Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Nashville's Youth March Against Violence
Saturday, November 14th, 2009 was a memorable day in Nashville. Youth United (a youth lead program supported by Oasis Center) hosted a march for the community to bring awareness about the recent increase in youth violence and homicides in our city.
Youth and adults gathered at the Juvenile Justice Center and marched to the Courthouse lawn chatting “Stop the violence, now”. Drost Kokoye, a freshman at Lipscomb University, and Jairus Carter, a senior at MLK, were MCs for the event that kept the crowd on their feet for several hours. The youth of the city recognized lost lives due to youth violence in the last year. In addition to bringing awareness to the increase of youth violence in Nashville, Youth United also helped promote alternatives to youth violence.
The program was inspirational from beginning to end, including rousing speeches from community and youth leaders. Reverend Neely Williams, the Chairperson of Nashville Community Coalition for Youth Safety, kicked off the program. The Saturday’s event was planned and organized by the young adults. After Reverend Williams stirred up the group, we heard from one of our future leaders, Brandon Smithson, a senior at East Literature Magnet and member of IMPACT. Brandon motivational message was telling our city that young people must have self worth and can be the change to make a difference in Nashville, now. Justin, Dillon, and Aaron, members of Youth Speaks Nashville, show cased their talent by using theater to address the deaths of young black men in the community. Justin London, a spoken word artist, used his poetry to address the senseless murders of young people that is happening around the country. Temika Harris, who studied music at W.O. Smith School, shared her beautiful voice with the group singing Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. The songstress’ performance was perfect for the occasion. Tamika closed with Jill Scott’s “Golden.”
Information from various community partners such as, Mayor’s Youth Council, STARS (Students Taking A Right Stand), NPP (Nashville Prevention Partnership), Nashville Public Library, TOTAL (Totally Outstanding Teen Advocates for the Library), Martha O’Bryan Center, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Tennessee, KAYO (Kurdish American Youth Organization) and the Bethlehem Center were available for the attendees as well as a volunteer opportunities to engage young people. The participating agencies are all invested in alternatives to youth violence.
A vigil ceremony was held to remember the youth lost to violence, as well as a dedication ceremony for the families who have lost loved ones in the act of youth violence.
Participants signed and decorated a mural that will be displayed in local high schools to show support in the fight to end youth violence. What a way to spend the weekend!