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Rep. Amber Baker: ‘Reinvest in our young people.’

Rep. Amber Baker

Rep. Amber Baker: ‘Reinvest in our young people.’
September 15
15:27 2021

In the aftermath of the shooting at Mount Tabor High School earlier this month, much has been said about what should be done to bring an end to senseless gun violence. There have been talks about the need for an increased law enforcement presence, in schools and in the community, and putting metal detectors in local high schools. But according to N.C. State Rep. Dr. Amber Baker, more law enforcement isn’t the answer; investment in programs and initiatives that are doing the work in the community to uplift local youth is the needed response. 

Before she was elected by voters to represent District 72 in the N.C. House of Representatives, Dr. Baker made a name for herself here in Winston-Salem as principal at Kimberley Park Elementary School. Baker said when she received word about the shooting at Mount Tabor on Tuesday, Sept. 1, she couldn’t help but think about the dozens of students she came in contact with from Kimberley Park who are now students at Mount Tabor. 

“My first reaction had nothing to do with me being in office and more to with the fact that a lot of those babies at Mount Tabor were my Kimberley Park babies,” Baker said. “Then I started thinking about the loss of life in generaI. I live on 25th Street where a lot of the shootings have been occurring recently, so long before it hit Tabor, I was saying we have to do something to stop the senseless gun violence. We’re looking for police to fix a problem that they can’t fix because they’re doing their jobs.”

This year in Winston-Salem there have been 23 homicides, nearly 100 aggravated assaults, and hundreds of shootings, several of which involved young people under the age of 18. When discussing the rise in gun violence, Dr. Baker said we have to re-invest in our young people by making sure local programs like Hoops 4 Life, Enough is Enough, L.I.T. City, and Winston-Salem Local Organizing Committee have the funding they need to sustain. Baker also mentioned that the lack of funding for grassroots programs and initiatives was one of the main reasons she decided to vote against the proposed two-year budget for the state. 

“I’m all for everybody saying they’re helping young people, but very few people are doing the work in the community, so we need to make sure those programs that are already in the community like Hoops 4 Life and different programs like that, and the work that Terrance Hawkins is doing, and what Brother Muhammad is doing,” Baker continued. “We need to make sure we’re funding those programs because those are grassroots organizations that are making a difference. We also need to open our recreation centers up and schools need to open their gyms. We have to have constructive things for young people to do.”

Baker also discussed the need for employment and training opportunities for young people, and the need for mentors. She said the answer for stopping the violence is improving the quality of those living below the poverty threshold. “Until we improve the overall quality of life for people through higher wages, through a clear path to better jobs ,,, and give people good quality housing, we’re not going to see things change,” Baker said. 

“If we don’t stabilize the home life and create better opportunities for our parents to create good homes for their families, we’re going to continue to see stuff like this jump off.” 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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