We have crossed the threshold of another New Year. But for an ever-growing number of Chicago families, this New Year may very well end up feeling too much like the tragic year 2012 that we thought that we had left behind.
We ended 2012 with Chicago headlines bemoaning our nation-leading 506 homicide victims. More than one hundred of whom were teenagers and younger.
As a gospel minister, I am providing pastoral care for families on a daily bases. Other clergymen and I are dealing with grief-stricken families whose tragic loss of loved ones is overwhelming. Especially when many of those lives could have been saved if there existed more trauma centers in our neighborhoods. In many cases ambulances are passing up several local hospitals to get to Cook County’s John Stroger Hospital.
I am compelled to write on behalf of many African American families and others who are faced with the same plight that poverty and urban decay have wrought upon them. This pattern of looking forward and stepping backward is negatively affecting African Americans in Chicago. Not having enough trauma centers is among the worst forms of health discrimination. We have seen the results of housing discrimination with inadequate living quarters; we also have seen the overt racial economic discrimination; which includes inadequate schools, the closing of mental health facilities and the lack of jobs.
I want to make it plain that our demands are for thousands of oppressed people, right here in Chicago, who need the mayor of this city to respond to them now! Our complaint is neither for any petty political positioning nor any other gratuitous notoriety. Our demand is that the mayor fulfills his legal obligation to respond affirmatively and to enforce vigorously the civil rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all the citizens of this city.
To that end, we are preparing to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the day that we will present our demand to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
WHAT: March to save lives by demanding more trauma centers in Chicago communities.
WHEN: Monday, Jan. 21. Time: 12 p.m.
WHERE: At the front door of Chicago City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St.
WHO: Jakes along with members of “The Other NATO,” the Christian Council on Urban Affairs and scores of families who have lost loved ones to unchecked violence and the lack of trauma centers in neighborhoods most affected by the violence.
A commemorative prayer service honoring King, will be held on Monday, Jan. 21 from 4: 00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at New Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church, 531 N. Kedzie Ave. Jakes will host the event.
West Side advocate the Rev. Paul Jakes is the pastor at New Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church.