Some had personal connections with victims of gun violence; others did not. All involved, however, were fed up with such crime, deciding to take advantage of an opportunity to let their feet do much of the talking during a message that could be summed up with “enough is enough.”
Actually, there were two events, both of which unfolded last Saturday (Aug. 28).
One was dubbed the Combating Crime in our Community Block Party, presented by the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association and the Memphis Branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
The other was the latest installment of the Community Walk Against Gun Violence, this one through the Binghampton community. Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives founder, Stevie Moore, called it “one of the most invigorating” ones to date.
“With each new walk in a different community, I realize that these events are not in vain,” said Moore. “With each new one, the community is getting more involved. And these walks remind all of us that Black lives matter also when it’s black-on-black gun violence.”
The block party hub was St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church at 940 S. Lauderdale. As was the case at the community walk, community leaders and elected officials were among those who answered what was deemed a call to duty. SCLC President the Rev. Walter Womack said it was “one of the most important marches of SCLC.”
“It was important because we had other ministers join in and commit their resources to a continued fight against gun violence,” said Womack.
“We had the police chief out and some of our elected officials. We are tired of young lives being snuffed out at an early age. We put boots on the ground. So, we’re not just talking, but walking the walk.”
The gathering point for the community walk was First Baptist Church, Broad Street. University of Memphis head basketball coach Penny Hardaway added his star power.
“Not only did Coach Hardaway come out, but there were so many men that came out to support us today,” said Moore.
“People keep asking me if I think these community walks are doing any good. I just remind them that 53 years ago Dr. King marched for injustice. And he kept marching until something happened. And that’s what we have to do.”
Reflecting on the block party, Womack said, “I believe the community was galvanized. … This was an opportunity to show the community that we care about what’s happening outside the church walls. The Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association is committed to our ongoing effort to stand against gun violence.
“You can talk all day about how much you care, but it’s a whole different thing to show people that you really care.”
Womack said he and the coalition of ministers are committed to taking action and joining others who are taking action until there is real change.
Moore, whose soon was a victim of gun violence several years ago, shared anew that he once was wayward and ended up in jail, pointing out something that he said “we don’t really have any more,” a reference to watchful neighbors.
“It was the lady down the street testifying that I was the one selling those drugs,” said Moore. “We can’t be afraid to take our community back. Many of these unsolved shootings can be solved because someone knows what happened and who was involved.
“We have to start speaking up. Black lives matter, not only when someone white kills a Black person, but also when we gun down each other.”
Referencing “all the killing in our communities,” Moore said, “I am tired of us celebrating death. … Every time you look around people are lining up candles on the ground or sending balloons up.
“We must celebrate graduations and events that give life to our children. It’s time we celebrate life.”