BOSTON (CBS) – Stopping the violence in Boston has been the work of the Ten Point Coalition for 20 years but now the organization and its leader are at a crossroads.
Reverend Jeffrey Brown, one of the founders, is stepping down but he continues to look ahead.
It was a terrible night at a Mattapan church in May of 1992 at the funeral of Robert Odom, who had been shot at a party. Gang members invaded and attacked one of the mourners, stabbing him repeatedly.
The Ten Point Coalition was born out of that desecration.
“That was a wake up call for many of the faith leaders in the area,” Brown said. “The message was that if we don’t come out of the four walls of our sanctuaries and meet the youth where they are, to find out what the needs are and how we can help, they’re going to start coming in with devastating consequences.”
Clergy and lay people came together, reaching out to young people and doing something that was unusual for the time.
“We started to work with law enforcement largely because we were out on the streets and they were out on the streets and we had the same goal,” he said.
They focused on the highest crime areas, working with city agencies and developing new programs.
Violent crime went down and they called it the Boston miracle.
“We were saying, look, don’t go down this road. Take advantage of these resources so we can try and find a better direction for your life,” Brown said.
Though the dramatic improvements didn’t last into the 2000’s, Rev. Brown says they’re back on track.
Still, he plans to step down over the next several months to work on a national level.
He says it is his life’s work to reduce the violence among younger generations.