JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day honors the life of the civil rights leader and his legacy of preaching love instead of hate.
But there is a question as to whether that legacy is being overshadowed by black-on-black crime that is killing many African-Americans on the streets of Jacksonville.
Many celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by attending parades and listening to his speeches, and there is a part of one of his speeches that cannot be overlooked because it’s relevant to the black-on-black violence the city sees every week:
Man must see that force begets force. Hate begets hate and toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody.”
In other words, hatred and violence lead to retaliation, which results in someone being hurt or killed.
Donald Foy, president of Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder, or MAD DADS, said there is a war on the streets between African-Americans who are involved in illegal activities. He said they will stop at nothing to survive.
"'If I let you come and shoot me,' then that’s showing a sign of weakness that someone else is going to come and do it," Foy explained.
The area near the intersection of Ken Knight Drive and Moncrief Road is notorious for violent black-on-black crime. That's where News4Jax asked residents if many African-Americans are living up to King’s legacy of love over hate and violence.
“Our people are not getting along at the moment. It’s too much black-on-black crime," said Saquey McAllister, a Jacksonville resident.
“Older people are living up to it, but, with teenagers, it’s all about guns and violence and fighting," said Syteria Peterson, a 16-year-old Jacksonville resident.
“Blacks are killing each other and it’s not right. People are dying every day. People are losing their families. It’s just not right," said Ternisia Peterson, a 15-year-old Jacksonville resident.
The 15-year-old’s response is supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, which says homicide is the No. 1 killer of black males between the ages of 15 and 25.
Leading Causes of death of black males by age group
The statistics are why Foy believes King was right when he said love conquers hate.
“What overcomes all of that is love," Foy said.
He went on to say that a lot of young men are involved in violence because they have grown up in homes without the love of a father figure. Foy said, while some fathers are in jail, others are dead as a result of black-on-black violence.
Society often gets the blame for violence in the black community, but several people told News4Jax that, while there is still oppression of African-Americans, it's not an excuse to go out and commit crimes.