The reason why I’m involved with the night walks is because I’m really tired of burying young African-American males. I’ve been having to deal with that for a while.
Some of my sons’ friends have been involved with that lifestyle. Even one of my own sons, who’s been to prison a couple of times for carrying guns.
I’m tired of the violence in our community and the fact that older people can’t go out at night, like it used to be. At my church this year, we’re having a New Year’s Eve watch service, and we’re going to hold it from 7 to 9:30 instead of all the way until midnight because of the fact that there’s so much going on with gun violence. I don’t want people to be there when it’s vulnerable at night.
I think we need to have our sense of community back. This is the one thing that brings it back. We’ve been talking for years, saying that men need to be involved with young people. But there comes a time when we have to really put boots to what we’re saying. These night walks are actually beginning to create community, creating dialogue with these young men and establishing relationships with them so we can show them a better way.
When I’m out there, I don’t try to proselytize. But as I tell my people, you don’t have to talk about Jesus if you’re showing Jesus. What I’m doing is living out his name because that’s exactly what he would do.
To other clergy leaders, I’d say it is their moral and spiritual duty to do this, not just to sit and watch other folks do this—particularly pastors, imams, rabbis and other spiritual leaders because you can’t lead where you won’t go. And you can’t teach what you don’t know.
So if you’re up there preaching these things, you’ve got to show the people. If you’re not preaching about it, you need to be because what are our religions for but to make things better for our fellow man.