Michael K. Williams knows first-hand how tough it can be to get through a New York City summer. Growing up in Brooklyn’s notorious Vanderveer Projects (today known as “Flatbush Gardens”), the Emmy Award-winning actor faced more than the sweltering heat and smog.
“The summer is almost here, y’all. And everybody from the hood knows that when school gets out, the murder rate goes up,” said Williams, referring to the correlation between heat and crime in a video posted on Twitter. “It was true when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn and it is still true today.”
The Wire star continued, speculating that crime rates may be even higher in the Big Apple this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to slash funds originally allocated towards its summer youth program. Nearly 75,000 young people mostly from low-income communities of color depend on the program to find work in both the private and public sectors each summer.
“With all of the city budget cuts gutting all of the opportunities for kids in my community to have something to do or to earn a couple of dollars to take care of themselves and sometimes even their families over the summer, I’m afraid this year it’s going to be even worse,” said Williams.
To help curve the rate of violence, the Boardwalk Empire actor teamed up with NYC Together to launch a program that aims to keep inner-city youth off the streets by giving them jobs. The virtual summer youth employment program will hire teens from across New York’s five boroughs to provide education and information to the nearly 500,000 residents living in New York City Public Housing. “The program will consist of culturally appropriate and informative campaigns that educate members of the Black and Latinx community about Covid-19 and will give youths the opportunity to work in tandem with health experts, law enforcement, and community-based organizations in an immersion program to produce creative solutions to challenges presented by the health crisis,” reads a statement.
To fund the program, NYC Together launched a GoFundMe charity campaign to raise $75,000. All donors will qualify to win a private Zoom call with the cast of The Wire, a Zoom lunch with actress Lana Parrilla, or a Master Class with comedian and actor George Lopez.
“Money is freedom,” said Williams, “and money will help ease the burden on their parents to pay for things like food, medicine, and all other costs that come with this COVID outbreak. So let’s flatten the curve.”
Here with an important message for y’all about Covid & its impact on NYC’s Black and Latino youth.
To help them stay safe & healthy this summer, DONATE to @NYCTogetherOrg & you could win a private Zoom with me & other folks from The Wire!
— Michael K Williams (@BKBMG) May 7, 2020