JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a violent week of shootings in Jacksonville, hundreds of young men are coming together as part of the Save Our Sons summit in hopes of changing the culture of violence in the city.
Save Our Sons founder Bishop John Guns sent a call out to the community telling Jacksonville's youth to meet him on the gym floor if they were tired of fighting and dying.
That gym was at Edward Waters College and civic leaders such as Mayor Alvin Brown and school Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti were present.
"I just think it's nice to see such leaders in the city come together and show that they really care about our youth and want to make a change," summit attendee Vernard Jiggetts said.
They came by the hundreds, huddled together with their hands on each other's shoulders and prayed.
"So father break the curse of death over this community, over this generation," they intoned.
That one line sums up what Operation Save Our Sons and this, the group' s third annual summit, is all about.
Different speakers shared their personal stories, inspiring the young men to make good choices in an effort to keep them away from crime, violence and death.
"A lot of crime is going on with young black men and to see successful black men is really going to help change lives and have someone to look forward to be or like idolizing," Andrew Geon, a summit attendee said.
The summit took place just hours after three people were shot in Jacksonville, two of them died. Those were just a few of many shootings in the city so far this year.
Bishop Guns said it's not just about stopping violence it's about giving students the option to do the right thing.
"It's a mindset not just activity. So we've got to keep plugging along and everyone has to understand that one life saved is already success," Guns said. "A seed has been planted and though it may not save every young man that came here, there will be many who have walked away from this knowing that they have options and opportunities to do better.