DURHAM, N.C. – People living in Durham are dealing with an average of two shootings per day, according to the latest data from the Durham Police Department.
Data shows that so far this year in Durham there have been 533 shooting incidents, 172 people have been shot and 27 of those individuals have died.
City and county leaders have been working to address the problem with gun violence through passing different initiatives, such as expanding the Bull City United violence interrupter program, approving funding for ShotSpotter that will start in November and Durham police having also formed a Crime Area Target Team focused on addressing crime in hot spots.
But one community activist has decided to take a different approach to address the problem.
Minister Paul Scott, the founder of Durham’s Black Messiah movement, decided to start a free Black bookstore with the help of donations from the community.
Every evening, Scott said he will go out in the community and open his trunk full of boxes of books about Black history.
He said he’ll go out and hand them out for free in the community.
“We have children’s books and we have books about Black history,” Scott said.
Scott said he came up with the idea to start the bookstore this summer.
“Because a lot of times, Durham gets a bad rap, (all) everyone is talking about (is) gangs,” Scott said. “Our goal is to normalize young people walking around with books, the same way young people walking around with guns has been normalized.”
Scott is calling his mobile bookstore Bull City Griot, after the griots in West Africa who would travel and share stories of African culture.
“We call ourselves Bull City Griot, because that’s what we’re about, we want to spread positive culture and history to our community,” Scott said.
Scott said he hopes sharing these stories with young people will encourage them to put their guns down.
“It’s up to us to change their minds, to change the narrative,” Scott said. “What we have to do is empower our young people especially to let them know about their great history. It’s easy to kill someone when you see them as the N-word, but it’s hard to kill someone when you see them as a descendant from an African king or queen.”
Scott said his collection of books continues to grow with people donating books from Greensboro, Winston-Salem and New York.
He said he hopes to continue making a difference in Durham, one book at a time.
“The books are free, but the knowledge is priceless,” Scott said.
Scott also said he is looking to recruit griots to help give out books and share stories of Black history in the community.
For more information on Bull City Griot, you can call 984-208-6846 or go to their Facebook page.