Black youth between the ages of 15 and 25, along with their parents and some older individuals, spoke to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser May 7 about what they wish the mayor and D.C. government knew about growing up in the city.
The Youth Engagement Forum, marked with the social media #IWishUKnew, was held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 901 G St. NW. Joe Clair, host of the “Joe Clair Morning Show” on WPGC 95.5, facilitated the event along with several other radio personalities, including Poet and Tony Redz from WPGC and Brittany Waters (2PrettyBritty) from WKYS DC 93.9.
According to a follow-up article on the radio station’s website, Bowser wanted the youth to share their hopes, dreams, fears and ideas with her and administration officials in response to the events surrounding Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore last month.
Bowser, along with radio personalities and representatives from community organizations, such as The Hope Project, stressed community involvement, youth rights, common sense and responsibility.
“The challenge is to get young people to actually activate that new way of thinking,” Clair said, referencing that youth have to realize that many of the entertainment icons they idolize uphold false appearances.
Many young people in the library conveyed that much of the misdirection came from the fact that there weren’t enough role models and mentors from their communities.
“Politicians just don’t know,” one young man said during the forum.
In addition to a small group gathering at the library, the forum was also broadcast over radio, YouTube and on Twitter.
At the library, youth questioned the response of police in neighborhoods, mostly in Wards 7 and 8, body cameras, education, the lack of sex education classes in public schools and hunger and homelessness within the District.
On Twitter, youth tweeted about their concerns and themselves through the hash tag.
YoursTrulyPre ♡ tweeted, “@muybonita__ #IWishUKnew how hard it is trying to be successful in a city where we have little support.”
“The bottom line,” Bowser said. “If you’re not able to finish , you’re working towards a GED, working towards a good skill to get a good job.”
Bowser also told youth and parents listening at the forum, online or through radio that she included a proposal in her budget to enable school-aged children to ride Metrorail for free.
According to American University Radio, Bowser proposed to allocate $7 million to the free ride initiative.