Remembering Dante Barksdale
A Courageous Leader and Changemaker For Baltimore’s Most Violent Communities
Community changemaker. Outreach coordinator. Inspiring Rolemodel. Deescalating mentor. Dante Barksdale is being remembered this week after he was shot and killed in his home on Sunday morning. Barksdale wore many hats as a Safe Streets Coordinator in Baltimore’s violent-prone neighborhoods and is described as a kind, compassionate human being who was able to touch everyone. We remember Barksdale today as a changemaker who truly impacted his community and worked tirelessly to de-escalate conflicts and inspire the youth of Baltimore away from a life of crime and violence.
For more than a decade, Barkdale served as an Outreach Coordinator for the Safe Streets Program, which currently serves neighborhoods across the city of Baltimore, “The Safe Streets Program is an organization for the youth of Baltimore to eliminate gun violence among the ages of 14–24 years old. It was modeled after Chicago’s ceasefire program and employs outreach professionals trained to diffuse and deescalate disputes that may result with serious violence. Staff serve as positive role models in the community and provide opportunities to live violence-free lives.”(Safe Streets Center Website). An organization that truly exists to help the youth of violent-prone cities turn their lives around. An essential reminder that The Safe Streets Program is an organization that should be heard and felt around the world, making a space for youth in imperfect environments to have role models and hope for a better future.
Praising a man who “saved many lives” in his decade of working for Safe Streets is important. Remembering his legacy and Dante Barksdale for the impact he had on the Baltimore Projects deserves a lot more screen time. As he was known as an individual who lived through the empathy he had for others. It is this sort of action that makes Dante such a change maker, one to learn from and inspire us to take action in our own lives to examine our own definition of empathy.
A crusader against violence, Barksdale is a whole human missed by many who had the opportunity to work with him, and many who were influenced by his action. While it is important to remember all the good things that made Barksdale a Saint of the Streets, today, we remember the whole person. Barksdale served time in prison himself and was well-known throughout the communities he’s gone back to help. The sacrifice he made to return to the neighborhood that fostered his prison sentence, also shows the character Dante exhibits. It wasn’t just the streets calling him back to make an impact, the connection he had to struggling residents of the Baltimore projects helped strengthen the relationship with his community.
I’m confident that if we read more stories such as Dante’s prior to his death that we could all become better humans. It is the storytelling that is enough to shatter the judgements we make about ourselves and others similar and different to us. Dante Barksdale isn’t remembered for the time he spent in prison, he is being remembered for much more. If we spend anytime reflecting on Dante Barksdale’s legacy it is this: all humans have good and evil within them. It takes a strong human to face the evil. It takes a stronger human to conquer it, and that’s what Barksdale did.
Today he is remembered for the unconditional love he gave to the communities that wouldn’t give him an ounce of compassion back. Today, we remember him for his impact and selflessness in his pursuit to make Baltimore’s violent neighborhoods a place of peace. The Mayor of Baltimore, Brandon Scott stated in a recent interview in remembering Barksdale, “Dante Barksdale loved Baltimore, and a city, we have to do better for him.”
Information about Dante Barksdale, used in this article:
Safe Streets leader remembered following murder in southeast Baltimore
Dante Barksdale's friends and co-workers showed tremendous strength honoring him Sunday night, just one day after they…
Safe Streets Program Website: