On June 2nd, the streets of Kingston Avenue were filled with S.O.S. staff and community members wearing orange t-shirts. Throughout the city of New York and across the country, people were wearing orange to raise awareness about gun violence.
Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 — just one week after performing at President Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, they asked us to stand up, speak out, and Wear Orange to raise awareness about gun violence.
Since then orange has been the defining color of the gun violence prevention movement. New York gun violence prevention advocate Erica Ford spearheaded orange as the color of peace through her work with her organization, Life Camp, Inc. Whether it’s worn by students in Montana, activists in New York, or Hadiya’s loved ones in Chicago, the color orange honors the more than 90 lives cut short and the hundreds more wounded by gun violence everyday (wearorange.org/about/)
At 256 Kingston Avenue, we gathered together outside our office to share a Fish Fry with the community. Amidst the joyful atmosphere inviting people to be outside in their neighborhood, attendees could participate in a variety of activities to recognize the people they had lost to gun violence. Community members could decorate a plant in memory of their loved one, and then bring the plant home to have a living reminder of the person killed by gun violence. Attendees also made buttons featuring the names of the people they had lost to gun violence, with some writing names of famous people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout the event, community members wore orange shirts custom made for the day. In neighboring businesses, cashiers, cooks, and managers wore their orange shirts too!
During Gun Violence Awareness Day, our neighbors also had the chance to add the names of people they lost to posters throughout the event. At the conclusion of the event, S.O.S. Crown Heights Program Manager David Gaskin read the names of community members who had been killed by gun violence. For each name, we rang a bell to remember. We appreciate all who joined us for the event and encourage you to have a safe and healthy summer!