Place of Residence: New York City
Why She’s a Game Changer: Sekou is on the front lines, trying to prevent gang and gun violence on the streets of New York City and Harlem where she lives. But Sekou is one of many activists that you see at the press conference denouncing violence after someone has been shot and killed.
Instead, with her group, Street Corner Resources, Sekou, 55, is engaging young people by helping them to express themselves through various media, such as producing their own radio show, newspapers, and music.
And Sekou has turned her young charges into activists, helping them to lobby at the New York statehouse and in Washington, D.C., for everything from changes to the gun laws to funding for programs to help young people.
Sekou has been working with young people in one capacity or another for three decades now, but Street Corner Resources started in 2007, after two 13-year-olds were shot to death in Harlem in quick succession.
“I said we have to educate kids, find out what they like, and use that to get them to think about their behavior and its consequences,” Sekou said in an interview with NewsOne.
Sekou has seen the cycle before: Kids who grow up in homes where there is not sufficient parental guidance tend to influence their peers with negative behavior. Some of that behavior, such as violence as a response to minor conflict and drug use, is gleaned from their environment and even music where some artists talk about being “high all the time” and putting the “chrome to your skull.”
“The young person who pulls the trigger is promoted by a circle of young people before they ever pull the trigger. They have to shoot to resolve conflict to keep a reputation among those people.
“There is a culture around having a reputation and maintaining it, but it’s fake.
“When they get arrested and are behind bars and facing 25 years to life, they cry, they have nightmares, and they wish they could bring the person back.”