By Christopher T. Mattthews
A gun control awareness event, was held last Saturday, February 18, 2017, sponsored by the Open Arms organization, Black Lives Matter Coalition, as well as several other local organizations, partnering with the Fredrick Douglass Center Association (FDCA) on Indiana in Toledo OH.. Several residents from the Community participated to receive and exchange information on solving this problem.
Vergie Williams CEO of Open Arms explained, “I partnered with Debra Sue of Glass City Talent Management and Promotions, LLC, we thought it was paramount to hold classes and events that would promote awareness not only for the community, and adults, but to the youth as well. We must put a halt to gun violence! We have a lot of churches in Toledo. We must emerge from behind the walls of the church and get into the community. I promote gun control awareness. We need to show our youth a different way to live in respect to the violence that is taking place in our city streets.”
According to Ms. Williams, Debra Sue plans on working with the youth, who are talented, and to get them involved in various activities, which can provide a safe place for them to further develop their skills and stay off of the streets.
Attendee, Turhan Johnson of Journi Locks, an organization in honor of Mr. Johnson’s Daughter Journi, who lost her life due to a gun control issue. He said, “I lost my two year old to a gun control situation. So now, I am an advocate and I promote gun control awareness and how imperative it is to keep a lock on your gun. The tragedies are happening and a program like this is wonderful and these type of events need to take place, not only in our city, but cities across the world.”
Community activist, Jodie Summer, who is an author, artist, and she feels, a jack of all trades, to say the least, is involved in many things within the community. Her aim is to enrich others and perpetuate awareness of self and one’s surroundings. She feels that there is a need for more programs of this caliber. “I think it is a bit difficult in a city like this. We need more community support because, it important for us as a community and as a city to be aware of what gun violence is doing to us as a whole.”
Kanden Williams, FDCA drug counselor, and works with the felony entry program, said, “We have to stop the violence, work together as African Americans and learn from our past. These things we offer here at the Douglass Center, and I encourage those who may need help in regards to the matter, at hand, to just reach out. We are here to help you.”
Participant, Frank Wright, feels that, we need to get this message out to the young people although, statistically, the crime rate has fallen. And, that significantly lower than what it has been in years, decades for that matter. “We all are trying to do what we can do create a hub, an epicenter such as the Fredrick Douglass center, a place for the youth to gather whenever they have issues that they need to deal with,“ he said.
As part of the event, some of those that, were talented, performed spoken word pieces and others spoke on the importance of God and the relationship between the Creator, the community and gun control awareness.
“There are future plans to have other events at FDCA that will revolve around skill trades, performing arts, audio/visual art, etc etc.,” said Vergie Williams.