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Jazz Christmas concert promotes peace on city streets

Most concerts are strictly entertainment.

When Spyro Gyra takes the stage Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Palace Theater, however, the music will represent a clarion call for an end to handgun violence on our city's streets.

On Nov. 25, former Henninger High School sport star Kihary Blue was critically wounded in a drive-by shooting on Interstate 81. He was in a car that also carried members of the Bricktown Gang. The 19-year-old Blue died Dec. 2, at Upstate University Hospital.

On Nov. 28, 20-month-old Raashad Walker Jr. was shot to death when a gang member opened fire on a car in which the baby was sitting. According to Syracuse Police, the shooter was a member of Bricktown gang. The intended target of the attack, police said, was the infant's father, a member of 110, a rival gang.

'Gang violence out of control'

"As you know, youth gun and gang violence in the city is currently rampant and spiraling out of control," said concert promoter Frank Malfitano, a native of Syracuse. "And as you may also know, Dunbar Association was recently cut from the United Way budget, so this upcoming holiday jazz concert takes on added significance for Dunbar and the youth of the Syracuse community they serve for a variety of reasons."

Saturday's Spyro Gyra show in Eastwood will benefit the Dunbar Association, which has worked here since 1918 to provide reliable, affordable and accessible social services to children, youth, adults, families and older persons in need of advocacy and assistance regardless of race, gender, age and creed.

The Dunbar Association is one of the few African-American Settlement Houses still operating today. It started out during World War I when an ex-convict named Jimmy LaGrin proposed providing recreational activities to black youth to keep them from criminal activities. Partnering with the local AME Zion Church, LaGrin created a recreational program. The effort took the Dunbar name after he befriended black students at Syracuse University who had formed a literary group called The Paul Lawrence Dunbar Society

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