Writer KIA GREGORY, a native of North Philadelphia, pleads with visiting members of the NAACP to help stop the killing of our children.
We have more black men incarcerated than in college.
There's racism in our city--both overt and covert, real and perceived.
But worst of all is what's happening to our children.
They're being killed in our streets in alarming numbers.
This past school year was among the deadliest in our city's history.
Since last September, 35 children--all 18 and younger, most of them black--were murdered in our city. Most of them from gunfire.
One of the victims was a 10-year-old boy named Faheem Thomas-Childs.
Faheem's story shocked our city to its very core.
It began on a chilly February morning when Faheem left his home for school in a battered North Philadelphia neighborhood.
He was dressed in his navy blue uniform, his hair in neat cornrows.
Faheem was a third-grader and an A-plus student at T.M Peirce Elementary, at 23rd and Cambria, just a few blocks from his home.
It was his first semester at a new school.
Students were sitting in the cafeteria eating their breakfasts of strawberry Pop-Tarts and milk. Dozens of children played outside in the schoolyard, waiting for classes to start.
It was 8:30 in the morning when gunshots erupted.
Nearby residents had been hearing gunshots for months. But the gunfire had increased in recent days.
The morning Faheem was shot, members of rival drug gangs began exchanging hostile words in front of the school after dropping off their kids. Then they released a barrage of bullets.
Children screamed and ran for cover as the thugs fired more than 50 shots.
Faheem was stopped at the schoolyard gate, struck in the head by a single bullet that ripped his face open.
He collapsed on his backpack, his blood and brains seeping into the concrete.