By Paul Holston
On Oct. 9, the 2015 National Week of Non-Violence was officially announced on the steps of the John A. Wilson building, also known as the Wilson building, by organization Black Women for Positive Change, in collaboration with national steering committees and national leaders across the country.
“We believe that it is time for parents, elected officials, civic leaders, artists, musicians, actors, athletes, and the youth to really decide that we can change this country,” said Dr. Stephanie E. Myers, Black Women for Positive Change National Co-Chair.
According to the Black Women For Positive Change, a national multicultural, inter-faith, volunteer network based in Washington, D.C. dedicated to promoting violence prevention and awareness, the purpose of the 2015 National Week of Non-Violence, confirmed to occur from Oct. 17-25, focuses during the month of October on Domestic Violence Awareness Month, National Bullying Prevention Month and the issue of the escalating gun violence nationwide. Press conference attendees included over 20 representatives from local, regional and national elected officials, ministers, along with Attorney Benjamin L. Crump, President of the National Bar Association and Honorable National Co-Chair of the 2015 Week of Non-Violence.
“I am so honored to come and partner with the Black Women of Positive Change,” said Crump. “I am representing 66,000 Black lawyers, judges and legal professionals in America beyond the largest association of lawyers of color in the world.”
The 2015 National Week of Non-Violence events will not only happen within the District of Columbia, but will also be happening across the nation to include events in Atlanta, Ga., Chicago, Ill., Denver, Colo., Los Angeles, Calif., Pittsburgh, Pa., Alexandria, Va., Hampton Roads, Va. and St. Louis, Mo.
“We are sick and tired of our young men being shot and stabbed in their neighborhoods and little girls sitting in the front yard being shot. We’re sick and tired of people attacking our schools where we send our children to be safe and learn,” exclaimed Myers.
“We’re sick and tired of the brutality of our law enforcement official who take advantage of the fact that they have weapons and we don’t, and in some instances, overuse and over step their authority. So we’re calling for a national week of non-violence and we are here on the steps of the Wilson Building at the District of Columbia, which is our city hall.”
Other local officials such as Ward 5 D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who is also a co-chair for the DMV Week of Non-Violence, District Of Columbia, expressed similar sentiments to the violence that has been recently rampant.
“According to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], the leading cause of death for Black males between the ages of 15-34 is homicide,” said McDuffie.
“I don’t know about you, but in my mind, that is a crisis.”
Crump, a noted civil rights attorney from Tallahassee, Fla., known to have represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was fatally shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., expressed the need for the youth to study history and see the actions that past activists have done that has are currently being done before.
Crump used Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) as prime examples of young people being activists at a young age. He said, “I don’t see that as very different from the young people today, whether it is the Dream Defenders or #BlackLivesMatter …they have been tremendously effective in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, Staten Island, Los Angeles and places all around America saying that we refuse to be silent.”
“What young people will hopefully do is use that emotion, energy, passion and try to institutionalize it where all these wonderful things that the BW4PC and [elected] officials are doing ….we want you all to continue to evolve,” said Crump.
Chairman Mel Franklin, co-chair, DMV Week of Non-Violence, Prince George County, Md., said that there was an opportunity for all to join throughout the region on calling the end of the culture of violence in communities.
“Let us recommit ourselves to these important causes not only for ourselves, but for future generations to come,” said Franklin.
Concluding the press conference, the BW4PC passed out a peace pledge that they hope that those who sign the pledge commit to its promise.
The Peace Pledge reads: “I pledge to uphold peace in the name of non-violence and to work to keep my brothers and sisters safe. I promise to seek the path of peace and to treat others with fairness and respect. I pledge to do this for the sake of humanity, so we can all live together in peace and harmony.”
BW4PC will be holding a summit on non-violence at Metropolitan AME Church on Sat., Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. in Metropolitan AME Church on 1519 M. Street, NW. For more information on the 2015 National Week of Non-Violence and BW4PC, please visit http://www.blackwomenforpositive.change.org.
[Story was Published in Howard University’s “The Hilltop” Student Newspaper 15Oct2015]