An emotional Jessica Ann Mitchell (right) is comforted by Dr. Stephanie E. Myers as she recalls the night of her brother's fatal carjacking during the 2015 Summit on Nonviolence at Metropolitan AME Church in Northwest D.C. on Oct. 17. "He was only 23 at the time of his death,” Mitchell said. PHOTO BY TRAVIS RIDDICK

Almost 30 years later, Arthur Ward, 62, of Northeast still reels from the pain of the unsolved murders of his son and daughter. However, he finds solace in advocating for victims – something he did during the recent observance of nonviolence week here in the District.

Black Women for Positive Change kicked off their national week of nonviolence on Saturday, Oct. 17 at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Northwest.

“My daughter died in 1986 at age 12 and my son in 1997 at age 17 but I still haven’t heard anything about who did it,” Ward said. “The only reason I am still here is by the grace of God.”

Ward, a member of Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast, said he came out to the day-long panel discussion to possibly save someone else’s child.

“I’m here for the young people, because I care. Nobody should have to bury their child,” Ward said.

“Can you imagine the pain that caused me and my wife? But my faith still stands because God has shown himself to be faithful,” Ward said. “He has sent human angels to minister to me to help me through this.”

BWFPC, formerly known as Black Women for Obama, decided to change its name and revise its mission after the 2012 re-election of President Barack Obama.

“We wanted to effect positive change,” said Karen Carrington, national co-chair for media and events. “We address all violence, sexual and domestic, and police brutality because it is a big problem in our communities.”

Carrington believes the Non-Violence Summit will not be just another panel discussion but one that will provide solutions.

“We’re here to educate our community on how to deal with violent situations and how to recover if you are a victim,” Carrington said.

The Network for Victim Recovery of DC served as one of the exhibitors present at the event to assist as a resource for those in need.

“We are working with Black Women for Positive Change as an outreach effort to let people know we’re here in the District,” said Kateleigh Hewing Clark, outreach support specialist. “The services we provide are free legal and case manager representation ranging from people who have been stalked to victims of domestic, sexual and physical violence.”

“We also provide victims with their rights as stated in the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, and outside support unlike a prosecutor who is a lawyer for the government,” Clark said.

Along with providing on-site support, BWFPC will draft 10 recommendations developed during the summit that will be submitted to the city council, mayor and other local officials which they believe will thwart crime in the District.

Carrington insists certain systems have to be broken down such as public housing projects for change.

“When you have thousands of people living together with the same societal ills what do you expect will come of it?” Carrington asked. “Mixed-income housing and diversity among people will inspire others to do better.”

“We know that problems like violence comes from lack of education and poverty, but it also derives from a lack of self-respect,” she said. “Self-respect starts and is taught in the home.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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