By: Tonya Jackson
Last year 21 people were the victim of a homicide in Escambia County. Recently Darius Jerome Felton and Marcus Myles took to Facebook and sent an open letter to all Pensacola pastors and leaders inviting them to participate in their Community Anti-Violence Event and Video Shoot on Saturday, April 16th at the Abundance of Life Temple of Praise. Their event promised to be an opportunity to learn about the issues facing our city when not seen through the lens of the nightly news.
Before arriving at Abundance of Life, I thought there would be a crowd, but it seems that the timing of the event, noon on a Saturday, presented a conflict for many would-be attendees. Nevertheless, Felton and Myles, also known as Bars and Canvas, continued with their plans and worked on their video for their new Christian rap single, “Justice.”
Myles stated, “Our purpose is to bring the church back to its place as the backbone of the community. We want to bring the body together to come up with actual solutions for our community so we can bridge the gap not only between church and community but the community and law enforcement. And community and education. We want to minimize the destruction going on. This is not just about the black community either.”
Felton added, “The whole basis of today is to bring awareness, to bring change. Senseless violence has plagued this community and it’s our young people that are most affected. We are their leaders; we are their compass.” Also, “We are trying to spark thinking. We have a lot of reactions, but not enough thinking. For change to be effective, leadership has to walk in change as well. ”
Felton continued with, “The system is designed to keep the male presence out of the family. The male provides reassurance in the family. If he is missing from the family, then I’m going to seek reassurance, and I’ll more than likely find that reassurance in the wrong places, like a gang. We want to encourage positive results for our children.”
As the conversation with the conscious Felton and Myles continued their passion for the community and their desire to teach young people another way to handle their issues was evident. They realize explaining the merits of non-violence will take time, but they also know that unless someone steps up in the community and is willing to work with the church and law enforcement to create stronger communities, our children will continue the current pattern of violence.