Friday, September 16, 2011
Black Men Offer "Safe Passage" to D.C. School Kids
by Chris L. Jenkins
The Washington Post
September 15, 2011
Curtis Watkins has a simple plan: Make sure that children who live in the troubled communities east of the Anacostia River see welcoming black male faces on their way to school in the mornings.
Four times a week, at the crack of dawn, he and a small group of men walk the streets of Marshall Heights and Lincoln Heights in Ward 7, greeting students. Their opening line is often: “Good morning, young brother! Good morning, young sister!”
“Most of these kids don’t see positive male role models, brothers who are just out and about looking out for their well-being,” Watkins said as he strolled down E Street SE, piping up with his greeting to a trio of girls who were scurrying to J.C. Nalle Elementary School. The girls looked a little confused at first, then murmured a “Good morning” back.
“It’ll take them a little while to get used to us, but they’ll start asking us, ‘What y’all doing out here?’ ” Watkins said. “It’s just about having a presence in the community.”