Black Women for Positive Change (BW4PC), led by co-chairs Stephanie E. Myers and Del. Daun S. Hester (D-Virginia), along with Benjamin L. Crump, president of the National Bar Association, assembled on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest on Friday, Oct. 9, to kick off events related to the 2015 National Week of Non-Violence.
The weeklong observation (Oct. 17 – 25) will culminate with an area-wide summit at Metropolitan AME Church in Northwest. However, a number of other meetings, rallies, training sessions and even protests will take place throughout the greater Washington area.
At the same time, other cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis, will hold their own programs focusing on non-violence.
Myers, who spoke on behalf of BW4PC, a D.C.-based national, multicultural, interfaith, volunteer and advocacy network dedicated to promoting violence prevention and awareness, said she and her group’s supporters have grown weary of the frequent violent acts in their communities.
“Like Fannie Lou Hamer once said, we’re ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired,’” Myers said. “From the news that almost daily cites examples of our youth being killed to people attacking our schools and therefore our children or law enforcement officials overstepping their bounds, we believe that our society has reached a crisis situation.
“But throughout American history, Blacks have shown that we can bring positive change to our society. We have transformed this nation for the better during the days of slavery, the Reconstruction, the civil rights era and even today. Our goal is to change the culture that allows non-violence to flourish in America and around the world,” Myers said.
D.C. Council member Kenyon McDuffie noted that in the U.S., the lives of Black males remain particularly at risk.
“Reports from the CDC tell us that Black males, 15 to 34, lead the nation in the homicide rate,” he said. “We need the government to marshal every available resource to stem the tide of homicides and gun violence. Here in D.C. we have our own challenges as the number of homicides has reached 120 deaths – that’s 45 percent higher than our total for all of 2014.”
“We’ve got to have more Black men step up to the plate as we form partnerships like the one you see today so that we can put an end to senseless violence. We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” McDuffie said.
Crump, who rose to fame after representing the family of Trayvon Martin and who now leads the largest organization of Black attorneys, judges and legal professionals in both the U.S. and the world, with over 66,000 members, said it’s vital that more dialogue be held that focuses on violence.
“Acts of violence continue to hit (Black) communities the hardest,” Crump said. “Therefore our message is a simple one: Our children matter. We have to show them that they matter. And we can’t just talk about it. My organization, in partnership with Black Women for Positive Change and with the support of local leaders like the mayors of Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, are committed to teaching skills of conflict resolution and making more resources available where they’re needed.
“People across this nation, especially our youth, must witness a sermon, not just hear one, that firmly says we will not condone solving our problems through violent means,” he said.