MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Starting in November, unity marches have taken over several streets in various neighborhoods, across Memphis.
Organizers say the message is simple: they are walking to remind others the fight to end gun violence is a marathon and not a sprint.
Under the scorching sun, dozens gathered Saturday in the heart of South Memphis, along East Person Avenue, with one mission, to save our children from becoming victimized by violence.
“We have failed them. So, we walk,” said Commissioner Reginald Milton of Shelby County.
Instead of tears, sweat is trickled down the people’s faces in attendance. They are survivors and even victims of violence themselves, and they were willing to battle it out in these hot temperatures in order to face head-on, a hot topic.
“Where’s the outrage? I’m tired, I’m mad. I want to get upset,” said Stevie Moore, of F.F.U.N.
In order for others to really understand the gravity of what’s happening day in and day out concerning crime. This marks the 4th Unity Walk, which took place over the last eight months, in which community members of all ages and from all backgrounds come together for a common cause, to re-focus on what’s important.
“We walk because our community suffers, it struggles,” Milton said.
Milton said they are not going to give up. The mastermind behind this community collaboration, Stevie Moore, who’s the founder of ‘Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives,’ said he is not stopping.
In fact, he said he’s motivated now more than ever, after seeing over the years a culture of celebration that needs adjusting.
“I want to celebrate when my kids are born. I want to celebrate when my baby gets married, when she graduates. I am tired of celebrating death,” Moore said.
The people gathered at the march and bowed their heads and prayed together.
“If you would just touch oh God and turn things around right now, we know we can come to the end of this gun violence era,” said Rev. James Greene, of St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church.
From there, the participants were pounding the pavement to drive home the purpose that there must be unity within the community.
They said they are walking to remind the community there is help, healing and hope. City leaders said they have been successful dealing with COVID, but it’s the crime that continues to plague this community and others.
“If we want young people to grow up well, we need to hug them in and help them,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strikland.
Organizers say more unity marches for change are planned for the near future.