Black Leaders Accept Mayor's Challenge

Savannah mayor Otis Johnson made some strong remarks yesterday concerning African American crime victims and perpetrators. He challenged community leaders to help stop crime in their neighborhoods which the mayor says threaten the entire community.

Today those leaders are reacting.

"Leaders have to play different roles, sometimes there's a time for leadership to be in your face, there's times you have to be diplomatic," said Mayor Johnson. "This is a time to be in your face."

And his strong tactic worked. "To be frank with you, I'm glad he said something about it because it's going to wake a lot of us up," said Prince Jackson, president of the local NAACP.

"That's why we elected Otis Johnson," Rev. Bennie Mitchell of Connors Temple Church.

In fact, the NAACP is already working on becoming part of the solution, typing up an agenda for its next meeting, the mayor's wake-up call being the main topic.

"NAACP is in a position to do a lot and we intend to do a lot, we intend to do a lot," said Jackson.

Since many of the black leaders are members of the NAACP, the message will be spread.

"The African American community can solve this problem, if we put our hearts in it, and that's what the mayor is calling for us to do."

All the leaders WTOC spoke with say they plan on accepting the mayor's challenge, and attending next week's town hall meeting armed with ideas for solutions to the crime problem.

The town hall meeting is next Wednesday, April 13, at the Savannah Civic Center. Everyone is invited to come out and voice their concerns or offer suggestions.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro,