MILWAUKEE -- Setting a better standard for Milwaukee youth -- that was the message from a rally in Sherman Park Saturday, July 29th aimed at tackling the high level of crime in the city committed by teens.
The event called the "Million Youth March" was inspired and organized by a 16-year-old Milwaukee high school student. He wants to set a positive example for his peers and encourage them to focus their energy on giving back rather than getting into trouble.
"The most ruthless year yet. 2018 is going to be worse if we don't get it under control," said Rashad Salaam, event organizer. "It's time to reform this city. And I know other people is trying to do it. I said, 'hey how about the youth lead the youth.' Because the youth ain't listening to the adults."
During the gathering in Sherman Park, Rashad Salaam called on his peers to help him change the perception of Milwaukee's young people.
"It's time for us to set a better standard for these youths," Salaam said.
"He's 16-years-old and he's organizing something that would be difficult for an adult to do. So I'm very proud of him," said Patience "Queen" Phillips, community activist.
Community activists who took the podium to speak at the event are hopeful Salaam's words start a dialogue between community members and leaders of all ages.
"We can't solve the youth's problems without them expressing to us their ideas and their concerns," Phillips said.
Salaam says he's witnessed firsthand the despair many African-American males feel across the city.
"Some of my best friends, they got wrapped up into this," Salaam said.
Salaam wants to not only motivate his friends to stay out of the streets, but also remind them that they have the potential to make a difference.
"If you have a dream, you do it," said Salaam.
While there wasn't any marching Saturday evening, Salaam says he was inspired by the Million Man March in 1995, when thousands of African-American men gathered in Washington, D.C., to address issues facing them.