Darryl Rouson: "From the crack house to the floor of the House."

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Nancy Reagan used to say, "Just say no to drugs." But we found out you can't just say no to drugs without saying yes to something else that fills the void. You just can't cut budgets, do away with summer youth employment that city was doing, reduce library hours, reduce community center and recreation hours and tell kids, "Sit on your thumbs and be good." You have to fill it with something else. So what I wanted to do is challenge the community to give these idle hands a workshop and a workplace as a way of keeping them away from the potential of violence and the potential of negative activity. Real simple. Encourage private individuals and motivate folks first by stepping up myself and doing something, to do what government can no longer afford to do, because of revenue shortfalls and budget cuts.

Any thoughts on the shooting of Javon Dawson?

Yeah, we need people to come forward. There were a couple hundred kids and folks out there that night and my understanding is as of a couple days ago no one had really stepped forward yet to really tell what they know. If the police officer was wrong he ought to absolutely be punished to the fullest extent of the law and in a very firm manner and in a very timely manner. If Javon Dawson had a gun and pointed it at the officer instead of vilifying and attacking Javon Dawson we ought to be finding out why he had a gun and why he brought it to a party and who knew he had it. But first, we need people to come forward and realize that it's not snitching to tell the truth about what you know.

Do you have a favorite superhero?

I wasn't a superhero guy like Superman. I liked the Fantastic Four, because it was teamwork. And each one had a different skill to the mix. Not one of them could do the job by themselves, but all four together could not be defeated. I've always liked that concept. I am not powerful by myself. I am powerful because of the following and because of the collaboration and the cooperation of colleagues and the team. Even when I was NAACP president, it wasn't me who was powerful; it was the membership that made me powerful. So I don't like Underdog. I don't like Superman. I don't even like Batman, because he was a solitary figure. But I always liked Fantastic Four.

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