May 18, 2013

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep ...

If any of you remember that prayer...think of how it has now come to life for far too many of our children. When my father used to recite it to me as a child, you could not even fathom being gunned down on 87th and Jeffrey (my old neighborhood) ... now you are surprised when you're not.

Mother's Day is now a holiday marred by tragedy.

This particular Mother's Day was bittersweet for many women.

Here in Chicago, there were roughly 500 moms mourning the loss of their children in last year's unspeakable violence.

One, in particular, was Cleo Pendleton. She and her husband Nate, made national news when their daughter Hadiya's slaying caught the attention of the White House.

Hadiya, much like the First Lady and myself, was a young lady growing in the shadows of the South Side. The South Side has long been labeled and ladened with violence. It is characteristic of Chicago itself, with its manicured lawns and beautiful houses it can also harbor the mean and sordid. The First Lady and I both grew up in the Chatham neighborhood and traveled to the West Side to attend high school at Whitney Young. 

I can attest, that back when we made that trek, it was a two bus ride, two train and two block journey. We most certainly crossed gang territory, drug lands and drug lords - there were wayward people in our path every day.

Getting home meant fighting and running, but we did it. We survived because there were no shootings back then. While you may have been beaten and robbed ... and maybe even held at gunpoint (yes, I have) - no one shot you.

Today it is a different set of rules. Hadiya did not have the luxury of surviving but she did touch all of us and she forever changed her community.

In comes Moms Demand Action. Shortly after Hadiya's murder, along with a six year old, an infant and hundreds of others, a vigil was held across from Daley Plaza. 

The Chicago Moms were invited. MJ Tam and I stopped in our tracks to pay homage and to draw as much attention as we could to Chicago's raging war on our children. We developed a series that includes bloggers nationwide. It is labeled #LouderThanGuns.

We supported Christine Fenno, co-leader of the Illinois Chapter of Moms Demand Action, and we continue our support to this day.

For months I have been envisioning an evening ... a light-hearted gathering where parents could mingle, remember and plan action...

Christine also shared my desire and before we knew it, we had planned a Moms Mixer at Bella Luna Cafe 731 N. Dearborn where I am the Social Media DIrector.

It was a special evening before Mother's Day. The Pendletons were gracious enough to attend as well as other high-profile area parents who suffered the greatest, most horrendous pain anyone can - the murder of a child. We laughed, we cried and we took action.

No parent should EVER have to bury a child because they were randomly murdered at the hand of a callous, nameless, vicious, faceless, heartless, soul who has no honor.

Gun violence can be stopped. The influx of the cartel's guns and drugs can be stopped. The National Rifle Association can be stopped. We can get these guns off the street just as swiftly as we found a man half way around the world in a bunker.

It can happen. It will happen.

Support the visions of those who have lost so that you are not one of them.

Moms Demand Action

Hadiya Pendleton Foundation

EarthHeart Foundation

CurbViolence (CeaseFire)

Support your local police department and tell your legislators!

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