Erika Kelley is Moms Demand Action Local Group Lead Volunteer, Everytown for Gun Safety. (Courtesy photo)

by Erika Kelley —

I am a pastor’s wife, a mother, grandmother, an Everytown Survivor fellow, a national organization that seeks “evidence-based solutions in every town” to end gun violence, and a leader in Memphis Moms Demand Action.

I am a survivor of gun violence.

As a someone born and raised in the Frayser community, I have witnessed the city of Memphis go through many changes.

I have watched communities grow as well as some communities decline. But through it all Memphis is home. 

I love my city. The rise in gun violence, however, has shaken our city to its core.

Many families, homes and communities have been touched by this tragedy called “gun violence.

On March 18, 2016 my son Dontae Bernard Johnson was taken away from my family due to gun violence, and that is a pain that I wouldn’t want any family to go through. 

Having to bury your child taken from you is hard. The pain is real and, as a survivor of gun violence and a leader in my community, I feel I have a responsibility to stand and say something; to advocate and be Dontae’s voice.

The number of homicides in Memphis spiked dramatically in 2020, ending with 332 homicides. We are in just the second month of the new year and there already have been more than 30 homicides. 

Our city is hungry for help. Gun violence is an issue that impacts families every single day. Doing nothing about the gun violence crisis is unacceptable and it is time to stand with our city and do something to end gun violence.

Gun violence is a public health crisis, just as much as COVID-19. My question to my city is how many more families must be torn apart? How many more communities need to be traumatized? How many more children have to die? 

We have to do something.

That is why I am asking you to join me and a host of others Feb. 27, as we pledge to protect your community with the second of many Community Walks Against Gun Violence.

We will meet at Hillcrest High School parking lot at 4184 Graceland Drive in Whitehaven, where we will assemble at 9:30 a.m. and begin the walk at 10 a.m.

Show up and support as we pledge to protect your family. Please wear your mask and we will be social distancing as we follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Let’s stand as we come together as a city to say enough is enough, let’s end gun violence.

Love & Peace

(To contact Erika Kelley, Everytown Survivor Fellow, call 901-428-9284; email: [email protected])


Bill Gibbons: We need a sense of urgency to curb gun violence

Amy Weirich: Tennessee has too many guns in the wrong hands