African American males in crisis

There's a "life-or-death" alert for you right now. We're losing a segment of our society.

Young African American males are being swallowed up by gangs, drugs, and shootings at a staggering rate.

One Valley mother knows the problem first-hand. And through her agony, comes action.

When Rosemary Jordan sees these children at play, she sees someone else.

"I see my son," she said.

Her son, Terrance Wilson, was found shot to death, along with his girlfriend, their bodies stuffed in the trunk of a car in December of 2007 - a drug deal gone bad.

"Was I too busy? When did I miss it?" she asks.

Rosemary knows she can't bring her son back, but she can work to stop other sons from senseless deaths. She's formed a non-profit organization called "Empowerment Through Change."

Part of the goal is to talk one-on-one with mothers, like Shakira Green, a single mother of two young sons: 9-year-old Daveon and 4-year-old Christian. Why mothers?

"The majority of fathers are in prison, in the county jail, or dead," said Rosemary.

And Shakira knows the dangers her sons face.

"Nobody's talking about it. It's a personal struggle. Single mothers with sons hoping that it doesn't happen," said Shakira.

The research we did for this story uncovered some startling results.

African American males are most likely to be suspended or expelled from school, most likely not to graduate high school, most likely to be involved in homicides, up 36 percent in recent years. They are more likely, along with Hispanics, to join gangs. They combine to make up almost 80 percent of the gang members in this country, and half of those African Americans are under 18.

According to, if the current trend continues, by 2020 over 63 percent of the African American men in this country will be behind bars. And African American males are the more likely than any group to die before the age of 20.

"I just see that these kids and the potential of them not living and potential for them going to prison is astounding. That's what I see," Rosemary said.

Empowerment Through Change is hosting a block party Saturday, October 29th from 1 p.m. to dusk. It'll be at the Calvary Hills neighborhood Center at 2900 Fairbanks Street in Huntsville. There will be music, food, games give-aways, and crucial information for the whole family.

Copyright 2011 WAFF. All rights reserved.