To most Detroiters th eface of Charles Pugh is easily identifiable. He worked for ten years as a broadcast journalist for Channel 2 News and traversed, perhaps, every community in Detroit as he reported breaking news to the residents of Southeast Michigan. Yet Pugh’s early life was just as painful and devastating as many of the stories he related through the lens of a television camera.
In 1974 when he was three years old, his mother was viciously stabbed to death by her drug dealing boyfriend who feared she would turn on him. And a few a years later his father, the victim of a fatal combination of alcoholism and depression, committed suicide with a handgun with young Charles the only other person in the residence.
Pugh believes that his experiences with heartbreak and tragedy connect him to those Detroiters who have also endured travesty, pain and misfortune.
And he sees the problem of violence in Detroit as a phenomenon that is fed by apathy and neglect, especially toward the young.
“Positive active school activities are more vital than we know,” said Pugh. “And we don’t have recreation center coverage for the whole city, and there are several smart people around this city who have devised a way to open selective schools until 8 p.m.
You would have parts of the building open — the gym, the computer lab, the library — and you’d have a small staff to supervise the young people. We need to be committed to this because lack of activities for young people contributes to a lot of crime and violence.”
Pugh believes that gang violence can be resolved if we engage gang members in creative ways to find out why they are shooting each other and work to find positive, cultural paradigms to vent their energies and to expand their vision. And far from viewing his lack of political experience as a liability, he believes it is in many ways advantageous.
“The fact that I’m not a politician is a positive,” he said. “The fact that I don’t have experience in making a deficit, that’s a positive. So I’m ready and I’m going to be on the grind to make my case.”
Steven Malik Shelton is a writer and human rights advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.