27 August 2013

Roundtable Discussion with Tyrone Parker

Roundtable Discussion with Tyrone Parker

On Thursday afternoon, August 29, the Institute of International Education/Fulbright Ukraine office hosted Tyrone Parker, a passionate community activist and founder of the Washington, DC-based non-profit organization, the Alliance of Concerned Men.

Mr. Parker spoke to a group of two dozen NGO leaders and former Ukrainian Fulbrighters about the spirit of the civil rights movement and about today's community work in tackling issues of youth violence, which keeps alive the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He told his own story, a story of a young black man in Washington DC, who was arrested and convicted to 30 years in prison.  He was released after 8 years and began his own transformation.  After his own son was killed in gang wars, he founded the Alliance of Concerned Men, and for more than 23 years he continues to help youth turn their lives around.

"I cannot wait to help people," he said and is forever grateful for his transformation.  "God rewrote my story," he added.

His Alliance has garnered him international notoriety and he has met with numerous delegations around the globe, sharing his expertise and capability in the area of juvenile crime and justice.  In 2009, he and members of his Alliance launched a training manual titled, "Training Guide for Preserving Life and Intervening in Crisis in our Communities."

During his presentation in the IIE/Fulbright Office he answered numerous questions about the organization, its development, its fundraising efforts, its successes and accomplishments and the ability to work together with the police, the local government and the community.

Besides the audience in the Kyiv office, his presentation was broadcast to the IIE offices in Washington, DC, where members of his team were also able to offer stories and post questions.  A few guests from Ukraine and the US were also participants in the webinar.

Mr. Parker also said that his mission is to make Washington, DC a murder-free city and in a quarter of a century, he has seen the murder rate fall from 483 a year down to 88 homicides in 2012.

"We can get to 0, if we believe, because the spirit is in the people," he said. He often quotes Dr. King, whom he never met, but whose words echo in him every moment.  "Love is the one most important component of transforming your enemy into your friend," says Mr. Parker, quoting his spiritual leader.

He also lives with the mantra:  "Never prejudge, but always ask what you can do to help."

Coming to Ukraine on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, famous for Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, Mr. Parker addressed US Embassy guests on August 28, on the actual anniversary of the March, emphasizing the movement's commitment to non-violence and compassion. He also took part in a presentation by Ukrainian students who wrote essays titled "I Have a Dream for Ukraine."



Fulbright Program Office in Ukraine

Esplanadna str, 20, office 904

Kyiv, 01001, Ukraine

Tel: +380 (44) 287 07 77

Fax: +380 (44) 230 20 60