NEW ORLEANS, LA (News release) - Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola joined mayors and city leaders from across the country in New Orleans, La. for the inaugural Cities United meeting to explore solutions aimed at reducing the tragic number of violence-related deaths of young African American men and boys by 50 percent. The two-day working session brought together 225 local officials and staff from 37 cities—including Stodola, Little Rock City Director Ken Richardson and Community Programs Coordinator Marq Golden—to develop a plan of action that will end homicide as the leading cause of death for African American males between the ages of 15 and 24.
"As leaders, our highest responsibility is protecting the safety and prosperity of our communities and our people. This means preventing violence and investing in the opportunities that everyone needs to feel hopeful about their future and to flourish,” Stodola said. “It is time to stop the violence. So it is time to marshal every resource—federal, state, local, private, faith based, and not-for-profit—to turn the tide. Finding Little Rock’s strategies and executing them is our imperative."
Through his participation in the meeting, Stodola will help guide the Cities United movement and its work to restore hope and opportunities to young men and boys directly affected by violence. Topics covered included effective strategies for engaging black men; rethinking juvenile justice; restorative justice as a tool for community healing; educating for a strong community; leveraging philanthropic partnerships; and developing strategies that ensure a long-term impact.
The conference featured a number prominent speakers, including: Professor Pedro Noguera, executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools; Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink; and Karol Mason, Assistant Attorney General of the United States.
Cities United was launched under the leadership of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu with support from National League of Cities, Casey Family Programs and Open Society Foundations. Since it launched in 2011, Cities United has forged a growing network of 56 mayors working to equip local elected officials with the tools, practices, skills and resources needed to effectively eliminate the violence-related deaths of African American men and boys. The initiative is headquartered at the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families.
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