When asked what he would do if he were to face Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, 17-year-old Khama Worthy responded: "I'd tell him that we're going to switch places for a month. He's been cutting off programs and money for things that helped the youth but they still spend money to do stuff they don't need. I'd probably spit on him."
The crowd of close to 100 students on Oct. 4 in Peabody High School auditorium in East Liberty -- mostly high school students not from Peabody -- applauded.
These teens were drawn to school -- on a Saturday no less -- for the My Voice My Power Youth Leadership Summit organized by the Community Empowerment Association, located in Homewood and Point Breeze, which provides employment, counseling, violence prevention and after-school educational programming for disadvantaged families in the East End.
The summit, which follows several years of organizing activities, will help develop a "youth council" to put pressure on city and state government, the group hopes. Members are looking for a say on legislation directly affecting urban youth, as well as the chance to help create business opportunities for youth and to encourage consensus among black community members.
Nequila Jackson, 34, of Clairton, who attended with her 13-year-old son Sean, said the summit can help call her generation to action -- a generation that has "dropped the ball in saving these kids."