Beyond the Block: How Horton’s Kids Combats Anacostia Violence

By: Meldon Dickens II

WASHINGTON – After almost 30 years of serving in the Anacostia community, Horton’s Kids remains dedicated to tapping into the potential of a neighborhood of kids historically bothered by violence.

According to an area vibes estimate, the overall crime rate in Anacostia is 214 percent higher than the national average. The at-risk status of Anacostia children has been prevalent for the past two decades.

Macey Franklin, a former Anacostia resident, was personally affected by the street violence of Anacostia. “I lost a brother. In 2003, I lost my older brother. It really took us by surprise. It devastated us,” Franklin said.  Franklin was only 12 years old when his 17-year-old brother Charles was shot to death.

Through it all, but Franklin remembered stayed strong through it all for his mother Mitzi, who motivated him to join the local non-profit Horton’s Kids, an outlet for children to study and have instruction time with tutors.

“My mother was still going on and she wanted to see positivity in her sons even though a negative thing had happened. I wanted to be positive for my mother and keep her smiling,” said Franklin.

Horton’s Kids is an organization, that Franklin said helped keep him focused. “That was the only organization that I had ever really seen,” Franklin said.

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(ABOVE: Horton’s kids student and tutor share a book.)

“I didn’t really see any other organizations, so I always wanted to join.” Franklin said his tutors helped him to want better for himself, but he credited his mother for keeping him dedicated when he reached a point where he wanted to quit the program.

Franklin isn’t the only Anacostia resident Horton’s Kids helped improve in school. Bonnie Goldberg, a supervisor at Horton’s Kids, spoke about a particularly rewarding moment with her student during her tenure as a volunteer. “One of the stories that I always think about is when the 3rd grader that I was working with was struggling with the sight words and she made tremendous growth. She went from reading sight words to reading chapter books…One day wewere dealing with sentences using the word “because” and she said, ‘“I love myself because I am smart’!” “how great is that for a kid to recognize that within themselves…that’s something that is tough for even adults to do,” said Goldberg.

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