Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NWSF Exclusive: Archer's Aim on Target

Archer's Aim on Target

Paul Scott

I don't know if you've seen the old HBO series, "The Wire" but it's about a neighborhood in Baltimore that even the cops are afraid to enter. There are real life 'hoods in Durham that remind you of that series. "The Bottom" is one of them.

If you aren't from Durham you probably only know the area by the names of the streets that often appear in newspapers because of drug arrests and murders, Enterprise St. and Scout Drive.

This is the area where Barry and Carmen Archer have decided to develop a youth program.

"Everywhere I've lived has been a hood," says Barry Archer who moved from Richmond, Indiana to Durham in 2006. While in Indiana, the Archers formed the award winning Barak Source for Learning, a program that focuses on diversity training, conflict resolution and community building.

Three years ago they moved their family of eight to Durham to not only be closer to family but they thought that they could be part of the solution to some of the city's problems.

In 2008, Barry says that he saw a lot of children walking aimlessly around the area of the Southside Community Center so he decided to volunteer to pilot a summer program. So this year, Barak Source for Learning teamed with three associates, Zayd Malik Shakur, Christopher Brown and Kevin Spencer and formed the Advanced Educational Program. They developed a summer curriculum based program at the center that ran from June 22-July 17.

The program served 30 children who showed up at 7:30 every morning just in time for a hot breakfast. Barry said that he asked the young men that hang out on the corner to help provide security for the children.

He also said that he brought in police officers to discuss such hot button issues as police brutality.

"It was an opportunity for the children to feel better about the police and the police to feel better about the children, said Carmen Archer.

"It removed the uniforms because uniforms are gang symbols, too," Barry added.

This is just the beginning for Barak Source for Learning as they will partner with other community organizations this fall to provide conflict resolution and other community services.

While so many people are throwing darts at Durham's youth, it's good to see the Archers are aiming in the right direction.

Barak Source for Learning can be reached at (919) 824-3627 or

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at (919) 451-8283