NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — While the nation was at war with Vietnam, Bilal Muhammad, aka Bobby Hargraves, was at war with another enemy.

“There was a lot of strong narcotics coming into the neighborhood and there were strong addictions taking place back in the 70s,” said Muhammad.

(Photo courtesy: Bilal Muhammad)

To turn the tide he organized community forums and athletic events. The strategy worked until the crack cocaine-charged 1980s and 1990s arrived.

“Boys and girls started using guns, so there was more marketing for selling guns and using guns,” Muhammad said.

2020, the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, brought Norfolk’s youngest gun violence victim, and Nov. 3, 2021, brought the first mass shooting in modern Norfolk history.

“We have young men focus on guns and don’t value human life anymore,” added Muhammad.

Bilal Muhammad and Capt. Nathan Bridges of the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center have joined forces in hosting a community forum this weekend in hopes this event will mark the beginning of an end to decades of dysfunction.

“Today, where we stand, just the shootings and the violence we’ve had lately, it is disheartening and it makes you pause and think what have we done wrong and what can we do? As he said, we need to find out creative ways to get this community together,” said Bridges.

Muhammad, now in his mid-60s, has worked tirelessly over the years to rescue today’s youth from drugs, gangs, poverty, and associated ills.

“The foundation got to be planted and we as a whole have to involve ourselves in that foundation,” said Muhammad.

WAVY’s Don Roberts with Bilal Muhammad (Photo courtesy: Bilal Muhammad)

The Stop the Violence Community Forum begins Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at 2 p.m. at the Hampton Roads Kroc Center at 1401 Ballentine Boulevard in Norfolk. For more information call: 757-622-KROC

(Photo courtesy: Bilal Muhammad)