Birmingham City Councilman Jay Roberson is banking on the youth of Birmingham to change the rate of violence in the city.
"It was the children of Birmingham that changed the movement....changed segregation here in Birmingham 50 years ago. So, now, in the 21st century, it should be the children of Birmingham that have the same type of initiative," said Roberson.
National crime data shows Birmingham is among the country's most dangerous places to live. Many of the victims of crime in the Magic City are young African Americans. To address this trend, Councilman Roberson started 100 Days of Nonviolence back in 2010.
"Its really resonating not only throughout the city of Birmingham and through the rest of the country," said Roberson.
During the campaign, students sign a pledge committing to volunteerism, refraining from bullying, loving one another, and living a healthy lifestyle.
"There's been a movement, a silent movement.... that has already touched many across this country," said Roberson.
The program has reported success. Since 2010, no homicides have been reported during the 100 Days of Nonviolence each year. However, when you look at adults 19 and older during those same one hundred days, there is a stark difference. In 2010, there were 12 homicides involving people 19 and older, according to the Birmingham Police Department. In 2011, there were 6. In 2012, there were 4.
We asked Roberson if the 100 Days of Nonviolence campaign is influential in helping those 18 and younger, why not help those 19 and older?
"The adults are really already set in their ways. That age group of the 20's have already been through some maturation and development process," said Roberson.
While some agree focusing on the younger generation makes sense, Pastor Mike McClure of the Rock Church in Birmingham says he is addressing the root of violence which he says is poverty.
"A lot of the problems I've seen attested to violence is a direct symbolic thread to poverty. I believe people are hurting right now. People are hungry," said McClure.
The Rock Church has been proactive in addressing poverty by donating food and developing enrichment programs. Although all acknowledge there is no one way to reduce violence, they hope their multi-prong approach and long term investment will ultimately save lives.