COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — More and more people throughout our country are looking to activists and community leaders to hold tough, yet necessary, conversations given recent events surrounding gun violence and mental health.
One man in our community is doing just that, who held conversations at the Lincoln Center Friday, conversations stemming from recent events right here at home.
"Hopefully, we can build a brotherhood and have open conversations with people who look like us," Tre Watson, community activist and event organizer said.
Conversations that come on the heels of recent shootings in our community, of which Watson knew a number of those involved.
"These past couple of months, we have had a lot of gun shootings around here," he added from events that happened on May 21 and 23rd of this year.
Watson, a Co-Founder of our community's Black Lives Matter group says these shootings really hit home and conversations Friday night will be centered around gun violence and awareness, mental health and building a community brotherhood.
"I am not pro or anti-gun. I am not telling people to have guns or to give their guns up. I do want people to be aware of what can happen with a gun," Watson added. "You could end up accidentally shooting someone, you can have your gun taken from you and be used for something," he added.
Watson also says, in general, there is a hesitancy for men to show feelings. He aims to change that narrative.
"I want people to be in a space, especially younger men to see older men, especially older Black men, to say it's okay to be vulnerable sometimes. It's okay to shed a few tears," Watson said.
Watson aims to build a community brotherhood to help unite both Bryan and College Station. "People don't think we have a big Black community here in Bryan College Station, but it's much bigger than people realize. I feel like it's so segregated, just between us because some are from Bryan and some are from College Station."
Moderator and speaker Bishop Gregory Thomas was one of 6 speakers Friday and says they want to focus on teenagers and young adults.
"That's what we are see statistically, that's what we see a lot of things that happening right now, especially recently, with a lot of the shootings taken place. Like anything else, when you begin to deal with this type of trauma, it kind of carries over into other things into your day to day life. This is why we are being very intentional in our conversations," Bishop Thomas said.
Bishop Thomas hopes those in attendance realize change is possible, but the community has to buy-in and participate. He says they aim to be intentional with upcoming conversations.
"When we see an increase of crime or criminal activity or when we begin to see a lot of trauma that is beginning to build up in our community, sometimes we can become very numb to it and when we become numb, as a community and as a village, I think that's the time when people need to step up and sound the alarm," Bishop Thomas, Speaker and Moderator for the event said.
"We want to talk about what is going on in our community period. Doesn't matter if you are Black white or Hispanic. There is a lot going on in our city and we want to get to a point to where we are crossing those boundaries and crossing those bridges, so that we as a whole community can come together and begin to really talk about the future of where we live, not only for us, but even for our children," Bishop Thomas added.
Watson says the meeting Friday night was exclusively for Black men and boys 7th grade and up, but he hopes in the future to have more inclusive discussions with everyone in the community.