Op-EdOpinion

SIMMONS: The Time is Now to Help Prevent Gun Violence in Urban Neighborhoods

At the beginning of this summer, I wrote an op-ed for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. I asked for support for the anti-violence programs around the country and many of you responded. For that, I am grateful.

One of the things that I have done over the last 10 years – with the exception of 2018 – is host a dinner for the mothers of deceased children in my old ‘hood in Queens, New York. The deceased children all died because of senseless gun violence.

The recent dinners have had mostly the same mothers because Life Camp, the program that I support, and the residents have held the violence to a minimum.

This year was very, very different.

Instead of going directly to the dinner, I was asked to stop at a church for a wake. My brother who I grew up with, Marcellus, lost his son, Marcellus Jr., who was on his way to college in just two days.

Marcellus Jr. was one of the 13 that were shot, and of the nine who were murdered, in the last 10 days. I went to the church and saw Marcellus Sr. and I thought of images of him in our childhood.

We hugged the same way I hugged the brothers, the sisters, and the mother of his son. Only with him, I started to cry. I was home. It was my Hollis family and we were hurting. They, especially the father and the uncle, helped the whole thing to hit home harder. The way it should.

It reminded me that this wake was not business as usual, but instead it was critical for my own spiritual survival and growth.

We had planned the dinner over a month ago, but the murders and the funerals we couldn’t have predicted.

At the dinner, we recommitted to work on lifting our community.

We reaffirmed our love for each other and our work.

Today, I am asking for all my Queens Congress members, City Council members, rappers, and hip-hop success stories to join me in helping Life Camp expand their good work.

I promise to donate more and support more than I have in the past. The time is now what will you do?

With great love, all things are possible.

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