‘Walk For Peace’ in Hill District unites mothers who’ve lost children to violence
by Ashley G. Woodson For New Pittsburgh Courier Mothers came together from all over the Pittsburgh area to honor their loved ones who, unfortunately, are no longer here. The “Walk For Peace” 2020 event was created by Dominique A. Brown, the mother of two sons, Jo’Markius T. Fuller, 18, and Jonathan R. Cooper Jr., 10. … Continued The post ‘Walk For Peace’ in Hill District unites mothers who’ve lost children to violence appeared first on New Pittsburgh Courier.
by Ashley G. Woodson
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Mothers came together from all over the Pittsburgh area to honor their loved ones who, unfortunately, are no longer here.
The “Walk For Peace” 2020 event was created by Dominique A. Brown, the mother of two sons, Jo’Markius T. Fuller, 18, and Jonathan R. Cooper Jr., 10. Fuller was a victim of gun violence on June 30, 2018, and Cooper took his own life on July 15, 2019.
“I wanted to do this Peace Walk to bring awareness to the violence in our Black and brown communities,” Brown told the New Pittsburgh Courier of the Sept. 13 event in the Hill District. “I feel it’s not discussed enough in our communities or homes and it’s glazed over in the news media. We, Black and brown victims, may get a 30-second mention and it’s forgotten about. Having lost my firstborn to gun violence and my baby boy to suicide, we must be mindful of the trauma that these tragedies leave behind. We’ve become desensitized and it’s not right.”
Donnie Kyte, owner of Molly’s World Boutique (Ike Wear), also was in attendance to support mothers who’ve lost their children to violence and other means.
“I think the Walk for Peace 2020 is a great thing because it brings awareness to the community that these violent crimes don’t only affect the intended victims. It also breaks the hearts of a lot of family members, mothers and children,” Kyte said. “In addition, it gives the mothers’ children a platform to express their hurt and pain. Hopefully, when we know how much pain we cause each other, we’ll realize that we wouldn’t want to repeat these acts.”
Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis is a scholar, artist and activist from the Hill District and the founder of Black Politics Matter, a civic education and engagement organization that focuses on turning pain into political power. She came out to the Walk For Peace to support, among others, Michelle Kenney, the mother of Antwon Rose II. Rose, 17, was shot and killed by an East Pittsburgh police officer in June 2018.
“I knew it was important to stand in the gap for family members plagued by violence,” Dr. Ellis told the Courier. “The kind of violence that gets prayer vigils, thoughts and prayers but very little action and accountability. My heart broke many different ways being in the presence of so many mothers whose sons died because their prom outfit was too fly, from drive-bys where bullets went astray, from petty arguments to revenge murders to more ridiculous excuses for having the audacity to take someone’s life.”
Additionally, Dr. Ellis said, “most of the stories the mothers told were still cold cases. Meaning, people in the community knew who did the killings but, you know, ‘no snitching.’ Their pain was palpable and beyond an indictment of the entire criminal justice system. As Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris has explained many times, the Black American community is ‘over-policed and under-protected.’ And, sadly, what unites the bad cops and the criminals in our communities is the blue wall of silence and the no snitching rule. It leaves a ravine so wide these mothers’ tears could not fill them up.”
And then there was Rev. Glenn Grayson and his wife, Marsha Grayson, Esq., who were in attendance for the Walk For Peace. The Graysons lost their son, Jeron, to gun violence. The Jeron X. Grayson Center in the Hill District was named in his honor. It’s a safe space for youth in the community to doubly play and learn.
“I was honored to partner in the march of solidarity as parents, family members, and friends prayed, and shared reflections of love ones lost due to violence,” Rev. Grayson said. “As a parent who lost a child, it’s a pain and experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The United March allowed us to share memories, find comfort and strength from each other. We marched as one to bring awareness and hopefully an end to violence.”
Brown added: “I want people in the community to speak up and stop being scared. I honestly feel once people start speaking up and murderers start getting caught and locked up, they’ll see that they can’t continue to get away with killing each other and destroying and killing families.”
MICHELLE KENNEY, right, the mother of Antwon Rose II, among those at the event.
DOMINIQUE A. BROWN, NINA MOULTRIE (Photos by Ashley G. Woodson)
DONNIE KYTE, right, among those at the “Walk For Peace” event in the Hill District.
TENIKA JOHNSON shows a photo of her son, Mager Rainey, who was killed in Wilkinsburg in Oct. 2019. (Photo by Ashley G. Woodson)
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