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Posts Tagged ‘walk for peace’

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Suzanne’s Mom is far left, wearing a winter hat and purple rain poncho.

Well, we did it. Nothing like a cold rain to make you walk fast. But it was touching how many walkers wanted to protest violence and offer support to victims even when Mother’s Day isn’t warm and sunny.

The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is a fundraiser for the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, which was founded by the heartbroken parents of a son who was already working for peace at a young age.

“Louis was an avid reader a total book worm,” says the website. “He was caring and compassionate. He loved Chinese food and hated doing the dishes. At fifteen, he was committed to making his community a more peaceful and just place through the Teens Against Gang Violence group he was part of.

“Louis believed that all young people had the potential to be peacemakers — regardless of what side of the streets they come from. He had the long-term goal of becoming the first Black president of the United States. Louis was killed in the cross-fire of a shootout in 1993.

“Louis’ parents, Joseph and Clementina (Tina) Chéry founded the Peace Institute in 1994 to carry out the peacemaking work that Louis started.  Their goal was to teach young people the value of peace, focus on the assets in community, and transform society’s response to homicide.”

At today’s walk, many people carried banners and posters honoring a friend or family member. A young man gave me a button to wear for Jorge Fuentes. Here is what the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has to say about Jorge.

“In September 2012, violence struck at the heart of our diocesan community when 19-year-old Jorge Fuentes was murdered while walking his dog outside his home in Dorchester.  He was an exuberant, remarkable young man and natural leader, adored by the children he mentored at St. Stephen’s Church and St. Mary’s Church in Boston and respected by his peers.  Many in our diocese knew him because he grew up and worked in the B-SAFE summer and B-READY afterschool programs and the Barbara C. Harris Camp of our diocese.” More.

I attended the event with a group from a different denomination. It was a stalwart bunch — dressed, unlike me, in real hiking boats and rain-repellent pants.

A couple people carried a sign for the United States Department of Peace, an initiative I hadn’t heard about. Wikipedia says, “The Department of Peace is a proposed cabinet-level department of the executive branch of the U.S. government.” More.

I marched because I think the walk is a great celebration of solidarity and of the lives that are missed. It’s moving to see the variety among the marchers. I also like that the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute is innovative in recognizing the suffering of all parties, even the families of the perpetrators.

A lot of old folks in this world may have come to believe that violence is part of the human character and will always be with us, but when you see the many young people who march, you have to believe that someday things could change.

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Nineteen years ago, about 500 people, many of whom had lost loved ones to urban tragedy, marched for peace on Mothers Day in Boston.

Today there must have been thousands. After the pre-walk warm-up exercises and the children’s choir, the prayers from all the major faith communities, the announcements by media personalities and the words of encouragement from Mayor Walsh and the police commissioner, we set out at a snail’s pace, crowding onto a Dorchester street that was expecting us.

A lot of organizations had banners, and many marchers wore T-shirts that pictured a loved-one. The spirit was upbeat and celebratory of lives. Politicians handed out water bottles, churches provided bathrooms, photographers recorded the event for free. The temperature was in the 80s, so by the end of the 3.5 mile walk, we older folks were ready for a nap.

The funds from the various team and individual contributors go to the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a local nonprofit that bases its actions on the belief that “Peace is Possible.” I like that slogan and also their “Seven Principles of Peace”: love, unity, faith, hope, courage, justice, forgiveness.

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