LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer spoke on race, crime and poverty in West Louisville Friday, offering both a history lesson and hope.

At times, his speech felt like a State of the City address.

"Louisville is experiencing a surge of homicides, gang activity, and is part of a national epidemic of illegal drugs," Mayor Fischer said.

"We must understand the historic injustice of racism that created concentrated neighborhoods of poverty where some see no hope and no future," he added. 

The speech focused on a targeted part of the city: west Louisville.

"We must understand that housing redlining and decades of disinvestment created conditions today that foster violence," Mayor Fischer said. 

He was sounded off in a manner that he typically doesn't do publicly.

"We must understand that urban renewal wiped out a generation of black-owned business and wiped out generations of wealth," Mayor Fischer said.

The comments came during a prayer breakfast to kick off Summerfest, the annual community gospel music celebration. It's the sixth year for this event, but it falls at a time when prayer is perhaps being talked about more than ever before among this group. 

Governor Bevin suggested churches host prayer walks in the community as a way to combat crime.

"There has always been prayer, and there will always be prayer, but there has to be more than prayer," said Rev. Kevin Cosby, Pastor, St. Stephen Church. "You have to pray and work."

Fischer says he's touting work: $400 million for economic development designated west of 9th Street, including the planned Passport Health Plan campus, expected to hire 500 people in the next five years. 

"We don't have a specific number of how many will come out of west Louisville, but we think by being at 18th and Broadway, it will make those jobs much more accessible to people who live in the community," said Mark Carter, CEO of Passport Health Plan.

"We believe in the best of west Louisville and a brighter future for west Louisville...and, yes, praying for a healthy community, safe community and peace in the streets," said Angela Lee Price of WLOU.

"A police chief alone cannot solve this problem," Mayor Fischer said. "A minister alone cannot solve this problem. A mayor alone cannot solve this problem. But combining smart policy, investment, working together -- and certainly prayer -- we can together."

It felt like a State of the City address, and though it may be hard to see now, Fischer preaches to believe in the plan.

Summerfest takes place Saturday, June 24th at Chickasaw park from 9am to 9pm. 

For a list of gospel artists slated to perform click here.

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