michelle_obama_03Michelle Obama is going home. The First Lady will travel to Chicago next month to partake in a luncheon designed to address the city’s youth and gun violence. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel organized the luncheon, titled “Working Together to Address Youth Violence in Chicago,” to build a coalition of leaders and civic organizations  invested in finding solutions for the gun violence plaguing the city. Some of the expected attendees include civic organizations like World Business Chicago and the Economic Club as well as business leaders like Thomas J. Wilson, Chairman, President and CEO of the Allstate Corporation.

“Chicago’s businesses are partnering with social service professionals and community groups to make our neighborhoods safer for innocent children,” Wilson said in a press release from Emanuel’s office. “The current level of violence has been decades in the making and is unacceptable. It’s time to fix this the Chicago way, working together.”

The attendees will gauge possible solutions to curb gun violence, but according to DNAinfo Chicago, Obama and Emanuel are also gathering these influencers to raise $50 million to support Emanuel’s initiative to increase youth engagement.

Emanuel hopes to challenge the business community to “support mentoring, intervention and conflict resolution programs, provide seed funding for new programs, and work to rebuild community supports in neighborhoods most impacted by violence” according to the press release.

Some of the initiatives Emanuel, Obama and Wilson are interested in funding is Windy City Hoops, a year-round basketball league aimed at engaging at-risk young adults, and Becoming A Man, a program sponsored by the Youth Guidance organization. Chicago has already invested $4.5 million in these programs because they reduce failing grades and arrests, increase graduate rates and keep youth from joining gangs according to Emanuel’s office. Becoming A Man boasts a 10 percent in graduation rates and a 44 percent decrease in violent crime arrests.

This is the crux of Obama’s interest in the luncheon. She urged community leaders to “invest in more opportunities for youth,” during a Feb. 28 visit to Chicago. Her participation in the luncheon is an extension of her dedication to the nation’s youth.

The luncheon will take place at the Hilton Chicago on April 10.

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  • TajMarie

    One of the few disappointments that I have had in regards to the discussion of gun control is the amount of gun violence in Black communities and how such crimes are committed with hand guns versus semi-automatic weapons. One possible solution would be to employ finger print recognition so a gun cannot be used by no one other than that person who it is registered to. Any guns without this technology (aside from antique guns manufactured prior to a set time period) can be deemed illegal and a grounds for a felony for anyone in possession of a gun without this technology. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for intervention, conflict resolution, and even providing more economic opportunities in communities in order to dissuade people from gun violence and even the selling of drugs. However, there are some elements in our race, just as in every race, that will choose the road of exploitation for their own social and financial gain no matter the self-destruction in our communities that it will create. So if we can ban assault weapons, limit certain magazines, establish more rigorous background checks, and eliminate the gun show loopholes, why not finger print recognition and a ban of private gun sells so we can go after these guns on the streets? If enough of us speak out on this and contact our representatives, maybe we can actually get some laws to effectively reduce the gun violence in Black communities and not just White Suburban areas. If enough people agree, I may start a petition on that issue.

    • seritatheresa

      I think guns used to commit crimes should be destroyed. Yesterday a young woman from my hometown was murdered after her boyfriend shot her car up and turned the gun on himself. The kicker is he was out on bail from trying to kill her in their home 3 weeks ago with the same gun. I really tired of violence

    • TajMarie

      I thought they would have had enough sense to confiscate such weapons. However, I guess not. It would also make sense to blacklist people charged with crimes from attaining another weapon. However, that too would make too much sense for our today’s backward thinking congress and local government.

    • Mademoiselle

      TajMarie, you have an interesting idea, but I think it would become tricky if a husband and wife have one gun in the house for protection that’s only registered to one of them. If the need to use the gun arises, they’d be weakened by the need to make sure the registered spouse can get to the gun and have a clear shot. On your second point about blacklisting, I think I heard on the news last week about someone bringing up the idea of a “gun offenders” list that would let people see who in their neighborhood has been convicted of a crime committed with a gun. I don’t remember how it was received…

  • Nice gesture, but maybe they should actually talk to the youth to find solutions instead of talking about them.

  • Mademoiselle

    I wish I could attend one of these round tables to see firsthand what actually gets accomplished there. For some reason I always feel like it’s just a bunch of “important people” sitting around pontificating, and no real action plans being laid out and set to motion during those sessions.

    So, I wonder is Emmanuel going to this luncheon with a list of ideas that Chicago is asking for White House support on, or is this a brainstorming luncheon, or is this an “I hear you, and I agree” echo chamber? I wonder because if this event is also being used as a fundraiser, it leads me to believe few in the audience will actually be change agents or even people close enough to the problem to discuss what’s really needed.

  • Okay, but let’s talk about how and when closing down 61 schools became a good idea to increase education in low income neighborhoods with African American and Latino American students…