Thursday for The Root I wrote a piece about a nonprofit collective that fell apart in Baltimore like so many have before. It was meant to bring all the groups together so they could fight for various causes, but struggles to find successors who could get along and the founders moving on to other things lead to its demise, to the detriment of Baltimore’s youth. This is a similar pattern that plays out at all social justice nonprofits, where members come together around one charismatic leader, but fall apart once that leader is gone.
In 2003, Baltimore activist Hassan Giordano and several of his friends formed the Youth Empowerment Movement, an umbrella organization for several of Baltimore’s youth-oriented nonprofits to join. The group had an immediate impact, creating Baltimore’s Youth Commission, which in turn went on to successfully fight to keep recreational centers open; got the minimum age for being eligible to run for local office lowered to 18; and met regularly with the mayor, City Council and police commissioner.
But Baltimore’s Youth Empowerment Movement couldn’t help out during the unrest last week when young people went out into the streets to demand justice for Freddie Gray.
Because the Youth Empowerment Movement doesn’t exist anymore.