During the late ’80s, Rev. Jeffrey Brown was watching his neighborhood become overrun with drugs and violence. He decided to listen to the young people in the community — not preach to them — in order to bring about change. He is one of the co-founders of the Boston Ten Point Coalition, a faith-based group that was an integral part of the “Boston Miracle,” a process by which the city experienced a significant decline in violent crime in the ’90s.
I heard about Rev. Brown on a recent episode of TED Radio from NPR. Here is his full TED Talk:
Here’s a few quotes from the talk…
“I’ve learned some of my most important life lessons from drug dealers and gang members and prostitutes, and I’ve had some of my most profound theological conversations not in the hallowed halls of a seminary but on a street corner on a Friday night, at 1 a.m.
“That’s a little unusual, since I am a Baptist minister, seminary-trained, and pastored a church for over 20 years, but it’s true. It came as a part of my participation in a public safety crime reduction strategy that saw a 79 percent reduction in violent crime over an eight-year period in a major city.
“And so while my colleagues were building these cathedrals great and tall and buying property outside of the city and moving their congregations out so that they could create or recreate their cities of God, the social structures in the inner cities were sagging under the weight of all of this violence.
“Now, there is a movement in the United States of young people who I am very proud of who are dealing with the structural issues that need to change if we’re going to be a better society. But there is this political ploy to try to pit police brutality and police misconduct against black-on-black violence. But it’s a fiction. It’s all connected. When you think about decades of failed housing policies and poor educational structures, when you think about persistent unemployment and underemployment in a community, when you think about poor healthcare, and then you throw drugs into the mix and duffel bags full of guns, little wonder that you would see this culture of violence emerge. And then the response that comes from the state is more cops and more suppression of hot spots. It’s all connected, and one of the wonderful things that we’ve been able to do is to be able to show the value of partnering together — community, law enforcement, private sector, the city — in order to reduce violence. You have to value that community component.