to send you a very direct message. We need help. Your help.
We have inferior and underfunded schools. Most students in our public schools can't read or write at grade level. They graduate from high school with the equivalent of an eighth-grade education.
Our communities face rampant poverty, unemployment and blight, as well as drug use and trafficking.
There are too many single mothers and absentee fathers.