Recognizing the pivotal role that celebrating youth plays in fostering a generation of positive and productive future leaders, communities like Detroit are coming together to honor the potential and achievements of young individuals. From grassroots initiatives to city-wide events, like ARISE Detroit’s Neighborhoods Day, the spotlight on youth accomplishments not only instills confidence and empowerment but also paves the way for a brighter tomorrow.

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The Church of the Messiah in Islandview hosted an event during this year’s 17th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day on Aug. 5 to promote peace and highlight the diligent work of the youth in Detroit. One Detroit contributor Daijah Moss talked with youth leaders from the Peace & Prosperity Youth Action Movement.

Moss talks with Church of the Messiah Pastor Barry Randolph, One Love Global Detroit Director of Operations Ragine Head, and other community activists about their vision and strategies for positive youth development, community unity, peace within the city of Detroit, and youth activism.

Full Transcript:

Pastor Barry Randolph, Church of the Messiah: Today is ARISE Detroit Neighborhoods Day and we’re celebrating all of the positive things happening in the city of Detroit, primarily for the young people. A lot of you do great things, but the media only want to report the bad things. The bad things make the news, but the good things that happen with young people in the city of Detroit sometimes don’t do it. But today we’re celebrating all of the positives. Young people are doing great things in the city of Detroit, so this is your day. We’re here to celebrate you all and the things that you do.

Ragine Head, Director of Operations, One Love Global Detroit: PPM, that’s Peace and Prosperity Youth Action Movement, which is an organization geared towards young, amazing individuals through the ages of 12 to 18 and 18 to 25. We talk about and organize around all things such as identity building, speaking truth to power, and learning how to turn a lot of that pain into purpose to ultimately help them become the best version of themselves.

Johnae Johnson, Member, Peace and Prosperity Youth Action Movement: We represent Peace and Prosperity Movement Youth Action, Detroit, a.k.a. PPM. We are a youth organization group supported by One Love Global. We network with one another to build collective power in a school community year-round and our priorities are our community, safety, ending violence, environmental justice, and education justice. We recognize these interconnected issues with racial injustice at the heart. We are here today because we believe youth voice is important even when it comes to elections, to leadership, and ending all violence in all forms. Our opinions matter, even if we can’t vote yet because decisions are being made pertaining to our future generations and our lives right now.

Ridgeley Hudson Jr., Community Organizer, Activist, Advocate: Our young people are not just our future. They are our today. As one of the young ladies said, a lot of our older people are getting older. And so it’s time for our young people to stand up. It’s time for our young people to have a voice. It is time for them to move and shape.

Jerjuan Howard, Executive Director and Founder, Umoja Debate Team: What I’ve learned throughout some of this work, most of this work, is that the youth that we have are brilliant. We just have to figure out ways to bring that out of them. If we figure out the right systems and mechanisms to bring out intelligence, our youth and our communities will flourish.

Paul Jones, Community Builder, Development Analyst: As a youth of Detroit, I’ve seen myself come through the roughs. I’ve seen other children come through the roughs and make something of themselves when I’ve seen others give up on us. And I’m never giving up on Detroit.

Ragine Head: We are intentional on investing in our youth and building them up to be the best versions of themselves from their own perspectives. Not how the world sees them, not how society molds them into being, but how they are created and in God’s gifts and God’s talent.

Jonathan Williams, Member, Peace and Prosperity Youth Action Movement: PPM is giving me an opportunity to be someone I really want to be in life. Give me an opportunity on- I can grow more than just school and to be in a classroom and just sit down and listen and learn. It’s actually giving me a lot of room to walk around and look at things from a different perspective.

Johnae Johnson: PPM has helped me because I was a person who struggled with staying out of- like an angry- I was an angry person and I used to have very bad anger issues and PPM has helped me grow to be able to control my anger and to help me mature as a young lady.

Yakerius Burchett, Facilitator, Member, Peace and Prosperity Youth Action Movement: What I learned is how to communicate. Communicating is a big part because, usually, I’d just be like, I’m just going to stay quiet. But now I get to, basically, use my voice and that’s basically what PPM is about, hearing the youth’s voice.

Jerjuan Howard: So it’s very hard to become what you don’t see. Right? And so it’s very important that first, I think, that we provide good examples to the youth of what peace and unity look like. Because ultimately the back side of that if you don’t do these things is the destruction of your own communities. So it’s very important for the longevity of our communities, for the progression of our communities, that the youth understand these things very early on about why this is essential for us all to move forward as a community, as a city, as a culture, as a people, everything.

Ridgeley Hudson Jr.: I believe that as we watch our elders and as we watch leaders from the past, I think it creates opportunity for young people to step up and see the pitfalls that they have taken and be able to lead from a place of integrity, honesty, and transparency.

Paul Jones: I think action is more important than anything. That’s just my personal opinion, I would say. Any time I’ve been in a meeting with Pastor Barry, I’m always the one who’s like, okay, we’ve talked. What’s next? Like, all I care about is next steps. What are we going to do next to make sure we get our plans into fruition, to actually come out and be seen in the world?

Ridgeley Hudson Jr.: Oftentimes the stereotype is that young people don’t care about the community. Young people are not involved in their community. Young people are just out being violent and doing things that are egregious to the community. However, today, Pastor Barry called forth a lot of young people who are in the community doing some great work, whether it’s in real estate, whether it’s education, whether it’s in political aspects or even in ministry. There are a lot of young people here today who are doing some great things that Pastor Barry is showcasing and highlighting.

Johnae Johnson: I feel like our youth is facing that, not being able to speak without an adult bringing them down. And with PPM, we are allowed to do that because we have adult speakers for us. So even if that adult does try to fight us back or whatever, we know we have people to back us up for it.

Ragine Head: I love to learn this thing called life alongside our youth organizers and our young adults and just be the story. In the sense that I wish I knew of- The story that I wish was read to me when I was a young black woman from inner city Detroit who also didn’t have many folks in my corner to help me find my way.

Jonathan Williams: When I’m older, I want my kids to be proud of what I was when I was younger. I want them to be a part of the PPM and everything and just show them the right way, start them on a good path like I was.

Pastor Barry Randolph: I am peace. I am Detroit. And I’m making it happen. We applaud you all today. God is good.

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