PULLMAN — Last week's shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton is the latest example why the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum is developing a new youth violence prevention program, said Lyn Hughes, founder of the South Side institution.
"Our kids, and when I say our kids I mean black folks, are being killed and exposed to violence every day," said Hughes, who founded the organization in 1995.
"This new program is the brainchild of our president [David Peterson], who is working hard to get this program off the ground and on to the table."
The goal, said Hughes, is to raise $60,000 to launch the pilot "Museum 44, Where Hip Hop Meets History" program this year at the museum. Kids would be able to attend workshops catered to youth issues, such as unemployment and violence.
Because hip hop plays a big role in the lives of kids, Hughes said he plans to recruit hip hop artists to participate as guest speakers and mentors.
The program's title, Museum 44, derived from the election of the country's 44th president, Barack Obama.
After graduating from Florida A&M University, Peterson, president of the museum, worked for the State of Illinois, where he conducted research on youth.
“The result was that most youth are genuinely interested in the arts, employment and want to see business development in their community," he said.
The program could also be used as an intervention strategy.
“Most youth feel comfortable expressing themselves through the umbrella of hip hop, a cultural and musical genre that allows expression, without boundaries," said Peterson. "Hip hop music, its lyrics and culture are utilized as a tool that provides social commentary and emotional expression, which relates to the participant's overall life."
So far, the museum has raised $20,000. Hughes said she is hoping to raise an additional $20,000 at a planned fundraiser set for 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Marmon Grand, 2230 S. Michigan Ave.
Tickets are $100 and can be purchased online at the organization's website. The non-profit organization, 10406 S. Maryland Ave., will celebrate its 18th anniversary a week later on Feb. 25.
The museum is named after Asa Philip Randolph and Pullman Porters, who made up the membership of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union. Randolph was the chief organizer and founder of the union, which became the first black labor union in the country to win a collective bargaining agreement, according to historian Timuel Black.
Violence, said Hughes, has no color, gender or age preference.
"This epidmic of violence has spilled out into the streets of Chicago and is the main reason why we are losing so many youth," she said. "If this trend continues future generations would be wiped away especially in the black community where young, black men are the victims and the offenders."