At Greater Love Tabernacle Church today, more than 40 men took “The Black Man’s Pledge of Responsibility,” an oath to renounce violence and work to benefit their families and communities.
Composed by women from Boston’s black community, the pledge calls upon men to “reject violence in all its forms as a means of resolving conflict” and encourage others to do so, and to help provide guidance and opportunities to young people.
The pledge also asks men to look after their physical and emotional health and to build healthy relationships with their children and romantic partners.
It comes as domestic violence receives extra attention in the local black community following the January conviction of former State Representative Carlos Henriquez for assaulting a woman who refused him sex, and as city residents call for an end to gun violence after a brutal beginning to 2014.
There were nine shooting deaths in January, more than Boston has seen in several years. Police have said many of the shootings appeared to be gang-related.
So far there has been only one February homicide, but it was a shocking death. Nine-year-old Jan Marcos Pena died inside his Mattapan home Feb. 7, allegedly shot by his 14-year-old brother, whose name was not released by police due to his age.
Horace Small, executive director of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods and co-founder of the Committed Brothers Network that organized the pledge effort, said its nine points were changes that women from the city’s black community said they wanted men in their lives to make.
“We didn’t think it was appropriate for us to write it,” Small said in a phone interview. “We wanted outside ears, outside eyes.”
Small said it is relatively easy to get men to sign the pledge in a church. The challenge, he said, will be taking the pledge into the community, to get men on street corners, in bars, and in homeless shelters to take a stand against violence.
Men who join the effort, he said, can go on to enact its values in the community.
“We have to train our members so they can be mediators and forces for good on the street, so they can try to mitigate and to stop problems before they start,” Small said.