Anyone who knows much about me is keenly aware of how much I love my alma mater, McKinley High School. I owe so much to the teachers, administrators and my classmates. I learned more about life there than any book could ever teach me. 

The school is located in a section of old South Baton Rouge called “The Bottom.” Popular rapper Drake has some lyrics about his rise to success: “Started from the bottom, now we’re here.” We McKinley Panther grads can change the lyrics a little, to say “We started at a place actually called The Bottom, now we’re here.” 

I was president of the McKinley Alumni Association for four years. I am president of my high class right now, and we still meet once a month and go to church together every four months. We are a family. 

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As much as I love my college, Southern University, McKinley’s blue and white courses through my veins. Heck, I have a McKinley High license plate on my car with No. 72 on it representing the year I graduated. I know you’re doing the math, and as yes I am that many years old. 

Bryant Lee Sr. had always dreamed big for his son, and his son — Lee's namesake — had always…

So it goes without saying how heartbroken I was to hear about the recent murder of McKinley High student and football player Bryant Lee. Police accounts say unknown assailants shot him in the head while he was attending a party. From news accounts and conversations, he was funny, smart and dedicated. 

It’s just awful. I can’t imagine the pain of Bryant Lee’s family as their son was within days of graduating from high school, one of life's biggest milestones. Then it’s all snatched away by a heartless coward with a gun. Oh yeah, he was killed on the morning of Mother’s Day. 

I am tired. I have written so many columns about the killing of African-American youth, and especially at the hands of other African-American teenagers, that I am frustrated. Like the song says, “It makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.” 

Look, I could quote statistics on top of statistics that show how bad it is. I’ve done that before. And, I could cite a handful of proposed solutions. But this column is solely about feeling horrible. 

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As bad as this sounds, I am all for fistfights to settle beefs. To stand toe-to toe with someone takes an enormous amount of courage and willingness to endure pain. That’s the way my generation settled things. After the fight was over, we went about our way. Sometimes, if we were playing basketball or football, we would continue the game with the combatants also participating. Using a gun against someone who is unarmed is as cowardly as it comes. 

I will have to rebuild my emotions here. My young people, and it’s a small minority, (I get that) are just dishing out pain. To make any headway is almost like trying to run uphill against a strong wind with a 100-pound cinder block on your back. 

To his peers, he was BJ, their friend who made everyone laugh and was always looking out for…

I know it's popular now to fixate — and for good reason — on police brutality and the killing of young blacks by law enforcement authorities. But what happens when the killing of people who look like me is so out of control in New Orleans and it’s bad in Baton Rouge? 

As much as I have questions about the police shooting death of Alton Sterling, I have serious problems with the slow, but steady drip of casualties in black Baton Rouge. 

This is not a solutions column. Not this time. There have been many of those by me and others. This is about a graduate of McKinley frustrated and grieving because of the senseless killing of a fellow Panther.

What’s more, there is someone out there who saw something and/or heard something. Let’s drop that crap about "snitches get stitches." That was no doubt started by folks crushing the black community with drugs and murder. How do you ever make the streets safe for yourself, your children and your grandchildren by saying nothing?

If you can assist in this case, or can give information on other violence, please contact the Violent Crimes Unit at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867. At some point, this has to stop.

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at epratt1972@yahoo.com.