Independence Day 2020 is one of those days that’s in Sade Wright’s memory.

The District-based activist held a cookout with guests that included Ward 8 Councilman Trayon White.

The event was festive, with friendly conversations, music and delicious barbecue, helping Wright’s high-profile friends and family members delight.

“Then all of a sudden, everyone’s phones started going off and the next thing you knew, everyone had left,” Wright recalled.

Text messages had been sent to the councilman and the other guests, alerting them to 11-year-old Davon McNeal’s shooting death.

The shooting occurred on Cedar Street Southeast, which had been the subject of a round-the-clock watch by the Metropolitan Police Department because of a previous shooting earlier that week.

Wright, who started the Wright Family Foundation just a year before Davon’s murder, immediately organized a drive-by event to honor Davon.

Sade Wright (Courtesy photo)

About 30 cars lined the Southeast streets, driving from The Big Chair in Anacostia to MPD’s 7th District station in Buena Vista.

During the drive-by memorializing Davon, Wright said someone informed her of the murder of another Southeast resident, Dawaun Simmons.

Affectionately known as “Woosie” Dawaun, 17, was killed two months earlier, but Wright simply cried upon learning about the murder.

“We have a saying with leaders in Southeast,” Wright revealed. “We say, ‘put the guns down, pick the children up.’”

She and her husband, Duane Wright, fund the family’s foundation and all its philanthropic efforts. Wright noted that grant applications have failed, and donations are almost nonexistent.

“We are supported by the community and that’s it,” Wright remarked.

But it still has not stopped the foundation from organizing tributes to the fallen, assisting victims’ families, providing thousands of meals for those in need during its Feed the Streets program.

The foundation also has hosted toy drives for children, gun giveback events and assisted those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Wright insists that she has routinely tried to engage MPD’s hierarchy on several occasions to help police relations in the community and assist in brokering peace.

“I have gone to the police station, and I have asked the commander to talk to us and have a relationship with the community,” Wright said. “These officers cannot just come into the community and drive around, see these Black boys and just jump on them. That is why they do not respect them. That’s why they run.”

Wright’s family has endured its share of violence and loss. A cousin was murdered in 2006 at his home in Maryland, and in 2016, Duane Wright’s brother, Rashawn, was shot and killed in Southeast.

“I had to sit at his murder trial and watch the murderers get off,” Sade Wright recalled. “So, when I see these juveniles being killed, it’s upsetting. It is why I had to do something.”

Wright, who once suffered a stroke, has lived all her life in Southeast.

She said she could easily relate to young ones growing up there today.

“I used to be a bad girl. I used to always like to fight,” Wright noted. “Things are not like they were when I was growing up, so when I see these young girls and guys in the area, I feel like we need to, and we can, make a change in the community. That is what made me want to give back so that I can show my community that there are other ways than the way we are currently seeing things done.”

The Washington Informer has started a series called “Black Lives Lived,” where we will profile African American homicide victims. In bringing the stories of unsolved Black victims of crime, we hope to show that these are real people, with real families, who loved and cared about them. We also hope the profiles will help preserve their dignity and legacy and perhaps lend a hand to MPD in bringing those responsible to justice. If you’d like your loved one featured, email us at stacybrownmedia@gmail.com.

To support the Wright Family Foundation, a nonprofit, you can use $WFFGIVEBACK at (202) 607-3804. You can also visit https://www.instagram.com/wright_family_foundation.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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