Making a Difference With Deeds, Not Talk

Annette John-Hall, in her Philadelphia Inquirer column, pays tribute to workers who are helping to steer youths away from life on the streets. 

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Columnist to tell stories of people working to keep youths off the streets (Thinkstock)

Annette John-Hall, in her column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, pledges to tell the stories of people who are working in the trenches to help steer youths away from violence.

Turned on the radio the other day and heard Mayor Nutter fire off his latest salvo in an effort to generate change for the better in Philadelphia:

"I pledge to increase the number of high school graduates," the mayor said. Then he pointedly asked, "What are you prepared to do?"

I'm guessing that's the whole point of the "I Pledge" campaign, a series of public-service announcements featuring politicians, activists, and other notables, heard on hip-hop and R&B radio stations citywide: If everyone actually made a pledge, kept it, and held a neighbor accountable, this thing could go a long way toward fixing what's wrong with the city.

Truth is, it doesn't work that way. If only it could be as easy as uttering magic words to rid Philadelphia of the guns, crime, and hopelessness too many young people live with every day.

I sure don't have the answers. But I do know that a pledge of nonviolence, recorded by some slick-talking disc jockey in a suburban studio miles away from where the violence actually occurs, is just slick talk.

So I pledge to tell stories of the folks on the ground, whose commitment to their communities puts them in a position not only to start figuring out the answers, but also to ask the right questions.

Read Annette John-Hall's complete column at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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