A gong rang out for each of the 108 Chicago children killed last year during a ceremony Feb. 5 held by The Black Star Project.
Black Star Executive Director Phillip Jackson read aloud the names of several of the young Chicagoans – most of them slain by guns – just days after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton’s death.
The youngest child on the 2012 list was not even 3 weeks old, while the oldest was 19.
Ten of the youth were from Austin.
Jamale Barber, a member of Centers for New Horizons and student at Wendell Phillips Academy High School, spoke at last week’s event, asking why the big businesses flourish, while youth programs and YMCAs don’t get enough funding.
“Why can’t the president or anyone else see this massive problem that Chicago has?” he asked.
These deaths throughout last year went largely unnoticed by political leaders, Jackson said.
“108 people killed,” Jackson said. “No outcry.”
Natasha Dunn said she worries about the safety of her two sons.
“Enough is enough,” Dunn told the crowd. “We refuse to keep allowing the system to use our kids as scapegoats for dysfunctional education, for dysfunctional management, and we’re going to start taking control of the situation.”
The Black Star Project is sending copies of petitions with 8,000 signatures to Washington, D.C., asking the federal government for greater resources to fund education and mentoring programs and to provide economic alternatives to crime for young people.
“It is time for us to get to work,” Jackson said. “We’re going to fix the problems of violence in our community.”
Here’s more from the event: